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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book Review: Fair Play: A Novel by Deeanne Gist

This is absolutely DELIGHTFUL!
Fair Play: A Novel
by Deeanne Gist

File Size: 45611 KB
Print Length: 464 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (May 6, 2014)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

Genre: Historical Romance
My Rating: 5.0 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
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?

Doctor Billy Tate is struggling for respect at a time when female doctors are not easily accepted. When patients realize that “Billy” is a female they turn away. Billy is to speak at the Women’s Symposium at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago but she experiences difficulties trying to get past the crowds. The security men don’t believe that she is a Doctor or one of the speakers and try to keep her from accessing the full hall. When she sneaks in, her unceremonious entry (legs exposed by upturned skirts) is caught by security guard, Hunter Scott, a Texas Ranger.

Hunter later needs medical attention at the fair and isn’t happy to be treated by a female doctor. Billy and Hunter are pulled together to take care of an abandoned infant. They cannot find the mother so they travel on street cars and walk through less desirable parts of town to take the baby to Hull House. Along the way they are distressed by the conditions of the poor, young children who have to work to help feed and clothe their families.
One of the young boys is arrested after being taunted by older boys into stealing a handful of coals. Billy goes to the jail to try to help the boy and is appalled by the conditions after she sneaks downstairs. She enlists Hunter’s help to get the boy released. Later they champion an innocent nine-year-old boy who is accused of murder.

Billy and Hunter work together with children from the area to build a playground for the poor. A friendship blooms between Billy and Hunter. Hunter plans to return to Texas to continue his wide ranging job as a Ranger. Billy has her heart set on building a successful medical practice and being a wage earner in the family. Although their first kisses are tantalizing they are both concerned that their goals don’t mesh.

This story is delightful in its characters and wonderful in the wealth of history. I thoroughly enjoyed the social issues that are discussed: a woman’s place in society, rights of children, medical conditions and supplies of the time, poverty and the underprivileged, prejudices, juvenile delinquency, intolerable prison conditions and more. The story line includes moments of tenderness, joy, heartbreak and sorrow. Hunter’s Texan phrases are particularly fun like:“Die and be blamed”, “That dog don’t hunt...” and “Stepping out with her would be like tying a bobcat with a piece of string”.

The love story is old fashioned and sweet. The characters have integrity and references to religion and faith are simple and easy. I highly recommend this story to those who like clean, authentic historical romance that offers as much in history as in romance. I will be looking for more books by this author to share with my ladies’ book club.

I received this from the publisher through NetGalley.

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