For The Record

For the Record
Regina Jennings
Baker Publishing Group, 2016

Betsy Huckabee has lived with her uncle and his family for years, keeping house and helping Uncle Fred put out the town newspaper, but things are different now that he has remarried. Betsy loves her new aunt and nieces, but she needs a home of her own and that takes money. Attempts to get her news pieces published by newspapers in bigger cities has consistently failed – until the arrival of a dashingly handsome new deputy gives her the idea for a serial story that is sure to make lady readers sigh.

Deputy Joel Puckett leaves Texas to avoid a scandal and steps right into a mess in Pine Gap, Missouri. Corruption and inaction on the part of local law enforcement has led a group of concerned citizens to form a masked gang called the Bald Knobbers, whose only concern is seeing justice done for those in their community, whether it’s inside the letter of the law or not. Joel has a hard time breaking through the barriers of suspicion erected against outsiders, but finds an ally in Betsy Huckabee, a pretty, spunky reporter. As the vigilante situation gets more and more puzzling and crimes are being committed left and right, Joel desperately needs any friend he can get. But though he wants to trust her, his trouble back home has left a bad taste in mouth for women of all kinds. Will they be able to work together long enough to solve the mystery and bring justice to Pine Gap?

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Part of the Ozark Mountain Romance series, For the Record was a fun read. The interactions between Betsy and the deputy are entertaining, as are the blurbs that she mentally converts from dull real life happenings to exciting story material as their exchanges take place. She has clear opinions about what a truly dashing deputy would do or say in certain situations, and at first she thinks that Joel is the opposite of dashing, despite his objectively handsome exterior. But of course that changes as she gets to know him and recognizes the depth of character that leads him to do and say some of the things she doesn’t immediately understand.

Joel, on the other hand, admires Betsy almost from the beginning but has trust issues from when his reputation was besmirched by a conniving young husband-hunter in Texas. That and the fact that he is busy trying to hunt down criminals and vigilantes pushes romantic notions out of his head at first. Plus, he is pretty sure that Betsy has a secret of her own – a hunch that proves true when he finds out she has been publishing stories based off of him and his experiences in Pine Gap that might jeopardize his career. Right about that same time, Betsy learns about the accusations made against him in Texas, and the question for her becomes is he truly guilty of that offense? So they have to work out whether they can actually trust each or not.

It’s a fun book but has a serious side, with characters bringing up thought provoking questions about whether taking the law into your own hands is justified in a failing system. This book is the third in a series, and though I somehow skipped over the second one, I did enjoy the first book, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, just as much as I did this one.

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