Blissful
by Rita Clay Estrada, historical (2000)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-6570-1


Now here's a fun plot. Gunman Charlie Macon is hot on the trail of an outlaw when he overhears Kathleen O'Day plotting a man's murder with her male companion. Since he has tracked the murderous scumbag to the deceptively-named town of Blissful, he reckons this woman has to be in cahoots with the bad guy.

Unfortunately, Blissful is blissful. The townsfolk actually stage those shoot-outs and robbery so that the town won't be forgotten and hence left out of the railroad expansion program. Not only does Kathleen has no idea that an outlaw is really in her town, Charlie just refuses to believe her. Well, is Ms Prim Hoyden won't tell him, he'll find the scum himself. By masquerading as her brother and moving in with her, of course!

Blissful wisely doesn't try to be cute or giggly. It is a delightful hoot seeing Charlie and Kathleen spar. She will have to keep up the pretense if she has to, but damn if she will let him get away with it easily! And he is finding it hard to keep his grubby hands out of "Sis"'s silken underwear. Then there's the loony town folks to contend with, as well as the real threat of a trigger-happy, murder-happy outlaw on the loose. Blissful is going to get its first real taste of a showdown at high noon!

So the plot is silly, and Kathleen and Charlie do some silly things. But they never make me roll my eyes, scream "Corny, corny! Eeurgh!", or resort to silly slapstick antics to make me laugh. And best of all, Kathleen is a match for Charlie. Unlike some heroines, she doesn't let her sexual attraction to a man turn her brain into gruel.

Fun is definitely aplenty in Blissful. It is fluffy and lightweight, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to great entertainment.

Rating: 87


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