Against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, a young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family—a family who may guard the secret of her sister’s disappearance.
Sloane House is among the most gilded mansions of Gilded Age Chicago. Rosalind Perry, the new housemaid, pours the morning coffee before the hard gaze of her mistress.
“It’s simple, Rosalind,” she says. “I am Veronica Sloane, heiress to one of the country’s greatest fortunes. You are simply one in a long line of unsuitable maids.”
Back on the farm in Wisconsin, Rosalind’s plan had seemed logical: Move to Chicago. Get hired on at Sloane House. Discover what transpired while her sister worked as a maid there—and follow the clues to why she disappeared.
Now, as a live-in housemaid to the Sloanes, Rosalind realizes her plan had been woefully simple-minded.
She was ignorant of the hard, hidden life of a servant in a big, prominent house; of the divide between the Sloane family and the people who served them; and most of all, she had never imagined so many people could live in such proximity and keep such dark secrets.
Yet, while Sloane House is daunting, the streets of Chicago are downright dangerous. The World’s Fair has brought a new kind of crime to the city . . . and a lonely young woman is always at risk. But when Rosalind accepts the friendship of Reid Armstrong, the handsome young heir to a Chicago silver fortune, she becomes an accidental rival to Veronica Sloane.
As Rosalind continues to disguise her kinship to the missing maid—and struggles to appease her jealous mistress—she probes the dark secrets of Sloane House and comes ever closer to uncovering her sister’s mysterious fate. A fate that everyone in the house seems to know . . . but which no one dares to name.
About the Author
Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio. Visit her website at www.shelleyshepardgray.com Facebook: ShelleyShepardGray Twitter: @ShelleySGray
Read an Excerpt
Secrets of Sloane House
The Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series
By Shelly Gray
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Shelley Gray
All rights reserved.
As circumspectly as she could, Rosalind Perry smoothed her dark gray skirts before meeting the wide, assessing gaze of Douglass Sloane, the twenty-four-year-old son and heir of the Sloane estate.
"And who might you be?" he asked.
"I haven't seen you here before, have I?" His dark eyes scanned her form, her face.
"No, sir. I'm new." A prickling ran up the length of her spine. Why was he watching her so closely? Had she done something wrong that she wasn't aware of?
Below them, down the stairs, the steady ticking of a mahogany grandfather clock floated upward, echoing the quick beating of her heart. The surrounding walls, with the rose trellis wallpaper and great array of samplers and portraits, seemed to close around her.
As if he had nowhere else to go, Douglass leaned a shoulder against the wall. The movement nudged the corner of a frame displaying the likeness of one of his dead relatives, showing a patch of dark wallpaper underneath. Rosalind did her best to stand still, though her hands longed to fidget. These questions were out of the ordinary. Never had the other members of his family conversed with her. Never had she expected it.
Cook had warned her that all four Sloanes were particular about the servants remembering their station in the formidable home. Hired help who spoke too much, didn't follow directives, or proved slovenly were soon replaced. Rosalind didn't doubt that to be true.
As she stood as still as a statue, Douglass Sloane continued to examine her as if she were one of the World Fair's new inventions.
"So ... Rosalind." A dimple appeared. "Shakespeare, yes?"
She nodded. The name was from the play As You Like It. Her mother was a great fan of all things literary. Her children's names had been a reflection of that. And perhaps to show the world that she was more than merely a farmer's wife.
Clarifying her mother's reasons for naming her Rosalind, however, seemed unnecessary. Too personal.
His arms crossed. The white linen of his shirt shone against the dark woodwork behind him. "And where might you be from?"
"Wisconsin, sir." A small dairy farm near Milwaukee, to be specific.
"Ah, Wisconsin. That veritable utopia to our west." Skimming her features again, he almost smiled. "And now here you are. In Chicago. Dusting."
"Yes." Her shoulders began to relax. Obviously, this member of the household meant her no harm. He was just curious about the newest housemaid on staff.
Perhaps that made sense. During the three weeks she'd worked in the home, the master's son had been on a buying trip with his father to New York City. She heard they'd returned just two days ago—and the downstairs talk was filled with gossip about his escapades.
Rumor had it that Douglass had spent every waking hour in city pubs and gaming halls. Anywhere he liked, actually. With a name like Sloane, a man could do what he liked whenever he chose.
"Really, Douglass," Veronica Sloane called out as she entered the hall on the arm of an extremely handsome man. "Leave the girl alone. If you cause her to tarry, she won't get all her work done." Somewhat mockingly, she raised a finely curved eyebrow. "And then what will we do?"
"I'm doing nothing out of the ordinary." He dared to wink, and his gaze gripped Rosalind again. "Merely getting acquainted. As I've done many times before," he added, almost as an afterthought.
With those words, alarms sounded in Rosalind's head again. Perhaps it was only her imagination, but she was certain his statement was laced with another meaning.
"There's little to get acquainted with," his sister said as she and her companion joined Douglass, their bodies effectively circling Rosalind. Her voice was sharp. "She's a servant, Douglass. Not a debutante."
Rosalind clutched her dust rag more tightly. Yes, in their world she was only a servant. But in her heart, she knew she was more than that. She was a child of God. In his eyes, she counted as much as anyone.
As much as her sister, Miranda, had ... before she'd gone missing.
Douglass stepped forward, bringing with him the faint scent of scotch. "Tell me, Rosalind, are you liking our home?"
His voice had turned silky. Rosalind's mouth turned dry. The question felt loaded, but she wasn't sure what the expected answer was. Her heartbeat quickened.
Oh, why had she been dusting in this spot at this moment?
Staring at her intently, Veronica once again raised a brow. "Do you? Are you happy?" Her voice lowered. "Content?"
Content? "I ... I—"
"Rosalind, Miss Sloane is right, you'd best get your chores done," the handsome stranger interrupted. "Why don't you run along now?"
His voice was so commanding, so direct, that she took a step back. Then stopped just as abruptly. She wasn't supposed to leave until she'd been dismissed.
Douglass turned to the man and frowned. "Armstrong, are you now giving orders to the servants in my home?"
"Not at all. I'm merely repeating what Veronica said. She is right. This maid surely has a great many things to do other than stand here with us."
Rosalind noticed a slight softening around the corners of Veronica's lips. "Reid, you actually listened to me."
Mr. Armstrong smiled at Veronica, and his voice became warmer. "Of course I listened. I always listen." There was no such warmth in his eyes when he turned back to Rosalind, however. His gaze was cool and almost piercing. "Miss, you had best go about your business. Now."
Staring at him, Rosalind stepped back. Her body was trembling so much that she feared it would be commented upon, giving them yet another opportunity to taunt her.
But when neither Douglass nor Veronica protested, only chuckled softly, she pivoted on her heel and scurried down the hall.
Brittle feminine laughter followed her steps. "Oh, Reid, I do think I'll keep you close to me all day. You're beyond amusing. Besides, it's nice having someone nearby who heeds what I say."
"Some might have a problem with your heavy-handed ways, though," Douglass added, his voice carrying a thread of malice. "The way you shooed away our new girl was a bit of a surprise. It almost seemed as if you were worried about her welfare."
"Perhaps I am concerned about her. You do have quite the reputation, you know, Sloane," their guest retorted. "If we're not careful, you'll charm the girl, break her heart, and next thing you know? Why, she'll be leaving. Then who would dust your furniture?"
The laughter continued as Rosalind turned a corner. But just as she was hurrying down a half flight of stairs, she faintly heard Veronica's reply. "Don't be silly, Reid. Servants can be replaced. Always."
A jolt of fear shot up Rosalind's spine. Was that what had happened to her sister? Had she been dismissed for neglecting her chores and then promptly forgotten?
Or had she been snatched up from the city's busy streets and simply vanished?
Quickly, Rosalind turned right, then left. She struggled to recall where she was. The house was so vast, such a jumbled maze of curious rooms and narrow, winding halls, that she was continually getting lost. One wrong turn could lead to her flying down a corridor where she had no business being.
Which, of course, could lead to her coming into contact with members of the family.
As she stopped and rested a palm on a wall covered in rich scarlet and burnished gold paisley wallpaper, she let her mind drift, remembering how Miranda had written that she, too, had gotten lost in the mansion more than a time or two. Of course, she'd also confided that some of the people in the house frightened her.
Remembering that the letters had stopped coming before she'd revealed who had frightened her—and how—Rosalind closed her eyes and tried to fend off a new wash of pain.
Oh, Miranda! Where are you?
Her sister, older by only eleven months, was the twenty-one-year-old beauty of the family. Blessed with thick, curly auburn hair, set off by bright blue eyes, she was striking. Rosalind's mahogany hair and faded blue eyes had always paled in comparison.
As did her personality. Miranda was the more headstrong, the one who was the most self-reliant. Rosalind? Ever the follower.
Over the years, Miranda's strong personality had always gotten her what she wanted. So much so that Rosalind had often wished she had even a small portion of her sister's determination.
When things had gone from bad to worse at their farm, Miranda had up and left, leaving behind a note saying that she'd gone to Chicago to find work and she'd send money home as soon as she could.
But Rosalind knew financial concerns weren't the only reason Miranda had ventured east. No, she'd always been plagued by the need to push limits and boundaries. Even the wide open fields of their farm had seemed far too confining for a woman of her light and exuberance.
Soon after she left, Miranda wrote that she'd gotten a position as a maid in a grand house. More letters arrived over the next two months, each one with a bit of money.
But then they heard nothing.
With a heavy heart, Rosalind was beginning to fear that her earnest prayers for her sister had not only been unanswered, but had also been in vain.
Either Miranda had decided to move on and forget about them all ... or something dire had happened to her.
Sometimes, in the dark of night, Rosalind admitted that she wasn't sure which scenario would be easier to bear.CHAPTER 2
"Mrs. Sloane just changed the numbers for dinner. Now we're going to have twenty people instead of ten," Cook announced grumpily when Rosalind arrived in the perpetually steamy kitchens for a bite of lunch. "That means not a one of you is going to be taking a break anytime soon. I need you, Rosalind, to run to the market and pick up another batch of squash for the soup."
Still feeling off-kilter after her run-in with Douglass and Veronica, Rosalind blinked. "Do you mean the farmer's market?"
Mrs. Martha Russell—"Cook" to everyone in the house—folded her arms over an ample bosom and glared. "None other."
Rosalind's heart dipped. She barely knew her way around the two blocks surrounding the mansion. Chicago streets were crowded and winding, difficult to traverse in the best of circumstances.
Now, with the World's Fair in full swing and thousands of visitors swarming along the sidewalks, it was near impossible to navigate the streets with any expediency. She feared that there was a very good chance she'd become lost and ruin Cook's schedule.
But that was the least of her worries. Never a moment passed when she wasn't completely aware of the dangers that lurked in the city and that, somehow, her sister had vanished in them.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. But I'm not sure if I'm the right—"
Cook cut her off with a stern expression brewing in her toffee-colored eyes. "I can't be sparin' no one else. I need that squash." Pulling away the bowl Rosalind had just picked up, she snapped, "You've got no time to eat! Go now."
Only Cook's reputation of being all bark and no bite prevented Rosalind from shaking in her shoes. "Yes, ma'am. Um, where is the market?"
With exaggerated patience, Cook said, "Take a grip car and be quick about it. When you get there, look for Tom. He's the head grocer, and Sloane House has an account with him."
"Tom," she repeated.
"He's youngish. Has a red beard, and he knows all about Mrs. Sloane's wants and particulars. He'll help you find what you need."
It sounded as if finding Tom might not be too much of a problem, but she dreaded taking the grip car. The only time she'd been on it alone she'd worried she'd miss her stop, get off too early—or worse, too late—far from the neighborhood she was just starting to become accustomed to.
Traveling in the large city was excruciatingly nerve-racking and scary. Especially after Miranda had mentioned time and time again in her letters how dangerous the streets were. Just the descriptions alone made Rosalind wish for eyes in the back of her head. Yes, there were multiple dangers on the streets of Chicago, and a woman alone was always at risk.
But perhaps there were dangers most anywhere? Once again, she found her mind drifting back to Douglass and his piercing gaze ...
A pair of saucepans clanged together. "Rosalind, what more do you need for me to say? Go on with ya, now."
"Yes, ma'am. I mean, yes, I'm off to the market right now."
Now that she was getting her way, Cook's voice gentled. "Take some coins from housekeeping just in case you don't be seein' Tom. Go on, now. There's a good girl."
Nanci, her one good friend in the house, smiled sweetly at Rosalind as their paths crossed in the doorway. "You can do it. It'll be just like the time we took the trolley to the park. Just take it again, but head south, toward the market. If you get lost, ask for help. Most people in Chicago are honest folk. Most will help you."
Most. That one word made all the difference between comfort and wariness. Not everyone was honest. Or helpful. Some, it seemed, were much worse.
Once again, Rosalind recalled Miranda's letters. She'd written stories of women coming to the fair and getting pulled into brothels, never to be heard from again.
Like a newsboy calling out the day's headlines, Cook's voice rang down the hall. "Don't you be comin' back without my squash, Rosalind. You do, and I'll have you be the one to tell the missus herself why her dinner party will be ruined, and you know what will be happenin' then!"
She'd be let go, that was what would be happening.
Rosalind didn't doubt Cook's threat in the slightest. From her first day, she realized the whole staff lived in fear of the mercurial moods of the family. Mrs. Sloane could be at once exceptionally benevolent and malicious. Stories abounded of servants being fired for the slightest offense while others were paid while recuperating from the influenza.
Removing her apron and hanging it in the servants' closet, Rosalind grabbed four coins from the cook's top desk drawer, then, at last, darted out the back door.
"Lord, please help me find my courage," she whispered. "Please help me become strong and not such a ninny. I need to keep my wits about me to find my sister. Please help me become more confident and more hopeful too. Help me be more like the girl I was back home."
Back home, she'd hardly ever worried about her safety. Back home, she'd known everyone and had felt secure, not only in her surroundings, but in the knowledge that she mattered. To the townspeople nearest to their farm. To her family. To the Lord.
Stepping out onto the broad cavalcade of Michigan Avenue, Rosalind was immediately swept into the crowd of people hurrying among the drays, carriages, and curricles. She was sure her starched gray blouse and skirts were about to be hopelessly stained.
Then she knocked into the side of a lad no more than twelve.
"Watch it," he muttered with a fierce scowl. He was a messenger boy, distinguishable as such by his hat, sturdy satchel, and single-minded expression.
"Sorry." Suddenly, with a burst of steam, the trolley squealed to a halt in front of her. Though she'd only traveled on the crowded conveyance twice before, she knew she had to push her way on and hold on tightly. Within seconds, the trolley car moved forward, pushing its way through the cacophony of carriages and people filling the street.
Noise filtered by the congestion rang in her ears. Rosalind gripped the leather strap more tightly. Looking around, she sought a friendly face. Directly across from her stood a woman, most likely a typist, given her black skirt and crisp white shirtwaist. "Pardon me, have you ever gone to the market? I mean, to the farmer's market," she clarified. "You know, for vegetables?"
"I have," the woman said with a regal nod. Long black feathers circling the brim of her hat fluttered with the motion.
"Am I going in the right direction?"
If the lady heard, she didn't deign to give a reply. Flummoxed, Rosalind resigned herself that she'd have to wait and see.
"Exit the next stop, miss," an older man in multiple layers of brown tweed and tan muttered from her other side. "Exit and walk toward the west. Can't miss it."
Excerpted from Secrets of Sloane House by Shelly Gray. Copyright © 2014 Shelley Gray. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story has it all. Strong and well written characters, excellent historical information, and even a great mystery. Everything was so very real as I read it was as if I was a character in the story. A young woman from the country matures as she works as a maid in a most prominant home in Chicago during the Chicago World's Fair. The class distinction was wonderfully portrayed so that I got more than a glimpse of what life was like at that time. I am not sure I can do justice to this book. All I can say is, I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical, Christian fiction. Wonderful.
I enjoyed reading The Secrets of Sloane House. It included several elements: historical setting, Christian values, romance, mystery and suspense. I'm looking forward to a sequel.
The story itself was great. Good mystery with a surprise element at the end. Well written and edited. My only criticism is that there is too much of a christian element to this. The parts about God and praying did not seamlessly fit in. It was if the author forced it into the story just to make it a christian book. While I respect everyone's beliefs and their right to practice them, the religious aspect didn't meld well with this story. A book can still be great without all the "preaching".
My review from inkwellreviews.com (Christian book review site) Seeing that this was a “Chicago World’s Fair Mystery”, I had to pick it up from my local book store. Finding a historical mystery is super hard and being the first Shelley Gray novel I’ve read; it was very impressive. It was so nice to read about a servant instead of the mistress without it being medieval. One of the reasons that this book stood out to me was the plot development. I didn’t seem rushed or like it was dragging on and on. I also liked the little bit of history Shelley Gray incorporated in it. There are just a few problems I had with it. There was very little mention of God or a need for a savior within this books pages. Also, I didn’t get a clear impression that Rosalind was a Christian. True, she did pray, but praying doesn’t mean you are a Christian. The character of Reid Armstrong was a bit shallow. I thought Shelley could have worked a little harder on him. Due to some events in this book I would not recommend this book for children under 14 or 15 years of age. All in all, I thought this book was worth the read. Hope this helps.
I really enjoyed this book very much. I thought Roslind was a very strong women for the time. I loved the romance between her and Reid.
I highly recommend this book..Enjoyed it very mcuh
I scrambled to get this book at my local library because I had enjoyed its sequel (Whispers in the Reading Room) so much. It did not disappoint! I finished over just two (busy, pre-Christmas) days because I could not put it down. Loved the characters in this book, and their search to find not only answers about Miranda but themselves and their place in God's plan. Historical fiction is always interesting to me, and this book was accurate in terms of each person's perception of their place in the social strata. As a lover of Downton Abbey, I especially enjoyed this American look at life "upstairs/downstairs." Rosalind leaves her family's farm in Wisconsin to hire on as a maid in the great house where her sister worker before going missing. She doesn't reveal her identity (and even uses a false last name), but she isn't the only one keeping secrets! Another character with identity issues is Reid Armstrong, a friend of the powerful Sloane family who employs Rosalind. His father is "new money" and Reid himself is still finding his way in the upper crust of Chicago society since his final year at Harvard. I enjoyed how each of these characters evolved - eventually being honest within themselves about their history and motives and their need to depend upon the Lord. Of course, every romance needs a happy ending, and Reid and Rosalind do not disappoint us in this respect. This book was more suspenseful than its sequel, but both were excellent reads. Can't wait to delve into the first book in this series - what an interesting time in one of my favorite towns!
Secrets of Sloane House is the first book in Shelley Gray’s new Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series. I have always been a fan of Shelley’s Amish novels and mysteries—which she publishes under the name Shelley Shepard Gray—so I got excited when I found out she was writing a historical mystery series. And now that I have read both the first and the second books in the series, I have to say, I was not disappointed. Secrets of Sloane House is full of just enough intrigue, romance, and mystery to leave you wanting more, all the while wrapping up the story in ways you never in a million years thought possible. Even now that I know the ending, I am still shocked by the reality of what happened to Miranda. Although I look back now and see a few signs that could have pointed to the truth, I can still say with certainty that I never saw that ending coming. Ever. Rosalind Perry is by far one of my favorite heroines, possibly because she is so easy to relate to. Completely focused on discovering the truth about her sister, Rosalind pushes herself into her work and her search, all the while believing the lies society tells her: that she is not, and never will be, good enough for anyone. As she continues to come up with dead end after dead end, it becomes even harder for Rosalind to keep her head up. Obviously, she’s not even good enough to find her sister. Her family is going to be so disappointed in her, as she’s running out of chances and time, and she has yet to find anything of worth when it comes to her search for her sister. The way she puts herself down for things that are not true or beyond her control have no merit, but they don’t have to. So many of us believe lies just like those, and all because it seems so obvious, at least to us, that they are true. That is what makes Rosalind so relatable, and makes Reid so great. Each and every time he becomes aware of Rosalind’s view of herself, Reid does everything in his power to dispel those rumors she is believing about herself. He sees her as the beautiful, smart, caring woman that she is, and he is never too busy to tell her so. Let me just make something clear for a moment: never once as I read this novel did I find Reid to be so self-absorbed as he appears in the description. It didn’t take him very long at all to give up on the ‘must marry a lady of society’ idea, he just wanted to please his parents, especially his ailing father. If he hadn’t felt that it was his duty to make a good match, that idea would have been thrown out the door ages ago. And even while he still knew that his parents wanted that for him, he continued to help—and fall for—Rosalind. Honestly, I think, he never really truly felt guilty about it, because she was just that perfect for him. Then there is the mystery aspect of this novel. Shelley intertwines everything PERFECTLY. I could not imagine anyone doing it better. There are just enough hints that when you look back you see them but as you read you are still just as in the dark as before, everything wraps up—there are no loose ends hanging—and the reasons for the crime are all perfectly justifiable, for the criminal anyway. They do make sense and aren’t just flimsy excuses, which is a good thing because I hate it when the reasons for the crimes in mysteries don’t make any sense or aren’t even real motivations. That was not the case with this book, thank goodness, which made this such a wonderful mystery.
Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray is a Christian cozy mystery. It is the first book in the Chicago World’s Fair series. Rosalind grew up on a farm in Wisconsin and is not used to city life. But when her sister Miranda stops writing, the family wants to know what happened to her. Rosalind is sent to Chicago to discover what happened to her sister. Rosalind obtains a job at Sloane House where her sister worked before she disappeared. Life on the farm did not prepare Rosalind for living in the city or working in such a fancy home. Reid Armstrong is a friend of Douglass Sloane. Reid feels loyal to Douglass because of help he gave Reid at boarding school. However, Douglass’ is hanging out with an undesirable crowd and Reid is not comfortable with them. Reid comes from a Christian home and has very different values from the Sloane’s. Reid is attracted to Rosalind. After hearing about Rosalind’s missing sister, Reid wants to help her. Reid and Rosalind set out to find Miranda or at least discover what happened to her. Secrets of Sloane House is set in 1893 while the World’s Fair is in Chicago. There are great descriptions of the pavilions, displays, and the Ferris wheel. Secrets of Sloane House has romance and mystery. I give Secrets of Sloane House 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is well-written, engaging, and intriguing!
Reading Shelley Gray's Secrets of Sloane House, I was immediately taken in by how vividly she brought to life 1893 Chicago through the eyes of Rosalind Perry. When we meet Rosalind, a maid at the Sloane House, she quickly lets us know the reason she finagled her way into the job. She is on a mission, searching for answers to her sister's disappearance from this same house. Reid Armstrong is trying to fit in with the high society crowd, when he is drawn to Rosalind and the desire to help her. Both Christians, Rosalind and Reid, depend on God for direction throughout the book as they search for answers. Answers which will reveal a truth which no reader will have even suspected!
From page one, Secrets of Sloane House had me hooked. I didn't want to put this book down. The story about Rosalind, Miranda, the Sloanes, Reid, and the others pulls you in right away, and you feel like you are at the Chicago World's Fair and the Sloane House living out Shelley Gray's words. Shelley's details were so vivid throughout the entire story. You were transformed into another era. Suspense, history, love, hate, and faith - this book has it all. Wonderfully written story! I cannot wait for the next book. Spring 2015 better get here fast.
In a story of gripping suspense and intrigue, Shelly Gray in her inimitebel style introduces us to both residents and visitors to Chicago. It's 1893 and people are flocking to the World's Fair. The Sloane's are an affluent family residing in a large home filled with servants and secrets. Ms. Gray draws you into this vivid novel as only she can. This is one of her finest novels and I cannot wait for the next one in this series. As usual,Shelly Gray has hit it out of the park!
Shelley Gray just wrote the most wonderful historical novel full of suspense and intrigue, that will have your emotions sitting on the edge of your seat to the very end. Secrets of Sloan House does not disappoint. I was pulled in from the very first chapter. Set in the year 1893 and centered around the World Fair in Chicago. Rosalind is on a mission to find her missing sister Miranda and with the help of Reid Armstrong she ends up on quite the adventure. I think having a great faith in God helped Rosalind and Reid with their struggle in society when a person's social status, name and reputation meant everything to some during 1893. I also think it made Rosalind stronger. I have to mention that I was really shocked by what happened at the end. Actually I think the main character Rosalind Perry was even shocked. I really enjoyed this book, and cannot wait for the next in the series, Deception At Sable Hill.
A wonderful start to a new series! Secrets of Sloane House takes place in 1893 Chicago during the World's Fair. The story captivates the reader from Chapter 1 and had me guessing until the end. Rosalind takes a job as a maid for a wealthy family so she can uncover what really caused her sister to go missing. Along the way she befriends Reid who comes from an upper class family. This book encompasses all the elements of a great story. Shelley draws the reader into the setting so well, I love that about her books! The next book in this series will be released in Spring 2015!
Wow! I absolutely loved this book! This was the first non-Amish book by Shelley Shepard Gray (writing as Shelley Gray)that I have read. I was a little hesitant to read it but am I ever glad I did! Set against the backdrop of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Rosalind Perry has left her family in Wisconsin to find out what happened to her sister who disappeared while working for the Sloane family in their house full of secrets. Rosalind is warned against uncovering the many secrets of Sloane House but nothing will stop her from finding her sister. Shelly's writing in this book is superb! The story takes off right away and the reader is quickly transported to 1893 Chicago. The descriptions of the houses, city and fair are so well written it is almost like being there! Rosalind is easy to immediately like and sympathize with. The Sloane family is uppity, unlikeable and untrustworthy and is written so the reader automatically dislikes them without knowing exactly why. There was also the character of Reid Armstrong who almost lives in both the lower class and upper class worlds. Of course there are all the various friends of the family and house staff that keep the story interesting and moving along. I just can't say enough how much I loved this book. I was anxious to get to the end to see what happened but was sad that the story was over. This is book one in a series and the second book won't be out until Spring 2015.
An innocent, impetuous girl leaves her family's farm in Wisconsin for the big city of Chicago, hoping to find work to both support herself and her family back at the farm. After successfully doing so, her letters home become filled with an air of mystery and suspicion and then finally stop. Her family devises a plan to send her younger sister, Rosalind, to the big city as well, to try and discover what has happened to her, especially after her father is unable to get helpful information from either the family she was working for or the police department. Gray has skillfully woven a story of loss and love with the experience of serving a prominent family in 1893 Chicago. A focal theme for the story is the whole notion of putting on an exterior appearance that does not equal the inner soul. I found this book to be another solid winner for the author, with some real food for thought.
I enjoyed this story, but then I already knew Shelley Gray was a fantastic storyteller. I'm so happy to see something non Amish from her as that's not my favourite genre. Set in Chicago during the World's Fair, that side of the story alone is intriguing. Much more is going on in Sloane House. There are dark secrets that both the family and the servants are keeping. They seem to know more than they are willing to say about the disappearance of Rosalind's sister, Miranda. No one wants her looking into the disappearance. She's determined to find answers for the sake of her worried family back in Wisconsin. She comes into service in this grand house not fully realizing how hard it will be, both emotionally and physically. She figures that since she's grown up on a farm and she's used to hard work it won't be a problem but the hours are long and the stress is high. It's an eye opener, and her job demands far more of her time than she had expected so it's hard to fit in the sleuthing. It's hard to know who really are her friends and who to trust. I can't wait for the next book in the series, centered around Eloisa Carstairs, another interesting character we've been introduced to in this book. I received this book from Zondervan for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own. Thank you Zondervan.
Another great book from Shelley Gray, and again the setting is in Chicago at the time of the 1893 World’s Fair. How I loved being back and am becoming familiar with the layout and the buildings here, thanks to Shelley. This book is a mystery that left a family with a hole in their hearts. A missing member, a sister, a daughter, where could she be? To find answers, a younger sister Rosalind decides she has to leave her Wisconsin farm home, and safety, and go to where her sister was last seen. She takes off and enters a very unfamiliar world, and becomes a servant in the Sloane House, as her sister had before her. She is incognito, and looking for clues, where could her sister be? What a scary world she seems to have entered, having lived a rather sheltered life. Everything is so new, but she has to remember her station in life, if she is to exceed. Someone must know something? We have arrived at a time when being in high society meant everything to the elite and here we also experience the Gilded Age Chicago. We meet some people who feel everyone accept them are subservient people; they have a protruding silver spoon in their mouths. Are they above the law? You feel that perhaps they are! There are others who appear quite the opposite and you have the feeling that there is some hope. I had the feeling that there were some who were walking with Satan, and other who loved the Lord. Will Rosalind be able to stay on the right path, or will the evil that seems to pervade in Sloan House consume her? Don’t miss this one, a page-turner from beginning to end. I received this book through Book Look Bloggers, and was not required to give a positive review.
It’s a busy time in Chicago with the 1983 World’s Fair in town. Not a good idea for a lady to be out and about alone. There seems to be one residence in particular that has maids disappearing without a trace. That residence is Sloane House, home to one of the wealthiest families in Chicago. One of those maids was Miranda Perry. Miranda had written letters home often telling of her life in Chicago and Sloane House. When the letters came to abrupt stop, her sister Rosalind devised a plan. She too left her home and family farm in Wisconsin for the big city of Chicago. There she hoped to become employed as a maid at Sloane House and find clues to her sister’s whereabouts. At Sloane House she quickly learned that an employee of the house was considered of no value and easily replaced. For that reason, the others were reluctant to say anything at all about Miranda. She learned that son Douglass liked to use the pretty maids for his own pleasure and that daughter Veronica was a rather bitter person. Veronica blamed Douglass’ reputation for her inability to find a husband among the gentlemen of high society. One such gentleman whose attention she covets is Reid Armstrong. Reid develops a friendship with Rosalind which makes Veronica envious and leads to Rosalind’s dismissal. With nowhere to go and not much money, Reid invites Rosalind to stay at the Armstrong home. He and his mother help Rosalind find out what really happened to Miranda. While Shelley is well known for her Amish books, you won’t be disappointed with this historical book. You won’t be able to put it down! I had thought I figured out Miranda’s fate and who was involved in it but, the ending was a surprise! Very well done Shelley Gray, can’t wait to read Deception At Stable Hill!!!!
What an enjoyable story! Secrets of Sloane House is the first book in Shelley Gray’s Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series and after reading the preview chapter for book two, I can’t wait to read that story, as well. Secrets of Sloane House started out a little slowly for me as the author set the stage and introduced all of the characters. But, the storyline always held my interest and the setting of a very wealthy Chicago home during the height of the World’s Fair was intriguing. Once I hit the halfway mark in the book, the story just took off and I could hardly set it down! I really liked Rosalind’s character and how much she grew throughout the book. When she arrived in Chicago to find out what happened to her sister, she was a rather timid and scared creature. By the end of the story, Rosalind had gained a lot of courage and her relationship with God was stronger, too. Reid was also a very likeable character. He carried a lot of burdens related to past events and to his family’s position in society. All through the book, I enjoyed watching him try to fight his attraction to a common maid, while still working to help her uncover the mystery of her sister’s disappearance. I enjoyed how the author brought everything together in the end of the book and the way the romance developed between Rosalind and Reid. I am so excited to read the next book in the series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Shelley Gray in her new book, “Secrets of Sloane House” Book One in The Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series published by Zondervan takes us into the life of Rosalind Perry. From the back cover: Against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, a young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family—a family who may guard the secret of her sister’s disappearance. Sloane House is among the most gilded mansions of Gilded Age Chicago. Rosalind Perry, the new housemaid, pours the morning coffee before the hard gaze of her mistress. “It’s simple, Rosalind,” she says. “I am Veronica Sloane, heiress to one of the country’s greatest fortunes. You are simply one in a long line of unsuitable maids.” Back on the farm in Wisconsin, Rosalind’s plan had seemed logical: Move to Chicago. Get hired on at Sloane House. Discover what transpired while her sister worked as a maid there—and follow the clues to why she disappeared. Now, as a live-in housemaid to the Sloanes, Rosalind realizes her plan had been woefully simple-minded. She was ignorant of the hard, hidden life of a servant in a big, prominent house; of the divide between the Sloane family and the people who served them; and most of all, she had never imagined so many people could live in such proximity and keep such dark secrets. Yet, while Sloane House is daunting, the streets of Chicago are downright dangerous. The World’s Fair has brought a new kind of crime to the city . . . and a lonely young woman is always at risk. But when Rosalind accepts the friendship of Reid Armstrong, the handsome young heir to a Chicago silver fortune, she becomes an accidental rival to Veronica Sloane. As Rosalind continues to disguise her kinship to the missing maid—and struggles to appease her jealous mistress—she probes the dark secrets of Sloane House and comes ever closer to uncovering her sister’s mysterious fate. A fate that everyone in the house seems to know . . . but which no one dares to name. Welcome to 1893 Chicago and The World’s Fair. It is a real shame that they do not have World’s Fairs anymore as they have a certain elegance and activities that you get nowhere else. The 1893 Fair was one of the standouts and it is into this world that Rosalind enters. She is a girl from a farm in Wisconsin and is a fish out of water in big city Chicago. Add to this the social split between the rich, whom Rosalind works for, and the poor, which Rosalind is, and you have a lot of tension. Plus Sloan House is loaded with mystery and secrets and nobody seems to want the real truth about what happened to Rosalind’s sister to get out. On top of everything there is a romance. In the hands of a lesser author working with all these elements might not work but Ms. Gray is so skillful this story shines brightly. Ms. Gray makes you care for all the characters and their journey. It is watching all of this happen that is just plain fun and exciting. Well done Ms. Gray. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Rosalind and her family come from a small town in Wisconsin. Rosalind's sister, Miranda, has taken a job as a maid in the big city of Chicago. It has been quite some time since anyone in the family has heard from Miranda, and so Rosalind leaves the quiet family home for the unknown life in the city. Rosalind needs to find Miranda and hopefully, bring her back home safe. The last known place that Miranda worked was for the Sloanes. The Sloanes are a very influential family in Chicago. In the hopes of finding Miranda, Rosalind decides to become a maid for the Sloane Family as well. With hope and a "new" last name Rosalind is hired and starts to get to know the family and the staff of the home. The Sloane Family is a self-centered group of people and their main concern is for their own well-being. Rosalind gets no help from them, but she has befriended Reid Armstrong. He is very handsome and rich, and a close friend to Douglass Sloane. This book is about faith and the true meaning of family. Rosalind is by far my favorite character of this book. She is scared, but love for her sister triumphs over her own fear in the hope that her sister is safe. Rosalind battles fear, the unknown, the wrong people, and potentially the loss of family. In the end this story is about forgiveness, love, and faith. It is also about new beginnings and overcoming your fears. I think that this story is beautifully written. Everything about this book, including such a beautiful cover, is something we have all faced in one way or another. I love how Rosalind is willing to "do it afraid." The love she has for her sister overcomes the fear of the unknown. We have to tackle life that way. Just like with Rosalind, it only made her stronger.