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The Convent and The Rose
ISBN 1-4137-4479-6
By Kathy Bunn-Schultz
Review by: Michelle Humphrey


It’s the 1800s American Southwest: an unsullied seventeen-year-old girl named Maria arrives in the border town of Presidio and, with nowhere else to go, becomes the earthy-yet-angelic dancer at Mama Rosa’s brothel. When Maria isn’t dancing, she’s desperately seeking romance – and pledges herself wholly and prematurely to Marty Montana, a sanctimonious criminal who comes to believe Maria is two different women: a nunnish type worthy of an honorable man, and the most captivating whore at the brothel. (Guess which one he prefers?) This novel has the makings of a campy cult classic, with its swift lowbrow plot and endless complications for the starry-eyed lovers, whose foolhardy notions about love and dated ideas about women remain unchanged right down to the climactic end, when Montana suspects Maria’s been unfaithful….

Ultimately, it’s Mama Rosa that I’m rooting for. She’s archly fun with gruff remarks, kind glances, a big ass and no-nonsense ballbusting. In fact, there’s an id-like pleasure in hating, mocking and loving this ensemble of quirky Old West standbys: a loudmouthed prostitute with a black-hatted boyfriend, a half-blind sheriff too quick with his gun – they are the cast of a country song that’s overtragic, oversentimental and tormentingly catchy.

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