Monday, June 5, 2023

Penelope Williamson’s HEART OF THE WEST - Magnificent Montana Love Story!

 This historical romance will tear at your heart, I promise. It 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 that brings to life the people who made the West: Easterners, cowboys, Indians, Chinese, Irish, miners, railroad workers, merchants, ranchers and those who preyed upon them.


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.

Williamson takes her time developing the characters. You will feel as if you know them; you will experience their dreams, their tragedies, their disappointments, their happiness and their loves. And, as with 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 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 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—one of my all time favorite quotes:


"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. It’s a keeper!

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