It Happened at the Fair
By Deeanne Gist
Howard Books, April 2013
About the Book
Gambling everything, including the family farm, inventor 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 a reluctant participant, 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?
I really enjoyed the historical aspects of this story and the pictures the author included. The emotional bonding that took place between characters over various incidents that occurred at the fair was well done. I appreciated the insight the author had into a number of issues. One had to do with how believing in someone’s abilities and admiring them will increase people’ feelings for each other. Especially men. They want the woman they are attracted to also believe in them as a person and in what they can do, not just accept them because they had known each other for a long time. That makes for a stronger kind of love; one that leads to a passionate marriage rather than just a comfortable one.
The hero, Cullen, was very likable, but also quite manly. The description of his physique was quite hot, actually. I enjoyed how the author used his need to learn lip reading as the way he met the woman he became attracted to, and then had that also be what made it difficult for him to learn from her because it put them in a number of intimate situations that developed great tension between them. His fierce protectiveness of her made me love him more. He was a good guy and cared deeply about a number of things, including loyalty. One of his most intense issues was his need to put out fires to save lives. He got to the point where he had to rely on God to see him through some tough issues. I loved that he grieved along with Della during a tragic time at the fair. It helped bond them even more. That was very well done.
The heroine, Della, was a sweetheart as well. The way her feelings slowly developed for the hero was touching. The scene with the little girl in her class was a tearjerker, but it really made Della think about what the kids experienced from being separated from their parents. Della had her own frailties, but she was a tough lady. Her response to seeing the hero’s buff physique made me smile. I felt like I was touching those ripped muscles. And that first kiss . . . whew! Great romantic tension. She got a bit skittish at times when she felt like she couldn’t trust him, but she came around and that made me admire her more. Very enjoyable story.
Healing Hearts . . . fiction making an impact on real lives
New titles releasing in 2013: Collette’s Crusade, Learning to Trust, Somebody Help Me,
Her Innocence, and Serena’s Something