Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Deeanne Gist - 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?

Comment: This is the second full length book which is part of the Chicago Fair setting the author has chosen for these stories. I liked the first book but then I read a snippet with the protagonists of this book, where they are introduced to us. That snippet was cute because of the way the main couple meets but it's in this book they have their story.

In this story we finally get to learn more about doctor Billy Jack Tate, a woman who is one of the first to be a doctor and to take a man's profession in a field which, in 1893, wasn't that broad to women. Billy's father wanted a son and that is why she has a masculine name and she has always tried to be the son her father wanted never thinking twice about trying to be who she wanted, even if that meant to try to hide how feminine she really is. Her role as a doctor becomes important when she is asked to replace a sick doctor at the woman's building at the Chicago Fair, where she meets Scott Hunter, a Texas Ranger. He is at the fair as a sort of exchange program, so he could bring what experience he gets back to Texas but he is discomfited to be place at the woman's building. It turns out, though, he was lucky, for the female doctor helps when when he becomes sick and he even likes her, and they become some kind of friends, even though their feelings become stronger. However, not all is easy for both their jobs get in danger when they decide to help those in the poorer parts of Chicago...

If there is one thing which has become very obvious in the latest books the author has written is how much dedication she is giving to research and unique settings and how much detail is included. This is not an historical book disguising a romance, this is seriously the finished product of the author's work in looking up things about the Chicago Fair, in picking elements and using them as best as possible within the fictional sections.

I do applaud this, for the sense of seeing the images in my head and learning things is impossible to ignore. However, I wonder if the author didn't go just a little too far with this, because the romance does feel a little weaker when in comparison with the historical setting and descriptions. Nevertheless, I think the author's intention of - my assumption! - spreading her horizons more towards historical fiction instead of Christian historical romance seem to be her goal.

Regarding this, I've seen several readers have disliked this novel because it wasn't Christian enough and they felt embarrassed reading...well, nothing improper happens in this novel, there are some kisses and the doctor does touch the hero when he is sick, so she can determine what is wrong. I can understand why this bothered people who only want "clean" novels but it wasn't such a big deal. Actually, I think if there's a problem here is the lack of more demonstrations of affection.

I say this because while the protagonists learn about one another as the plot moves along, I kept thinking they didn't really have much chemistry. Yes, Scott is a product of his time but his opinion on women and what their role should be got on my contemporary nerves! It really annoyed me even accepting this was the way things were back then, but it was a little more irritating when it was obvious her profession was important to Billy, so although things ended well for them, I kept thinking that despite their personality traits and backgrounds, their opinion of one another could have been softer, could have been more obviously tender as things develop between them...

Although some things aren't as well done as I wished, I must say that globally the story has a good sequence pace. Things happen in a believable way but then, while I was reading, between the little irritations at what was wrong with the mentality of the time and the less positive action situations, I realized I was not having much fun reading this. It felt as if every decision the protagonists made wouldn't be accepted by the other, their future seemed difficult for their lack of agreement and because of the consequences of some choices they did, plot related. The tone was bleak and I felt that, even guessing things would end well, the path to get there wouldn't just be about acceptance and love. conquering all.

Of course, that is precisely how things end, but not without some lessons to be learned and bad things to overcome. I like how realistic and true to the times and customs of the time the author was but it was a chore to finish this book and I haven't "kept" sweet scenes to carry me on about this book so it feels a little unfair to say I didn't like it as much as I wanted precisely for what it is strongest at, but that's a romance reader perspective anyway...

Grade: 6/10

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