on 11 December 2001
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.
on 14 July 1996
The Flame and the Flower is sometimes held up as an example
of the best of the romance genre. It is recommended to
aspiring romance authors for its supposedly devastating
levels of sensuality. To an extent, I would have to agree
that Woodiwiss' work does successfully convey a certain,
stomach-turning kind of sensuality. Unfortunately, that is
about all good I can say about this brick of a book. We
are presented with a pluckless heroine and a conceited
hero, neither of whom seem to develop too much more than
the barest personality throughout the book. I did not like
the repeated objectification of the heroine, nor did I
like the message that outer beauty could compensate for
lack of personhood. Perhaps my greatest quarrel are the
numerous grammatical errors which bullet the text. I was never
so caught up in the romance to miss them. Lines such as,
"'Ssh,' he shushed" and "Please,' she pleaded" are fairly
typical of the insipid dialogue. Yes, the genre has come
a long way since this book was published in 1972. Yet it
is still available on bookshelves for purchase in 1996; is
it speaking well for the genre?
on 30 November 2004
This book sparked my love for reading. I was 14-years-old and it was summer vacation and I was bored to tears. My mother handed me the book and said, "Here, read this...I think you're old enough now." I hated reading before this book!!! After reading it, I knew I would name my son Brandon if I ever had one. Guess what? My son's name is Brandon and his twin sister is named Breonna, Heather's middle name (spelled differently). I've been an avid reader ever since this book! Thank you Kathleen Woodiwiss for opening up a whole new world for me. By the way, I'm 42 now!
"The Flame and the Flower" by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is the story of a sad young girl who due to the twists of fate will go through numerous tragic events in her life, yet still didn't give up her search for love.
The book that, although sometimes difficult to read, is a work that audience would love.
The novel's heroine Heather Simmons who remained without anything after her father died is taken by her uncle and violent aunt named Fanny.
Given all the physical and emotional abuse that she will go through with her foster parents, Heather will be forced to run away and end up in the ship's cabin of Brandon Birmingham on his boat Fleetwood.
Brandon will accidentally replace her for a prostitute and will sexually exploit her, and when she will become pregnant he will be forced to marry her.
And though their story at the beginning doesn't look fabulous, in the rest of the novel they two will gradually reveal mutual feelings, learn to trust each other even though their past and their surroundings don't do anything to help them ...
Heather, main character of this novel, isn't the typical heroine that are usually found in novels of this kind, strong and determined , but due to all the terrible things she has experienced in his youth she is filled with fear, with no confidence in herself and in others.
On the other hand, Brandon is totally opposed character that doesn't evoke reader's sympathy. He wants everything under his control, when he extremely hurt Heather only thing he is able to do is to offer her becoming his mistress even though she doesn't want to, but as the action progresses, his character and his feelings for Heather will change.
What is likely to be very impressive even shocking for most readers are scenes of violence that are not common in this type of literature, but it seems that the author deliberately done that in order to show the width of the suffering Heather experienced.
Therefore, this sometimes disturbing, yet at its heart still a love story, from the author who has written several well-accepted romances, can be recommended to all lovers of romantic literature.
I would have given this a higher rating, but the begining of this story was not to my taste. Plus a less than stellar plot. I realise that this is set in a period of history when things were different, and women had less rights and were often used as mere chattels. But it still did not make the first meeting between the H/h any easier to accept.
When Heather Simmons manages to escape a life of drudgery living with her Aunt and Uncle. She is sorely misled as to what awaits her. When her Aunts brother visits from London he offers to take Heather back with him, as he knows of a position at a young ladies school as a teacher. But her Aunts brother has deceived her, his aim is to have Heather for himself. But she manages to escape him. Unfortunately she is grabbed by two men whom she assumes have been sent after her. They take her on board a ship where she meets Captain Brandon Birmingham. He thinks that she is a prostitute that his men have procured for him. His actions then are what put me off. Heather manages to escape him, and returns to her Aunt and Uncles farm. But it is soon obvious that she is pregnant. Taken back to London, and helped by an old friend of her Fathers. Captain Birmingham is soon brought to book for his actions. He is forced to marry Heather. Furious he informs Heather that she will not be treated well once they return to Charlston America, and what is he going to tell his fiancée Louisa.
Apart from the begining, the plot is quite bland there is not much more too this unless you count every man that comes into contact with Heather wanting her, or the furious ex-fiancée Louisa causing trouble. This is not up to the same standard as the Wolf and the Dove IMO, a far superior read compared to this.
on 12 January 1999
First of all, let me say that I love historical romance novels, and I don't stereotype them as bountiful-bosom, bare-chested heaving bodice rippers. However, this unfortunate novel lives up to this stereotype--at least the sections I managed to plough through.
The first problem is the purple prose. I'm no grammarian, but the constant abuse of the comma and the liberal use of adjectives started to irritate me about 10 pages in. However, the story was still passable, so I forged on. Then I discovered that the villains are so ugly, they are practically deformed--a cliche I could have done without. I mean, an obese, abusive aunt I can buy, but please, an overweight, lecherous, DROOLING uncle (brother to the aunt)? And the uncle's shop assistant (another villain) is actually hunchbacked, filthy and has a facial deformity. Puh-leeze!
The bit that takes the cake, however, is the fact that the hero has raped the heroine twice--and this is barely fifty pages into the book. What disturbs me the most, however, is the hero's apparent lack of feeling over this act of brutality. The first time I could almost understand, given the fact that he thought the heroine was a prostitute and that her struggles were love-play. But the second time around, he KNOWS she was a virgin and terrified of him, and he does it anyway! Later, when the heroine explains her awful situation, the hero makes light of it and offers to set the poor girl up as his mistress.
At this point, I couldn't read any longer. I had lost all respect for the hero--in fact, I hated him. I mean, I know about the sexual double standards of the time period the book is set in, but really, not even an apology? I think forcing yourself twice in a row on a 17-year old girl merits at least that... But I can even understand not apologizing for reasons of masculine pride or sheer pigheadedness or whatever. It's the lack of internal remorse that finally forced me to chuck this book aside. Fine, the hero is a tall, dark piece of hunka-hunka burnin' love, but the implication that it's OK for him to do what he did because he's good looking and not an overweight, ugly lech disturbs me even more.
Thank God I only borrowed this book from the library. I'm also really glad that rape scenarios have largely disappeared from modern romances. However, it frightens me that this book is held up as a classic of modern romance writing and a must-read for all romance lovers. I think it's books like The Flame and The Flower that create and perpetuate the unfair stereotype of romance novels as mindless bodice rippers that demean women.
on 23 June 1998
This is the first historical novel I ever read. I was in the fifth grade, and I used it in one of my bok reports. (My teacher was a little put out, but who cares? this book was incredible!) It was fascinating. Two people trying to deny their love for one another because of a gross misunderstanding and miscommunication---FANTASTIC!!! Who hasn't been there? The tension between Heather and Brandon was wonderfully written and believable. The love scenes were tasteful and still erotic. The adventure and suspense was wonderful. This novel had everything in it, romance, light comedy, suspense, adventure, deceit, and a happy ending. The perfect combination for any romantic at heart. I have bought three copies of The Flame and the Flower because it is my all-time favorite and I re-read it so much. It is unforgettable.
on 12 November 1998
Okay, so I wasn't that thrilled with the first two chapters...I thought they were pretty boring, and I just couldn't get into them. BUT, as I continued reading, slowly but surely, the characters developed, and so did my interest in the book. The soliloquys could be a bit much at times and a little distracting, but in a way, they added to the flavor and uniqeness of the novel. A fresh idea, or something that seemed out of the ordinary to me, was Brandon's almost year-long celibacy. This is rare in romance novels and refreshing, because the ultimate moment when Heather and Brandon make love is looked forward to. (in other words, there are not abundant sex scenes) When I finished the book, I missed the characters, just as I always do with books I enjoy.
Our story begins in England. Heather Simmons had it all, until her father made poor decisions. Destitute, Heather had to live with Aunt Fanny who forced Heather to do all the chores, wear oversized rags, and all but beg for crumbs to eat. So when William Court, offered her a respectable position, Heather jumped at the chance. However, the position turned out not to be respectable at all and after defending herself from Court’s unwanted lust, Heather fears she may have killed the man and flees to the docks. She is still in shock when she is approached by two men and ends up in the cabin of Captain Brandon Birmingham.
Having asked George, his man servant, to locate him a lady to spend the evening with, Brandon never expects Heather to be anything but a prostitute. When it becomes clear that the lady is not acting shy and coy, it is too late. Not only has Brandon taken her virtue, but he refuses to let her go. (Skipping much to shorten my synopsis and not give away spoilers.)
When Heather’s uncle, Lord Hampton, forces the Yankee to wed his pregnant niece, Brandon is furious. He blames Heather for everything. Once he returns home to the Carolinas, he must explain to his fiancée, Miss Louisa Wells, how he was blackmailed into marrying someone else. Of course, the two women are instantly enemies. His brother, Jeffrey, is delighted that his new sister-in-law is not only nice and sweet, but will never be the shrew named Louise. Now if only Heather and Brandon can earn the love and trust of each other.
**** FOUR STARS! This was one of the first adult romances that I read as a teen and I am delighted that the publisher is bringing it back for a whole new generation to enjoy. The only downside to this story is the various misunderstandings because the main couple refuses to communicate with each other. I just wanted to pop them upside their heads a few times. As for Louisa, now there is a bad girl that readers will just love to hate! This story is one of the classics of the Historical Romance genre and one that every young lady should read at least once. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews
on 19 March 2016
I read the reviews on her books and I thought I'd give her a try. I enjoyed the first one I read. It was endearing. Why but why do her books start out with the abusing of women? Rape or fear of rape! Quite disturbing really! The first one I read, The Wolf....also did but at least the girl had spunk and the Wolf showed humanity. But in this one, the hero persisted in the abuse on the pretext he couldn't help himself. And she like a nitwit catered to his .... Pathetic! I couldn't get past the first chapter.