I am amazed that this was Woodiwiss's first novel. What a courageous debut!
To begin reading what is seemingly going to be a formulaic love story and to be confronted by a rape scene within chapters begs the reader to examine the characters in this book in a lot more depth than is usually required in this genre.
Woodiwiss continues to shock throughout this novel, with her meek, childlike heroine, her bullying, arrogant, over-bearing hero and her picturesque stereo-types of negro servants, once the story arrives in America.
Having said all this, you can not fail to simply love this story. The true romance lies in the growth of the characters and how they are forced, particularly in Brandon's case, to allow themselves to love and be loved without fearing the outcome.
Heather's character, though sweet and innocent, possesses an untold strength in her ability to survive even the worst treatment and rise above it without resentment or bitterness.
Brandon is truly a man's man, unused to showing any vulnerability or tenderness until he meets Heather and even then consistently fights against his true feelings.
Woodiwiss's strength as a writer lies in her ability to write a powerful story with strong memorable characters who stay true to their natures throughout. I have yet to come across another romantic author who can write so convincingly in the guise of a male character.