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?
*I received a free ARC of Fair Play from Howard Books via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*
Fair Play is a great fictional story about a female doctor in Chicago in 1893. The prejudices against women are very strong, and I thought that the story really made the point very well about how much women in those times had to work in order to be taken seriously. Billy has to work twice as hard, and she is definitely used to that. When she started her university to become a doctor, there weren’t many other women with her, but she managed to finish top of her class, and work in several well-renowned hospitals before she went to Chicago to open her own practice. When she is supposed to give a speech about her work, the guards won’t even let her enter the building because she’s a woman, and they don’t believe she’s a doctor who is supposed to be there. As she tries to enter through a window, with her skirts up at her waist, and jumping down to the floor, another guard is looking at her when she gathers herself again. She manages to keep her face hidden and gets him to take her to the right place, though.
Hunter Scott is a Texas Ranger, and he’s in Chicago to maybe become the captain one day. Being part of the prestigious Columbia Guard for the Chicago fair, he has no idea what to think about this strange woman who insists she’s a doctor. Fair Play unfolds quite slowly, but beautifully, and few days later, they meet again, after Billy has gotten a job at the women’s house as a doctor three days a week, and Hunter is guarding the entrance there. Billy’s first patient that day happens to be Hunter, and it was quite hilarious because she recognized him as the guard who had seen her come through the window, even if he didn’t recognize her at all.
Little by little, Hunter and Billy become friends, and he starts to see that even if she is a woman, Billy is a very good doctor. He does find her quite difficult, though, and they both have to compromise a lot as they grow to become friends, then realize they both might want something more. It’s difficult to say who had the hardest time thinking about the future, Hunter had always pictured himself with a wife who would be home with the children, and Billy knew she wanted to continue to be a doctor for the rest of her life. Fair Play covers a lot of subjects concerning both women’s liberation and how to help the poor youth in the city stay out of trouble.
Well written, quite humorous and also romantic, Fair Play is slow-paced but includes a vast cast of characters. The character development is really well done, because both Hunter and Billy are used to getting their way, and having to compromise is unfamiliar to both of them. Hunter acts and thinks very sensibly, though, in some places so much so that it was almost a little hard to believe him. I really did enjoy Fair Play, and I will be picking up other books by Deeanne Gist in the future. If you want to read a historical novel that talks about womens rights, but also about the rights of children and the poor, with a little touch of romance, Fair Play should make you happy, too.
And that bothered him. She should be an innocent. A woman should learn from a man about the mysteries that occur between members of the opposite sex. Not by some tome she’d read and been lectured on by a dried up old professor.
At the beginning of the day, she’d put on her beautiful undergarments. The more she wore them, the more pleasure she derived from them. She’d never imagined how much of a difference they would make. They allowed her to enjoy her femininity without sacrificing her hard-won facade.
Do you think you could ever be with a woman who was a wage earner? Covering his face with his hands, he rubbed his forehead. She might as well ask him if he’d like a bear in his hog pen. No, he didn’t want to be with a woman who was a wage earner. What man would? He knew things were changing.
The answer was not. maybe not an absolute no, just a not-until-you-answer-some-questions no. Questions like, what about the children? Who’d raise them? A nanny? Well, what if he wanted his wife to raise them? Was that too much to ask?