FOR THE RECORD by Regina Jennings

FOR THE RECORD by Regina Jennings

by Regina Jennings
Genres: Christian Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
FOR THE RECORD

 

by

 

Regina Jennings

 

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: December 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 336

 

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Rather Than Wait for a Hero, 
She Decided to Create One
Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.
 
Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.
The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.
guestpostWhat do you do when you write light-hearted historical romance, but the history behind your story is anything but light-hearted? What do you do when the body count of the historical event isn’t a laughing matter?

 

That’s where I found myself in my Ozark Mountain Romance series. I’d hit the era of the Bald Knobbers—the vigilante gang that presided over a deadly reign and terrified the hills-people they were supposedly guarding.

 

Not that things were peaceful before they took the reins. In the twenty years after the Civil War, there were forty murders in Taney County and not one suspect was ever convicted. Deciding that they would have to take matters into their own hands, local men formed a vigilante group sworn to justice, secrecy, and to wearing spooky-looking bags over their heads. They met on a bald knob, or a hill without trees on the summit, so that they could plan without fear of being overheard. Before long they were referred to as the Bald Knobbers and the name came to have dreadful connotations.

 

While the Bald Knobbers started out with good intentions, soon members were using the horned disguises while committing their own crimes. The Christian County Bald Knobbers were the most violent, and rival groups formed to combat them, but even in the darkest moments, the groups were still filled with men who had a unique way of looking at the world.

 

For instance, when the Anti-Bald Knobbers decided to take out their enemy Nathaniel Kinney, they had several volunteers. To decide who got to pull the trigger, they played a game of poker. The loser would do the execution. According to the fellas at the game, everyone was throwing their good cards trying to win the honor by losing.

 

In another instance, a group of the men consulted a lawyer in the big city of Springfield, Missouri. They asked him what he charged to represent a defendant in a murder trial. He told them it would be five hundred dollars. They went home, raised the money, paid the lawyer, then donned their masks and took after their prey. One has to wonder if this was the first case of pre-paid legal assistance in the mountains.

 

So, with two groups of people gunning for each other, how do we inject some humor into the situation? I found the answer in a historical footnote. According to the reports, the governor of Missouri requested help from out-of-state law enforcement because some of the local sheriffs had a hard time being impartial, and some were flat-out corrupt. It just so happened that I had a very handsome, very earnest, very Texan, young deputy from an earlier book that was just begging to be a hero. The timelines matched, so Joel Puckett was reassigned to Missouri, but there were a lot of surprises ahead for him.

 

For one thing, he wasn’t expecting the mountaineers to scoff at his big cowboy hat, spurs and six-shooters. Compared to their homespun clothes and homemade buttons, he looked like a dandy, all decked out like some little boy playing cowboy. Even worse, instead of riding the impressive horse he’s accustom to, he has to chase the Bald Knobbers on a miniature pony. Instead of being appreciated by the desperate townspeople, he’s under suspicion and the only help he receives is from the newspaperman’s niece. Little does he know that she has her own agenda. If those men mocked him for being too pretty for the job, wait until they read what she’s writing.

 

It also doesn’t help that Joel is naively optimistic. He sees everything as black and white, and is convinced he can tell the difference. Here’s a place where the true history of the Bald Knobbers could be of use. Drawing on the tangled loyalties and the sense of justice that the Bald Knobbers began with, I was able to put Deputy Puckett in a situation where doing the moral thing isn’t always legal and where even the good guys have to break the law sometimes.

 

A story isn’t a story without conflict, and setting your characters in a tumultuous era provides plenty of drama. Yet, with a little creativity and a sense for the improbable, it is possible to take a scary, violent time in history and make it palatable for lovers of light, witty romance.

 

***
PRAISE FOR FOR THE RECORD:

“Jennings creates a perfect blend of love, mystery, and wit in this 19th-century romance.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

 


“Jennings’ latest is a delightfully entertaining historical romance featuring charismatic humor, unpredictable thrills, and vigilante justice. The plot is tense and exciting, and the novel sparkles with the wit and charm of its spirited heroine. It is more romantic and less stuffy than your average inspirational, and Jennings uses classic western touches like six-shooters, spurs, and white Stetsons to land readers squarely in the Ozark Mountains of 1885.” —Booklist
“This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining story line. . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.” —RT Book Reviews
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Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Caught in the Middle, and At Love’s Bidding and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

  




  —————————————
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  THREE WINNERS EACH WIN A 3 BOOK SET OF THE OZARK MOUNTAIN ROMANCE SERIES WITH AUTHOR SIGNED BOOKPLATES:
(US & INTERNATIONAL; INTERNATIONAL WINNER WINS $30 AMAZON CARD IN LIEU OF BOOKS)
December 1 – December 12, 2016

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/1
Excerpt 1
12/2
Review
12/3
Author Interview 1
12/4
Promo
12/5
Review
12/6
Guest Post
12/7
Author Interview 2
12/8
Review
12/9
Excerpt 2
12/10
Review

 

 

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Comments

  1. Robin in NC says

    I really enjoy just about any era! Pre-Civil war, Civil war, post Civil war, WWII, post WWII… Each era has it’s uniqueness!

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