Saturday, December 6, 2014
Secrets of Sloane House (The Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series Book 1) by Shelley Gray
We're all ultimately alone in the world. When we're left alone we learn lessons that we would not have learned otherwise. When we struggle with things life hands us and get through, leaning on God's strength, we come out stronger for it.
It's 1893 Chicago and Rosalinds's sister Miranda has disappeared. She had traveled from their farm in Wisconsin to Chicago to be a maid in an elegant mansion, where she can earn money to send home to her family. Their father had gone to see the police, but was told they had no information and could not help them. So they sent their other daughter out to the same house, undercover, to see if she could find out what had happened to her. A hard worker on the farm, she finds that acting as a maid is much different. Everyone in the house is reticent to help her, saying she has to learn her own lessons and realize she needs to be helpful but invisible. The Sloane family is quite mean and selfish, except for glimpses of caring. The son of the family is a womanizer and takes advantage of the maids. I think the instances of Rosalind being downtrodden, unliked and not fitting in is overdone. Being a mystery, clues about Miranda are dropped here and there throughout the story, enhancing the feeling of danger.
Reid is a friend of the Sloane son Douglas. Reid's family is wealthy because of a successful strike of silver, not from old money. So he has been sent to the best schools to learn how to act in high society. At school for some reason he is rescued by Douglas, and thereafter follows him as an example and is a faithful friend. It's not until Rosalind is a maid at Sloane house that he starts becoming uncomfortable with Douglas' ways and he tries to protect her, later learning why she is there. Because the Sloanes are old society and have built a position of power they can get away with pretty much anything.
The writing is good and the characters are dimensional. For the most part I felt that the atmosphere was much too dark though. There were excellent lessons of faith and God's love interspersed throughout the story, but it felt like they were just dropped in. It wasn't until near the end of the book that you start to feel some light come into the story.
When we step out of our comfort zone we experience personal growth. Rosalind found out that she could do things that she would never have thought otherwise. The lack of Mother's love and caring showed with both characters. There were no loving dialogs from Rosalind's Mother in letters from home. In Reid's Mother's case, she didn't check in on his younger brother until it was too late and his illness killed him. I suppose that the feeling of aloneness would not have been so strong without the family's absence. The other thing that bothered me was that Rosalind didn't have many clues from Miranda's letters home as to what might have happened to her. But when she writes home she withholds information and doesn't tell them things - so if she goes missing they would have the same problems.
I find it hard to say that I don't like a book. I read it through and look for the good points. I'm somewhat curious about the other characters in the story and what happens to them in the books to follow, but I wouldn't go out of my way to find them. Maybe it's me, but this one just didn't hit me right. Even though I am a fan of the underdog, I feel this time it was overdone.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher (Zondervan) through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers 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.”