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The Flame and the Flower

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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. 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 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. 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.


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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. 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 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. 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.

30 review for The Flame and the Flower

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Woodiwiss is often credited with creating the first bodice ripper or the first "modern historical romance novel." I would actually disagree with both of those remarks - especially since they mean very different things. I wouldn't actually classify bodice-rippers as "romance" novels; they're more like anti-romance novels. The hero in these types of books is usually very similar to the villain, distinguishable only by a very thin and waver Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Woodiwiss is often credited with creating the first bodice ripper or the first "modern historical romance novel." I would actually disagree with both of those remarks - especially since they mean very different things. I wouldn't actually classify bodice-rippers as "romance" novels; they're more like anti-romance novels. The hero in these types of books is usually very similar to the villain, distinguishable only by a very thin and wavering thread of morality that usually ties into a sense of obligation and ownership of the (virginal) heroine & his (usually forced) deflowering of her. If we're going to talk bodice-rippers, I believe they were heavily influenced by the smutty, exploitative pulp fiction of the 50s and 60s that influenced Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Christopher Nicole, author of the Caribee of the Hiltons series, is one of these authors, and so is Lance Horner, author of the Falconhurst series. The most famous in this genre is probably MANDINGO, and that is the book that comes to mind first and foremost when I think of the first bodice ripper, although Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND would be a close second. If we're going to talk about modern historical romance novels, I think FOREVER AMBER or GONE WITH THE WIND are better examples, since both still have a very modern feel & have similar formulas to that of many romance novels that are still being published today. If that's not modern, what is? Anya Seton and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro are other authors whose romance novels transcend time and who also preceded Kathleen Woodiwiss by decades. **Warning: SPOILERS** Regardless of its alleged feats of being the first of its kind (or not, depending on how you feel about it), I don't feel that THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER survives the times it was written very well. Our heroine, Heather, is under the care of a fat and abusive aunt (because fat and ugly people = villains in this book) and a thoroughly hen-pecked uncle whose dusty balls lie forgotten in the depths of one of Wicked Aunt's purses. The aunt has sold all her niece's clothes & belongings, and she wonders around in clothes "twelve times too large" that gape open to reveal her amazing bosom. It is worth noting that Heather's amazing breasts have more agency than she does, thrusting desperately against clothing as they seek out male attention, declaring their arousal on behalf of Heather (who, you know, just sits there passively and chastely, relying on her breasts to act as liaison with sexual partners) and constantly threatening to pour out of her clothes; Heather's breasts are the true main characters in this book, and it is sad when a heroine's body parts seem to receive more narrative description and action verbs than she does. Her Aunt is tired of having Heather around and sends her off to be with her brother, who has plans to rape Heather and then, when he's tired of her, it is implied that he will give her to a Madam. Again, since this Uncle character is evil, he is fat and ugly. Heather manages to escape with her virginity intact (by making Uncle William "fall on a knife" dead), still clad in the revealing gown he put her in, and the servant to a rich and arrogant sailor spies her fleeing around the docks. Thinking her to be a prostitute, he kidnaps her and presents her to his master, who he assumes will be pleased. The master, who of course is the hero, since he is the only good-looking in this entire book universe we've encountered so far, is very pleased, and proceeds to rape Heather. The fact that she is a virgin surprises him, but he assumes that she just has her Whore Training Wheels™ on and he was the lucky gent who got to ride the bicycle first. When he finds out the truth, he does a lot of posturing and villainous laughing, basically telling Heather that if she didn't want to be raped, she should have tried to enjoy it more, before raping her a few more times. He then tells her that he intends to make her his mistress, and she should be pleased. Heather ends up getting pregnant right away from Brandon's efforts, and when she returns home, her Aunt does not shirk on the opportunity to decry Heather's heritage (not only is she Irish and a Tory, but she's also a slut). Heather's well-meaning friends host an intervention where they blackmail Brandon into marrying Heather and taking responsibility for what he's done. Brandon does not take kindly to being told what to do, and drops a bunch of threats about how miserable he's going to make Heather, and oh, by the way, NO SEX, EVER. I have to admit, I laughed. How arrogant do you have to be to imagine that depriving the woman you raped of your magnificent Penis Magic™ is the worst possible punishment you can deliver, ever? If you just said "Gee, seems like the only person that would hurt is him," you would be right, and Brandon spends the next three hundred pages ruing this decision as he quickly comes down with the world's most serious case of blue balls. After the two are married, Brandon decides to sell his ship and take Heather to his plantation. Here we meet the sexually autonomous, villainous Other Woman, a cringe-worthy Mammy stereotype, the heroine's brother (an updated version of the hero that's still in beta-testing), and all of the jealous, spurned women and their mothers who were vying for Brandon's hand and are bitterly resentful that this girl - who doesn't even go here - somehow managed to snatch him up for herself and get impregnated with his child. The next two hundred pages consist of OW, Louisa, getting into verbal catfights with Heather while trying to seduce Brandon; Heather crying and flinching and seething in a froth of vindication and traitorous lust; and Brandon, who is starting to realize how ineffective his "punishment" is and concocts a new, ingenious plan to win her back that quickly goes awry because the last thing that most women want to do in the late stages of pregnancy and then immediately afterwards is have rough, passionate sex. Brandon abandons this plan, too, and announces that the two of them henceforth are going to have sex every night, whether he has to rape her to get it or not, because damn it, he has needs. Heather goes for this, puts on a sheer blue nightie to seduce him, and after this it's a whole bunch of "I love you" "No, I love you, Pooky-Kins" nonsense, and since Heather is breast-feeding that means that her breasts are always out and everyone, from the hero to his brother to the other woman, has to stare at them in admiration/jealousy and comment on them. The last twenty-five pages attempts to cram in another plot line, introducing a partially-realized murder mystery. It's pretty obvious who the villain is, and this only serves as an excuse for yet another man to lose himself to mad passion and attempt to rape Heather (I think this is rape attempt #5 if we're counting based on unique perpetrators and not actual attempts, in which case it would be closer to rape attempt #20). This book is ridiculous. One of my friends called this a handbook to having a relationship full of domestic violence, and I have to say that I agree with that sentiment. I don't normally mind reading about rape, but the way it was romanticized in this book made me really uncomfortable. I don't really want to read about all these pastoral scenes of domestic bliss if all the sexual interactions between them border on (or in some cases are actually blatant acts of) rape. This goes away towards the end of the book, but only after the heroine realizes that it's pointless to resist him further. Heather is definitely a wish fulfillment fantasy and I could see why she might have persisted throughout time. Every man who sees her wants her. Every woman who sees her is jealous of her. She's beautiful no matter what she wears, whether it's rags or a beautiful gown, and her rapist husband is constantly buying her gowns and presenting her with jewelry (when he's not yelling at her, making her cringe, throwing things, or threatening to beat up men for looking at her). When she gives birth she loses her baby bump immediately and the author is quick to reassure us that there are no stretchmarks or unsightly skin folds, either. When she's not making people cream themselves in jealousy or sexual lust, they're falling over in their charmed admiration of her & doing everything they can to make her life better. Heather is the ultimate woman, and doesn't have to lift a finger to achieve it, because expending any more effort than it would take to stomp a foot far is too intimidating in a heroine. Other things that made me wince/side-eye this book: -In an attempt to woo the hero, Louisa slathers her nipples in rouge and wears a see-through copy of the gown Brandon raped Heather in -Lots of uses of the word "Negress" and stereotypical portrayals of the happy slave -One of the rape attempts occurs because a man visiting Brandon's plantation sees a dirt- and soot-covered Heather and assumes that she's black and a slave (winces) -When going into labor, the heroine refuses to go anywhere until her husband changes her into a blue gown, because she's sure she's going to have a boy and the baby has to match her gown! -Dresses tear like tissue paper in this book. It inspired me to make a new shelf on Goodreads for heroines with clothes that tear like wet Kleenex. Honestly, this book is pretty formulaic, and with the exception of a few odd details (see the above) it follows the usual bodice ripper plot to a T. I've read and enjoyed another book of Woodiwiss's (COME LOVE A STRANGER), so I know she can write better, but this first, unfettered attempt was not my cup of tea at all. If you're going to read it, read it for science: observe it impassively, without any expectations, with the intention of reporting back your findings to others. Otherwise, it might just make a foot-stomper out of you, too. 1 star.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    I read this book years ago when I was a teenager. I had borrowed all the Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novels from my mother's shelf and she had stolen them from her mother. Kind of creepy, yes, but I read my grandmother's literary porn. As a teenager I may have actually given this book three stars. I actually enjoyed reading Brandon's dominating ways and Heather's bodice-ripping adventures. Though, despite my youngish years, I still found their first encounter "disturbing" and Brandon's subsequent trea I read this book years ago when I was a teenager. I had borrowed all the Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novels from my mother's shelf and she had stolen them from her mother. Kind of creepy, yes, but I read my grandmother's literary porn. As a teenager I may have actually given this book three stars. I actually enjoyed reading Brandon's dominating ways and Heather's bodice-ripping adventures. Though, despite my youngish years, I still found their first encounter "disturbing" and Brandon's subsequent treatment of Heather over the first year of their marriage as disgraceful. I haven't read this book in a few years but I find myself continually puzzled. Granted it was the first of its kind and it spawned a new genre, but I kind of wish it hadn't. These "alpha male" romantic heroes really get on my nerve. When dissected, they're often nothing but spoiled, selfish little bullies. The illusion that their poor behavior is because of raging lust and that once their issues with the heroine is resolved they turn into sweet puppies is actually misleading and sick. No. Spoiled self brats continue to be spoiled selfish brats. Men who require the whole world, and their women included, to bow to their whims and serve their needs should not be romantic heroes. Men like this in real life are abusive, controlling assholes! Maybe it's because I'm not a big fan of the Romance genre. Sure, I love romantic books - I really enjoy reading them, but I have read a select few and to me they have often seemed more like a How To Guide: How To Have Your Very Own Abusive Relationship. And people wonder why women end up in abusive relationships when they're told that the very controlling behaviors exhibited by men in these novels are sweet and caring gestures. No. They're controlling and manipulative. It's not just the Romance Genre though that is guilty of this. It's a sickness that has pervade other types of fiction *Glares at the Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Genre* I would much like to read a novel where the male character is a responsible adult capable of monitoring his temper on occasion and not throwing a temper tantrum every time he doesn't get his way. I would like to read novels where the heroine isn't a victim of every situation - she's someone that takes charge of her life and sticks up for herself. In my mind, Brandon Birmingham needs to go sit in the corner and think about what he's done. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss can join him too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Medeiros

    In 1972, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss did what every writer dreams of doing—she wrote a classic novel with her very first book. The Flame and the Flower had it all—passion, conflict, adventure, drama, a setting that sweeps us from Georgian England to a plantation in the Carolinas, and unforgettable characters. She broke all the conventional rules of historical fiction by making the sexual relationship between her hero and heroine a vital component of their emotional relationship and in doing so, gave b In 1972, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss did what every writer dreams of doing—she wrote a classic novel with her very first book. The Flame and the Flower had it all—passion, conflict, adventure, drama, a setting that sweeps us from Georgian England to a plantation in the Carolinas, and unforgettable characters. She broke all the conventional rules of historical fiction by making the sexual relationship between her hero and heroine a vital component of their emotional relationship and in doing so, gave birth to the modern genre of the historical romance. I was ten years old when The Flame and the Flower was first published, fifteen the first time I read it. Although I read it numerous times after that, I hadn't picked it up in years. So when I started re-reading the book to research this article, I told myself I'd treat it like an assignment and just read for an hour at a time. The prose was denser and much more detailed than what we've become accustomed to in recent years, but after only a few pages, I found myself thoroughly captivated. Before I knew it, three hours had passed and I still couldn't bear to put the book down. Thirty years after it's publication, The Flame and the Flower is still a deliciously readable novel, a quality it shares with another timeless classic, Gone with the Wind. I was also struck all over again by what a fine writer Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is. To enter her world is to enter a time machine that transports you back to 1799, where Heather Simmons, our Georgian Cinderella, is being held captive by her aunt's cruelty until sea captain Brandon Birmingham comes storming into her life to sweep her away. Although Woodiwiss's descriptions are lush and detailed, her prose is never purple. You can almost hear the ring of poetry in her description of Heather's uncle: His hands were gnarled and twisted with the years of backbreaking labor eking a shallow subsistence from the marshy land, and the weather-thickened skin held the pain of the passing seasons etched in deep lines that furrowed his face. And the clean, evocative beauty of this sentence, which describes Brandon's ship as it makes its way to the Americas, is enough to make any writer in any genre weep with envy: Now the rigging sang in the wind and the ship strained as it chopped its way through frothy white caps. By setting her own standards so high, Woodiwiss challenged every romance writer who came after her to strive for excellence in their craft. One of the criteria of an enduring classic is that it should be the first to do something, and in The Flame and the Flower, Woodiwiss succeeds on every count. So many of her innovations would go on to become the bedrock conventions upon which the historical romance genre would be grounded. Although her settings and secondary characters are vividly drawn, the relationship between Heather and Brandon always remains at the core of the plot. By trapping them together on an arduous sea voyage for much of the book, Woodiwiss succeeds in creating the perfect romantic microcosm. Many scenes that might seem clichéd now were sparkling and new thirty years ago: the heroine assisting the hero with his bath; the hero walking in on the heroine as she bathes; the hero nursing the heroine through a near fatal illness caused by his own insensitivity. Woodiwiss gives the hero a loveable wise-quipping brother, a loyal manservant, and a witchy ex-fiancée. Every man who meets Heather falls a little bit in love with her and in an eerily prescient twist, there's even a suspense sub-plot involving a brutal killer that drives the book to a heart-jolting climax. Although less politically correct then some would prefer, the book is probably more historically accurate than many of the romances written today where all the young misses are feisty and all the gents are enlightened as to the rights of women. Yes, seventeen-year-old Heather is essentially a passive victim in the beginning and thirty-five-year-old Brandon is perfectly capable of being an arrogant jerk, but they both fulfill that essential criteria of good fiction—they experience personal growth and transformation during the course of the story. Heather finds her spirit while Brandon loses his heart. Whether it be on Amazon.com or on a panel with other romance writers, you can't discuss this book or Heather and Brandon's first sexual encounter without waging the same debate that's been raging ever since Rhett carried a resisting Scarlet up those long, winding stairs in Gone with the Wind. I learned that firsthand in Harpers Ferry in April of 2002 when I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion comparing The Flame and the Flower to a "modern" romance. Some participants found the book enthralling while others found it appalling, but no matter what their opinion, it still evoked emotions every bit as strong as the passion Heather and Brandon share. The controversy arises when, during their first meeting, a drunken Brandon mistakes Heather for a wharf prostitute. Both her explanations and her struggles are so weak and ineffectual that one can almost forgive him the mistake. He's quite remorseful when he realizes he's deflowered an innocent, but that doesn't stop him from taking her once more before she makes her escape. Is this shocking and wicked? Oh yes! But still stirring in this era where our deepest and most primal sexual fantasies have been sanitized and the definition of "feminism" seems to be have been extended to the area of censoring other women's fantasies. When Brandon tells Heather, "I've found with you, sweet, that when I want you badly enough I can overlook being a gentleman," my heart beats a little faster as I imagine him with the devilish glint of a marauding Errol Flynn or Clark Gable in his eye. As Patricia Reynolds Smith, the academic who edited Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women with Jayne Ann Krentz, pointed out during our panel discussion, this is no forced seduction where Heather is made to experience pleasure against her will. Woodiwiss never once glamorizes rape. Heather despises it the two times Brandon has his way with her when she is resistive. It's not until he learns to show her tenderness and consideration after a long period of enforced abstinence that she comes to enjoy their lovemaking. The one scene that fueled my own adolescent fantasies and has lingered in my imagination for over twenty-four years is the scene where Brandon first learns that Heather is carrying his child. After her vicious aunt slaps her and rips her ragged dress from her body, revealing her pregnant nakedness to everyone in the room, Brandon comes storming out of the shadows and sweeps his cloak around her. In that one thrilling and protective gesture, we see a shadow of the hero he will become. Although Brandon can be a bit of a bully when crossed, from the very beginning of the novel he demonstrates a capacity for humor and irresistible kindness. He resents being forced into marriage, yet he buys Heather beautiful clothes, covers her when she is cold, has a tub brought on board his ship because he knows she cherishes her baths, and orders a special pair of long johns made to help her endure the bitter winter weather at sea. He also fulfills another crucial female fantasy that would go on to become a staple of our genre—once he lays eyes on Heather, he never wants or touches another woman. Since The Flame and the Flower gave women their first chance to read about sex outside of the context of male pornography, I was amazed to realize how few sex scenes there actually are in the book. After Heather and Brandon's initial encounter, they don't make love again until near the very end of the novel. During the long sea voyage, we watch them slowly becoming husband and wife—denying each other sexual comforts, yet strengthening their emotional bond. We enjoy the vicarious thrill of watching them fall in love, not just in lust. The sensual tension escalates through a series of tender moments such as the one where they exchange Christmas gifts back at Brandon's Carolina plantation, the scene where Heather is sewing baby clothes while Brandon reads aloud to her from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the funny and touching scene where their child is finally born. By the end of the book, you actually believe that these two could build a happy life together—built not only on physical attraction, but on mutual respect and love. While Brandon is becoming a hero worth having, Heather completes her own satisfying personal journey. Her fiery confrontations with her husband don't defeat her, but strengthen her. No longer a passive victim, late in the book she even vanquishes the lecherous Mr. Bartlett, who manhandles her when he mistakes her for a bondwoman. While devoted slave Hatti hits the villain in the face with a mop, Heather stomps on his instep, then hurls a chunk of soap at his head, causing him to somersault off the porch. A fuming Brandon arrives, but Heather no longer needs him to rescue her. She has completed her journey from girl to woman and is now fully his equal and his match. Both the power and pleasure of The Flame and the Flower are rooted in its retelling of the primal myths that reside in our collective unconsciousness. In the snippet of poetry that prefaces the book, it is not the flame that consumes the flower, but the flower that triumphs by re-emerging after being scorched by the flame. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss didn't just understand the "Beauty and the Beast" mythology on an intellectual level. She internalized it to such a degree that it infuses every word of both this story and her follow-up classic, The Wolf and the Dove. And in Brandon Birmingham, Woodiwiss delivers a beast worthy of the taming. As Patricia Reynolds Smith pointed out during our panel discussion, in recent years there has been a tendency for romance writers to "defang" their beasts much too early in our stories. We're so determined to make our protagonists "heroic" from the very first page (possibly to stave off internet criticism of the ultra-Alpha male?) that there's very little room left for the personal growth that makes this book so satisfying and enduring. And it is enduring. 183 reader reviews on Amazon.com prove that. As I scrolled through them, I was amazed by how many of them were written by girls who were around the same age I was when I first discovered the book. It seemed these young women could relate to both Heather's age and her coming-of-age journey during the story. This made me wonder if romance writers aren't missing some vital component of "growing the market" in our efforts to be more politically correct by prematurely aging the heroines in our historical romances. Perhaps the best way to win a reader's heart for life is to win it while it's still young and tender. Whether you love The Flame and the Flower or hate it, we're still talking about it almost 40 years later. How many other romances will be able to make that claim? As I turned the last page of the book with a wistful sigh, I was humbled all over again by what a tremendous debt of gratitude we all owe Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Brandon Birmingham and Heather Simmons are truly the grandparents of all the historical heroes and heroines who came after them. At the end of the book, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss shouldn't have written The End, but The Beginning.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)

    It was nice to finally read this signature romance by a historical romance great. I quite enjoyed it. Initially, I was a bit worried, because Brandon came off as an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk. However, he really redeemed himself, showing a profound selflessness and dedication for his young wife. Yes, he did rape her. If you don't like rape in a romance, then you won't like this book, and I would not judge you. We all have our personal tastes and comfort zones. Rape is a plot device I can toler It was nice to finally read this signature romance by a historical romance great. I quite enjoyed it. Initially, I was a bit worried, because Brandon came off as an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk. However, he really redeemed himself, showing a profound selflessness and dedication for his young wife. Yes, he did rape her. If you don't like rape in a romance, then you won't like this book, and I would not judge you. We all have our personal tastes and comfort zones. Rape is a plot device I can tolerate, depending on the execution. My issues with Brandon were due to his blase' reaction to raping a young woman. He was willing to gloss over his action, and to keep her as his mistress since the stallion had already gotten into the barn, so to speak. He didn't apologize to her. But, we come to see that over the course of this story, Brandon does acknowledge his wrongdoing to Heather, and takes measures to do better by her in the future. He's not perfect, but he was a good man and he really did show his love for Heather as this story progressed. In fact, some of his gentleness towards Heather reminded me of a Julie Garwood hero, particularly in the scene when Heather's water has broken and he's trying to get her changed. He was exasperated with her reasoning about him turning his back while she changed, and cleaning up the water from the floor, but he remained gentle and kind with her. So, yes he did redeem himself. He showed her a lot of patience and understanding about the 'big secret' she was hiding. Brandon is in some ways a stalkerific hero. He's very possessive, obsessed with, and jealous about Heather. He doesn't want any man near her, and was about to go crazy when the men were fawning over her at the ball they held. I found it interesting that he didn't really get too angry at his brother Jeff, even though Jeff was flirting really heavily with Heather. But, I think his love for his brother made it clear to him that this was no real threat. The things I loved about this story: *The love bond that grows between Heather and Brandon becomes very profound and beautiful. They showed their love physically in many scenes, and most of them are non-sexual. With gentle touches and caresses, and how thoughtful they were to each other's wellbeing and needs. I loved that most of this book doesn't involve love scenes, because we get to see the relationship between Heather and Brandon develop in a good way, and to reset the tone of their first meeting in this story. I would recommend this book to a reader who wants a good romance book showing a couple who is married. When the love scenes occur later on in the book, they are the more vague, pretty language type, if that's not your thing. *The beautifully descriptive and atmospheric writing. Ms. Woodiwiss was a very talented writer. Her writing is gorgeous and elegant. It invokes a period feel that I really immersed myself in. I felt like I was there during many of the scenes due to her vivid writing. *The familial and friendly interactions between the characters. Jeff is quite the character. He is funny and insightful. I liked the humor in this story. *Very good adventure moments and a decent mystery. The murders that occur in this book were surprisingly dark, although they all occur off-screen. *Heather is a great character. She was such a sweet, kind, gentle, innocent heroine. But she isn't one of those heroines who made my eyes roll or got on my nerves. She is timid, but strong in some ways. Nowadays, it seems as though romance fans have made authors afraid to write heroines like her. But I quite enjoyed her. She reminds me of some of Julie Garwood's loveable heroines, although she doesn't show the sustained bizarre logic that they show ( which cracks me up). This girl was a real sweetie for me. Things I wasn't Crazy About: *Slavery is a huge issue for this reader. I respect that some readers aren't particularly bothered by romance novels set in slavery times, but I don't care for them. I hate the idea of slavery, even if it is true that some slave-owners were kind to, and often thought of their slaves as family-members. I think Ms. Woodiwiss wanted to have a story set in the American South, but wasn't too comfortable with the connotations of slavery. She seemed to shy away from showing the ugly aspects of slavery in the interactions of Brandon with his slaves. She never even called them slaves, referring to them as servants. I won't presume to tell an author how to write, but I didn't really care for the soft-shoeing here. I'd rather she called a spade a spade, and showed Brandon as a more kindly slaveowner. That would have been more realistic for me. The Disneyland depiction of the slave plantation is a bit insulting for me as a reader. As I said, this is my personal issue. I don't judge other readers who have no quarrel with it. Having said that, this was a book set in the slavery times that didn't bother me as much as some did (soft-shoeing may have served a role in this). *I wasn't sure if I liked the almost caricature-like depiction of some of the Black characters. I almost felt as though Ms. Woodiwiss watched Gone With the Wind, and wrote Hatti based on Mammy from Gone With the Wind. The other Black characters had almost no personality. They were shadow-figures who fetched, cleaned, and carried. It made me wince, more than a few times. *Physical beauty=good, External ugliness=bad. I didn't really like that underlying theme here. The villain was a very ugly man, and his heart was ugly. He could have easily been really gorgeous and evil. Louisa, Brandon's scheming ex-fiance was showed as a lacking contrast to Heather, not just in poor character, but because she was large-framed, and in her thirties, and not sexually innocent like Heather. Young and firm-fleshed isn't necessarily always better than mature and buxom. A woman's value isn't necessarily in her virginity or lack of sexual experience. Louisa was very promiscuous, and she wasn't a nice person, and I didn't like her, but I don't think she should have been rejected based on her getting older. Not that Woodiwiss was saying this, but there were contrasts drawn between the two that relied heavily on physical appearance. It made me uncomfortable. I can honestly say that I really liked this story. It took forever to read (small print, and length), but it was very readable. I loved Brandon and Heather as a couple, despite their inauspicious start. If you would like to read classic, well-done, old-School romance, this is a good place to start. Recommended if you don't mind slavery in your romances.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    4.5 stars. "Kathleen Woodiwiss is credited with the invention of the modern historical romance novel: In 1972 she released The Flame and the Flower, an instant New York Times bestseller that created a literary precedent." Well done to her for "creating" this genre .... many have learned from her, I'm sure. I can see how some might have issues with what happened in the beginning of the book ... it's fiction ... it is what used to be termed "a bodice ripper" ... it happened. Her struggle pulled his 4.5 stars. "Kathleen Woodiwiss is credited with the invention of the modern historical romance novel: In 1972 she released The Flame and the Flower, an instant New York Times bestseller that created a literary precedent." Well done to her for "creating" this genre .... many have learned from her, I'm sure. I can see how some might have issues with what happened in the beginning of the book ... it's fiction ... it is what used to be termed "a bodice ripper" ... it happened. Her struggle pulled his shirt loose and then his furred chest lay bare against her with only the thin film of the chemise between them ... It was a sweeping tale that took us from the streets of London across the ocean to the New World. Under the full moon the great live oaks with their hanging moss seemed to stand like gray sentinels. The Hero was an ass. I loved how strong Heather was. Loved his brother... wonder does he get his own story. "With all the lovely young ladies here he had to go to England and bring back a Tory as a wife." LOL, don't know what was worse, the fact that she was a Tory or half-Irish! I will definitely check out more books by this author. They may be a bit old and dated but I still love this genre.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    What I learned from this book: 1. rape is ok if you're a hot, sensuous man. 2. beauty= good, ugly= bad I am reading my way through Romance Readers Top 100 and I finished Shanna first and then The Flame and the Flower. I really enjoyed Shanna's story, protagonists and flowery language. I read The Flame and the Flower next and am frankly mystified as to why it holds such a special place in so many readers hearts. Is is because it was one of the first romance novels you read? My principal misgiving What I learned from this book: 1. rape is ok if you're a hot, sensuous man. 2. beauty= good, ugly= bad I am reading my way through Romance Readers Top 100 and I finished Shanna first and then The Flame and the Flower. I really enjoyed Shanna's story, protagonists and flowery language. I read The Flame and the Flower next and am frankly mystified as to why it holds such a special place in so many readers hearts. Is is because it was one of the first romance novels you read? My principal misgiving about the book will be pretty obvious: The hero's repeated rape of the heroine in the beginning of the book. Not just the rape, but his cavalier attitude about it. Literally *laughing* in her face after learning about the terrible mistake that brought her to him and telling her to face the reality, the harms been done, now she'll have to be his mistress, time for some more rape, but don't worry baby you'll get used to it, btw don't attempt to leave because now you're my prisoner. Then when he gets called out on his actions and has to marry her he verbally abuses her and rails, "i have a fiance! what am i supposed to tell her?!" Seriously? Not once throughout the book does he evince any sort of remorse for his heinous treatment of her in the beginning. Yeah, sure, they fall in love and his promises that she would eventually beg for it from him come true, and he lavishes affection on her, great. Besides realizing that he could, gulp, love a 'slip of a girl' his character doesn't really grow in my opinion. He spends the first half of the book being such a jerk that I hoped she would run off with the brother. Finally, hero and heroine start having sex and everything is great between them. I've actually been sucked in at this point and am manipulated into being happy for them. But wait--- now there's a crazy rapist/ murderer on the loose. Unlike our hero he's evil because he's disgustingly ugly (also he kills people). Evil guy tries to rape/kill our heroine and the hero saves her. HEA ruined by this interchange 3 pages from the end: "If you had killed Mr. Court, do you think I would have blamed you? My Lord, the man deserved it!" (interesting... so HE deserves to die for wanting to rape her, but it's ok for the hero to rape her) After this follows a revelation about "Lady Cabot's" and some chuckles about what it would have been like had she worked at the brothel. Still the worst is yet to come--- "I'm glad that bastard who thought of putting you there met his end. Otherwise I might be tempted to go back and wring his blasted neck. He got what he deserved for trying to rape you." She looked at him slyly. "You were the one who raped me. What were your just desserts?" He grinned leisurely. "I received my just rewards when I had to marry a cocky wench like you." Nice. Not only does he never feel any remorse, or apologize, but the whole thing is a joke by the end?! On a side note I also find it really obnoxious how Louisa is compared to Heather and found lacking, not so much in character, but in physical beauty which REFLECTS that lack of character. There are countless examples in the book, the most annoying of which I found to be when Louisa barges in on the happy couple while Heather's top is undone because she was just breast-feeding her son. Brandon's reaction to this is to remember how Louisa's boobs are getting saggy cuz she's so old and how she's nowhere near as hot as Heather so where does she get off with that attitude? Good thing you're into raping nubile teenagers Brandon, or else you might be shackled into marriage with someone only 3 years younger than you! I'm not trying to attack some people's favorite author, but I sincerely want to know *why* this book is so beloved.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chantal ❤️

    Wtf!!! So if I guy thought you were hot and wanted you he could just rape you and you had to marry your rapist!!!! Holy bat shit! That is nuts! Also what the hell kind of polite society is it that lets a young girl suffer thought all that and then he has the nerve to joke about it!!!! I can't believe this. I understand things were different but good god man that is crazy! Poor baby to have to live with that and the poor girl married to her rapist has to find a way to make peace and continue to fo Wtf!!! So if I guy thought you were hot and wanted you he could just rape you and you had to marry your rapist!!!! Holy bat shit! That is nuts! Also what the hell kind of polite society is it that lets a young girl suffer thought all that and then he has the nerve to joke about it!!!! I can't believe this. I understand things were different but good god man that is crazy! Poor baby to have to live with that and the poor girl married to her rapist has to find a way to make peace and continue to forge a relationship based on rape! Disgusting. Also, he said he would have found her anyways because she would have worked in a whore house that he goes to. What kind of a nut job is that? The only thing that redeemed this book for me somewhat was that he did not sleep with her until it felt right and he did not force her after their wedding. He was really punishing himself here. She on the other hand, having no idea that sex was for pleasure, was good without the sex and she felt none of his frustration. Hey dude, That's what happens when you only rape a girl, she is not going to know that orgasms are mutual as you have never given her any!!! So while he was torturing himself she felt nothing. Poetic justice here!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abibliophobia-the fear of running out of things to read 🥺

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars This is a true bodice ripper, but slightly more tasteful than most of the others I’ve read. My main issues were the dismissal of rape at the end and the racial stereotypes. This book was written in the early seventies, but as I was never alive at that time, I didn’t realize how terribly ignorant people were (or just this author). Heather (18) was a half-Irish, half-English orphan who is worked to death by her guardians, her aunt and uncle. She is beautiful and gets the opportuni ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars This is a true bodice ripper, but slightly more tasteful than most of the others I’ve read. My main issues were the dismissal of rape at the end and the racial stereotypes. This book was written in the early seventies, but as I was never alive at that time, I didn’t realize how terribly ignorant people were (or just this author). Heather (18) was a half-Irish, half-English orphan who is worked to death by her guardians, her aunt and uncle. She is beautiful and gets the opportunity to go to London where she “meets” the Yankee captain, Brandon Birmingham. Brandon (35) is on his last voyage and he ends of returning to the Carolinas with some extra cargo, a wife. He is pretty terrible in the beginning, but gets better throughout the book. He is an orphan and the eldest of two sons. He owns a plantation in Charleston and is extremely wealthy. Overall, if you are triggered by some of the thinking of the 1970s and 1790s this may not be the book for you, but if you can look over that, you may like it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I really don't get why people consider Kathleen E Woodiwiss to be the queen of historical romance? I mean I have only read two of her novels and I can honestly say that she was nowhere near as good as other talented authors such as Judith Mcnaught and Laurie Mcbain. This book for instance is utter shite, full of stupid one dimensional characters with a pointless storyline that just drags on and on. Don't waste your precious time reading this crap, you will only be sorry! I really don't get why people consider Kathleen E Woodiwiss to be the queen of historical romance? I mean I have only read two of her novels and I can honestly say that she was nowhere near as good as other talented authors such as Judith Mcnaught and Laurie Mcbain. This book for instance is utter shite, full of stupid one dimensional characters with a pointless storyline that just drags on and on. Don't waste your precious time reading this crap, you will only be sorry!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    My modern sensibilities were deeply offended by this classic 1970’s romance. It is reading books like this when I regret my quirk of always needing to finish books, even when I don’t like them. At the beginning of the story, the 18-year-old heroine is living with her verbally abusive aunt and hen-pecked uncle. They decide to foist her off on an extended member of the family who claims he can have her admitted to a prestigious finishing school for young ladies. But as soon as she’s left for Londo My modern sensibilities were deeply offended by this classic 1970’s romance. It is reading books like this when I regret my quirk of always needing to finish books, even when I don’t like them. At the beginning of the story, the 18-year-old heroine is living with her verbally abusive aunt and hen-pecked uncle. They decide to foist her off on an extended member of the family who claims he can have her admitted to a prestigious finishing school for young ladies. But as soon as she’s left for London with him he indicates his true plan is to sell her to a high-class brothel after he’s grown tired of his own use of her body. He unsuccessfully attempts to rape her and after she escapes from his home she is captured by two Yankee seamen who mistake her for a streetwalker. They take her aboard their ship where she is raped repeatedly by the 35-year-old captain and illustrious hero of the story. Here’s a taste of rape, 1972-style: “Relax…Just lie still and don’t fight me. Later you can learn what pleases a man, but for now just lie still…” “You don’t appear to be a cold wench, ma petite…only for the moment a reluctant one. Soon you’ll learn to enjoy it. For now just learn to accept it.” And when she sobbingly tells him she hates him, loathes him, despises him, he actually laughs and says, “You’ll change your mind…Someday you’ll be begging for it…Just wait, Heather, and we’ll see which one of us is right.” Following the rape, he tells her he intends to install her in a private household as his London mistress. She doesn’t find this proposition acceptable so she escapes from the ship and returns to her aunt and uncle’s cottage, where she is grudgingly taken back in. Life reverts back to the way it had been except that Heather is now suffering the symptoms of early pregnancy, although she doesn’t realize the truth of it herself. It isn’t until her aunt catches a glimpse of her in the bath when the reality of her circumstances are finally acknowledged; Heather has been impregnated by her rapist. So of course the logical next step in this type of scenario is a forced marriage. Heather, being a victim of the era, is spineless, subservient and too stupid to live so she meekly goes along with the plan. She rides to London with her aunt and uncle and through the connections of a powerful family friend, the rapist, Captain Brandon Birmingham, is forced to man up and unwillingly dragged to the altar with Heather Simmons, the ever-deferential. He is angry at being trapped into marriage and believes Heather played a role in orchestrating their forced nuptials. So in order to punish her for having wronged him, he tells her he will never sleep with her. When he initially informs her of his intent to withhold the hot sexxin’, he actually seems to believe he is denying her something she would have wanted. So when she is relieved that she won’t be required to perform her wifely duties, he is actually surprised. I wanted to throttle him! Come on, you arrogant asshole, she was a fucking virgin. You raped her. Thanks to you, her only experience with sex has been a physical and emotional violation of the worst sort. Why is it so shocking that she wouldn’t want you? Then, for the next couple hundred pages following the wedding, Brandon takes his liberties in taunting her, mocking her and being cruel. And even on the occasions when he acted kindly towards her—purchasing thoughtful gifts, sparing no expense in purchasing a new wardrobe for her, caring for her when she was sick, standing up for her when she was verbally assaulted by his jealous ex—he would invariably ruin the moment by turning around and saying something rude and hurtful. And for what purpose? I imagine the intent was to show that he was falling in love with her, but I don’t buy that crock of shit. Kind then cruel, hot then cold; that is the recipe of an abusive manipulator, not someone who is falling in love. And keep in mind, you raped her. So why mock and taunt her? >:/ Anyway, the turning point in the story seems to occur when he goes on a month-long business trip and they both spontaneously decide to start being nice to each other when they are reunited. The story became slightly more tolerable after that point but by then I was so much in hate with the characters that I didn’t find it to be a redeeming or believable change of pace. Secondly, unrelated to rape and the supposed “ideal” sexual dynamics in the 1970’s, I was also offended by how the author addressed the issue of slaves servants in this story. The book was published in 1972, right on the heels of the Civil Rights Era, so I found it so terribly convenient that Brandon and several of the other white characters were such forward thinking people as to be opposed to slavery, in spite of the setting in South Carolina in 1799-1800. Apparently it is one thing to be so overcome at the sight of a woman that you can’t help but rape her three times in one night but owning slaves??? Oh-ho-ho! That is just unforgivable, son! I found the discrepancy between such an old-fashioned attitude to rape and the more modern attitude to slavery jarring. And I found the black characters to be painful stereotypes. They are described as being childlike and jolly and so fucking fake that whitey over here felt mortified. Being so decidedly anti-slavery was incongruent with the story’s setting but supposedly appropriate given the book’s publication date and yet, the black characters are constantly referred to as “Negress” and “Negro”. Uh, really? I’m sorry, but it just didn’t add up for this reader. I’m giving it an extra star because I wouldn’t mind giving the author another shot—when I separate the offensive material from the storyline itself, I suspect that a different plot and setting might have more adequately captured my interest, but unfortunately, I can’t say that I read the same book as the multitude of readers who are giving this book 4 and 5 stars. I truly do not get it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    KatieV

    Yes, Brandon can be a class A jerk and extremely arrogant. Heather is very sweet, innocent, and meek. Actually, I found Heather refreshing since so many of the heroines are feisty beyond reason and not at all an accurate protrayal of women of their time. This book hits many of my "kinks" - captor/captive, mistaken identity (he thinks she's a prostitue), noncon, a much older hero (she's 17/18 and he's 35) . THis is a fantasy. Period. Realistic has nothing to do with it. If that's what you want, t Yes, Brandon can be a class A jerk and extremely arrogant. Heather is very sweet, innocent, and meek. Actually, I found Heather refreshing since so many of the heroines are feisty beyond reason and not at all an accurate protrayal of women of their time. This book hits many of my "kinks" - captor/captive, mistaken identity (he thinks she's a prostitue), noncon, a much older hero (she's 17/18 and he's 35) . THis is a fantasy. Period. Realistic has nothing to do with it. If that's what you want, this is not the book for you. What I love is that Brandon is so hopelessly whipped and is so stubborn about admitting it. He makes a jackass of himself by "punishing her" by refusing to have sex with her once married. He's such an idiot and his brother is merciless in pointing it out to him. It is he who is punished by that, her only experience was by his force the first time they met. So, that's what she believed sex was like. She didn't care if he didn't want sex, because it scared her. Of course her attraction to him (which is always there) blossoms. Brandon is so tied in knots because he's so used to being pursued and here's this girl who he wants so badly and she wants nothing to do with him at first. She does not want to be his mistress, she does not want his fancy clothes, she does not want to sleep with him, and despite his beliefs about her part in the blackmail, she does not want to marry him. He is so full of hot air and foolish pride. He is also extremely protective of Heather and wants to give her everything. As many have said, he ends up putting her on a pedestal which was sweet. Also, I kinda liked his paternal attitude. she really brings out the protective instincts in him and I love when he takes care of her while she is ill on the voyage from England. As far as the rape. It is disturbing because he's so arrogant once he realizes she's not a prostitute. He decides she'll be his mistress and will come to love it once he showers her with material things and gives her servants, etc. He is not considerate of her feelings on the matter and just decides she is his and that she'll learn to love it. He is not, however, brutal by the standards of that genre. He never hits her. He actually tries hard to give her pleasure, but she is too innocent/scared to be aroused. Then she runs away from him, which does serve him right. ****ADDED RE: Abridged Cassette version: bought this because it's one of my favs and I wanted to be able to listen to it while I cleaned or drove. Wow! The abridged is such a watered down version. Sometimes Woodiwiss can, IMHO be wordy, so I thought this would eliminate that and possibly skim over some of the parts in the beginning before they got together. Unfortunately this was TOO condensed. The entire story can be listened to in 90 minutes. Anyone who's read the book knows this is extremely short. So much detail and tension was lost. It went from the classic it is to something like a fluffy little Hqn historical.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    This was my first Woodiwiss historical. Shared it with my sister and my friends, it was that good! Years later, I tried to read it again and thought to myself: what was I so excited about? Still a great read, if somewhat tame by today's standards. This was my first Woodiwiss historical. Shared it with my sister and my friends, it was that good! Years later, I tried to read it again and thought to myself: what was I so excited about? Still a great read, if somewhat tame by today's standards.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Raine

    I read this years ago when I was probably a young teenager. I loved this book then. As I read it now I am (a bit) aghast at the fact that Brandon basically raped Heather and took her virginity and he did it again. I don't think that will fly in modern times like these. Of course I read somewhere that this is one of (if not the first) original 'bodice rippers'. I guess it would be since it was first published in 1972. **Last read on 7/1/2015** I still love this book. Not sure why I had it at 4 star I read this years ago when I was probably a young teenager. I loved this book then. As I read it now I am (a bit) aghast at the fact that Brandon basically raped Heather and took her virginity and he did it again. I don't think that will fly in modern times like these. Of course I read somewhere that this is one of (if not the first) original 'bodice rippers'. I guess it would be since it was first published in 1972. **Last read on 7/1/2015** I still love this book. Not sure why I had it at 4 stars when it is one of the classic Kathleen Woodiwiss book. I'm changing my rating to 5 stars. I think it is because now I read a lot of erotica and the sex scenes here are very tame, but I think the book as a whole has a great story so if I judged the story by itself it would have 5 stars so I'm changing it to 5 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I'm afraid I didn't like either of the characters in this book. He was a jerk who RAPED her at their first encounter -- repeatedly -- and she was a mouse with no backbone. Mostly, I didn't like him. He never redeemed himself for what he did to her in any way and I have no idea why they fell in love. She'd been running from another rape attempt when she fell into his clutches, but apparently that rape attempt was not ok...because he wasn't good looking? I'm not sure what differentiated the two. O I'm afraid I didn't like either of the characters in this book. He was a jerk who RAPED her at their first encounter -- repeatedly -- and she was a mouse with no backbone. Mostly, I didn't like him. He never redeemed himself for what he did to her in any way and I have no idea why they fell in love. She'd been running from another rape attempt when she fell into his clutches, but apparently that rape attempt was not ok...because he wasn't good looking? I'm not sure what differentiated the two. Our dear ship captain, being wealthy and attractive, can get away with rape? I might even have forgiven the first time because he thought she was a prostitute and there was a legitimate misunderstanding happening, but after that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was an awful, awful person with a horrible temper and no redeeming qualities. I was also really sick of hearing about how attractive Heather was, probably because I was given no other reason to like her. Upon reaching his home, people said at first sight that she was a fine wife for him. Just from seeing her. Ok...but she's done nothing except be a passive little mouse who's let other people live her life for her. In fact, I generally felt that too much emphasis was placed on what people looked like and not enough on what they acted like. More than one woman was insulted for being large or fat, unlike our dear, perfectly proportions little Heather. Granted, her aunt was horrible to her, but that doesn't make it ok to criticize her fat bottom. It didn't do anything to Heather -- her foul mouth and angry hands did. I don't recommend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I'm sleepy and have had wine so please take my ranting in stride, scroll past it, or better yet read Melissa's cutting, and frankly amazing, review here. I'm not going to rate this because I only read 5 of the 10 chapters. It takes a lot for me to not finish a book. Yes, life is too short to read books we don't enjoy, but you're looking at a person who spent two years trying to finish a 200 page Don DeLillo novel she couldn't stand. But this book is far worse than that one was. I was feeling a bi I'm sleepy and have had wine so please take my ranting in stride, scroll past it, or better yet read Melissa's cutting, and frankly amazing, review here. I'm not going to rate this because I only read 5 of the 10 chapters. It takes a lot for me to not finish a book. Yes, life is too short to read books we don't enjoy, but you're looking at a person who spent two years trying to finish a 200 page Don DeLillo novel she couldn't stand. But this book is far worse than that one was. I was feeling a bit bad that I convinced Melissa to buddy-read this with me, but now I'm quite glad I did. It was interesting to see where Avon got its start in the historical romance genre. It's hard to believe that the imprint that publishes and/or has published my favorites, Laura Kinsale and Lisa Kleypas, kicked things off with this disaster of a book. Things I don't understand: 1. How literally every single Meredith Duran, Cecilia Grant, and Laura Kinsale book ever published has a lower Goodreads rating than this pile of shit. 2. How Lisa Kleypas can call this her favorite Avon romance. The Woodiwiss influence is evident in her mediocre Vallerands series, but I seriously hope it's just nostalgia making her say things like that. If you genuinely think this book is quality, Lisa, then you need to learn how to love yourself. 3. How this is a list of books that have lower Goodreads ratings than The Flame and the Flower: Venetia, When He Was Wicked, Not Quite a Husband, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Again the Magic, Jane Eyre, Emma. I'd say this is a book that only Donald Trump could love, but I guess its 4.10 average rating suggests otherwise. Stay messy, people of Goodreads.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I wouldn't normally bother rating a book I didn't finish, but I got through half of The Flame and the Flower before giving up, so I have some pretty strong opinions and plenty to say. If my pain can spare some of you anguish, then it will all be worthwhile. I was actually a little bit excited to read this book, even though I knew it had a reputation as being very of its time and, to today's readers, fairly offensive. But I don't have an extremely thin skin. After all, I love Outlander, in spite o I wouldn't normally bother rating a book I didn't finish, but I got through half of The Flame and the Flower before giving up, so I have some pretty strong opinions and plenty to say. If my pain can spare some of you anguish, then it will all be worthwhile. I was actually a little bit excited to read this book, even though I knew it had a reputation as being very of its time and, to today's readers, fairly offensive. But I don't have an extremely thin skin. After all, I love Outlander, in spite of the strapping debacle! Plus, I was curious about the novel that basically invented the modern day historical romance back in the early 1970s. I had high hopes that this might actually be a fun, engaging old-school yarn, in spite of its issues. Unfortunately, it's just a mess. (view spoiler)[The young Regency-era heroine, ludicrously named Heather, lives with her ineffectual uncle and her fat, evil aunt, a horrible woman who loathes Heather for being Irish and most of all for being beautiful, oh so beautiful, the most beautiful teeny-tiny angel in all the land. The mean aunt makes her slave away like Cinderella, and forces Heather to wear her own ragged, cast off clothing, all of which falls off of her lovely limbs and perky bosom because she's so slim and petite and the aunt is such a gigantic cow. (Lesson #1 of this book: fat and/or ugly people are evil.) All the men in town love Heather in spite of her ragged clothes and put-upon life. I've never encountered such a genuine Mary Sue character outside of fanfiction. A few examples of Heather's revolting perfection... Heather felt her spirits rise. She chatted gaily with shopkeepers, tried on silly bonnets, giggled at herself in mirrors, danced about and completely charmed those persons who could be charmed. And: She watched as grand ladies paraded in front of her and laughed to see fat, little husbands trying to catch up. Her eyes shone and her smile was quick and easy. She swirled gaily and turned her head with a carefree air, making her braids swing and causing men to follow her with their eyes. And: Under the ever warming sun the natural color returned to Heather's cheeks and all signs of illness faded away. She bloomed more than any flower, and to look at her one could surmise motherhood definitely agreed with her. Whenever she was about on quarter-deck, close under Brandon's hand, every man's eyes were drawn to her at one time or another, and with the wind whipping her cloak about her and teasing a stray lock of hair she was something to behold. I'll be honest -- the second she started swirling gaily and turning her head to make her braids swing, I was imagining ways to kill her off. She's so annoying, but more about that later. The "hero," Brandon, is even worse. We meet him when he mistakes Heather for a prostitute, after she's picked up by his henchman on the docks. (She has just escaped a near-rape by her aunt's fat, ugly brother, whom she killed when he accidentally fell on the knife she was holding. I know.) In spite of her verbal and physical protests, Brandon has sex with her. When he realizes she was a virgin and not a streetwalker, his first reaction is to worry that she might have family or friends who would come after him for defiling her. On learning that she hasn't anyone to protect her, he figures he might as well rape her a couple more times then, because it's not like you can put spilled milk back in a bottle, right? And she's so damned beautiful he just can't resist. Brandon decides to keep Heather as his mistress and he locks her up on board his ship, but she manages to run away back to her aunt. His super virility has left her pregnant, however, so he winds up being forced to marry her. He's not at all happy about this -- his cheek starts twitching with anger, and it twitches and vibrates with rage on almost every other page from here on out. Brandon proceeds to alternately ignore his new bride and verbally abuse her. He's domineering and mean, although he does sometimes take Heather shopping, which makes her like him a little bit. (Hence all the gay swirling I mentioned earlier.) We only get Brandon's POV in brief snatches, so we don't really get much in the way of inner life or motivations. We mostly just learn that he is overwhelmed with lust for Heather. She drives him crazy with her perfect, sexy beauty! And since he's decided he's too proud to bed her again after being forced to marry her, this makes Brandon angry. A few examples of our leading man's charming personality... After raping her: “Do you think you could have remained chaste for long with the face and body you have, my sweet?” After being forced into marriage: He sneered at her coldly. "Yes, I can see that you're pleased now. But your hell has only begun, m'lady. I'm not termed a pleasant sort to live with. I have a foul temper which can snap up a small tart like you without a second's notice. So be warned, my beauty. Do not tempt it. Tread lightly and perhaps you will survive. Do you understand?" And: "After all, if you hadn't met me, you'd still be living with that fat aunt of yours, taking her abuse, trying to hide your nakedness with gowns twelve times your size, scrubbing and scouring until your back broke, taking what bit of food she threw at you, content to hovel in your corner and grow old with your maidenhood still intact, never knowing what it means to be a mother!" When he's being made insane with hormones by the sight of her after their marriage: "Oh, virgin wife, why weren't you made thin and ugly, then I could ignore you as you wish. But of all the women in London town, my weak-minded self chose you, the finest bit of fluff that ever tempted any man's eye. And you treat me not like a man but as some old buck, too worn to seek a doe. You play and pose before me and expect my spirits not to rise. You tempt and taunt then deny me husband's rights. My God, you wench! Do you think me some safe eunuch?" And my favorite: "You privy wench," he leered. "With your high-curved breasts and your rosy butt, you tempt a man even when you're asleep." Okay, so there's something funny about that in a campy kind of way, but it's not funny enough to sustain a whole book. Anyway, after they marry, Brandon is a big jerk, and Heather occasionally, wimpily, expresses her displeasure with being married to his rapey self. And then she starts to feel guilty for being so mean to him. And to feel sort of grateful to him for marrying her. She went gladly and collected his clothes from the room, more than grateful because he had been lenient with her. It would be a long time before she'd dare call him names again or flare up in anger at him. She would have to remember he disliked insolence and would not stand for it. She had been effectively disciplined and would do his will as an obedient wife. And: "So now I am to be a mother, and he is to be hated and cursed because he made me so. But must it be this way? Is it too difficult to show him kindness and gratitude though I know he loathes the ground on which I walk and would prefer to be no man at all than have me chained to him. He has been kind despite his hatred of me. [That is very questionable. He bought you some dresses and hasn't punched you, big deal!] Now I must show him I am not a child and am thankful. It's just excruciating. She's such a doormat, and he's such an inexplicable ass. Neither one of them is a well-developed character; they're both just a collection of adjectives and, literally in the case of Twitchy!Brandon, tics. As for the writing itself, I finally understand why romance novels have the reputation for purple prose. It's because of books like this. There are some really oddly phrased sentences in this book, and it seems clear a thesaurus was used very liberally. The man was small and thinly fleshed, but his voice was a full baritone of gentle touch. Just one of the many odd sentences I highlighted. I'm a snob when it comes to prose style, I know, but really. The dialogue is pretty terrible too, as you can hopefully tell from all the quotes above. "But it was written at a different time!" I tried to tell myself that as I read this. Writing styles were different, gender politics were different, things that seem like romance novel cliches now were not cliches back then. Well...okay. But bad writing is still bad writing. And there's something so reactionary about the relationship between Heather and Brandon, given that this book was written and published at the height of the women's movement in the early 1970s. In a country where sensitive men like ERA-advocate Alan Alda were gaining fame, there was no doubt a swathe of the female population who thought a domineering, hairy-chested macho man like Brandon was super appealing. The year after Gloria Steinem launched Ms. Magazine, some women probably enjoyed reading about a dainty, meek little thing like Heather, gaily swirling in pretty dresses instead of burning her bra and mouthing off to her husband. No doubt there's a dissertation in analyzing this book for some women's studies doctoral student. It's probably already been written, in fact. But I just couldn't go on reading it, myself -- especially when they arrived at Brandon's plantation and all the "negro" and "negress" talk started. I bet Brandon is a very good master, and all his slaves are happy. Luckily for me, I'll never find out. (hide spoiler)]

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Q

    Rating: 0 Stars out of 5 This was my first experience with a true "bodice ripper" and it will be my last. In the first chapter the heroine kills a man defending herself from attempted rape, runs for her life and ends up with the "hero" who then rapes her himself, repeatedly. And I don't mean a case of "your lips say no but your eyes say yes", I mean lips, eyes, fists and feet all say no. I didn't make it to chapter two. I skimmed a few pages here and there through the rest of the book. I actually Rating: 0 Stars out of 5 This was my first experience with a true "bodice ripper" and it will be my last. In the first chapter the heroine kills a man defending herself from attempted rape, runs for her life and ends up with the "hero" who then rapes her himself, repeatedly. And I don't mean a case of "your lips say no but your eyes say yes", I mean lips, eyes, fists and feet all say no. I didn't make it to chapter two. I skimmed a few pages here and there through the rest of the book. I actually found it very disturbing. Millions of copies of this book have been sold? Why?? There was a time when women actually found reading about rape-based relationships appealing?

  18. 5 out of 5

    TJ

    This book starts with the abuse then rape of an innocent girl, a subsequent pregnancy then forced marriage to the man who raped her. Needless to say, I HATED it! Woodiwiss' writing skills undoubtably draw you into the story, however, therefore the two stars. This book starts with the abuse then rape of an innocent girl, a subsequent pregnancy then forced marriage to the man who raped her. Needless to say, I HATED it! Woodiwiss' writing skills undoubtably draw you into the story, however, therefore the two stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    I forced my way through this novel from start to end. If it hadn't been so horrifically genuine it would have been funny. Every single stupid thought you've ever heard an abused woman utter with that tragic loss of logic is in the plot of this book. From 'he rapes me but he really loves me deep down' to 'a baby will fix our marriage'. True it's written slightly better then your average two-bit rape porno but that hardly makes up for a plot that encourages the idea that raping women is a good way I forced my way through this novel from start to end. If it hadn't been so horrifically genuine it would have been funny. Every single stupid thought you've ever heard an abused woman utter with that tragic loss of logic is in the plot of this book. From 'he rapes me but he really loves me deep down' to 'a baby will fix our marriage'. True it's written slightly better then your average two-bit rape porno but that hardly makes up for a plot that encourages the idea that raping women is a good way to meet your wife and treating them like crap afterwards, blaming them for your life, circumstances etc is a good way to develop a healthy marriage. I would also like to point out that this is neither 'the first romance' as people keep telling me, nor is it even the first erotic romance (and I would hardly call this erotic) erotic literature and romance has been around since as long as writing has with works such as Decameron, written 900 years prior to this book. Lastly I would advocate stopping this book being called 'romance' it encourages women clearly suffering from stockholm syndrome to believe themselves in love with their abusers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bubu

    I've done it, and I shouldn't have done it. Having been in a reading slump for the better part of the last 2 months, I went back and re-read The Flame and The Flower. The Mother of all modern Historical Romances. Certainly the Mother of all Bodice Rippers. I first read this book in my teenage years and I remember, even back then, not liking it very much. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like Heather. I didn't like Brandon. I didn't like the fact that he raped her. Full stop. Going back now, I actua I've done it, and I shouldn't have done it. Having been in a reading slump for the better part of the last 2 months, I went back and re-read The Flame and The Flower. The Mother of all modern Historical Romances. Certainly the Mother of all Bodice Rippers. I first read this book in my teenage years and I remember, even back then, not liking it very much. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like Heather. I didn't like Brandon. I didn't like the fact that he raped her. Full stop. Going back now, I actually knew I would like it even less (see rape). What I didn't expect, however, was how downright ridiculous this book is. Let's take Heather, for example. People either hate her because she's so beautiful, or want to rape her because she is so beautiful, or adore her because she is so beautiful. Mind you, the first two groups obviously fall under the categories of 'Jealous Women' and 'Evil Rapist Men'. The latter group are the likeable characters: mainly Brandon's brother and the happy slaves, and a few others. But not many, of course. This child-woman is totally defined by her beauty. Any other characteristics she may show are completely undervalued. To be more blunt, her other personality traits - if she has any - are insignificant compared to her beauty. She is - even after giving birth - simply physical perfection. Which leads us straight to Brandon. He loses any common sense - again, if he has any - and is so overcome by her beauty that he rapes her a few times. Even when he realises that she was actually a virgin, he doesn't believe her to be anything else but a whore in the making, so it's still deserved. She should have simply just tried to enjoy it. Once that tiny little misunderstanding has been cleared (she was not a whore in the making), he marries her because Heather is pregnant. Still against his will, of course. Anyway, to cut a long story short: for the rest of the book we watch a heroine (*snort*) being mostly a simpering mess, with interludes of feisty behaviour. As explained above, women who wanted Brandon for themselves, hate her, so we are subjected to the most clichéd portrayal of women. And almost every man wants her, read rape her. As for Brandon, the rapist who is not a rapist - at least according to the author. He lusts after Heather, has constant jealous outbursts and is a man envied by other men and lusted after by other women. That's it. Well, there's subplot that contains a murder-mystery, but never mind that. Even there, it's all about Heather's beauty in the end. Now, how to explain why this book is, at least to me, wrong on so many levels? In my first semester at Uni, I took a class called 'Literature criticism' in which we examined the different approaches on how to interpret a text (novel, poems, etc.), and one approach/theory (I forgot its name, sorry) was to cut out any background knowledge and read the text as it is. Forget the author, her/his gender, her/his background, the cultural political and social context, not to mention the readers own experiences and background. I always found this theory idiotic. How on earth is it possible to read any text without putting it into some kind of context? If there's anyone who can, and actually I'm sure there are people who can, I'm impressed. However, I can't. The reason why I'm mentioning all this is because I looked at this book's first publishing date. April 1972. Before I was born. But during a time where the feminist movement finally started to break through into every day politics; not to forget shortly after the civil rights movement made significant improvements for the voting rights of PoC in the Southern states - over 100 years after slavery had been abolished. Basically, this book was written during a time where western societies underwent immense changes to the social, cultural and political status quo. And yet, The Flame and the Flower ignores all this. It's Gone With The Wind with actual sex scenes, minus the complexity of the main characters. But everything else is in there: The gender roles clichéed and sexist (men as well as women), and of course the happy slaves. I can't read a book and ignore the internal background (the story itself), nor the external background (when it was written and by whom). Knowing what I know about women's rights and slavery, and knowing in which time it was written, The Flame and The Flower made me want to throw up. Of course, I acknowledge that the official definition and personal perception of rape was different in 1972. But rape is rape. Romanticising it, doesn't make it any better. On the contrary. I keep saying that I won't read the books of my teenager years, the bodice rippers. I didn't need a reminder. It was me being a total idiot for doing it anyway.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Remarkablylisa)

    Oh BOY. full review to come in a rant video.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    Weak, obedient female. Abusive, prideful male. They each think the other doesn’t want them. Pleasant reading, but feels dated. REVIEWER’S OPINION: This was first published in 1972. I haven’t read many romance novels published before the 1980s, but this is what I would expect. The heroine wants to be loving, serving, and obedient to her husband. Most heroines in today’s romance novels are different. They are smart, independent, adventurous, and not obedient, which generally makes today’s novels mor Weak, obedient female. Abusive, prideful male. They each think the other doesn’t want them. Pleasant reading, but feels dated. REVIEWER’S OPINION: This was first published in 1972. I haven’t read many romance novels published before the 1980s, but this is what I would expect. The heroine wants to be loving, serving, and obedient to her husband. Most heroines in today’s romance novels are different. They are smart, independent, adventurous, and not obedient, which generally makes today’s novels more interesting for me. But older novels can be great. I’m thinking of Jane Eyre written in 1847 with fascinating characters – or Pride and Prejudice written in 1894. It can be done, but I found the two Woodiwiss novels I’ve read not to stand out in those ways. This book was pleasant reading, and I did NOT have the feeling of wishing it would be over. It’s a sweet story. It’s a little longer than most romance novels. The reason I read this was because I saw it in an article. Some college professors who teach romance novel courses were interviewed. This book was assigned reading for their students. I wonder what they talked about in class, maybe the following. Lisa on Goodreads wrote: “The book that started it all. The first romance novel of the kind we know today -- rather than fading to black or moving behind a closed door, Woodiwiss included sex scenes, with minimal euphemism and a connection to the emotional development of the characters. Before the Flame and the Flower, this did not exist.” Thanks Lisa. If this were a contemporary romance, I would complain about the lack of communication and inaccurate assumptions between the couple. A five minute honest conversation would have cleared up the main conflict for most of the book. But since the setting is 1799, I was willing to go along with it. The heroine is obedient to her husband. She has no spine and accepts his angry abuse. She is so frightened of him, that she cowers and avoids intimacy. He is emotionally cruel. He is ignorant of how his actions affect her, and he believes she does not desire him. This conflict continues for an unbelievably long period of time. One of the novel’s settings is a plantation in the south in 1799 which included slaves. The conversations with the household “help” were pleasant and caring and did not detract from the romance story. But the mere existence of slaves (even though not talked about in the story) could have a smell that is uncomfortable for some. STORY BRIEF: In 1799, Heather’s repulsive uncle attempts to rape her. She accidentally kills him, then runs away and ends up on a ship. The captain of the ship, Brandon, thinks she is a prostitute and rapes her, taking her virginity. She tries to resist Brandon’s rape but not as desperately as she did when the uncle attempted rape. Brandon is very handsome after all. She is able to escape him later and returns home. When she discovers she is pregnant, a wealthy friend of the family forces Brandon to marry her. Brandon hates being forced and tells Heather she will be treated as nothing more than a servant in his home. She accepts this because she has no other options. This can’t be any worse than the life she lived as a slave to her cruel aunt. After they marry, Brandon wants to have sex with Heather, but he refuses because of his anger and pride. She wants sex and intimacy but doesn’t let him know because of her own pride. DATA: Story length: 484 pages. Swearing language: mild. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 7. Total number of sex scene pages: 11. Setting: 1799 and later, England, traveling the Atlantic, and South Carolina. Copyright: 1972. Genre: historical romance.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I love this book. There sweet love story will make you believe there is love to be found. Brandon is a hero's hero. He makes you want to move to the south and find someone like him. Heather is one of those strong women packaged in a tiny body. This is truely a romantic classic. I love this book. There sweet love story will make you believe there is love to be found. Brandon is a hero's hero. He makes you want to move to the south and find someone like him. Heather is one of those strong women packaged in a tiny body. This is truely a romantic classic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karen Witzler

    My first bodice-ripper. Explained a lot of things that were mysterious to me in 1973. Lent to me by Brenda, my dear older cousin.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ivy H

    Review of book read years and years ago ! Read a few times too... Ok, let me begin by saying: "All Hail to the late Queen, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss !" I know the hero in this novel rapes the heroine and it got a lot of people upset but THIS NOVEL STARTED OFF A REVOLUTION THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR US ROMANCE READERS TO HAVE ACCESS TO OUR BELOVED STORIES. This novel started off the bodice ripper trend but I love it for more than just that. I must have been about 16 when I read this. Yes yes, I know that Review of book read years and years ago ! Read a few times too... Ok, let me begin by saying: "All Hail to the late Queen, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss !" I know the hero in this novel rapes the heroine and it got a lot of people upset but THIS NOVEL STARTED OFF A REVOLUTION THAT MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR US ROMANCE READERS TO HAVE ACCESS TO OUR BELOVED STORIES. This novel started off the bodice ripper trend but I love it for more than just that. I must have been about 16 when I read this. Yes yes, I know that this wasn't exactly good reading material but I had loved romance novels and had a very lax aunt who never bothered hiding her hundreds of books from me. LOL. I know what Brandon did to Heather was not right but damn that man was hot ( and I am NOT advocating rape by handsome men. I am just a romance novel reader who separates real life from fiction). I read this novel years ago and I still remember that he had green eyes. He was one gorgeous man. He did have too much chest hair though. LOL. That seems to be a big trend with older romance novels. Diana Palmer practically causes her heroines to suffocate on the mat of fluffy chest hair on her heroes with their pornstar mustaches. LOL. Oh God I'm sorry for straying off the main point. But Brandon didn't have a mat of fluffy chest hair, unlike Palmer's heroes. He was just fine. Heather was an angel ! Her description made her appear to resemble a teenage Elizabeth Taylor. Brandon and Heather were a gorgeous couple and Louisa the evil whore OW almost went crazy trying to get between them but never succeeded. Then there's this other wannabe OW. I can't recall her name but she's this ugly woman with a shrewish mother. Plain Jane wannabe OW has been in love with Brandon for years and had yearned for him to fall in love with her and marry her. That would never happen in a Kathleen Woodiwiss universe ! Plain janes do not get the hot guy in a Woodiwiss novel and I just love it ! My superficial little heart yearns for more romance novels with heroines like Heather. Sigh... Oh well... Anyway, Plain Jane goes off the deep end after Brandon marries Heather. She starts going out with a lot of horrible guys and eventually one of them strangles her. Her wicked old mother tries to frame Brandon for the murder but there's no evidence and Heather is Brandon's alibi. Eventually the villain is caught and the other OW, Louisa is sent on her way after she sells her land to Brandon. Heather and Brandon live HEA with their cuddly baby son Beau. I just wished Heather's obese cruel aunt back in England could have died of an apoplexy or tuberculosis or the plague or something torturous. Or maybe she could have fallen into a big hole in the ground and broken her non existent neck. LOL. That would have been perfect. Now I just wish I could remember all the details of all the other Woodiwiss novels I read all those years ago. I guess I will just have to re-read them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Color me surprised that I actually ended up enjoying this. Don't get me wrong, this book is problematic af, but I still appreciate what it did for the romance genre. Heather was surprisingly autonomous, all things considered and keeping in mind the society in which the novel was published. I say surprisingly because on one page I would be like "Yes, girl! Stand up for yourself!" and then a few pages later I was yelling at her for being an idiot. It definitely helps to go into this novel knowing wh Color me surprised that I actually ended up enjoying this. Don't get me wrong, this book is problematic af, but I still appreciate what it did for the romance genre. Heather was surprisingly autonomous, all things considered and keeping in mind the society in which the novel was published. I say surprisingly because on one page I would be like "Yes, girl! Stand up for yourself!" and then a few pages later I was yelling at her for being an idiot. It definitely helps to go into this novel knowing what to expect in terms of dubious consent and very alpha alpha-heroes

  27. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    I loved Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s A Rose in Winter, but I have been putting off The Flame and the Flower, the OG bodice ripper. I didn’t want to read it because I don’t typically enjoy pirate or plantation plots. The Flame and the Flower is both of those things. The Flame and the Flower is set in England for about 40% of the book and then it moves to the American South. However, this is one of the romances that you hear over and over again that is a classic so here I am. I think the one positive t I loved Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s A Rose in Winter, but I have been putting off The Flame and the Flower, the OG bodice ripper. I didn’t want to read it because I don’t typically enjoy pirate or plantation plots. The Flame and the Flower is both of those things. The Flame and the Flower is set in England for about 40% of the book and then it moves to the American South. However, this is one of the romances that you hear over and over again that is a classic so here I am. I think the one positive thing that I can say about The Flame and the Flower is that Brandon is actually nice-ish to Heather, considering this is a bodice ripper. Now, I don’t mean Brandon buries the hatchet. No. He’s a crazy mo’fo but after the first night, he is celibate until he is able to be with Heather, and he does protect her from everyone. A cheating hero who leaves the heroine to fend for herself or is the reason why she is fending was what I thought I would get but he was just patriarchal, traditional, emotionally repressed run of the mill man. That’s really all I can say about The Flame and the Flower. Heather is a coward who is still so scared of her husband that she believes he will hit her at the end of the story. Brandon is still a scary mo’fo who makes casual remarks about beating Heather yet acts surprised when she takes him seriously. At one point, Woodiwiss literally writes that Brandon has “sudden impulses to hurt” her, which are CLEARLY not resolved. And for the record, I like Woodiwiss’s idiosyncrasies. The soliloquies Brandon and Heather have are damn fun but that’s it. I’m surprised this was the book that sort of started Avon in the romance publishing game but considering what they put out nowadays, maybe not. So, let’s talk about Heather. She was angry, but more at herself than at her aunt. She had always been a coward and the way things were going she would always be one. Heather was a complete disappointment who never grew a pair. Her boobs had more of a character than her. It’s funny how certain phrases are repeated over and over. Rosemary Rogers’ Wicked Loving Lies - Marisa was constantly asleep in physical congress. Here it’s all about Heather’s chest falling out of her dress. It becomes a misogynistic joke where Brandon’s brother, Jeff, is literally slackjawed and Brandon has to go over and tip his jaw shut. Like WHY. Why are we writing for the male gaze even here!? I just imagine a tacky sitcom audience laugh track. She is so scared the whole time and I was hopeful she’d get to turn into a badass. Nope. She’s scared the entire time and worse than that, she’s TSTL. The ending says how “to the world they seemed frail and in need of protection, but their love gave them greater strength and courage than was believable” which is like WHEN WAS HEATHER EVER COURAGEOUS??? PLEASE TELL ME. And Brandon. Ugh. His whole deal is that he lies to himself that Heather set him up for marriage. He decides to punish her by saying very nasty things to her right before they get married. Something to the effect of, I would have treated you better as a mistress than a wife and you will now see that. He never goes through with it, although Heather is, understandably rattled. She believes he will abandon her in England, that she will not live with him at his home. When he’s accused of murder, I am truly baffled why she does not believe that either. It makes me think about how hard it is to think of bodice rippers as feminist. Their love didn’t change them or make them grow AT ALL. Brandon and Heather don’t really change, but their love, having been tested, is now strong and eternal. What’s so good about their love that keeps one of them scared and the other an abuser, both locked in a codependent dance?? I can’t help but think that there will be another blow-up of misunderstanding because it’s not that Brandon realized having these feelings were wrong, to begin with, but that Heather is so completely under his control he doesn’t have to worry about it. Read this but know that you aren't going to get a badass heroine out of Heather.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    The writing style was beautiful. Some of the internal dialogue was like poetry. It fully drew me in, and my emotions were engaged. In fact, I cried when Heather was being raped and afterward when she was crying. If such a talented writer would write a story that didn't repel me with its message, I know I would love it. Is this really what women fantasized about in the 1970s? Has what women idealized changed so much in the past 40 years? I understand that in 1799 in the American South, women were c The writing style was beautiful. Some of the internal dialogue was like poetry. It fully drew me in, and my emotions were engaged. In fact, I cried when Heather was being raped and afterward when she was crying. If such a talented writer would write a story that didn't repel me with its message, I know I would love it. Is this really what women fantasized about in the 1970s? Has what women idealized changed so much in the past 40 years? I understand that in 1799 in the American South, women were considered property just as slaves were. I am just so used to the modern books spinning it as though these particular characters are extraordinary and didn't fall into that way of life. Heather Simmons is a young lady. The book starts 1 months before her 18th birthday, but she is really a child. She is a twit, naive, and gullible. Really, the only quality I liked about her is the fact that she had some respect for herself. She fought off two men that tried to rape her in one night. Even though the second one succeeded, she would not agree to be his mistress. In fact, she had to escape holding the cabin boy at gunpoint. Captain Brandon Birmingham is irredeemable for me. I understand at first he thought Heather was a prostitute and thought she was just play fighting him when he forced himself on her. I also understand that even after he realized that he forced a virgin he still thought she must have sold herself willingly. However, even after he realizes that she did not, he doesn't care. Her opinion does not matter. What she wants is completely irrelevant. All that matters is himself and what he wants. Therefore, he decides whether she likes it or not he's going to continue to rape her and keep her locked up for his own pleasure until he gets tired of her. Then he will throw her away when he sails back to America. That is irredeemable for me. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make him seem like a good guy. Fortunately, Heather is not as difficult to please as I am. After she realizes she is pregnant and the man who was basically her Godfather forces Brandon to marry her (because he would rather just have her as a mistress bearing his bastard child), she does everything she can do to please him. She is very meek and subservient. She wants to do anything that would please him. In her mind, she thinks about how she belongs to him. He owns her. She is just his property, and he should have access to her body and anything that he wants from her. Since he chooses to "punish" her by not raping her, it allows time for her to fall in love with him. She reasons in her mind that he is kind and generous; and it doesn't matter that he raped her the one night, that's just the way of men. The message in the book is very clear. It is okay for a handsome physically attractive man to not only have sex with many willing partners but to take it from the unwilling ones as well because, hey, he's good-looking. You should want to sleep with him. However, the men who are ugly outside behave the same and will rape you but it's unforgivable then because he's ugly. Women are only valued for beautiful physical appearance on the outside and virginal restraint, to only give sex to the husband. They should be very submissive, subservient, and selfless. They are there to be an accessory on the man's arm and being bring him pleasure both in private and public. It is okay for a man to be very selfish, but it is not okay for a woman to be selfish. If a woman is beautiful and uses it to gain money and sex for herself and behaves as the men do, she deserves to die.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lover of Romance

    Heather Simmons once lived in London with her father, wearing nice clothes and always have plenty food to eat. But her father was deep in his grief for his late Irish wife, Heather's mother. Now two years later, after losing him and being forced to come to live with her aunt and uncle, she now is their servant. All her belongings sold, except for one nice dress she isn't allowed to wear unless her aunt deems it necessary. An aunt who has no friends and is very bitter and a shrew of a woman. But Heather Simmons once lived in London with her father, wearing nice clothes and always have plenty food to eat. But her father was deep in his grief for his late Irish wife, Heather's mother. Now two years later, after losing him and being forced to come to live with her aunt and uncle, she now is their servant. All her belongings sold, except for one nice dress she isn't allowed to wear unless her aunt deems it necessary. An aunt who has no friends and is very bitter and a shrew of a woman. But then circumstances change, and she heads to London with her aunt and her brother, whom tries to force himself on her, and so she defends herself, thinking that she has killed him, flees from the scene, and finds herself taken onto Captain Brandon Birmingham's ship. The Flame and the Flower is the first in the first in the Birmingham series. I think it was back in High School since I have read this one, so it was wonderful to read such a story such as this once again. There were many things that I had forgotten about it, and bit and pieces that left me surprised and delighted at the same time. This is a story of two people that seem complete opposite from the very beginning, however throughout the story we see how love can heal and build a trust. I truly loved both of these characters, however what I didn;t like was Brandon's character at the beginning of the book. But his edges got smoothed out throughout the rest of the book, so it was wonderful to see a change in this character. I found The Flame and the Flower to be a Sensational Romance which swept me off of my feet from beginning to end!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Regan Walker

    A Captivating Tale and a Classic Keeper! This was Kathleen Woodiwiss' first romance, published in 1972, and it's still a gold standard. It's a timeless, wonderful story rich in detail and emotion. You will love it. Initially rejected by the hardback publishers as being too long at 600 pages, Woodiwiss did not shorten her novel but instead, she submitted it to paperback publishers. Avon purchased the novel and laughed all the way to the bank. Published in 1972, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER sold over 2 A Captivating Tale and a Classic Keeper! This was Kathleen Woodiwiss' first romance, published in 1972, and it's still a gold standard. It's a timeless, wonderful story rich in detail and emotion. You will love it. Initially rejected by the hardback publishers as being too long at 600 pages, Woodiwiss did not shorten her novel but instead, she submitted it to paperback publishers. Avon purchased the novel and laughed all the way to the bank. Published in 1972, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication and is credited with spawning the modern historical romance genre. It was the first romance novel to fling open the bedroom door, the door that has never closed. Set in 1799, it tells the story of the beautiful young Heather Simmons who was raised a nobleman's daughter, but when her father gambled away all their money at his grief over her mother's death and then died while she was still a young girl, Heather is sent off to live with poor relations who abuse her (think Cinderella). She believes she is given a chance to escape when her older cousin, a successful merchant, comes to call, claiming he can get her a job at a girl's school in London. But she soon discovers that the lecherous old man has something entirely different in mind. When he dresses her up as a whore, Heather flees only to find herself on the docks of London where she is seized by Capt. Brandon Birmingham's men who are looking for a doxy for their captain's pleasure for the night. Brandon, an American merchant sea captain from the Carolinas, is delighted with what he believes is a gorgeous young prostitute. Before he hears her story, he has his way with her only to realize he has just deflowered a virgin. He tells her she needs to be resigned to becoming his paramour, but she will have none of it and escapes. (I just loved that part…and her courage in doing it!) And so the tale begins. It's an amazing story and takes us from a poor farm in England, to a merchant ship sailing across the Atlantic to the American south of wealthy plantations. Woodiwiss paints vivid word pictures of life on the farm and the adventure at sea. It is a tale of great love coming from a rude beginning. I liked Woodiwiss’ prose and masterfully drawn characters. If you read historical romance, you MUST read this one that started the modern historical romance genre.

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