by Deeanne Gist – An excellent read, with excellent characters, set in a specific place and time I had never contemplated or even imagined: the Chicago World’s Fair. It was a celebration of innovation and invention, as exemplified by our hero Cullen’s creation of an automatic fire-sprinkler system and our heroine Della’s work as a lip-reading teacher for deaf children in a society that still locked up the handicapped in asylums.
Both of them are likeable and goodhearted, and neither of them are stock romance characters, which is a definite plus. Still, I found myself drawn more to Cullen, as his plight was more desperate, with his family’s fortunes and his own physical wellbeing dependent on his success at the fair. My main concern for Della was that she play her part in making Cullen’s life happier and better overall.
My only quibble was that I had to look in the Q&A section at the back of the book to discover that the author chose to write some of the dialogue directed at Cullen in a sort of shorthand, that it wasn’t an attempt to present a regional accent or even a typographic or editing error. Finding that it was a representation of the way Cullen, with his hearing failing, heard some words was a relief. I wish the author had indicated this early in the novel somewhere, so that every encounter with it didn’t yank me out of the story and make me question the author’s intent.
Overall, I recommend this book to lovers of historical romantic fiction. (finished 5/5/14)
Note: I received a free copy of this book for review/judging purposes.