Review: Fair Play by Deeanne Gist

fair playTitle: Fair Play by Deeane Gist
It Happened at the Fair Series Book Two
Publisher: Howard Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 464 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


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, 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 differences of opinion, Hunter and Billie find a growing attraction 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. 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 one breathing space?

The Review:

Fair Play by Deeanne Gist is an incredibly fascinating novel that whisks readers back in time to the Chicago World Fair. This beautifully written story seamlessly incorporates historically accurate details into a timeless romance that is sure to enchant old and new fans of the delightful It Happened at the Fair series.

Dr. Billy Jack Tate and Hunter Scott are older and very career oriented. Billy has worked hard to become a doctor, but establishing her medical practice in a male dominated field is virtually impossible due to the prejudices of the time period. Hunter is very proud of being a member the elite Texas Rangers and he has taken the position as guard at the fair solely to advance his career. They meet under somewhat embarrassing circumstances but despite their awkward introduction, they soon form an unlikely friendship. When love begins to blossom between them, will their differences threaten their future?

Billy and Hunter are both fairly stubborn and neither seems willing to compromise their principles. Billy is a city girl who enjoys the excitement of the hustle and bustle of living in Chicago. But it is also on the cutting edge of medical technology and she does not want to lose this valuable opportunity to hone her skills. She is often a contradiction as she fights to maintain her femininity while trying to downplay her more womanly attributes. Hunter has forged a very successful career as a Ranger and he cannot fathom a life without wide open spaces. His old-fashioned values lead him to unrealistic expectations regarding Billy’s role as a physician. Both are guilty of making assumptions about what the other is thinking and this leads to trouble when their relationships enters into romantic territory.

Billy and Hunter’s compassion and concern for an abandoned baby take them from the safe, protected world of the fair and into the poverty stricken tenements of Chicago. They witness firsthand the appalling living conditions and hand-to-mouth existence immigrants experience as they attempt to provide for their families. Children are robbed of their innocence as they roam the streets unsupervised and become juvenile delinquents. Most heartbreaking is the young age that many are forced into taking jobs so they can help contribute to their financially strapped households.

All of these elements contribute to the evolution of Billy and Hunter’s characters and relationship while providing a captivating backdrop for Fair Play. Deeanne Gist’s exceptional research is one of the highlights of her novels and she has again woven pieces of history into an unbelievably captivating romance that enlightens as well entertains. The setting of the Chicago World’s Fair is the only common denominator between novels in the It Happened at the Fair series, so each can be read as standalone stories.


Filed under Deeanne Gist, Fair Play, Historical, Howard Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance

2 Responses to Review: Fair Play by Deeanne Gist

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the review Kathy

  2. Cindy DeGraaff

    Nice review. I don’t normally read this time period, but I may have to make an exception.