HEART OF THE WEST by Penelope Williamson


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 Sexual tension on the prairie: A woman loves two brothers in western Montana--a godly one and a ``hell-bent boy.'' In her first hardcover romance, Williamson repeats an old theme: A Boston blueblood who's been battered by her father finds freedom and passion in marriage. Clementine Kennicutt, 17-year-old- daughter of a preacher who scarred her hands in order to save her soul, elopes to Montana in 1879 with handsome cowboy Gus McQueen. She takes a few clothes and her photographic equipment. But Clementine soon discovers that her life's passion is Gus's ``sweet talkin' heart-breakin' '' brother Zach Rafferty, a hero described in adjectival triplets (``long and lean and beautiful,'' ``disreputable and dangerous and handsome as sin''). Zach bets Clementine that she won't last out the winter. But Clementine sticks and gets stronger. She and Gus lose a son; eventually Gus is killed by a fierce winter storm. But she prevails. Getting her through the long winters are two friends: Hannah, the crimson- haired ex-hooker and former lover of Zach (``raw and violent and dangerous''); and Erlan, a Chinese mail-order bride with bound feet. All three find appropriate men and form a frontier support group that eventually defeats the copper miners polluting their picturesque town of Rainbow Springs. Williamson pioneers some feminism with her savage passion: Clementine, mother of three and prairie photographer, gets Zach's boots under her bed, but she learns that the secret to a completed heart lies within herself alone. Hard, raw, golden-eyed Zach is just a magnificent perk. This would bust a lot more blocks with a hundred fewer pages of electric stares and ``the frantic frenzied feelings that built and built and built with her chest.'' (First printing of 200,000; Literary Guild and Doubleday book club super release)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-50822-9
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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