Deception on Sable Hill
By Shelley Gray
Published by Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-33854-3
334 Pages

Back Cover: The World’s Fair has introduced many new ideas to Chicago society—but can two individuals from very different backgrounds find love together?

It’s mid-September 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning debutant of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago’s wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.

Sean is on the fringes of the Chicago elite. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best chance to ensure security. Despite social boundaries, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean will do anything to keep her safe—even if he can never earn her affections.

Eloisa longs to feel normal again, but a killer is on the loose. In the last month, three debutants have been accosted by an assailant wielding a knife, and Eloisa fears for her safety at every event she attends. As the danger in the city increases, and as the romance between Eloisa and Sean blossoms, they both realize they want to be seen as more than how the world views them. But will they catch the killer before all their hopes come crashing down?

REVIEW: It’s the beautiful and intriguing cover that grabbed my attention first. Then I noticed the name of the author. I’ve wanted to read one of her books for a while now. Up until now she’d written mostly Amish. The bonus for me was the story took place during the World’s Fair and I liked how it showed the confusing times within social lines in Chicago that were rapidly changing.

The author whisks readers into Eloisa’s world mingling at an elegant party Eloisa’s mother insisted she attend.  A young man starts to lead her to a private area. Eloisa becomes nervous. She doesn’t want to go. Sean Ryan sees panic in Eloisa’s eyes. He steps in to see how she is. She gladly accepts his help. Then people at the party panic for other reasons, screams break out. Everyone is nervous about The Slasher who’s been cutting beautiful rich girls’ faces; leaving them scarred for life!

The author says, “I truly loved Eloisa’s character. She worked hard to overcome the pain she suffered in a previous book…” She continues,…”Deception on Sable Hill takes place at the end of the Gilded age, right before the turn of the Century that will bring the Great War, Prohibition, the women’s right to vote. And the rise of the middle class.”

Eloisa finds it easy to set her feelings aside and pretend all was right with her world but not now. Not after she was sexually assaulted by a gentleman her mother set her up with. No one knows her secret and that she’s tarnished. She spent a long time hiding from people. But after a while became a fighter, “Perhaps life really was worth grasping and taking chances.(she thought) Perhaps life really was for living by what a person wanted instead of how others would view their having it.” She wasn’t going to let this event define her.

She helps Detective Sean Ryan with what she knew about the woman who were cut by the Slasher. She liked Sean and wondered if he liked her too. It was crazy for either of them to think this way. They were from very different worlds.

Sean explains to her when asked why they can’t have feelings for each other; “Because I’m Irish, Eloisa. Because I’m working class. Because my family built canals and railroads and worked in the stockyards while yours financed them. Because each of your evening gowns likely costs more than I earn in a month.”

Elosia looks Sean…”Those things don’t define you….You are more than that.”

Sean Ryan watches how the reverse situation his partner Owen Howard is going through. Owen is interested in his young nineteen year old sister Katie. She’s impressionable, feisty and wonders if she’ll ever be suitable for a man like Owen. The author says this about Katie “I felt she represented all the changes that were taking place for women at the turn of the century.” I agree

Eloisa wants to volunteer to help at Hope House. Sean runs into her sister later and asks how the tour of Hope House went with Eloisa.. Mauve explains, “She has everything, Sean. She has everything and she wants more. She’s going to want to marry a man who can give her more. No matter what you might think, she is not going to want to marry someone like you.”

Emotions run high and misunderstandings are inevitable between the classes. Will anyone be able to get along? Understand? This author gave a clear understanding of this matter from both sides. The author doesn’t have the reader solve the mystery but to go alongside the people that are in charge of investigating; Ryan and Owen. We see how this event affects their lives and their loved ones.

This is the second book in the Chicago World’s Fair mystery series; book one was titled Secrets of Sloane. I hadn’t read book one. I didn’t feel lost at all. I look forward to reading the third and final book in this series that’s scheduled to release November 2015; titled Whispers in the Reading Room. This novel would make a great book club pick. The author includes great discussion questions that would help in book club discussions. It’s a win, win for everyone!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Blogging program. 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”

Nora St Laurent                                                  
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network blog 

Book Fun Magazine


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