The Homesteader's Sweetheart (Love Inspired Historical Series)

The Homesteader's Sweetheart (Love Inspired Historical Series)

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by Lacy Williams

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To escape a dreaded arranged marriage, Penny Castlerock will face anything—even life on her grandfather's farm. But it isn't the rustic lifestyle that's got the Philadelphia socialite tied in knots. It's the handsome homesteader and his eight adopted children next door….

With seven boys and a girl to raise, transplanted farmer…  See more details below


To escape a dreaded arranged marriage, Penny Castlerock will face anything—even life on her grandfather's farm. But it isn't the rustic lifestyle that's got the Philadelphia socialite tied in knots. It's the handsome homesteader and his eight adopted children next door….

With seven boys and a girl to raise, transplanted farmer Jonas White could sure use some help. He just didn't expect it to come from the high-spirited, copper-haired beauty he's always admired from afar. But surely working the land is no life for a woman like Penny. Yet a threat to Jonas's farm just might show him how perfect Penny is for him after all.

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Wyoming Territory, summer 1890

Hadn't he promised himself not to get into a situation like this again?

Jonas White stood on the dusty street in his Sunday suit, letter clutched in his hand, gazing up at the fine house. It seemed too much of a coincidence that his neighbor and closest friend—although they were two generations apart in age—was related to a wealthy banker when Jonas desperately needed a loan. And the letter Jonas had promised to deliver for his friend would grant him access to the banker he'd been trying to see all day.

But Jonas had stopped questioning the Lord's hand in things once he'd met his neighbors, the Nelsons, just over five years ago.

Staring at the light spilling from the glass-paned windows onto the large, well-kept yard reminded Jonas of another place and time, and how as a child he'd often looked in on some of Philadelphia's wealthy families. Like those stately town houses, this house was ostentatious. Two-story and much larger than the other homes on the street. Or in the whole town of Calvin, Wyoming, for that matter.

Jonas resolutely pushed the painful memories to the back of his mind. His daughter needed him to do this, and he couldn't fail her.

Sounds of voices and tinkling china trickled out from the wide-open front door. Was the banker hosting a party? If so, this might not be the best time to call, but Jonas needed to take care of business before the woman who was watching Breanna for him left town on the next Eastbound train.

He brushed at some dust on his jacket sleeve and took a deep breath, reminding himself that his loan was a reasonable request. If only he felt more comfortable interacting with high-society people like the banker, but his upbringing didn't exactly lend itself to that.

Trudging up the steps before he could change his mind, Jonas entered the elegant home. The entry hall was empty, but voices drew him to a parlor packed with people.

One or two of them shook his hand, welcoming him as he moved through the crowded room. Most ignored him. Jonas scanned each face, looking for the portly man with salt-and-pepper hair that he'd glimpsed briefly on the boardwalk this morning. No sign of the banker.

Conversations ebbed and flowed around him as he moved through the parlor and into another lamp-lit room in search of Mr. Castlerock. He knew he was out of place, and the disdainful looks he received from some of the partygoers only confirmed it, made him feel as awkward and unwelcome as he'd felt at eighteen in the Broadhursts' Philadelphia home.

"Can I help ya, son?"

Jonas turned at the voice and caught sight of a plump woman with an apron covering most of her ample figure. Here was someone from his class, someone who could help him. Relief flooded him.

"Yes, I'm looking for Mr. Castlerock. I'm to deliver this letter, and I need to speak with him on another matter—"

The woman took the letter from Jonas. "I'll put it aside for the boss. If he sets it down during the party, he'll never remember where he put it in the morning. Last I saw him, he was in his study, down there…" She nodded toward a door down the hall and her voice trailed off as she bustled away in the opposite direction.

"Thanks," Jonas murmured to her departing back.

He couldn't be sure which room she'd meant to indicate—there were two doorways on the left and one on the right, so he peeked into each as he passed. Finally, he had no choice but to enter the room at the end of the hall.

So intent was he on locating the banker, Jonas didn't notice her at first. But as he tried to slip through the crowd without bumping into any of the fine furnishings or well-dressed guests, he caught a glimpse of upswept copper curls, burnished to fire by the lamplight.

He'd only ever seen one person with that color hair in his entire life.

Jonas froze, dumbstruck, as a tall man in a black jacket moved away and his view became unhindered. It was her, with the laughing blue eyes he remembered and wearing the frilliest, fanciest peach-colored dress he'd ever seen.

The girl he'd admired from afar, back in Philadelphia. Penny Castlerock.

He'd guessed from the unusual surname that she might be a relation to the wealthy banker, but never imagined he would see her here. He'd thought she would be married to a Philadelphia businessman by now. What was she doing in Wyoming?

Penny Castlerock caught sight of the farmer the moment he stepped into her father's study, where some of the guests had congregated. His dark suit was ill-fitting, in contrast to the tailored jackets worn by her father's acquaintances, but the suit's ugliness couldn't hide the muscled shoulders most likely earned through days of backbreaking labor in a field somewhere. His crown of blond hair showed a noticeable line where his hat must have rested earlier in the day.

And there was the hat. Clutched in one hand against the farmer's leg. The man appeared to be looking for someone, if his roving brown eyes were any indication.

The moment those intelligent brown eyes spotted her, he froze, a thunderstruck look on his face.

While he seemed vaguely familiar to her, she couldn't be sure she'd met the man before. And while she prided herself on the unusual shade of her hair and had taken extra pains to powder away the smattering of freckles she could never completely eliminate, she usually didn't elicit such a strong reaction upon a first meeting. It was quite flattering, even if he was only a farmer.

She moved to intercept him, breaking off a conversation with her dear friend Merritt Harding, the local schoolmarm. After all, a lady's duty was to ensure all guests' needs were met.

With advice from Mrs. Trimble's finishing school ringing in her ears, she greeted him with a warm, "Good evening," and the best smile she could procure after spending a long hour with her father's guests.

He emitted a strangled sound, not words, and gripped his hat in both hands, holding it almost as if it was a shield in front of him.

"There's punch on the serving buffet just through here, if you're thirsty." Penny extended her arm to indicate the dining room.

The man still didn't move, and she struggled to keep her smile in place. Common courtesy demanded he answer her, but he remained silent. And his stare was bordering on rude.

What was he doing here? Her father usually only included those he deemed "important" and she wasn't sure this farmer fit the bill.

"I'm sorry, have we met before? Perhaps you're one of my father's acquaintances?" she asked, when the silence between them became fraught with tension.

"Penelope, darling, there you are."

Penny half-turned at her father's booming voice, relieved for the interruption from the awkward one-sided conversation. Why didn't the farmer say anything?

"Father, I've just been greeting one of our guests. This is Mr.. " She left off her sentence to allow the farmer to offer his name, but instead he moved past her and extended his hand toward her father.

"Sir, I need to talk to you in private, if you have a few moments."

So the farmer could speak. But she still didn't know his name.

Her father's face creased as if he couldn't quite place the man. "I don't believe we've met. What can I do for you?"

"It's a business matter, sir." The farmer glanced briefly at Penny, just a flash of his brown eyes.

Penny was used to being excluded from her father's business, but it was a matter of contention with her. She felt women were intelligent enough to be involved in business matters, but her mother had always deferred to her father, leaving Penny no choice but to do the same.

Her father chuckled, not a kind sound. "I'm sorry, son, but I don't discuss business matters during my private parties."

Penny knew that was an exaggeration. Her father often had an after-dinner cigar or drink with his associates to talk business. Why didn't he want to speak to the farmer?

"You're welcome to make an appointment at the bank."

Her father took her elbow, obviously considering the conversation finished, and began to guide Penny away from the farmer.

"Sir, I've been to the bank twice today, trying to see you."

The farmer's statement was louder this time, drawing looks from others in the study.

Penny's father didn't stop, but she saw his face redden from the corner of her eye—a sign he was becoming irritated. "I'm sorry to hear that, but I'm a very busy man, you know."

Penny stifled a snicker. Yes, and her father was also full of his own self-importance. She almost felt sorry for the farmer, and probably would've if he hadn't caused an uncomfortable scene.

"I need a loan," the farmer called out as Penny and her father moved away, his voice becoming desperate, intense. "I've a homestead with a cabin and a barn to put up for it."

Her father's face was now crimson, indicating his mood had moved from simply irritated to angry. That did not bode well for the farmer.

"Son, you'll have to come to the bank and talk to me during business hours."

With that final statement, her father swept from the room—as much as he could in the press of people now craning their necks to see what the raised voices were about—pulling her along with him.

"The nerve—" he sputtered, apparently unable to form coherent sentences. "Embarrassing me in front of guests—"

"You could've granted him a private audience," Penny admonished softly.

She knew her words were a mistake as her father's face purpled. As he opened his mouth to rebuke her, they were interrupted.

"Ah, Penelope. You look positively striking this evening." A familiar, nasally voice silenced her father, giving Penny a reprieve. For now. She knew her father would have much to say to her—probably in a tirade—once the guests had taken their leave. However, this interruption wasn't one she particularly desired.

She forced a smile, knowing her father was also schooling his own features. The Castlerock family was nothing if not proper when in public. Her father's position on the town council demanded no less. Nor did the man himself.

Her father's business associate, Herman Abbott, half-bowed over her wrist, and Penny couldn't help but note the clamminess of his grip, much like a limp, dead fish. She reclaimed her hand and tucked it into the folds of her gown, wishing she could wipe away the disgusting feeling but not daring to.

She couldn't help a glance over Mr. Abbott's skinny shoulders to the long case clock to gauge how much longer she had to participate in tonight's event.

"I was hoping to speak to you tonight," Mr. Abbott went on, apparently not noticing her inattention. "With your father's permission, I'd like to take you on a buggy ride tomorrow morning. I've just had the carriage resprung," he said as an aside with a proud look at Penny's father.

"I'm afraid that won't be possible," she inserted before the men could decide for her. "I'm going to help Mr. Silverton at the bank. Mrs. Shannon—the bank teller—" she explained for Mr. Abbott's benefit, "just had her baby and he has not been able to find a replacement yet."

She hadn't promised any such thing, but the bank manager would indulge her if she arrived early enough. She had no desire to spend time with her father's associate. Not only was he older, much closer to her father's age than Penny's, but there was something about him that made her uncomfortable…

"You know I don't like you working in the teller window," her father hissed. To Abbott he said, "Our family is certainly of a station that my daughter has no need to work. Of course, her mother and I encourage her to help those less fortunate—show compassion for the common man and all—"

Penny gritted her teeth, hoping her facial muscles approximated a smile while the two men chuckled. While she enjoyed the fine things her father's money bought, such as the taffeta gown she wore this very moment, she didn't think that same wealth gave her father reason to lord it over those around him.

The men's arrogant posturing bothered her, and she allowed her mind to wander. Why had her father dismissed the farmer so abruptly? The man seemed familiar to her, though she couldn't recall a name. Had her father been in such a hurry to partner her with Abbott that he'd been unnecessarily rude to the man?

And why couldn't her father sense that she had no interest in Mr. Abbott? Of all her father's associates, there was something about Mr. Abbott that unnerved her. It wasn't that he looked at her inappropriately, per se. But something behind his eyes.

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The Homesteader's Sweetheart 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very sweet story. Enjoyed the devloping love story. Great book for anyone interested in a clean but heartfelt romance.
Regina_Jennings More than 1 year ago
To look at Penny Castlerock and her fine ways you wouldn’t think that some of the best years of her childhood were spent at her grandparents’ farm. The life she lives as a prosperous banker’s daughter has nearly erased those fond memories. But when an unwanted suitor makes a nuisance of himself, she sees a return to the Wyoming prairie as her only escape. Jonas White could never forget the spoiled girl he watched while laying bricks next to her expensive school, and Penny can’t forget the scandal between him and one of her classmates. When their paths cross again, Jonas is the father of a motley crew of seven boys and a girl whose seizures have forced them into financial ruin. Desperately trying every remedy, Jonas will spend his last dime to find a cure. Lacy Williams’ book is delightful. She gives us a quiet, humble hero in Jonas, and Penny charms in every scene. Add to that the raucous mischief eight meddling children can create and a creepy villain and you have a great story that remains with the reader long after the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent historical novel. The characters are likable and interesting.
Janine_S More than 1 year ago
“The Homesteader's Sweetheart” by Lacy Williams is the first book in her 'Wyoming Legacy' and a book that I have enjoyed greatly even this second time around. I am re-reading the first three books of the 'Wyoming Legacy' series due to the fact that some how, some way I missed the latest two books (“The Wrangler's Inconvenient Wife” an “A Cowboy for Christmas”) in the series. So since I would be reviewing those books, I thought I would just go ahead and review the whole series. Truly this is a series that is something that is enjoyable and pleasant to read at night when things have been busy, for this is a series that is sweet and tender with just enough emotional heartache to touch this reader's heart. Here is a story of hurt and trying to figure things out while getting people to hear them. The hurt was heartbreaking for I have never understood, regardless the time period or age, of how anyone could do things like what has happened in this story to the White family. The White family is a family that I just fell for, after all that this family has gone through, the way they got over it all was just inspiring. Things are tough for the White family but it seems that didn't matter to them for they had each other. Penny is a woman who is a bit different than who she is expected to be, and that makes her a true hero for she is trying to be what others want her to be yet is trying to be true to herself, at least once she figures that out. Oh yeah, she has some things to figure out, but that doesn't stop her from trying new things, until she figures out exactly what she is wanting. There is this strength in Penny that is shown time and time again throughout the story and it is amazing to see this strength from someone like Penny. Jonas is a man who has done something that most people wouldn't think about doing on his own, but he has his reasons. It is truly amazing how things for him have worked out over the years as he worked hard to get to the point where he was for this story. I have to say that regardless of his flaw, which I understand the reason for this flaw, that this man is someone to admired for he is tender and doesn't go looking for accolades for himself. Truly here is a story that begins an interesting series of a family that is bound together by love and so much more. There is self discovery that is made by numerous characters or at least the beginnings of self discovery that I know is in at least one other book for certain that I can remember from the other two books I have read in the series. I might be forgetting a hint or two, but that will make that discovery in future books just that much better. Then there is the courage that is displayed throughout the book for things are not smooth and challenges are overcome time and time again. It how each person faced those challenges that made this story so enjoyable. Nothing too serious but there are twists and turns that keeps the reader interested in the story while making it a pleasure to read. I hope that all who read this book and series enjoys it as much as I do and did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a very great book. Was extremely interesting story. Enjoyed it very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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acorn104 More than 1 year ago
This is a good read. The farmer, Jonas White, takes in stray kids and they become a family full of different histories and issues. He clearly is a caring man, taking care of his kids and the elderly neighbor man. How the Philadelphia socialite runs away from a proposed marriage arranged by her father to the refuge of elderly neighbor (her grandfather) is an interesting story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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kitty59 More than 1 year ago
loved this book loved the characters, looking forward to more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has a wonderful m
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CaraPutman More than 1 year ago
The Homesteader’s Sweetheart, the latest Love Inspired Historical novel from Lacy Williams, is a sweet story connecting an outsider homesteader with the beautiful banker’s daughter. Unbeknownst to her, their lives had intersected years earlier in Philadelphia, but now Penny Castlerock’s back in Wyoming and trying to make a life apart from the glass pedestal her father insists she occupy. Jonas White lives on the outskirts of life, yet has collected an assortment of abandoned children and teens. He’s made a family for them, one he protects at all costs. At the beginning Penny seems a wee bit shallow. She’s focused on the limited life her father allows while trying to avoid the advances of an unwanted suitor. Then she intercepts a letter from her grandfather that suggests he needs help, and hijacks Jonas to take her to her grandfather. As the pages unfolded her character developed bringing me to a point of rooting for her. Soon her selfless nature completely pulled me in to her story. Jonas is a complicated character that took time to peel back all the layers. Boy, was it worth the time! While this story is a well-told historical set in 1890 in Wyoming Territory, ultimately it is a store about choices. The choice to form a family. The choice to risk a heart. And the choice of people over things. A very well-done and satisfying read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While not a "fan" of the romance genre, I was enthralled by the masterfully written interplay between Penny and Jonas. Ms. Williams subtly and accurately situates their growth in love and self-awareness within their historical and cultural context. I was spellbound; finished the story in two days! I not only found myself caring for the two central characters, I found them apt mirrors for self-reflection, as well. Joe, an Oklahoma gadfly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent choice for a good christian had some humor as well, as I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times. I love how the main male in the story had so much compassion towards children ( not something you usually find to his extent ) I fell in love with these children and their stories as well. The only thing that could have made this any better would be if this was a series...