5 out of 5 stars

When a book and its characters linger in my mind months after I finished reading (or listening), I know it’s a keeper.

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Deeanne Gist grabbed my full attention with FAIR PLAY. I savored every scene and chapter, often wondered where the story would go (a delicious kind of curiosity), and ultimately delivered one of the most satisfactory endings. The romance develops at a most delicious pace with characters revealed in a manner that made me fall hard for the Texas Ranger on loan to the Columbian Guard at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. Dr. Billy Jack Tate, a female physician at a time when medicine was male-dominated, showed the kind of pluck, determination, and worthiness that made me care, desperately, about her plight and her well-intentioned determination to make a difference.

Together, Hunter (our dashing hero) and Billy Jack (our lady doctor heroine) not only make a difference, their lives become so intertwined, inseparable, that though neither is sure a courtship is a wise idea, they’re so in love by the time it’s necessary to settle their differences (Hunter has no patience for women who believe their place to be anywhere but home–and don’t dare suggest he needn’t work to support the family, as Dr. Tate could support them just fine if only he’d stay home with their babies) neither can see their way through the quandary.

Though labeled as a Christian Historical Romance, I found the religious aspects to be mild, secondary, subtle. No Scripture, no preaching, no adamant elements–yet every component of the story (including the treatment of the violence within Chicago’s poorest areas) will be welcome and suitable for all audiences. I not only fell in love with this romance, I’ve thought of it often and in detail in the many months since I listened to the audible version. Any story that captures me that intensely deserves not only 5 stars but as many word-of-mouth recommendations as I can give it. This title is one of three “keepers” I blogged about on Romancing the Genres, recommending to readers.

Conflict is significant, and not merely within the romance to keep the hero and heroine from committing easily and living “happily ever after”. Chicago is a big city in 1893 and crime is rampant, particularly in the wards (political boundaries, segments) with the poorest housing and desperate immigrants. Circumstances naturally arise that draw Billy Jack and Hunter together, working toward common goals–and the fight to protect themselves and others brings out the vivid depth to their characterizations. Secondary characters play a huge role in the development of the story and the romance. You’ll simply have to read (or listen to) it to grasp why this title echoes within my memory, still, though months have passed since I enjoyed it. It’s that good.

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Used Paperbacks: FAIR PLAY

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Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC