Book Review – The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Posted by Ing on 9 December, 2010 // ★★ 4 Comments ★★


Book Review – The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. WoodiwissThe Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Series: Birmingham Family, #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 1, 1972
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Pages: 512
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The Flower

Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence—until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee. . . and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.

The Flame

A lusty adventurer married to the sea, Captain Brandon Birmingham courts scorn and peril when he abducts the beautiful fugitive from the tumultuous London dockside. But no power on Earth can compel him to relinquish his exquisite prize. For he is determined to make the sapphire-eyed prize. For he is determined to make the sapphire-eyed lovely his woman. . .and to carry her off to far, uncharted realms of sensuous, passionate love.

My Synopsis:
Heather Simmons was left penniless after the passing of her father two years ago.  For two years now Heather has been living with her uncle John and aunt Fanny.  She is verbally and physically abused and treated like a servant for the past two years by her aunt Fanny.  William, the beloved brother of her aunt, who lives in London comes for a visit and offers to take Heather to London for a teaching position at a finishing school.  The aunt who wants Heather gone agrees for Heather to accompany her brother back to London.  Heather who has been wanting to get away from this life is so excited for this opportunity and thinks this will lead to a better life for herself.  Once in London it soon becomes clear that William has other ideas.  Heather flees from William believing she has killed him, after he attacks her.  Heather ends up at the docks of London and is mistakenly thought to be a dockside whore.

Captain Brandon Birmingham and his crew has just docked in the London harbor and is in need of some entertainment.  Brandon is a yankee merchant and this is his last trip to London.  He plans on selling the ship.  He couldn’t believe his eyes when his crew brought him back, Heather.  Heather loses her innocence that night to Brandon.  She flees back to her aunt and uncle but realizes later that she is expecting.  Heather is taken back to London by her aunt and uncle where they force Brandon to marry Heather, with the help of a powerful family friend.  Heather finds herself married and taken away from England to America with her new husband.  Will her life be any better with her new husband in a new country?

My Review:
I was curious to read this book after the reviews I read on Amazon.  This book was published in the 70’s and written by an iconic author in the romance world.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  First, be warned there is a rape scene.  There is no doubt in my mind the hero rapes the heroine at the beginning of the book.  Doesn’t matter that he thought she was a dockside whore, if a woman says no it’s rape.  It was an ugly scene and after the rape I wanted to basically kick Brandon’s ass.  He acknowledges that she was innocent but still plans to keep her for his pleasure.  WTF??  I managed not to throw the book across the room.  Well actually I bought this as an eBook on my Nook so I couldn’t really throw it, but I didn’t have the urge to.  🙂  I managed to get pass this point in the book. I didn’t have high hopes on the believe ability of happily ever after for Heather and Brandon.

Woodiwiss is a masterful writer.  Not only did I believe in their happy ending, I also became invested in these two by the end of the book.  Brandon is a man with a lot of pride and he hates the fact that he was forced to marry Heather. He basically tries to be a dick to her but he can’t keep up the attitude.  Eventually Brandon starts to take care of her and he treats her with kid gloves.  Heather is still pretty young and has had a hard life.  On their journey to America they both begin to learn things about one another and start to fall in love.  I liked seeing this.  It was a nice, slow build up, of their relationship from distrust to love.  Woodiwiss, allows the reader this glimpse and actually makes you a believer of this unlikely love story.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing but you do see slowly something blooming between them.  Heather didn’t take crap from Brandon.  I liked how she stood up to him and gain confidence and maturity.  I was happy that the people in Brandon’s home rallied around her and loved her.  It was good to see her get some love.  Not all the folks in Brandon’s world loves Heather, unfortunately. Brandon was engaged prior his trip to London, so the fiancee was not happy about Brandon returning with a wife.  You can imagine she didn’t take the news very well.  It was good to see Brandon protecting Heather from his ex-fiancee.  As they begin to grow and trust each other, murder happens, and Heather’s past comes to haunt them.  Their new found love will be put to the test.

I honestly liked this book.  The writing was beautiful.  It was your good old fashion epic stories from the days of the bodice ripper.  I recommend that people give this book a chance and pick it up. I understand it’s not, one for everyone, but if you’re willing, give it a try and read it.  I can’t in all honesty give this book 5 pages because as much as I ended up liking it, the beginning still bothered me.  I pretended the first half of the book didn’t happen.  Also just a note I do not condone rape nor does rape equal romance in my book but I can appreciate a well written book and that was what this book was.

★★ Book was read in December 2010. Review copy source was my own personal eBook copy. ★★

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4 Responses to “Book Review – The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss”

  1. Ing

    Thanks Jules. I really enjoyed it. I still need to read the Judith McNaught books that we picked up so long ago. I was nervous about saying I liked the book because if you go to Amazon there was a lot of hating and strong feelings about it.

  2. Oh my goodness! I read this book SO many years ago. I honestly could remember what the book was about — that is, until you summarized it so well. 🙂 I’ve read a few of her books and I remember feeling like you. Wow. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  3. Ing

    Thanks Barbara. I’m glad I gave this book a chance. Now I’m going to find the rest of the books in the series. I like a good bodice ripper book too. There is one that I saw a lot more hoopla about can’t remember the name I think is was Stormfire. That one sounded awful…I’m not sure I can try that one. Let me know what you think of this one if you decide to try it.

  4. Wonderfully written review, Ing! I’ve actually heard about this book several times. I also recall many people expressing their dislike for that one particular scene you were speaking of. I’m actually quite a fan of the bodice ripper novels. I should try and get this one for my Nook as well 🙂

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