Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Happened at the Fair

It Happened at the Fair
DeeAnne Gist
Howard Books
Fiction, Romance, Christian 
April 2013

Beginning to lose his hearing and highly allergic to cotton and farm life in general Cullen's father gambles everything to send him to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Cullen goes extremely reluctantly sure he's going to fail. He's also hesitant to leave his girlfriend turned fiancee, but his father has arranged everything so Cullen goes. He's been enamored with the fair and with inventing for quite awhile and while he's reluctant a tiny seed of excitement stirs inside him. Once at the fair he quickly realizes his hearing loss is going to be a major issue in the very noisy mechanics building. At the suggestions of a possible investor he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.  

Della is at the fair teaching deaf children in a live exhibit. She's reluctant to teach Cullen but agrees when he suggests that they can explore the fair while he's learning. Della is immediately attracted to Cullen but remains very wary at the caution of her overly protective father. 

Cullen finds he enjoys nothing more than watching Della's lips as she teaches him. He's caught between his attraction to her and his loyalty to his fiancee back home. As Della and Cullen explore the fair together their feelings for each other develop. What will happen when Cullen's fiancee show's up at the fair demanding he marry her? Will Della and Cullen find a way to be together? 

The historical aspects of the World's Fair were incredible. It was clear Gist did an immense amount of research. I felt like I got to walk alongside Cullen and Della every evening at the fair. The detailed descriptions were captivating and I could "see" each building. What an amazing feat and showpiece for our country! 

Deanne Gist has brought us many delightful Christian romance novels filled with that perfect blend of romance, history, and God all rolled into one. I expected the exact same thing when I cracked open this book. Unfortunately I was disappointed. There was romance and there was history but there was very little God. In fact, he wasn't mentioned in the book in any noticeable way until near the very end, almost as if it was a last minute addition. Having it be a last minute disjointed addition was almost more disappointing to me.

There were some inconsistencies within the plot line that I found to be confusing. For instance, Della makes it very clear that learning the art of lip reading will take years. Cullen still decided to begin lessons knowing the fair only runs for 6 months. Other than that relationship being needed for the story it seemed very far fetched. Also, the investor who suggests lip reading plays a very small part and his suggestion is very weak. There were little to no supporting characters which meant we were always with either Cullen or Della but I would have liked to have seen them have friends around them. They were very isolated. 

One other thing worthy of note is that Gist attempts to write the way Cullen hears. She purposely omits parts of words so we as the reader can maybe understand Cullen's hearing needs. I found it more irritating than helpful. She omitted a lot of vowels which didn't make sense to me. I'm not sure it was as effective as she wanted it to be.

With all of that said Cullen and Della have a beautiful love story. They are sweet and their desire for each other is evident. It's the well written romantic piece you would expect from Gist. The historical detail is expansive and captivating. It's a good read, not a great read. I've read great from Gist so I know she can do better.

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

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