Against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, a new kind of crime comes to Gilded Age Chicago . . . and a lonely young woman is always at risk.
Back on the farm in Wisconsin, Rosalind’s plan had seemed logical: Move to Chicago. Get hired on at Sloane House, one of the most gilded mansions of Chicago. 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. 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.
The Victorian vibes of the novel were great. And there were so many red herrings in the mystery. It kept me guessing every direction I turned. I was annoyed with the characters I was supposed to be annoyed with—and others that I knew I should be annoyed with turned out to have interesting facets. When all was said and done, I truly did not expect the culprit. The resolution of the story also actually showed the culprit’s family dealing with the fallout—a rarity.
However, some scenes got repetitive really fast. (I see this happen in my own writing a lot.) Scene: Rosalind talks to a member of the staff who warns her not to look for her sister. Next scene: Rosalind talks to somebody new who warns her not to look for her sister. Next scene: Rosalind talks to somebody different who warns her not to look for her sister.
While the culprit did surprised me, the answer to Miranda’s disappearance did not.
Nothing much stood out about Rosalind. She could have been any other female character in any other book. The whole story revolved around her finding herself and ultimately realizing that she was a stronger, braver person than before. Except she really wasn’t—she just had Reid there to save the day for her.
Also, her pouring her whole life story—including her secret identity and her sister’s disappearance—to a guy whom she’s never met before? A little sketchy.
The wealthy man's son always taking advantage of maids trope also didn't catch my attention. This seems to be a very tired-out trope in historical romances.
The book had some really random info-dumps in really weird places. While they didn’t ruin the book for me, they could have been solved with some thought and editing. For instance, one chapter ended and the next began with, “Reid’s brother died when he was young.” While this was important to know, we got some random pages that didn’t really fit in the narrative—nothing had triggered Reid thinking of this. Then we jerked back to Reid in the ballroom somewhere. Add on to this one lonely scene from a side character's point of view which seemed put there only to set her up for the second book.
Secrets of Sloane House is a fantastic mystery, but slowed down just a bit by lack of character depth and a few scenes of clunky writing. Still, it was the perfect low-key read for a fall evening.
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