I have read and enjoyed quite a few novels by DeeAnne Gist over the past several years. One thing that comes to mind when I think about her books is the amount of humor that she manages to insert into her historical romance stories. “Fair Play” follows that general form with a moderate amount of levity but on the whole, its content is much more serious.

Set against the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair, the chapters open with actual photos taken either at the World’s Fair or in scenes comparable to those in the story. Billy Jack Tate is a woman doctor working at the fair while attempting to establish her own medical practice at a time when women doctors are frowned upon. Hunter Scott is a Texas ranger also working at the fair as a guard at the women’s building, a position he feels is quite below his personal qualifications. Hunter and Billy Jack clash repeatedly because of their different outlooks on men and women’s places in society but as can be expected, an attraction begins to grow between them.

The romance between Billy Jack and Hunter is well and good but to me the meat of this story was the contrast between the opulent buildings of the World’s Fair and the deplorable living conditions in the low income area that was nearby. The neglect and mistreatment of children were especially heart-breaking, especially the child left chained alone in an apartment while the rest of her family worked and the children thrown and kept in jail for minor infractions.

Most fiction has its heroes and villains and “Fair Play” had its share. Although the plot may have moved a bit slowly at times, it never failed to hold my interest. Dialogue between Billy Jack and Hunter was often amusing. They both held firm opinions but their hearts were compassionate. I loved the scenes about the development of the first city park and the dedication of the women at Hull House toward helping the children.

“Fair Play” was not the most entertaining and carefree novel I’ve read by DeeAnne Gist but as historical fiction, it is top notch. I recommend it highly.


This book was provided for review by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Fair PlaySaddled 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?

Read an excerpt from “Fair Play” HERE.

Dee AnnGistDeeanne Gist has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, original historical and contemporary novels. She has received three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. With a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M, Deeanne has written for People, Parents, and Parenting magazine. She has four grown children and lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband. Visit her online at and at