Callie's Convict
by Heidi Betts, historical (2002)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-5030-7

Oh boy, another Stoopid Western Romance. Heidi Betts has improved a lot since her debut, but the foundations of this story is as sturdy as a sandcastle facing a tsunami.

Callie Quinn, the Calliebilly of Texas, currently lives in a farm alone except for a boy Matthew whom she takes care of - Matthew's mother is a prostitute who died popping out the boy. One day, naked, alone, weaponless, she encounters a smelly, dirty, hirsute man who yells at her to give him back his son (Matthew). What does Calliebilly do? Do a Matrix kung-fu pose and kicks this lout in the head? Shrieks and runs away, at least? No. She stands there, Venus de Marijuana, and wonders - ooh, he's so handsome! He takes her breath away!

I scratch my head. He's dirty, ghastly, and a stranger who has just crashed her house, and she thinks that he's hot? Some women fall for serial killers serving lifetime sentences or waiting for their turn on the Chair or the Gas Chamber, but Calliebilly here will probably be the sole lunatic shrieking at the Pope's doorstep for the canonization of Ted Bundy because Bundy is so hot and hence must be misunderstood.

Yes, that's how this story goes. Wade, the hero, is so hot, so Callie believes everything he says. He's a framed guy who has just broken out of jail and wants revenge on the Bad Guy, who conveniently lives nearby. And she believes him even when he has given her no reason to. Lucky for her then that he's telling the truth.

Still, Wade's the typical tortured cowboy type, but he's okay. Calliebilly, dumb trust in pretty men aside, is okay too. But what's not okay is the relationship, which soon becomes an irritating "want/not-want/sex/regrets morning after" monotonous cycle. The action thing towards the end prevents rigor mortis from completely setting in, but Callie's Convict, while not the worst the Leisure House Of Stoopid Western Romances can offer, is far from memorable either. Repeat after me: We need brainpower in the West. We need brainpower in the West. We need brainpower in the West...

Rating: 66

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