Book Review: It Happened at The Fair

2 May

692371_w185Gambling 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.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?


404957067Deeanne Gist – known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee – has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captivated readers everywhere with her original historical and contemporary romances. A favorite among readers and reviewers alike, her popular titles include A Bride Most Begrudging, A Bride in the Bargain, and Maid to Match. Her latest book, It Happened at the Fair, is her ninth published novel. A popular speaker, Gist’s presentations have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and in other publications. The Wall Street Journal‘s accompanying online video was the most watched video on the website for several days following their feature. Gist has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel. She is also the creator of I Did It!®, a parenting line of products. Gist lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of thirty years. The couple has four grown children.

My Impressions:

If you like an historical novel that pays attention to detail and informs while it entertains or if you like your romance sweet and old-fashioned (yet not short of tension and sparks!), then you need to pick up a copy of Deeanne Gist’s latest novel, It Happened at The Fair. This is a novel you won’t put down until the last delicious page.

Cullen McNamara is a North Carolina farm boy allergic to all things on his father’s farm. He also has a bent for ingenious devices to make work easier. His father, well aware of his son’s talents and physical limitations, sets Cullen on the road to become an exhibitor at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. Despite all his arguments against going, Cullen arrives to demonstrate his automatic sprinkler system — to prove himself and to pay back his father for all his sacrifices. Adelaide Wentworth, Della to her friends, is a teacher of deaf children set up in one of the halls at the fair. When Cullen experiences increased hearing loss and difficulty understanding potential investors, he seeks Della’s help to learn lip-reading. But as they tour the fair in the evenings his proficiency is not the only thing that grows between them.

Gist has included fascinating glimpses into the spectacle that was the World’s Fair. Each chapter includes pictures of the buildings and sights — unbelievable detail and ingenuity by the builders and inventors featured. Her research is impeccable, and for those who want to know the rest of the story, she provides more historical facts in the Afterword. She also explores the state of deaf education at the end of the 19th century and the controversies surrounding the various techniques. I never knew about the debate between those who advocated lip-reading only and the proponents of sign language.

The romance between Cullen and Della is, of course, the highlight of the book. It is at times sweet and at times amusing. Misunderstandings and missteps occur, but the two are direct in overcoming their problems. And though their relationship is ruled by the propriety of the day, there are enough sparks between them to satisfy those looking for a really good love story.

All in all, I liked It Happened at The Fair and would recommend it to anyone.


(I received It Happened at The Fair in conjunction with Litfuse. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To read what other reviewers have to say, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of the book, click on the image below.

The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair overflowed with the latest innovations welcomed by a throng of people from all around the globe. This setting replete with history, intrigue, and wonder is the backdrop for beloved author Deeanne Gist’s latest release, It Happened at the Fair.


Deeanne is celebrating with an iPad 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!)


2 Responses to “Book Review: It Happened at The Fair”

  1. Deeanne Gist May 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Thank you for your review! I hope you have a blessed day. 🙂

    • rbclibrary May 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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