Lydia Bancroft is fascinated by the mysterious man who visits her reading room. He appears every day and reads for awhile but hasn't asked for a library card. In fact they haven't spoken.
Lydia's father's death changed everything for her and her mother. With no money, Lydia is forced to work in the library, but her mother hasn't given up on getting her a good marriage. All seems well when Jason Avondale proposes, but Jason has secrets.
Sebastian Marks, the mystery man from the library, also has secrets. He grew up in extreme poverty and now runs a gambling hall. Reading gives him escape from his life, and he has become fascinated by Lydia.
Lydia and Sebastian become friends when he steps in to keep Avondale from hurting her, but their secrets keep them from the closeness they desire.
This book is described as a mystery, but the mystery is very much in the background. The heading of most chapters is a news story from the Courier newspaper about the beatings and murders that take place around the gambling clubs. However, there is no attempt to solve the crimes. They form a background and lend support for why Sebastian feels insecure courting a lady of good character. The story focuses almost completely on the romance, although the author does bring the threads together at the end.
If you enjoy a period romance, this is a good one. However, don't expect a traditional mystery where the characters work to solve the crime.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for a review.