Secrets of Sloane House, by Shelley Gray (Zondervan, 2014)
The year 1893 finds Rosalind Perry in the bustling city of Chicago, far from her rural home, working as a maid. Yes, her family needs the money, but Rosalind is there to discover what happened to her sister, Miranda, who disappeared without a trace from the family’s employ. In a time when young women might willingly disappear, many more are going missing.
Rosalind has stepped far outside her comfort zone, and she develops a confidence and perseverance she otherwise wouldn’t have found. Her eureka moment may be that relying on trusted friends brings a stronger result than trying to do everything herself.
One of the friends she’s surprised to make is Reid Armstrong, the son of a wealthy family and a welcome visitor at Sloane House. Reid’s struggle is with honouring his father’s dreams when it begins to feel like he’s losing himself in the process. For both characters, it’s a discovery of identity and about what matters most in life—and about love.
She ached to give them hope, but at the same time, she knew better than to give them such a gift. Hope was one of the Lord’s blessings, that was true. But in other ways, hope could be the very work of the Devil. It permitted a person to believe that their imaginations or dreams could actually be true. [p. 94]
Fans of deep point of view may be frustrated by the more “telling” style of narrative (like “He realized…” “She thought…”). However, this slightly distant point of view allows a gentle read even in the most disturbing scenes.
Secrets of Sloane House is book 1 in the Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series, and as such I expected the Fair to be a significant element in the setting, almost a character in its own right. While a few scenes took place there and others mentioned it, the central setting focuses on the rich society and the servants they consider second-class but necessary.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author perhaps best known for her Sugarcreek Amish novels. For more about the author, including a list of her novels, visit her website: shelleyshepardgray.com.
[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]