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Deeanne Gist’s Fair Play


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?

Deeanne Gist can write some hilarious romantic books and this is another one of them. For those of us who read the first novel by Ms. Gist in this series, we briefly came across Billy Jack Tate. And then for those of us who bought the novella about Billy Jack Tate…well…we knew what to expect to some degree. Ms. Gist does not pull back the punches on some things. Here’s my assessment:
What I liked:
The authenticity of the novel. I really felt like Ms. Gist did her research with not only the fair, but the medical aspects of Billy Jack’s work and the police work that Hunter was involved in. Also as a Chicago native, and one who has been to the Hull House, it was really nice to kind of picture the area that she was describing (though it was a very different looking Chicago back then). Furthermore, there’s a lot that I learned that I didn’t know about and while I did get a bit confused about why Playgrounds were expected to accomplish so much, it was still fascinating to see how they came about.
The romance. Well, in case you’re wondering why Ms. Gist is considered an edgy Christian novelist, just read this one and you will find out. It gets a little toasty in this book, but all within the confines of Christianity, I can assure you. I will say, that I love the way Billy Jack handles Hunter. She is a woman who knows what she wants and she is not afraid to let him know it. I also felt like there was a carefreeness to their relationship. When they were getting to know each other there was no extra stress that sometimes I feel certain novelists add to force tension. And I love the spirit of give a little, get a little in this novel. They really worked to make their relationship a success, so that even though they were very different people coming from very different backgrounds, I had complete faith in their relationship at the end of the novel. In fact, it would have been lovely if the novel continued throughout their marriage. 
It’s cute! This novel is so light, and cute, and funny. Sometimes you just need to unwind and read something that won’t stress you out. This is that kind of read (though it has a couple of CSI moments, and while I found myself involved, it wasn’t too intense; I mean, this is Chicago).
Spiritually, the novel is a bit light, but both characters spend time in prayer and seek God when things get difficult. 
What I didn’t like:
At about 30% on my kindle, the novel slowed a bit. I was like, where is this going exactly? And I put the book down for a day. Pick it back up! I promise you it gets better and you will become very much involved with the characters. 
Billy Jack Tate is woman ahead of her times. That’s fine. But sometimes I wondered why she failed to understand that not everyone was ahead of their time like her. 
Overall, a very good novel and well worth the read!
Romantic Scale: 9
**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

2 thoughts on “Deeanne Gist’s Fair Play

  1. It sounds like a really fun novel! Our church bookclub is actually reading “It Happened at the Fair” next month and will be my first novel I have read by her! However it sounds like it won’t be my last!

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