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Heart of the West

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  822 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
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 the ...more
Hardcover, 591 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1995)
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Katrina Passick Lumsden
*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 B
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2010 Crista rated it it was amazing
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
Jessa ♥dhanger♥ EvilDarkSide
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 da ...more
Apr 14, 2016 Sera rated it it was amazing
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 yo ...more
Fani loves angst
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 ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok
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 because I 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. Z
Regan Walker
Feb 24, 2012 Regan Walker rated it it was amazing
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
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 yo
Jul 10, 2015 Melann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 10, 2010 Angela Wade rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 develo
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 turn ...more
Julie Cotton
Jul 10, 2012 Julie Cotton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Time: 1879-1891
Place: Montana, Rain Dance Country, Rainbow Springs
# Pages: 591
Although 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 th
Wicked Incognito Now
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.
Jul 10, 2015 Ruby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Magnifique ! Très belle épopée, certes avec quelques longueurs, mais quelle splendide "histoire". A lire !!!
♌️ KC
Damn. Say what one will about Penelope Williamson but the woman can write. With Heart of the West, my mind is blown again with the author's awesome storytelling skills. Not to mention 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
Feb 14, 2015 Foxfire rated it it was ok
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 he
Dec 28, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
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 descripti ...more
'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 Yor ...more
Sep 27, 2013 Mmeguillotine rated it it was amazing
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. Penelo ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Ridley marked it as to-buy-big-publisher  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 06, 2014 Leea marked it as to-read
Recommended to Leea by: Jessa ♥dhanger♥ EvilDarkSide
Buddy read with Kay!! Thanks Jessa for the recommendation...
Feb 01, 2017 Karen rated it liked it
Doesn't this book sound good when you read the teaser? And it was but it's not deserving of anything higher than 3 stars. Good storyline of epic proportions but the author gives the heroine and her real love to much "pining" after each other. You want them to just sneak off and get it over with. Good descriptive detail of late 1800's Montana which was super interesting and there are a couple of other women characters in the book that could be books themselves.
Jan 21, 2017 Allicia rated it liked it
5 star beginning...1 star meandering middle...3 star end = 3 stars avg.
Jan 24, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Easy 5 stars for this epic western! I had previously read "the outsider" and loved it so I was sure id love her writing but...Man, I was always so afraid to read this one because of the triangle and I was worried I'd favor the wrong one over the other but I should never have worried! Gus may be the one she marries but he never has her whole heart and while he was by no means evil, in my opinion he didn't deserve all her love anyway. So it was all the easier for me to love zach and the lovely sim ...more
Becca Gordon
Sep 21, 2016 Becca Gordon rated it really liked it
The transition from part 1 to part 2 was a bit jarring. I was so enjoying Clementine's story so I was less than thrilled to be reading someone else's all of a sudden. Despite this the story was quite lovely and a western saga worthy of a read.
Aug 27, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it
I loved The Outsider by Penelope Williamson, so when I saw this book on the Venice (California) Library book sale rack for $1.00, I thought I'd give it a try. Heart of the West is an ambitious historical romantic western; it's long at 591 pages, but the main character, Clementine Kennicutt McQueen is strong and believable. Here's what I liked about the book: Williamson paints a realistic landscape of how tough life must have been in the Montana territory in 1879; there is plenty of mud, wind, fi ...more
May 29, 2014 Andria rated it really liked it
I liked this book. Granted, there was quite a bit of racism-towards Indians, Chinese, and anybody tht wasn't purebreed american-but it had its moments. There was quite a few characters that I really liked, not to mention the main female character, Clementine. She's one of those few independent girls of the old days, where she wants to be able to do the one thing of her dreams-photography.

Back then, photography wasn't small easily portible cameras, they were heavy bits of equipment that were exp
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Penelope Williamson is an internationally renowned author of historical romance and suspense. Penelope Williamson was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and spent the first eleven years of her life as an US Air Force brat. She has a B.A. in history, an M.A. in broadcast journalism, and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years, where she reached the rank of Captain. She has more than 1.8 million books in ...more
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“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.”
“Rafferty gripped his brother's shoulder and pushed him in the direction of his wife. She was rolling on the fresh-turned earth of Charlie's grave 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 getting her back.” 6 likes
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