The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E Woodiwiss
Published by Avon books
Why I read this: I heard so much about it being one of the best historicals ever.

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 lovely his woman. . . and to carry her off to far, uncharted realms of sensuous, passionate love.

This was supposed to be the ground breaking historical of it's time? Why? What is so great about it?

Aside from the fact that the so called hero rapes the heroine--yah, I get that rape was common back then. That's still not an excuse to have the HERO rape the heroine in a *romance*. If it was that common then all historicals would have a rapist hero. And since I'm on the topic, I have heard people say that most historicals from the 70's or early 80's had a rapist Hero. Uh no! I have read tons of historicals written back then, and the rapes by hero are far and few between. In fact, I can only count 3.. This one being number 4.

Not sure why or how Heather fell in love with Brandon. He wasn't kind to her. He was only nice to her after she almost died from fever, and then again at the end when he told her he loved her.

Heather hated and feared Brandon, then as soon as he is forced into marrying her, she is all of sudden getting these warm fuzzies. Weird. I don't understand it. What did she see in him?

It bothers me that the rape scenes were a page long, and then when they finally have consensual sex, it lasted less than a paragraph in length.

I felt no connection to either of the main characters, and the only one in the book I have any interest in at all is Brandon's brother.

The classic, oh so popular, The Flame and the Flower, gets a D from me. There is nothing I liked about this book. I'm even trying to forget about the rape and thinking how I would feel if it had not been in the book...yup, still don't like it.


  1. Holly // 2:25 p.m.  

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one. I've never understood the appeal of this book. I read about 1/2 a chapter before I just gave up. Not my cuppa.

  2. nath // 2:56 p.m.  

    I've never read this one... I read only one book or two by Kathleen Woodwise and it was okay. Ugh, I hate it when the hero rapes the heroine... i mean, that's not really romance :(

  3. Stacy~ // 6:48 a.m.  

    I read this one within the last year, and didn't get it either. I guess reading it more than 30 years later shows how it didn't age well, imo.

  4. Lucy Monroe // 1:56 p.m.  

    I've never read this book and I know it's risky as an author to make a public statement regarding another person's work...sigh...but one of my hot buttons is rape. I don't get it and I have a really hard time understanding how a woman can fall in love with a man who treats her like dirt. You know I write very alpha heroes, but their integrity is sown into the story from page one, or I couldn't deal with them long enough to finish a book. And, Chantal, I've read hundreds of romances from the 70s and 80s and only two had rape scenes - one I ended up recycling even though it was a hardback. I was so angry with the hero and the author for writing him as he was. LOL

    It is funny, because honestly - I don't think authors have that big of a choice about how to write their characters. You write what is inside you. For me, I write what I love to read. I get that my hot button is not shared by everyone, or even a majority and I'm cool with that. To each her own. :)

    And Chantal, love...I miss you, but see you're pretty active on your own blog. It's awesome! I'll try to come back and visit whenever I've got the time.


  5. CindyS // 7:22 a.m.  

    I've read The Flame and The Flower and for the life of me I can't remember what it was about. But then, that was 20 years ago now. My Woodiwiss books were Shanna, A Rose in Winter and hmmm, the one where the heroine fell off the riverboat on her honeymoon and was thought to be dead.

    The rest I've read but I know I also had too many problems with the so-called heroes.


  6. Chantal // 9:45 a.m.  

    Hi Holly,
    I don't get it either. I wish someone who did love the book would post here and tell us why. I didn't find anything special about it at all.

    Hi Nath,
    Don't read it, hon.

    Hi Stacy,
    Even 30 years ago... WHAT made it so good? If you figure it out, let me know, k?

    Hi Lucy!
    So nice to hear from you :)
    One of the reasons I love your books so much is because you write such wonderful men. They are hunky alphas who take charge, but they are also kind and romantic. And goodness, can you ever write a good grovel scene!

    I am reading your blog, i just neglect to comment. Oops *shy smile*

    HI Cindy,
    I have the Reluctant suitor in my TBR. i wont be reading it any time soon, thats for sure.

  7. Ana // 6:54 a.m.  

    I could not agree more! Hate the book and hated Brandom.

  8. Jill // 11:08 p.m.  

    Okay, I'm one of those people who read this book when it first came out, way back in the 70s. I was a teenager and thought it was an incredible book. I loved Brandon, LOVED him.

    It's been decades since I've re-read it, so my memory of the nuances in the book isn't very good. While the rape scene sucked, in his defense he thought her a dockside whore.

    The things I loved about it were when he was confronted by her aunt and uncle about her pregnancy, he sucked it up and agreed to marry her. He could see how badly she was treated and saved her from a bad situation. The scene where they shopped for clothes was wonderful to me...I liked seeing a male character know of such things...I thought it made him sexy.

    Of course back then I wasn't a strong woman yet, just a strong teenage girl. I loved how he was over protective and controlling. IDK why, since I'm a very controlling person. LOL In real life I'd probably walk away from someone like him, but in my life as a reader, I love it.

    I also love KEWs writing. While it seems very ponderous and heavy these days, I love the way she strings words together. It's like poetry to me. I re-read Shanna and The Wolf and The Dove last year and really enjoyed the language. She paints pictures with her words.

    I'm re-reading an old Johanna Lindsay from back then, a book I've always loved and remembered with great fondness. I was surprised to read a scene wherein the hero backhands the heroine. If I was reading it for the first time I'd be turned off. I'm half way through the book and still waiting to see what it is that originally made me love it.

    I think it's important to remember the context of when these books came out. What was going on in the genre, in society, etc. It helps to explain why many of us, like me, fondly remember the books from our youths. Don't forget, many of us were young and easily titillated by these books, which were considered very racy back in the day.