Here's a description of the book from Howard Books:
"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.
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?"
The setting steals the show in this engaging story about two talented people who meet at the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair, 1893). I really enjoyed the tour of the fair - from the exciting rides to the informative exhibits and eating establishments. And the pictures from the World's Fair in the edition I was provided for review really added a great nostalgic atmosphere to the reading experience. (According to the author's blog, the pictures are only included in the print version - vs. the e-version - and that might only be for the first edition.)
While I absolutely loved the historical setting, the hero and heroine make the story more than just an informational glimpse into the past. Cullen and Della are great characters with intriguing quirks. Cullen is a farmer with allergies who prefers inventing and fixing things, but a past tragedy, devotion to family, and former failures keep him from initially embracing the opportunity he's given to be a part of the fair. Della is a teacher with a heart for the deaf and a fear (planted by her father) of the deceptiveness of men. A girl back home, a debate about how to best help the deaf, and various insecurities make the romance as interesting to follow as the characters' nightly outings at the fair.
The story isn't all fun and games, as there are hardships and catastrophes to face, as well as deeper issues to consider. But all in all, this book is really a treat as sweet as the hot chocolate Della loves so much. I would have liked a bit more of a thrilling ending and a bit less of a superficial look at matters of faith (especially with the emphasis on patriotism), but for a creatively told story, I recommend finding out what happened at the fair.
*With thanks to Howard Books for providing me with an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
Note ~ This book will be released on April 30, 2013.