If a novel can be both tragically heart-wrenching and also turn around and have your stomach hurting from laughing, it is Fair Play by Deeanne Gist.
From the beginning, Dr. Billy Jack Tate is set to be successful despite her gender. She received a boy’s name, because well, her parents desperately hoped for a boy, and with such, she is determined to be a successful doctor, when there aren’t many female doctors. But when love enters her life, she might have to consider giving up all of her ambitions.
Hunter Scott is a man’s man. He is working to become a captain for the Texas Rangers, so he’s hoping to do something to give him some additional credentials by being a guard for the World’s Fair. He lives his life by a code of honor and chivalry, and it quite challenged by Dr. Tate.
Naturally, the sparks fly between them, but it appears for anything to work between them, Dr. Tate needs to give up her doctoring and city life or Hunter has to give up Texas and being a ranger. Until they figure that part out though, they work together to build a playground in the slums of Chicago, and to try to give the children there a chance to play and be, well, children before the corruptness of the city can infiltrate their lives.
If you have read a novel by Gist, you know to expect quite a bit of humor and wit, as well as some flirtatious scenes. This novel is filled with them. Billy and Hunter are such polar opposites of one another that it is a puzzle to see them work so well together. However, that adage of opposites attracting is very true in their case, because the sparks certainly fly in this novel. I don’t think Gist has ever really shied too far away from being fairly blunt about feelings (both emotional and physical) between couples, and she certainly doesn’t in this novel. However, she handles is tactfully. But there is a definite shift when it comes to that aspect of this particular novel from her previous ones (I believe she has moved from publishing under Bethany House to an imprint of Simon and Schuster). So, as a warning to those who might decide to pick this book up, there is a scene of a racier nature as well as numerous comments and thoughts.
As I opened with, parts of this novel are quite tragic. Gist gives her readers a eye-opening glimpse of the slums of Chicago, and it isn’t pretty. Considering the storyline, much of this has to do with the children who grew up in the impoverished areas and it is hard to believe what they went through. The readers are also given a glimpse of the jail in Chicago, which isn’t in any better of condition.
I really enjoyed this novel for another glimpse of the World’s Fair and the darker sides of Chicago at the time. The characters were quite enjoyable, and even the plot and subplots leave you feeling hard-pressed to want to put the book down. This is the second book that sends readers to a visit to the world’s fair, and I’ve heard there is a third in the works. I will be anxiously awaiting that novel as well as any other that Deeanne Gist writes.
For more about Deeanne Gist or Fair Play, please check out the following links:
- Deeanne Gist’s Website
- Deeanne Gist’s Facebook Page
- Follow Deeanne Gist on Twitter
- Purchase Fair Play on Amazon
(This is a novel I checked out from my local library, so I have not been compensated in any way for this review. It is my own honest opinion.)