Sunday, June 29, 2008

Review - The Flame and the Flower

Title: The Flame and the Flower
Author: Kathleen Woodiwiss
Publishing Date: 1972
Genre: Historical
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Heather Simmons is found on the docks of London one night by sailors looking for a woman for their captain’s pleasure. Heather has run away from her cousin who tried to rape her. She manages to flee from him after he falls on a knife and kills himself. Heather thinks these sailors are the police and has no choice but to go with them to see the magistrate. (Yes, Heather is desperately naïve.) The Captain, Brandon Birmingham believes that Heather is a prostitute, one because she was walking the docks by herself at night and two she is wearing a gown only a loose woman would wear. He inadvertently rapes her thinking that her resistance is part of a game. Once he realizes she was a virgin, he begins to wonder a little bit who she is. He decides he wants her for his mistress. He actually has a fiancée back home. Heather has other ideas and escapes him. One thing leads to another and Heather ends up married to him and they travel to the Americas where Brandon owns a plantation in Charleston. The remainder of the book is spent there.

At first, I really hated Brandon and was fully prepared to hate the book as well. Brandon is the type of man who thinks he can have what he wants, when he wants it, regardless of who gets hurt in the process. This is very evident when once he has realized Heather was a virgin and it doesn’t stop him from taking her again against her will. He is also a control freak with a God complex. I know. There is not much to like about him. Heather on the other hand is terribly naïve with a very tiny backbone. She has a hard time standing toe to toe with Brandon. In the first part of the book he walks all over her, controlling every aspect of her life. In her helplessness she accepts her fate. Part of this is due to their age difference. Brandon is 35 while Heather is 18. While, I usually enjoy a heroine with more spunk, I still liked Heather for her sweetness. She was only eighteen after all and as she grows older in the story, she grows stronger too.

Brandon over time has a complete change of character that is for the better. He becomes the hero that you want to root for in the end. He realizes what a treasure he has in Heather and starts to court her and treat her accordingly. I think it’s just dessert for him that after he is married to Heather he was always faithful to her because he was ruined for other women. It served him right. I loved how he always protected Heather from the insults other women would throw at her. He would stand by her side and not let them belittle her. When Heather and Brandon do finally admit their love for one another, wow! The pages sizzle. This happens not too terribly close to the end and they work together to solve a mystery at the end of the story. Aside from the big misunderstanding in the beginning, (and a small one in the middle) there aren’t anymore and they learn to trust one another and work together. The ending more than made up for the bad start at the beginning of the book.

Here is what others had to say:

Reading all night long


Ana said...

Interesting to see your take. I have to agree that the book gets better towards the end, but I could never get past the beginning and how Brandon was AWFUL towards her. *shudders* . I hated the whole vilanny of the women towards her, just too much in my opinion. But it is probably just me, a lot of people love this book.

Kris said...

This is one of two books that i have read by Woodiwiss. I very much agree with your review. The beginning was harsh and was hard for me to keep reading with the way he treated her, but it got much better.

Kristie (J) said...

LOL - you really are going back to the vault for some of your reads aren't you? First of Rosemary Rogers and now Kathleen Woodiwiss.
I cut my romance teeth on these kind back in the day, but I think I said after your Rosemary Rogers review (or maybe not - I can't remember now *g*) I'm glad they don't write them like this any more. At the time I first read this one, I liked it well enough. But I don't think I could forgive Brandon these days for the way he treats Heather. And the villainess - way too over the top for me.
But I do appreciate that these kind of books were the ice breakers, the vanguards for the romance we have today. And also, the settings and locales were a lot more varied and exotic than many of today's historicals. I really do miss that aspect of books written today.

Jill D. said...

Ana, Whoa, for a minute it there, I was wondering who this new Ana was. Then it dawned on me you changed your icon. Everything was over the top in this book; very dramatic. I enjoy a saga every once in a while, but I need to cleanse the pallet afterwards.

Kris, What was the other Woodiwiss book you read and did you like it? I have read Shanna and The Wolf and the Dove and I enjoyed both of them. I think Kathleen Woodiwiss was a very talented lady.

Kristi, LOL, this and Rosemary Rogers book are part of my classic romance challenge Jenny issued back in January. These are books I have heard a lot about but had never read myself. I wanted to see if they could stand the test of time. While they are very well written stories, the difference from todays romance is staggering. One of the things that really skeeves me out is the huge age difference between the hero and heroine. It leaves the hero with too much power over the heroine. I don't care for that at all. On the other hand, I absolutely love all the drama the old books have. And you are right about the various locations often taking place in one book even.

Ana said...

I think this is exactly IT for me: the amount of DRAMA these books have. ai, it is just to over the top. I just read Something Wonderful and it felt like watching a Soap Opera!

Hey, how do you like the new me??? ; )

Jill D. said...

Ana, I can see what you mean about the drama. Every once in a while though, this type of book appeals to me. I have to change it up you know, or I'll get bored.

I love your new avitar. She is very cute! I think she fits your personality too.

Kris said...

Woodiwiss was my very first romance book. It was my mothers and I read So Worthy my Love. I still re-read it, I enjoyed it a lot.