Sunday, June 29, 2008
Title: The Flame and the Flower
Author: Kathleen Woodiwiss
Publishing Date: 1972
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.
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Reading all night long