He Loves Lucy: Ann Yost
Sometimes the choices that you make have a great impact on your life. Decisions that are somewhat thought out can backfire if the real reason you made them is not good. Lucy Outlaw decided to take a temporary job taking care of the Sheriff’s two young children. Little did she know that not only would this decision change her life, the lives of the children but also create havoc for the sheriff in ways you just won’t believe. Hoping to make an impression on the audience during a Christmas pageant, Lucy, who was known for her mishaps, blunders and unusually creative way of handling problems and situations decided to create costumes for the pageant and attached bells to the toes of each student. What she did not count on is that the bells would explode and everyone just sat by or stood by shaking their heads while poor Lucy, who was noted for her Regrettable Mishaps, was a legend in Eden Maine. Disruption, chaos and anything that could go wrong followed Lucy. But, when she finally realized the damage she did, she would apologize; try to fix her blunders, as most people would just shake their heads. Lucy was working for Sheriff Jake Langely, on hot guy that sent her barometer higher than the highest reading on any thermometer. Together they were toxic but neither one would admit it or realize it at least to each other.
This might be a romance novel but the author adds much more as we get to know Lucy and realize that she has self-esteem issues from all the criticism she takes and the fact that no one has any faith in her to complete a task or job the right way. Even Lucy as you come to know her has no faith in herself and the only ones that are her real champions are Sam and Lillie who adored her. Twelve years older than Lucy, married to someone that left him stranded with two children, grandparents that wanted to take over their custody, Jake did not realize that life would get more complicated when he realized that Lucy just might be the one.
Lucy Outlaw has a vision. Her vision is to become a journalist and win the Pulitzer Prize. Big dreams but first she had to get a job writing for a paper and someone had to take a real chance on her. Eden County know that it’s a safe community so many someone leaves the body of Nate Packer, a well known developer, dead near the Blackbird Reservation, with an arrow stolen from the Museum on the reservation were they trying to bring attention to the tribe making it seem that some there committed the murder or was their another reason? Nate Bangor, developer from Bangor was shot through the heart. The killer used a bow and arrow. The victim’s body and the scene are graphically described on pages 23-24 and the area where this story takes place is known for hunters. Nate Packer was involved in business deal but his partner, Cam Outlaw, Lucy’s brother, would not go along with his business practices. As the author continues to describe the body and that it formed the third point of an equilateral triangle along with Packer’s car, a smoke-gray Jag and the construction trailer. Did the killer want to draw attention to the tribe and keep the investigation there? The weather did not cooperate with the investigation and the ME arrived, wore plastic gloves to get the arrow from the tree trunk and Homer, the ME, thought that it had to be the Indians based on the bow and arrow. The investigation goes in many directions and information comes to light that Nate was dead for a couple of hours after attending the Tribal Council meeting and death not long after. But, was the fight between him and the Tribal Elders or between Nate and Cam Outlaw who just happens to be Lucy’s brother.
Lucy is tenacious, persistent and determined to work for a newspaper and she is hired over at the Eden Excelsior. She would not take just any job and the one offered would be like a girl Friday: cleaning, coffee and menial tasks that she immediately stated she would not do. Lucy wanted in on the murder and claimed she had taken courses in journalism. Her inborn instincts and her ability to poke her nose in the right and wrong places is what make this character so believable and so endearing. Ed her boss was the first person that realized that she is quite capable of doing a good job but would she live up to what he expected? Would she ever realize that she could handle it? But, first she had to deal with Jake Langley, the feelings she got around him, dealing with his sister-in-law Hallie who seemed interested in him too, her newborn son Robert and her step-daughter Hallie. Learning more about the murder victim, his identity and meeting Marilyn Hart the woman who wanted to take her place as Jake’s second wife and much more, this real estate woman was determined to snag him at any cost.
When she learns that her brother is a suspect and she is going to question him, Nate’s two wives and other suspects, what she uncovers in the short time she interviews them causes her to worry about whether her brother was guilty or not, if he was hiding something and if his alibi was real. Fighting with Nate over building materials and using disreputable people at the construction site brings to light how some contractors will cut corners, use inferior materials in order to get a job done.
Lucy is quite enterprising and not only is she working for the paper in Eden but the Hartford Courier too. Dealing with Jake and trying to convince him that her brother was innocent was difficult as their interactions are often heated, his body language stating one thing and his words another.
The banter between Lucy and Jake is adds humor to the story and yet they are both at a standstill at times trying to push aside their feelings for each other both concerned with Lillie and Sam’s feelings for them both. One night of passion in a snowstorm would change it all but when Jake asks Lucy to marry him because of what happened that night, why does she refuse?
Claude Moore was Packer’s lawyer and appears to have been devoted to him and considered him more of a friend. But, when you meet Shirley Packer, his first wife and hear her story, and learn more about their business relationship, how she helped create the business and built it up you begin to think that the light is going to be shined on her. But, Claude seems upright and quite devoted to Mrs. Packer number two who does not seem at all upset that she is now a widow collecting money, the cars and the house. As Lucy questions both women, the lawyer and even her brother the conclusions she draws just might endanger her. But, Jake gets riled up each time she appears, connects to the case and just wants her to stay clear of it all.
The site of the murder is where they hoped to build a casino that would bring revenue to the Indian tribe and the arrow she learns came from the Blackbird Museum. Added in her brother is an archer and quite capable of shooting an arrow but some think that the killer could be someone from the tribe namely part of a younger group whose actions show they are against the building of a casino, playing war games and being unemployed they have time to create havoc. Throughout the story we learn more about Jake and his true feelings for Lucy. Both trying to fight what they know might be inevitable the tension the author creates is electrifying and the scenes are beautifully written making you wonder if they will ever give in to the truth. Lucy is determined to get the story. The children become upset each time they think she is leaving. Meeting both Mrs. Packers the reader will learn just how different they are yet the same. Neither really cares that much for Nate and the latest one wins it all you won’t believe how or why. But, when Lucy comes to question her and Jake turns up wanting her out of the way, the green-eyed jealousy creature shows up and Lucy leaves with her photographer Flynn in a huff. So, why is Jake jealous of Flynn?
As the case begins to come together and the suspects are all lined up you might expect Colombo, Monk or even Jessica Fletcher to reveal the killer not this time. Just how the person is revealed and what part Lucy plays just might be the last time she writes anything at all. Will she survive what the killer has planned? Will she and Jake realize the truth? Will he give his children’s grandparents a second chance? HE LOVES LUCY! So will you!
Smart, clever, vibrant, zesty and definitely not Ricky’s Lucy or Ethel’s friend: Will Lucy Outlaw ever realize that she is astute, capable of taking care of two children, dealing with Jake and most of all realize that she should have faith in herself? An ending that will bring tears to your eyes and surprises from the twists the author Ann Yost has written. Lucy Outlaw: Let’s hope we see more of her!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews