Read Heart of the West by Penelope Williamson Online


Clementine Kennicutt, a ladylike New Englander, aches to leave her home and her oppressive father. So when Gus McQueen, a cowboy with laughing eyes and big dreams, presses her to elope with him to his Montana ranch, she is ready. But nothing has prepared her for the harsh realities of frontier life, or for the unpredictable hankering of her heart--and least of all for theClementine Kennicutt, a ladylike New Englander, aches to leave her home and her oppressive father. So when Gus McQueen, a cowboy with laughing eyes and big dreams, presses her to elope with him to his Montana ranch, she is ready. But nothing has prepared her for the harsh realities of frontier life, or for the unpredictable hankering of her heart--and least of all for the fact that almost from the first moment she sets eyes on Zach, Gus's dashing, ne'er do-well brother, she knows he's the one she was destined to love. Brought up to be a lady, Clementine determines not to let the frontier--or her marriage--defeat her. She devours life, befriending the town prostitute, defending Indians, and suppressing her heart's desire, until Zach forces her to face him and make her choice. On a vast canvas dotted with memorable characters and one rousing adventure after another--shootups, storms, a mine explosion, an attack by a rabid wolf, Penny Williamson has created an irresistible work of fiction that combines the heroic and gritty appeal of westerns like Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo with the romantic enchantment of The Thorn Birds.....

Title : Heart of the West
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671508227
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 591 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Heart of the West Reviews

  • Katrina Passick Lumsden
    2019-01-26 02:51

    *Yes, there are spoilers. You know the drill.*I like Penelope Williamson. I really liked The Outsider, enjoyed A Wild Yearning, and even have a bit of a soft spot for Once in a Blue Moon. So imagine my disappointment when Heart of the West turned out not to be a pinnacle of western historical romance fiction, but rather, an exercise in patience. I think that after this book, someone should crown Penelope Williamson Queen of the Meandering Plot. We begin with Clementine Kennicutt, a 17-year-old Bostonite in 1869. Raised by a rigidly pious father and doormat mother, Clementine has been trained her entire life to to be subservient (because she's a girl) and to have control of her emotions at all times. But Clementine has a hidden wild side, a passion for cowboys and tales of the wild west, and a fiercely stubborn, independent streak. So when Gus McQueen, a 25-year-old rancher-in-the-making is unceremoniously dropped in her lap (and is beguiled by Clementine's rare but brilliant smile), she carpe diem's the balls out of fate and elopes to Montana. After having endured page after page of Clementine's background story and her awkward trip with Gus the Gutless Wonder across the country, we're introduced to Zach Rafferty, Gus's "ne'er-do-well" brother and all-around badass cowboy. I liked Rafferty from the beginning. He's quiet, surly, mean, and scary. But in a good way. Aw, hell, I don't know, maybe I'm crazy. Perhaps I should put a disclaimer here since I had a crush on this guy when I was the tender age of eight:Yes, at eight years old, I saw The Untouchables on television and thereafter dreamed of marrying Billy Drago. And considering my favorite character in Masters of the Universe was Evil Lyn... (Seriously, Meg Foster in this role was a stroke of pure genius.) was apparent fairly early on (though not recognized until many years later) that I genuinely enjoy being scared. Clementine's problem is that she also enjoys being scared by Rafferty, she just doesn't know it. Instead, she paints her unease as a bad thing, and chalks up any fluttering feelings she gets from Rafferty to the fact that she must detest him. Silly little church girl. Gus, on the other hand, is sort of the antithesis of Rafferty. Where Rafferty is practical and steadfast, Gus has his head in the clouds and is flaky. Where Rafferty faces problems head-on, Gus buries his head in the sand. Where Rafferty doesn't allow his emotions to rule him, Gus is ridiculously easy to manipulate. Pile onto that Gus' incessant need to control Clementine and you've got a recipe for a character I truly disliked. Clementine was a photographer (hello, pioneer mother of one of my obsessions), but Gus is constantly looking down on her photography. I kinda wanted him dead for that. Seeing as how I also wanted him dead so's Rafferty could stake his claim on Clem's lady bits, it's fair to say my feelings towards Gus weren't warm almost from the beginning. I suppose he wasn't all bad, but he wasn't good enough for me. Or for Clementine. We spend almost the first half of the book with Clementine, Gus, and Rafferty, watching Clementine trying to adjust to the harshness of the west, and trying as hard as she can to love the man she married even though her feelings for Rafferty are becoming quite a nuisance. I got pretty wrapped up in these three, desperately wanting to know how Williamson was going to make it possible for Clementine and Rafferty to get together when BAM! Suddenly we're not with our three main characters anymore. Nope, they're gone, and in their place are other characters from the same town, some we've met briefly, others we're being introduced to for the first time. So after investing myself in Clem, Gus, and Zach for a couple hundred pages (I think), I then had to downshift in record time and adjust to the fact that I was reading about people I didn't give a single flying, psychotic fuck about. Really? Really, Penelope? (I've read enough of her books to be on a first name basis, I think.) This is what you're going to do to me? Oh, look, Hannah Yorke is sad. Sam Woo needs a wife. A mail-order bride has been raped. Two Cornish miners are love struck....And I was sitting there like, Who cares?! Rafferty's gone!Now it wasn't just the fact that there were new characters to get used to, it was also that their stories weren't very interesting and took forfuckingever to get through. I don't mind long books as long as something is actually happening to justify the time I'm spending. I contemplated skimming over most of the side stories in favor of getting to the meat and potatoes of Clem and Rafferty, but I'd already read nearly half the book! I told myself I could do it, and trudged on. After a few chapters' worth of side stories, we finally come 'round to Clem, Gus, and Rafferty again, and guess what? More pointless yearning, more ridiculous platitudes about honor and vows before god and all that jazz that had me nearly on my knees, thanking the gods of womanhood that divorce is now legal. I'm not a Christian, so I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I really wonder about something when I read these books, and it's a question that makes me wish I had a time machine just so I could go back and ask it. "Are you really worshiping a god that would conscript you to a life of suffering and unhappiness?" Only human beings could take positive emotions and turn them into something to feel guilty about. Gus loved Clem, but it was a purely selfish love. He cottons on to the fact that Clem and Rafferty are in love, but doesn't do or say anything other than feel relief when Rafferty decides to leave for good. Aside from his selfishness and cowardice (yes, I thought Gus was a coward), he's also not very good to Clementine. Sure, he's obsessed with building her a big house and giving her back all the amenities she gave up when she eloped with him, but she doesn't care about any of that. All she wanted when she agreed to leave with him was the freedom to be herself. Gus, of course, doesn't catch onto that and treats her almost like her father did, controlling her and treating her like a child. To put it mildly, Gus was a tool. I knew how Williamson was going to craft this story for the inevitable Clem/Rafferty reunion. Anyone who reads these types of books should know that Gus had to die. It would have been refreshing if Clem had just run off with Rafferty like he'd asked her to, but that isn't Williamson's style. No, she always has her inappropriate spouse killed off somehow. I knew that going into this book, but you know what? Gus had so many close calls that I was close to pulling my hair out. Something harrowing would occur and I'd be like, "Is he finally dead?" Nope! He'd pop back up in the next chapter, and I actually yelled at my Kindle at one point, "Just die already!!" Then when he did finally die, Williamson tried to make the reader like him a little bit. Too little, too late. At least for me. As for Clem, what began as an interesting character quirk (her inability to properly convey her feelings) quickly turned into a seriously aggravating cop-out. The ending is what I can only describe as classic Penelope Williamson; two characters who are obviously in love with each other, but circumstances are different and now they don't know what to do with themselves, and even though there's nothing stopping them, they still like to pretend (for some asinine reason) that there is, and they refuse to just talk to each other, so it's page after page of more drawn out melodrama until they finally get to the bumpin' and grindin'....only for there to be even more hurdles and roadblocks afterward! By the time these two got together for good I was too frustrated and emotionally drained to give a good goddamn.I wish I could rate this higher, but I just can't bring myself to do it. There's just too much book and not enough actual content.

  • Crista
    2019-02-09 01:27

    This is not just a romance is not just a western's not just a tale of is an epic novel that involves many characters, over a long period of time, coming to find themselves and each other in a very turbulant time and landscape. It is not "fast-food" romance. It is deep, enduring, long, involved, and emotionally taxing. It is a true "four-course meal" of a book. There are no easy answers in this book. The characters are real with real problems. Relationships are complex, just like in real life. There are no unbelievable turns of event that allow the characters to avoid pain. Life takes unexpected turns and the characters, along with the reader, are forced to endure the challenges and realities of life. Here are some of the dilemmas this book looks into.....A "religious" yet abusive father, a woman torn between the "safe" love she feels for her husband and the "passionate and all-consuming" love she feels for his brother, a woman who through life circumstances is forced to sell her body and her quest for freedom and love, a town filled with hate-filled people, a corrupt father-in-law, a mail-order Chinese bride and her journey from China and destructive cultural practices, and a disfigured tragic woman surviving the loss of a child. I know it's a lot.....hence the length of the novel, but Williamson so wonderfully weaves this story together that each story line has it's own intensity and purpose for the overall effect this book has on it's readers. The emotions this novel evokes are delves into the difficult and tragic events such as the death of a child, rape, and abuse. It also evokes positive in it's many forms is clearly seen and experienced within the context of this story. The love between friends, the love between a parent and child, the love between a husband and a wife, and the love between a man and a woman (which in this novel you come to differentiate!). I was moved to deep wrenching sobs many times thorough out this book, a rarity for me. This book will haunt me for weeks and stay with me for years to come. Take my advise...invest the time and read this book.

  • Naksed
    2019-02-04 23:23

    There are a lot of things to like about Penelope Williamson's sweeping small town saga Heart of the West set in the Montana wilds of late nineteenth century.It is poetic:An immense sadness pierced Clementine's soul. Suddenly, the great wilderness that was so beautiful seemed too huge and lonely to be borne. She stared at the dazzling, deserted land and sky, and the sight made her dizzy. She tried to breathe, her chest pressing hard against her corset ribs. Something within her wanted to shriek.In the blue canopy of sky overhead, a big golden eagle glided low, casting his shadow on the ground. The eagle screamed, and Clementine thought for a moment that the sound had been torn from her own throat.It is romantic:Something cracked inside her. Those jagged, jigsawed pieces of herself shifted again, shifted and came together in a way that couldn't, should never, have been possible.He didn't feel the empty spaces in her heart, this man; he deepened them. He didn't calm the furies of her soul; he stirred them. And yet, oh, how she needed him. She needed him in her life the way the eagle needed the wind to soar with...It is funny......all men from eight to eighty took such pride in what hung between their legs, and they never stopped marveling at what it could well as tragic:"A heartfire, Clementine my darlin', is when you want someone, when you need her so damn bad, not only in your bed but in your life, that you're willin' to burn-""I am having your brother's child!"She shouted the words so loud that they seemed to split open the air, and the echo of them drummed on the cliffs and in the canyon and against the wide and empty sky. She watched the blood slowly drain from his face, and his eyes go dark and hollow. She had chosen the one thing she knew would stop him. The thing she knew would hurt him the most.It is also very heavy-handed in its melodrama and feminism. It is very disjointed, following three major romantic plotlines as well as a multitude of sub-plots, that did not result in a coherent whole, at least for me. Also, I must say I have been completely spoiled by Celeste De Blasis' Wild Swan, the only story I can remember ever reading that made me root for ALL THREE of the unwilling participants of a torturous love triangle. I did not feel the magic here, and when the story, which unnecessarily dragged on for me, finally concluded, I felt relief rather than regret at leaving the protagonists, which is a telltale sign that a book has not been able to affect me emotionally.Still, it is Penelope Williamson, a writer who can write damnit! So it will not be a waste of time for readers who enjoy the genre and the setting, which by the way, she did a fabulous job of creating.

  • Zumbagirl
    2019-01-25 23:46

    Heart of the West may be the most beautifully written book I've ever read. Many years ago, I read The Thorn Birds and fell in love with Australia. That was a story that broke my heart and stayed with me forever. Heart of the West is very similar; it will always have a very special place in my heart. At first, I was scared to read it - it's a story that I knew would touch on something which troubles me - what if you fall in love with a man while married to a different man - a good man, but not your soul mate. There is no adultery committed, but just the feelings, almost treacherous, of such a passionate, forbidden love. Clementine, the heroine, is 17 years old, from Boston, has been raised by an abusive, domineering, pious father. Somehow she fell in love with the west and wanted to marry a cowboy - someone completely different from her own father and way of life. Yet, inside of her, she was wild. Her father tried to tame her, but she wouldn't bend. This quality of resilience and determination help her to endure, both her childhood and her adulthood. She meets Gus McQueen, a real-life cowboy from Montana. They literally collide. When he offers her a new life, she readily accepts, eagerly awaiting a new, exciting life. Little does she know what's in store for her - it really is the Wild West, full of gun-shooting cowboys, hangings, mines that explode, prejudice, unending winters, droughts, fires that won't be stopped - but she takes it all on and proves true to herself and her ideals. There is a theme of friendship that runs throughout the book - a former prostitute, a Chinese mail order bride, a tattooed Indian woman - they are all women who have made mistakes, been the victim of terrible circumstances, and have become friends despite their differences. They find acceptance and support with each other. In life a decision we make can change everything - we have it all and then we have nothing. These women have all suffered and have regrets. It made me realize how tenuous life is, how delicate and how unpredictable. Hindsight is 20/20 vision.Gus' brother, Zach, is his opposite - not responsible, reckless, a free spirit. At first Clementine hates him and doesn't understand why he upsets her. He constantly teases her about going back to Boston, wishing her back so she won't come between him and his brother and their ranch. Then they are both pulled toward each other. She is his heartfire. There is an electricity between them, a yearning, a thickening, a freshening, a wild wind and lightning storm raging whenever they were together. "It was as if they weren't two separate hearts and souls, but one heart, one soul, somehow ripped apart and forced to spend eternity searching for their missing halves and now they had found themselves in each other." While Gus doesn't know what is going on between them, he knows his wife is guarded. "Why is it, girl, that every time I try to get close to you, you push me away? It's not enough that we come together in bed at night. We got to come together during the day, with words and feelings...I want you to be a true wife to me. A soul mate and heart mate as well as a lover...We got to start learning how to talk to each other or this marriage won't ever be an easy one." Clementine doesn't know how to respond. She's a good wife, but can't bare her soul to him, can't possibly tell him how she feels about his brother. She loves her husband and is always loyal to him. We see the struggles she goes through being a young bride in a new land with so many challenges. And this huge, impossible problem just looms. One of the most poignant scenes is when Clementine has her first baby. (view spoiler)[ Gus is not there when she goes into labor, so who is there - Zach. He has been her emotional support often, more than Gus. He is an amazing labor coach and this is one of the most sensual scenes - because it shows how much he loves her. "'Easy now, sweetheart'." He poured the sweet oil over her belly, rubbing it in with his palms. Beneath his hands her muscles quivered and contorted. "Take it easy, darlin'. You're gonna be fine, just fine...' She had been laboring hard like this for over sixteen hours now. Her chest pumped so violently with the effort of it that he feared her heart would give out. She was drenched with sweat. She had long undressed to her shift, and now it was soaked through and rucked up around her waist. her legs were bent and spread wide and trembling from exhaustion. She was gutsy and beautiful and he loved her beyond lust or even liking and into a realm of emotion too vast for words, too deep to understand. And if she didn't give birth soon she would die." Zack is coaching her to push - "I can see more of it. Jesus Lord. Push, sweetheart. That's it, darlin', push some more now..." "what does it look like?" "Like a baby. Here, feel." "Oh, my." "Yeah...oh, my." He delivers that baby and can't help but say, "I wish he was mine." She loves her husband and says, "I love Gus, not only is he my husband, but he is honorable and noble and good, and I vowed before God that I would love him. When I saw him that day, when he knocked me over with his bicycle, he was like something out of a dream, my dream. Oh, God, God, how could I have known, how could I have known? Up until that moment, you see, he was the closest thing I'd found to you...From the beginning of time it was you. Always it was supposed to be you. You are the fire in my heart."(hide spoiler)]The worst possibility for a mother is the death of her own child. (view spoiler)[ When this came up in the book, I had to stop reading it. I couldn't bear it. I took almost a week off and read five other books. When a book is engaging, you feel the pain the characters suffer and it's real, too real, and scary. If you have a difficult problem with someone or something, you disengage and look at the problem pragmatically, not emotionally. Unfortunately, with this book, that's not possible. You feel the pain as if it's your own firstborn, you remember your child and how it felt to hold them, nurse them, love them when they were a baby. And you cry. Cry because death is so much a part of life. "She stood by the open grave and smelled the raw pine of his coffin and the freshly dug earth, and each breath she took was an abomination. The world was dark, the world was in a shroud, the world was being put into a hole in the ground. The world was dark, but she could hear. She could hear the creak of the rope as it lowered the coffin into the grave and a soft thud as Charlie's body shifted within it. She could hear the wind crying through the cottonwoods, and rock and dirt falling on wood, and her husband's sobs."(hide spoiler)] My heart broke into a thousand pieces. It was hard to imagine how a marriage could survive all the assaults that Gus and Clementine suffered. Marriage is hard under any circumstance and trials beset everyone. Zach knew he had to leave because it was impossible to stay. "Clementine, my love for you won't stop with my leaving. Come an evenin' over the years, when you step outside your door and hear the wind blowing through the cottonwoods, that'll be me, thinking of you, whispering your name and loving you." Oh, my goodness. This man was too much. I didn't know if Gus knew, but then we see he did and the relief he felt at his brother's leaving. Clementine never knew he knew or suspected. "Gus would always be the cowboy of her dreams, but Rafferty was her life's passion. The man she was put on this earth to love with her every breath, every heartbeat."This story covers a period of 12 years. The change Clementine makes from young woman to mature mother and wife is amazing. We see what it means to love a man, to love a husband, to love a child, to love your friends, for brothers to love each other. Penelope Williamson danced on all my nerves and touched my heart in ways unexplainable. Bittersweet doesn't begin to describe this journey. (view spoiler)[ The reunion between Zack and Clementine is one I longed for, but never dared imagine. We wait nearly 600 pages for it - and we're as desperate as they are when they join. "I want you lookin' at me, Clementine. I want you knowin' it's me who's inside you." "I know, I know..." "You're mine now." "Yes." "Mine. Say it. I want to hear you say it." "Yours." Sigh... That's still not the end of the book. (hide spoiler)] Even with so many impossible problems to wrap up, Ms. Williamson does a fine job. She is tremendously skilled and I look forward to reading another of her books.

  • Jessa ♥dhanger♥ EvilDarkSide
    2019-01-31 19:35

    Wow...what can I say. This was a beautifully written story about love, loss, acceptance and so much more. Clementine is young and naive(at times) about life and love. She runs off and marries Gus, a certified Cowboy, thinking that it will be a grand adventure straight out of her dreams. But what she finds is the harsh reality of living life in the unforgiving territory of a Montana ranch. Her dreams are further shattered by a slow realization that her heart was meant for someone else....Gus's dark, fierce, cold-eyed younger brother Zach. Throughout the book Clementine comes to understand that she will never love Gus or any other man the way she loves Zach, but she denies herself and Zach the love they feel for each other and stays true to Gus. In turn, she grows into a fierce, loyal, headstrong woman with the help of good friends and the love of two very different men. The chemistry and sexual tension between Zach and Clementine set the pages on fire. In contrast, the loyalty she shows to her husband is worthy and heartbreaking and it tears her heart and soul into jagged pieces. There are so many heart-wrenching moments in this book and so much loss. Not just for Clementine, Gus and Zach, but for many of the well-written minor characters also. But in the end, the message is clear.....Love has the power to heal, even the most damned soul.

  • Sera
    2019-01-22 19:31

  • Fani *loves angst*
    2019-02-06 20:48

    I can't say much to do this book justice. It's incredible. It's an epic romance set in wild Montana during the era of silver mining and the main theme is the forbidden love between the heroine and her husband's brother. But to say that the book is solely focused on that would be a lie; there are also other points addressed like racism and fear of strangers, a woman's place in society, the insecurities caused by the love affair between an older, rich woman and her young, poor lover, the question whether a woman should or could have other goals in life besides being a mother, the difference of love between husband and wife and the all consuming passion Clementine feels for her brother-in-law, and so much more.I loved it and it's going to stay in my mind for a long time. AJ and willaful, I can't thank you enough for recommending me this one!I just have to add a couple of quotes from this book, though there were so many it's hard to choose:'Clementine', he said, and her name came out of him broken and mangled. 'My love for you won't stop with my leaving. Come an evenin' over the years, when you step outside your door and hear the wind blowing through the cottonwoods, that'll be me, thinking of you, whispering your name, and loving you.'He let go of her hand and pressed his fingers against her lips, stopping her words. 'It's hard, Clementine. Hard for a man to look into a woman's eyes and see love lookin' back at him. And to know that when she's lookin' at him, she's seeing not who he is, but what he ought to be.''You are the world to me.'He laughed raggedly. 'And you say you're scared.'Rafferty gripped his brother's shoulder and pushed him in the direction of his wife. She was rolling on the fresh-turned earth of (view spoiler)[Charlie's grave (hide spoiler)] now, and her cries were no longer human. 'Go hold her. Go on, even if she fights you, but dammit, hold her.' Go on, brother, before I do, because if I do, you ain't ever gettin' her back.

  • Anna
    2019-01-29 02:42

    This book is an epic western romance. It is well documented, so it allows you to learn lots of things about how the pioneers lived. It also has a bunch of authentic characters, well defined, charming and interesting.But I didn’t enjoy this book becauseI wanted Gus dead . See, Clementine, who lives oppressed by her father, finds Gus, with his tender eyes, tender smile and handsome body and elopes to Gus’ ranch. But then, she meets his brother, Zach and the fireworks start. And it is not fair. Zach and Clementine refrain themselves and their love is tragic, they both love Gus. So that only leaves one option: an accident. And I waited for it to happen (the love between Clem and Zach never falters, it’s impossible, its THE love). So I waited and waited and waited (view spoiler)[ Let me tell you it takes him a lot of time to die(hide spoiler)].Another thing that left me puzzled is that -about the middle of the book- the plot changes and three main characters appear from nowhere (Jere, Drew and a chinese woman, Lilly). You’ll get to learn also about China’s “way of life”. At the time, I couldn’t care less: yes, I was waiting for Gus to die, and I wanted for Clem and Zach finally getting their love which is truest than love itself. Then, I cared for the new characters, but their love lives also dragged.In the end I cheated and went to look for WHAT FINALLY HAPPENED. And then, I didn’t bother to come back and read the whole book. I guess I felt deflated (view spoiler)[ too much time waiting for the three couples to be together, and not enough time to enjoy them(hide spoiler)].

  • Regan Walker
    2019-02-19 00:41

    Magnificent Montana LOVE STORY from a master writer of romance!Penelope Williamson has done it again! This historical romance that will tear at your heart covers twelve years (1879-1891) in the lives of Americans trying to carve out a life in Montana frontier. She weaves a masterful tale with incredibly accurate historic detail and dialog to bring to life the people who made the West: Easterners, cowboys, Indians, Chinese, Irish, miners, railroad workers, merchants, ranchers and those who preyed upon them. You will feel as if you know these people; you will experience their dreams, their tragedies, their disappointments, their happiness and their loves. And, like the other great romances by this author, you will feel the emotion whether deep in the pits of despair or soaring with love's sweet reward. And, it is truly a great love story.The main story is that of a young woman, Clementine Kennicutt, the highborn daughter of a rigid, demanding and at times abusive minister in Boston. She dreams of freedom and of cowboys. When one stumbles into her life, though she doesn’t really know him, she is willing to elope with him to his ranch in Montana. Gus McQueen was raised in the south and in Boston but then as a young man he went looking for his younger brother, Zach Rafferty, who he had lost when they were separated as children. He finds him and they stake a ranch in Montana, which it seems is always just barely making it. When Gus, a man of dreams, meets Clementine in Boston on a trip home to see his dying mother, he instantly knows he can't live without her. So Gus, 25, and Clementine, 18, wed knowing next to nothing about each other. Gus brings Clementine her home to Montana and to a hard life she is not prepared for. Zach, the darker younger brother with a mysterious past (even at 23), realizes soon after Clementine arrives that he covets his brother's wife. And, though faithful to her husband, Zach becomes the passion of Clementine’s life--a passion denied. You can see the potential for great angst here, can't you? Here a sample of the words Zach speaks to her: "A heartfire, Clementine my darlin', is when you want someone, when you need her so damn bad, not only in your bed but in your life, that you're willin' to burn--". Yeah, well, a whole lot of burnin' goes on in this story before Zach gets his Clemmie. There are lots of relationship combinations in this romance: Two men loving the same woman; two women loving the same man; one man loving a woman who should never have married the man she did; a good hearted whore who becomes a lady's true friend and the lover of the man her friend loves, different races coming together and children birthed and loved only to die of accident, disease and more. Through the lives of these people, Williamson so beautifully portrays, you will experience the life of the Americans who won the west and who made this country great. And you will experience love that endures through the years though denied. This novel is so worth it...another keeper!

  • Misfit
    2019-02-20 18:48

    Sixteen year old Clementine Kennicutt, Boston born and raised in an authoritarian and pious household yearns for something more, and thinks she's found it when Montana Cowboy Gus McQueen runs her down on his bicycle. They marry and they're off to Gus's Montana ranch, although Clem, who is used to servants performing menial tasks, is in for a shock as things are more rustic than she had anticipated, let alone learning to deal with the mud, rains, wind, wolves, Indians and severe winters. Gus turns out to be a bit more rigid than she expected and despite their feelings for each other, Clem always yearns for something more -- which she soon finds in Gus's devil may care younger brother Zach. At first Zach hates Clementine and her Boston blue-blood ways and doesn't think she'll last until winter without running for home, but Clem has a stubborn streak and eventually Zach's resentment turns to attraction and sparks start to fly between the two.Well, that all sounds promising enough and I has all hyped to get myself into this book but I was a bit disappointed in how the story was executed. The author spent too much time on storylines for the secondary characters, and those characters were all cardboard cut-out stereo typical of every TV western I've ever seen. The saloon owner/former prostitute with the heart of gold, the grizzled hard drinking prospectors, the evil mine owning sneaky father-in-law and worst of all was Lily the mail order bride from China. Now don't misunderstand me, but I swear I kept expecting Hop Sing to drop by for a visit from the Ponderosa - Lily and Sam were just way over the top, especially with her "golden lilies". As much as I love a big fat epic story this one could have used some serious paring down by losing a few secondary people and sticking to the main focus of Zach and Clem - although there again I felt the author could have been more creative in how she built the tension up between the two - the references to lightening flashes sparking in the air between them got a bit old, as did everyone noticed the denied passion between the two except for Gus. OK.....Be warned, the book covers a twelve year span in Clem's life and the author takes way too long for the big payola after all that angst - run out of steam perhaps and finish it off too quickly? It's just too serious for a romance and not serious enough for readers of historicals. I think it might have worked better if the author had kept her feet firmly planted in her cheek, especially with the lesser characters, every once and a while she'd cut lose and I'd think now we're taking off and then she dropped me again. All in all an average read, not great but not bad either. The author does have another book set in Montana called The Outsider that I've got out from the library so I'll give her one more whirl before calling it quits. 3/5 stars.

  • KC 2.0
    2019-02-19 01:26

    Damn. Say what one will about Penelope Williamson but the woman can write (so well that she can make me forgive tropes I normally hate). With Heart of the West, my mind is blown away again by the author's awesome storytelling skills and her keen awareness of the human heart.Simply put, this exquisite western is a celebration of love in its many variations: first love, familial love, love between friends, love for one's calling, love for home, and most of all, the all-consuming, passionate love that exists between soul mates. The love that Zach and Clementine share is so beautiful, deep, and abiding that nothing—not Clementine's marriage to Zach's brother, not even time and distance—can truly destroy it. Test it, but not destroy it. It is that powerful, and is so tragic because it seems destined to remain unfulfilled. (view spoiler)[Zach and Clementine do not consummate their love until twelve long years have passed after they first meet. Zach asks Clementine to run away with him, but Clementine's honor, and love for Gus, compels her to remain faithful to her wedding vows. (hide spoiler)] Their love and longing for each other is palpable and moving, so when the book veered away from their relationship to focus on secondary characters I felt impatient to return to Zach and Clementine's story. Although they added more depth, these additional storylines weren't as compelling as Zach and Clementine's romance. Pervading these relationships is the underlying theme of home being where the heart is. Clementine was from Boston, but it had never been a true home. Montana wasn't a home to Clementine until she embraced her own wildness and true self: the courageous, passionate "bear" of a woman that she was. And of course, her ultimate home was with Zach. With Gus, the love he showered on her was a selfish one laced with expectations. With Zach, not only could Clementine be herself, but he loved her as she was. Zach, too, had never had a real sense of belonging and being loved. He'd been abandoned by his mother and brother at a young age, and had to basically raise himself despite being left with his father. With Clementine, Zach finds his home.As characters, I liked Clementine for her honor, passion, and courage. But it was Zach who stole my heart. What a MAN. He could be ornery at times, but underneath it all lay a man with a playful, sweet heart. And brave and sexy as well. I loved how he loved Clementine: with passion, earthy lust, and a protective devotion. (view spoiler)[One of my favorite scenes is when Zach fought with a rabid wolf with his hands and a knife to protect Clem. What a badass! I also loved the birthing scene and the one where he had tears in his eyes after they finally consummated their love. (hide spoiler)] If ever there was a man who deserved a happily-ever-after, it would have to be Zach.Zach and Clementine underwent a long and difficult journey to reach their HEA, but I believe they would say it was worth it. And so was reading this book!

  • Sharon
    2019-02-02 02:26

    This is the 2nd book I have recently read by Penelope Williamson. I am making it a point to get my hands on every book I come across by this extraordinary author.The story spans about 7 or 8 years of the in depth life and love this young New Englander has for 2 brothers. It also includes the lives and loves of her dear friends in a small Montana town in the late 1800's.Right off, this lonely abused heroine stole my heart.She was nine when she learned about the cowboys...The family had hired a young scullery maid who shared her passion with Clementine (h). Sundays the girls read the adventures of gun-toting cowboys and wild mustangs, wicked cattle rustlers and scalping Indians from the yellowback novels and weekly Five Cent Wide Awake Library's Wild West series.When she was 16/17, Clementine met her cowboy.."and she was ready for him"...This is a novel that made me laugh then made me cry. Sometimes the plot had me sucking in my breathe and forced me to put the book down a few minutes because scenes were so raw and hard to read. Other times I got angry with the hatefulness and prejudice of man written in this story.And... I fell in love with all the characters. This is more than a 5 rating for me.It was a loaner from a wonderful lady on PBS and I will be looking for my very own copy.

  • Melann
    2019-02-02 00:27

    J'arrête à 50%.La 1ère partie, très bien, rien à redire ! Je commence la deuxième partie, grrrr, ça se passe 3 ans après. Plein de nouveaux personnages, je ne le sens pas. Je fouille donc le reste du livre, dont la fin (qui se passera 7 ans après encore !). Donc non, pas pour moi, trop de sauts de temps (je n'aime pas), de séparations (je deteste) et de morts (génial). Dommage, la 1ère partie était top :(

  • Angela Wade
    2019-01-25 21:23

    MAJOR spoilers below.The good:1. The heroine, Clem, was one of the most realistically-written, but strong-as-nails women I've read, especially for the time period this book was set in (late 1800s). She had fears, worries, and was generally ill-prepared for the life she was leading, but she always fought through every bit of it with her head high. The woman she turned into by the end of the book was a testament to all she'd been through, and you could feel her strength - she had been tested and still stood tall.2. The heroine's brother-in-law, Zach, (with whom Clem receives her real HEA) was...well, just wow. I can see why the Clem fell for him. He understood her in a way no one else in her life ever did - what she needed, what she wanted, why she felt, who she really was, et cetera. He looked at her with open eyes and never flinched at always telling her the truth of things, but cared for her with a tenderness that was awe-inspiring. His love for her was so strong "love" doesn't even fit, but he was still honorable enough to sacrifice his own happiness to keep her honor/good name intact. Yes, he asked her to go with him, but he knew she wouldn't. I think he wanted her to know he *wanted* her to go, but I'm not sure, even if she'd said yes, that he would've let her.3. I loved the "hooker with a heart of gold", Hannah. She was relateable, but gave an intriguing look into the seedier side of the Old West (being, as she was, a former prostitute). That she became Clem's BFF was an awesome turn, and the her backstory was well-written without being pity-inducing.4. The descriptions of the scenery were vivid and engaging. No one does this as well as Williamson in my opinion.5. The stolen moments between Clem and Zach, in particular the scene where Clem gives birth for the first time:"I wish he was mine," he said. The words slipped out without thought, but there was no taking them back..."I love Gus," she said, cutting him deep, deep. "Not only is he my husband, but he is honorable and noble and good, and I vowed before God that I would love him." She made a harsh tearing sound in her throat. "When I saw him that day, when he knocked me over with his bicycle, he was like something out of a dream, my dream." She looked at him, and her eyes glittered like shards of glass. "Oh, God, God, how could I have known, how could I have known? Up until that moment, you see, he was the closest thing I'd found to you."The not-so-good:1. When I first started reading I really had no idea how Williamson was going to take someone so unsullied as Gus (Clem's first husband) and turn him into someone less ideal than the man he appeared to be, someone the reader wouldn't feel much sadness over when he dies (and he has to die, or there would be no HEA for Clem and Zach). The character goes from charming and refreshingly candid to a little overly pious, heavy-handed, and deluded. When Clem and Gus got married they didn't know each other at all (think four days), and we come to find out that Gus held Clem up on a pedestal of womanly virtue, blinded to who she really was. Yes, she was virtuous, but she was also HUMAN - she had real longings, secrets, and wanted to be Gus' partner instead of just his servant. She tried to love him, but he never truly took over her heart, because he was so standoffish and prim (he wanted to love her, but he really only ever loved the idea of what she stood for). I think this is most evident when he danced with Hannah, whom he looks down upon with severe disgust for the first half of the book, and realizes he lusts after her. But he turns himself off - walks away - and then prides himself that he was able to do so, not because he loves his wife, but because he overcame his sinner's nature.He hits Clem once, which even though he is immediately overcome with grief and guilt is enough of a turn-off, but then Clem sees him play part in a hanging party where several people die, and her good opinion of him just sort of disintegrates. She tells him, "I don't think I even know you," and she realizes at that moment she's been putting all her ideals in to him, too - that he isn't who she thought he was, because she never took time to get to know the real him (they are both very closed-off toward one another).I think the book would have been more interesting if Gus could have retained his goodness - if Clem had never been able to fall madly in love with him because her heart was elsewhere, rather than because of some character defect Gus had. And he had plenty. By the end, especially where his father was concerned, he seemed nothing more than a child.2. When Zach finally can't stand being close to Clem anymore without having her and leaves, he's gone for seven years. Seven. Years. During that time his brother dies, leaving Clem a widow with several children. When Zach returns the reader knows he's burned for Clem all the time he's been away - she's the reason he's been gone so long - and how does he act when he finally sees her again? Like they're strangers. Obviously it's been a long time, but the kind of bond those two have precludes them ever being strangers - their souls know each other - and the restraint both he and Clem (who is hurt by his coldness) show just seemed so unnecessary. They had always shared their hearts with one another, but suddenly they couldn't anymore? The passion between the two of them could have lent itself toward such an amazing coming-back-together scene. Instead the reader has to go through nearly half-a-freaking-book where third-party characters get their lives in order. Which leads me to the thing I hated the most...3. The book got bogged down with way, way too many side stories. I liked Hannah, and because she became so close to Clem, having her as a large part of the story was understandable. But after chapter thirteen or so several other characters are introduced (miners, a doctor, a Chinese mail-order bride...). It felt like the author was padding the main story to make it longer, and I really, really didn't give a sh*t about the new arrivals. After chapter sixteen I skimmed everything but the main characters' parts, and there were so many side plots that held no relevance or necessity. It got tedious.Had the book focused on the main family it would have easily been worth five stars, and it's interesting to note that my favorite historical, The Passions of Emma (also by Williamson), doesn't fall in to the same trap. I would have been glad for 300 pages of awesomeness rather than 590 pages of ho-hum. But I'd still read this author again, hoping for better.

  • Dawn
    2019-01-27 22:21

    I started this book with great expectations, and for the most part, was not dissappointed. She creates a dramatic balance between reality and dreams and manages to tell a tale full of struggles,pain and grief in such a way that you feel the hope and love even more intensely.I only recently discovered Williamsons books and just fell in love with her stories, characters and the magnificent artistry of her use of words. She has a really unique way of imparting the story so that you gradually develop a relationship with almost every character she introduces -and usually that's a lot - and the pages really become invisible as you feel yourself slide into her world. She certainly knows the value of drawing the emotions out of each character but in a truthful and simplistic way so that it never feels contrived or that the drama is added to make the telling more interesting.This one is a very detailed account of a girl who has a difficult childhood and takes the first opportunity to run away with her "dream" cowboy. The story begins as she is making the choice to take Gus McQueen up on his offer to marry and join him in the far away wilds of Montana. The life of a cowboy in frontier Montana isn't exactly the way she had pictured, yet she is not deterred and you come along for the ride as she adapts and slowly comes to love the land she initially thought she never could. Clementine is a strong willed woman who bucks the system for what she feels is right and will not let Montana or Gus break her heart or soul. Threaded throughout the story is the sub-stories of Zach Rafferty, Gus McQueen's brother; Hannah Yorke, who becomes Clementines closest friend; Erlan, the Chinese bride of Sam Woo the mercantile owner; Pogey and Nash the ole' timers who discover the Four Jacks mine and Drew and Jere Scully who work in the mine and become an integral link in Clementine's survival. We also meet One Eyed Jack McQueen, the heartless father of Zach and Gus who is a man without integrity or a soul and nearly destroys everything these characters have and care for out of greed and an inate evil.And underlying all is the impossible love story.Between a sold princess and a miner striving for the American dream; between a independent former "joy girl" and a courageous man afraid to hope; between a cowboy and the woman who he tries to tame; but most poigantly between a man as hard as the frontier life and the woman who sees in him the sunlight of her whole world if only she is strong enough to keep believing. Sometimes the story is as tough to read as they have to be to survive. It is filled with passion and fear. All the anguish of death and the sheer joy of living. Not just a love story but a complicated, layered testament to the audacity of our will to survive and the continuing struggle of good over evil. It is a saga that will seep into your heart and linger in your thoughts until you reach the soulful end, wishing it was only just beginning.

  • Julie Cotton
    2019-01-28 01:35

    Time: 1879-1891Place: Montana, Rain Dance Country, Rainbow Springs# Pages: 591Although it took me about 150 pages to get into it (out of 600, mind you), once I did, I felt like I was living it. Williamson describes everything so clearly, like I was actually there. I loved Clementine's determination not to let Montana beat her, and how she came to love and respect her way of life out there - with or without a ... man. I liked her ability to support herself with her passion for photography even though the men in her life thought it a silly waste of time. The substories kept things interesting. And though it is long, it's fun to curl up with every day like a soap opera - What's Clementine going to get herself into today? you would say. I find myself mentally referring to this book daily, using it to see myself and others more clearly. My favorite line was when Joe Proud Bear said to Clementine, "The years have changed you, white woman. Once, I think, you had the heart of a straw squaw put among the corn to frighten away bears. Now you are the bear." And if I ever feel just an ounce of self-doubt, I just say to myself, "I am the bear." Clementine McQueen, fictitious or no, inspires me to this day.

  • Wicked Incognito Now
    2019-02-04 21:42

    I read this a LOOOOOOONG time ago, but I still remember it being intense, realisticly written, and utterly heartbreaking. It's an extremely meaty book that covers many years. It's the sort of epic romance that isn't written these days.

  • Ruby
    2019-01-21 23:26

    Magnifique ! Très belle épopée, certes avec quelques longueurs, mais quelle splendide "histoire". A lire !!!

  • Foxfire
    2019-02-12 21:23

    This is a lovely love story, but it is buried in a long bloated book that forces you to read through endless meandering side plots. In particular, around half way through, the story suddenly switches to a Chinese mail order bride and we have to wait forever before the focus shifts back to the main couple.Things - even the romance - drag on too long, on rinse-a-repeat cycle of yearning and sacrifice.In some scenes, I didn't find the heroine particularly appealing. She is so fiercely focused on her independence, she rebels even against reasonable obligations. Apart from her one act of self-sacrifice of remaining with her husband, she seems very selfish.For example, she is supposed to cook for the men while they brand calves in the spring roundup, but instead she wonders off to take photographs. When the hungry men come to eat and find she has neglected the cooking, her husband tells her off. She goes nuts, claiming he is stifling her with his demands.It is difficult to accept her photography hobby. Her strict preacher father beat her up when he caught her looking at pictures of cowboys. How could such a man allow her to take up photography as a hobby and learn everything that goes with it, including purchasing her expensive equipment? It did not seem realistic to me.The writing is wonderful, though, and there is a great sense of the period setting in Montana. I loved the hero. The first part of the book is excellent, although there is a bit too much backstory about the heroine's childhood. At half the length, with some of the side plots stripped out, this would have been an excellent book, with one of my favourite romance heroes.

  • Carol
    2019-01-31 02:47

    What a fabulous read, albeit a very long one, with not one unnecessary sentence or character. Intense and passionate! This is a saga, but takes place over only 12 years. The author encompasses within this book a kaleidoscopic mixture of characters -- all extremely well-drawn and vivid in depth -- all woven intricately and perfectly into the story. The chemistry between characters is sizzling! The historical background is complete, well-researched, and beautifully presented. The elegant descriptions of the setting throughout the book enhanced the aliveness of the characters and the story. Beginning in Boston, we follow Clementine who runs away with a cowboy, to Western Montana, where most of the story takes place. Readers will feel like they've lived, loved, and struggled for survival on the Montana prairie, enduring the relentless wind, the intense summer heat and the deadly winter blizzards. We learn about the Chinese culture of some of the characters in this story, and the prejudice and bigotry they endured living in the 1800's American West (like it wasn't tough enough to survive there). This story and the characters (including some of the minor ones) will be with me for a very long time. This is a novel I'll read again -- and probably again, and again.I read this book because I fell in love with the move, "The Outsider," which is based on another book of the same name, by this author. I'll be seeking out all of her books.

  • Morgan
    2019-01-31 01:44

    'Heart of the West" follows the lives of three women who meet up in the unlikely location of RainDance county Montana in the later 1800's. The first of the three women is Clementine, a free spirt and mentally tough 'women grown', who leaves the comfort of her Bostonian home to marry a cowboy, Gus McQueen. Once in RainDance county she realizes that life in Montana, and with her new husband, is not like the dreams she had when she was younger. Clementine befriends the 'town harlot' Mrs. Hannah Yorke and a Chinese mail-ordered bride, Erlan--who are the other characters the story follows. Hannah, Clementine and Erlan confront love, social conformities and life in the harsh environment that is Montana. Through the nearly 12 year journey each women grows and develops well beyond their imagination to be truly happy within themselves and their lives.This novel was extremely interesting. I like learning about life in Montana in the 1800's through the eyes of Clementine, Hannah and Erlan. The harsh climate of Montana coupled with the social expectation of women of the time period made for tough times. Through the expert writing of Penelope Williamson, their struggles and hardships were passed on to the reader. I felt the pain, love, tension and fear along with the characters which made for a great read. The characters were well developed and matured overtime to be extremely likable. I have no complaints about "Heart of the West".

  • Mmeguillotine
    2019-01-30 02:30

    O, beautiful book! It's long but it never stalled for me. It doesn't pander to the reader. You don't get to have everything your way right when you want it to be. You have to wait. You have to watch characters you love suffer and you also get to deal with the frustration, compromise and newly defined (as opposed to dreamed of) happiness that occurs in real life instead of only in lovely romantic fiction. This is a slow, gorgeous handful of a book and I actually wish it were twice as long. Penelope Williamson is a master.

  • Ridley
    2019-01-26 01:27

    Yay! This is being re-released as an ebook! I've always wanted to read it, but I couldn't manage the tissue-thin pages in the paperback.

  • Leea
    2019-01-24 00:38

    Buddy read with Kay!! Thanks Jessa for the recommendation...

  • Sharon
    2019-02-08 19:51

    I didn't want it to end!I have had this book on my kindle wish list for several weeks, but due to some of the bad reviews I couldn't pull the trigger.I kept going back to them (always the bad reviews)....then it came to me that maybe the "bad reviewers" didn't want the same thing from a story that I did. So.........I decided to read the good reviews (always a smart thing to do). So then I found the readers that cleared the muddied waters of my brain. Thank goodness that I did or I would have missed a book that now sits up high on my very favorite book list. It's up there close to her sister's Whispers of Heaven which is my favorite of all time.Mostly the bad reviews were about the chapters that were following the secondary characters in the book . I did want to rush through these a little myself but they were very much a part of this book and I would have hated to have missed this wonderful story by not buying the book at all. So I highly recommend this book. Don't miss out by just paying attention to the negative reviews.

  • Trish
    2019-02-21 22:21

    It's really slow going at first. I don't think it picks up until we get introduced to some of the side characters like Erlan and the Scullies, my favorites. But I love the book. Lots of nostalgia here. Good storytelling and characters. Despite being shuffled into the romance category it really reads more like good historical fiction. I really do think it would make an excellent movie.

  • Therese Bergwall
    2019-02-13 22:23

    Läst på svenska: Hjärtats väg

  • Marina
    2019-01-23 02:32

    Absolutely brilliant book. Re-read about 100 Times.

  • Ana
    2019-01-29 21:31

    August 27, 2017Too convoluted.

  • Kate Miller
    2019-01-24 00:47

    I read this book in 2002 I think and I just found it again after a whole night of plot search lol I want to read it again, that's how much I enjoyed it all those years ago!