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May 3, 2013

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

World's Fair comes to life through Cullen and Della's eyes

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist
Christian (?) Historical Fiction
Howard Books April 30 2013
Paperback 432 pages
Review copy provided by LitFuse, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 4 stars

Purchase a copy here

(Read my Love On The Line review, her last release)

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

Who could resist that gorgeous cover?! And that dress does actually make an appearance in the novel which adds an intriguing factor. If you have ever wondered what it was like to be at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, look no further. Deeanne Gist masterfully recreates the atmosphere as we see the fair through Della and Cullen's eyes, and we even get some pictures too! I loved that there were photos included from the fair, that was a really nice touch and added such authenticity to the story.

The story is a sweet and slow romance, because Cullen is only at the fair to market his invention of a sprinkler system while he has left his betrothed at home. Cullen is going to be at the fair for six months and he and Della have come up with an arrangement so that he could learn to lip read which is something he is going to need to learn how to do soon because of his own hearing impairment. Della easily begins to fall for him - in spite of herself - but Cullen is a respectful young man who knows where his heart is supposed to be: at home.

The story blends the historical element with the romance in a slow atmospheric way that is hard to put down. Tragedy spurs the story forward and the future is not so easy to guess for Cullen and Della, and when girlfriend Wanda shows up, Cullen has to make a difficult choice once and for all. At first I was distracted by the way the author displayed the annunciation of the words that Cullen was hearing, but that dissipated after a while. Those readers who do not like a large dose of "Christian" in their reads would be fine with reading this one, as there are only a few moments that I noticed the christian theme, which I guess is the norm for the Howard Books imprint of Simon & Schuster. I do want to mention that there is palpable amount of lust going on that is implied and while some may not think that is appropriate I absolutely LOVED the romance especially at the end - it was tastefully done and yet so..warm and passionate. Perfect.

"Blood rushed through her veins. He was magnificent. As beautifully formed as any sculpture on the entire grounds of the fair. She squeezed the stair rail. Would his chest have the same texture as his arms? {....}Oh, she could see. She could see just fine."

Deeanne Gist's newest novel brings to life the Chicago World's Fair through the eyes of these two very lovable characters. Her writing style flows easily and I found that even though I sometimes wish I could knock Cullen and Della over their heads when they were not explaining their feelings to each other, it was still a story that I will remember. I recommend it to any historical romance reader, and definitely to those who are interested in the history at the fair.

Incidentally, Goodreads is hosting a giveaway of the title till May 10, 2013.
Christian Bookshelf Reviews is offering a giveaway and a fabulous interview with the author here. There she offers a sneak peek at her next World's Fair novel.

Deeanne Gist is celebrating the release of It Happened at the Fair with an iPad Mini Giveaway and a Live Author Chat Webcast event {5/22}!

  One "fair" winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A $25 iTunes gift card
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 21st. Winner will be announced at the "It Happened at the Fair" Live Webcast Event on May 22nd. Connect with Deeanne for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Deeanne will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of It Happened at the Fair and join Deeanne and friends on the evening of May 22nd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 22nd!

As always a warm thank you to Litfuse and their fabulous nesters for providing me a copy of this title for review. They are a fabulous group of ladies, always a pleasure to participate in their blog tours.