I should really know better by now. I mean, I'm such a sucker for cute historical romance, so needless to say... I didn't get a lot of sleep that night. Now, although I read it on a somewhat sleep-deprived brain, I can honestly say that I loved it and considering I've read almost everything Deeanne Gist has ever wrote, it's a pretty big deal when I say that this book was one of her best. Not only was it well-written, romantic and sweet, but it also had a lot of depth to it.
The only warning I have for you is that it wasn't overly Christian. If you're looking for a novel that screams Jesus from the rooftops, then you won't be satisfied with this book. I'm thinking Deeanne is veering more into the historical fiction rather then the "Christian fiction" label, because although the story mentioned God, faith didn't play a key role.
Other then that, it was great! I highly recommend it to all you ladies who would love a good romance between the stubborn feminist doctor and the handsome Texas Ranger. Our male protagonist was quiet dashing, and I enjoyed getting to know both him and our heroine.
Despite the name, Dr Billy Jack Tate is a woman. A woman doctor, in 1893 Chicago. She is offered a job as a doctor in the infirmary at the Woman's Building at the Chicago World's Fair. She meets Hunter Scott, Texas Ranger employed at the Fair in the Columbian Guard. The two get closer when Hunter finds an abandoned baby, and the two of them take it to Hall House, a home for foundlings on the outskirts of the slum district. As they get to know the area, they decide to work together to build a playground so the local children have a safe place to play.
A huge amount of research has gone into the writing of Fair Play, as is evident from the authentic photographs at the beginning of each chapter. This authenticity was one of the strengths of the story, as it made it so much easier to see the deprivation in the slums, and the contrast between rich and poor. It was also gratifying to read at the end that many of the plot points, including the playground, were based on historical records.
I also liked the characters. Both Billy and Hunter were intelligent and ambitious, and both had a certainty in their occupational calling that provided some interesting misunderstandings. This was tempered by genuine caring for the plight of the poor _ and each other.
Fair Play is a standalone novel, but is loosely related to It Happened at the Fair, also based at the World's Fair. It is published by Howard Books, a Christian imprint, but I have to say that the content is more clean general-market romance than Christian, as there is no overt faith element. That's a disadvantage for those looking for some Christian in their Christian fiction, but will be seen as an advantage by those who find some Christian fiction too preachy. However, it has all Deanne Gist's trademark passion and I'm sure her fans will enjoy it.
Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
The setting is the Chicago Worlds Fair and the tenement area of Chicago. It gives a realistic glimpse of the living conditions and poverty for the Nineteenth Ward of old Chicago. The characters are well developed and the reader can easily picture the conditions and expressions on the faces of the scene. Texas Ranger Hunter Scott and Dr. Billy Jack Tate give the reader quite a few chuckles and thoughts to ponder. The book has many poignant experiences to keep the reader interested. I hate to say the book is about denying self because it sounds so boring, but that is what it boils down to and the rewards and joys that come from that kind of love. Deeanne Gist has produced another outstanding novel that I would recommend to everyone. I appreciate her portrayal of real life people where she doesn't gloss over the good, bad and ugly of life.
Deeanne Gist in her new book "Fair Play" Book Two in the Chicago World's Fair series published by Howard Books takes us into the life of Billy Jack Tate and Hunter Scott.
From the back cover: From the bestselling author of "It Happened at the Fair" comes a historical love story about a lady doctor and a Texas Ranger who meet at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
Saddled with a man's name, the captivating Billy Jack Tate makes no apologies for taking on a man's profession. As a doctor at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, she is one step closer to having her very own medical practice-until Hunter Scott asks her to give it all up to become his wife.
Hunter is one of the elite. A Texas Ranger and World's Fair guard specifically chosen for his height, physique, character, and skill. Hailed as the toughest man west of any place east, he has no patience for big cities and women who think they belong anywhere but home_
Despite their difference of opinion on the role of women, Hunter and Billy find a growing attraction between them-until Hunter discovers an abandoned baby in the corner of a White City exhibit. He and Billy team up to make sure this foundling isn't left in the slums of Chicago with only the flea-riddled, garbage-infested streets for a playground. As they fight for the underprivileged children in the Nineteenth Ward, an entire Playground Movement is birthed. But when the Fair comes to an end, one of them will have to give up their dream.
Will Billy exchange her doctor's shingle for the domesticated role of a southern wife, or will Hunter abandon the wide open spaces of home for a life in the "gray city," a woman who insists on being the wage earner, and a group of ragamuffins who need more than a playground for breathing space?
History comes alive at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Lady doctors are hard to come by and even more difficult to accept. Really, who wants to go to a lady doctor except maybe other ladies. It is into this environment that Billy Jack makes her appearance. See, despite the name, Billy Jack is really a woman and a doctor to boot. Hunter is a Texas Ranger assigned to security who finds an abandoned baby. Now he has to work together with Billy to help the baby as Social Services as we now know it didn't exist. They also discover that Chicago is a bit of a pig-pen and is a breeding ground for poverty, street children and gangs. In an effort to fight against this situation they begin to develop the idea for a playground, an idea that will grow from Chicago to spread across the nation. Ms. Gist blends romance and historical fiction to bring the past alive through her extensive period research. You will find yourself not only caught up with the exciting backdrop of the darker side of Chicago, but the blossoming romance between Billy Jack and Hunter. Great characters and a great romance. I really liked "Fair Play" and look forward to more stories from Deeanne Gist.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. 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."