The Elusive Flame

The Elusive Flame

4.1 86
by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
     
 

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A woman in desperate straits ... A fearless man ...A marriage of convenience on turbulent waters ...

Cerynise Kendall has been left destitute and in dire need following the death of her doting patron and protectress. A brilliant young artist tossed from her home with only the clothes on her back, Cerynise must now turn to a childhood companion for

Overview

A woman in desperate straits ... A fearless man ...A marriage of convenience on turbulent waters ...

Cerynise Kendall has been left destitute and in dire need following the death of her doting patron and protectress. A brilliant young artist tossed from her home with only the clothes on her back, Cerynise must now turn to a childhood companion for assistance - the dashing sea captain Beauregard Birmingham and beg him to provide her with passage to the Carolinas. She seeks a new home and a new life across the waters, but all depends upon the kindness of a charming adventurer who was once the object of her youthful infatuation.

Beneath Birmingham′s rugged exterior beats a heart as large and wild as the Atlantic, and Beau readily agrees to aid Cerynise - even offering her his name in marriage, albeit temporarily, to protect his long time friend from scandal. But perilous secrets, determined enemies and tempests of the sea and soul threaten their future and safe passage even as bonds of camaraderie are miraculously reforged as bonds of desire ... and affection becomes passion and love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Romance novelist Woodiwiss's sequel to her perennial bestseller The Flame and the Flower (1972) continues the story of Heather and Brandon Birmingham's son, Beauregard. Set in 1825 England and the Carolinas, it's a bit more politically correct than the earlier book. Notorious for beginning her stories with the rape of the heroine by the hero, Woodiwiss nods to current sensibilities by having the heroine almost raped by the hero, but here Beau is excused because he's feverish and delirious, and also because plucky Cerynise Edlyn Kendall doesn't seem to mind the experience. Beau's a dashing sea captain (as was his sire, Brandon), and Cerynise is an orphan thrown out on the mean London streets by the villain who usurped her guardian's wealth. (Readers will remember that Beau's mother, Heather, was also an orphan thrown out on the London streets.) In standard Woodiwiss form, the hero and heroine, though burning with lust for each other, are separated by willfulness and misunderstanding. Cerynise's pregnancy brings hot hunk Beau to heel, and they wed--an almost mirror image of Brandon and Heather's relationship. A vicious pair of London villains and an equally vicious trio of villains in Charleston add a new twist to the story and allow Woodiwiss to invent a melodramatic climax in a storm-buffeted house. The prose is stilted, the plot hackneyed and both dialogue and settings pay little attention to historical accuracy. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061741548
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Birmingham Family , #3
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
16,932
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

October 24, 1825
London, England

Cerynise Edlyn Kendall stood at the lofty windows of the front parlor and, through a wealth of tears, gloomily observed the people scurrying along the lane traversing Berkeley Square. They seemed in urgent haste to find shelter before the gathering clouds sent a torrent of rain down upon them. The chilling gusts that accompanied the glowering sky buffeted both young and old, male and female, puckishly snatching cloaks and redingotes of passersby who were put to task keeping top hats, fashionable bonnets or their flyaway wraps in place. Cheeks and noses were brightened to a reddish hue, and shivers came from those more lightly clad. For the most part, the city's inhabitants were making their way with varying degrees of eagerness or resignation to family and homes or to more lonely existences. They gave little heed to the comfort awaiting them or, for that matter, how fragile life really was.

A large porcelain clock, artfully adorned with figurines, delicately chimed the fourth hour on the marble mantel in the parlor. Cerynise clenched her slender hands together in the gently gathered fullness of her skirt, burrowing them into the stiff, black taffeta as she struggled valiantly against an encroaching grief. As the tinkling of the timepiece quieted, she stilled the urge to glance over her shoulder with the same expectancy that had become ingrained by the ritual of tea of which she and her guardian, Lydia Winthrop, had partaken daily for the last five years. The suddenness of the woman's death had stunned Cerynise, and even now, she found it difficult to accept. Lydia had seemed so vivacious and energetic for a womanapproaching seventy. Even on the night of her death, her wit and humor had nigh sparkled in contrast to the dour sullenness of her great-nephew, who had come to call upon her that evening. Yet, however much Cerynise wished otherwise, Lydia was dead and buried. Only yesterday Cerynise had stared fixedly at the mahogany casket while final prayers were being spoken for the repose of the woman's soul. To her wearied mind, it now seemed an eternity had passed since a handful of dirt, signifying man's return to ashes and dust, was scattered over the descending coffin. That kind, loving woman whom Cerynise had come to love as her protectress, confidante, surrogate parent and dearest friend was now forever gone from her sight and company.

Despite Cerynise's efforts to banish her sorrow, soft lips trembled back from fine, white teeth as a new rush of tears welled up to blur the thickly fringed hazel eyes. Never again would the two of them enjoy delightful little chitchats over brimming cups and crumpets or sit together in the evening before a cheery, heartwarming fire while Cerynise read aloud to the elder from a treasured book of verse or fiction. The sitting room would no longer be imbued with the lilting strains of melodies which Cerynise had sung while Lydia played the pianoforte. Neither would they traverse a bustling strand together nor share their thoughts while strolling along the banks of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, nor would they simply enjoy the presence of the other in the peace and serenity of the glade. Forever gone would be her guardian's gentle support, which, despite the obstacles of society, had bolstered a young girl's dream of becoming a great painter, to the extent that exhibits had been held and paintings had been sold for goodly sums to wealthy patrons, albeit under an element of secrecy with only the initials CK hinting of the artist's identity. Even now, as poignant memories brought everfreshening waves of grief sweeping over her, Cerynise could almost imagine the tall, slender, black-garbed silhouette of the elder standing a short distance behind and to the right of her easel as she had oftentimes done while Cerynise painted and, in her rather husky voice, reminding her ward to always be true to herself no matter what.

Cerynise's despair and loneliness we re more than she seemed capable of bearing at the moment. She felt completely drained and weak. It was not at all surprising to her that the room seemed to tilt unnaturally, leaving her swaying on her feet and blinking against an encroaching dizziness. In desperation she clutched the window frame for support and rested her brow against the cool, dark wood until gradually the feeling subsided. She had eaten very little since Lydia's death, managing to down nothing more than a few sips of broth and a dry wedge of toast. What sleep she had finally gleaned in her bedchamber upstairs wasn't worth noting. Still, she doubted her ability to find ease from her sorrow even now, though she knew that Lydia wouldn't have wanted her to be unduly distressed by her untimely departure. The elder had once offered a world of comfort and compassion to a frightened twelve-year-old girl who, at the time, had just lost her parents in a devastating storm that had sent a large tree crashing down upon their home. Cerynise had blamed herself for not being there to save diem, but Lydia, who had grown up in the area and been childhood friends with Cerynise's grandmother, whose own death had preceded her daughter's by several years, had gently led the girl to understand that she, too, would have been killed had she not been away attending a young lady's academy. No matter the hardships one had to face, the elder had counseled her solicitously, life had to go on. Lydia would have expected her to remember that now.

Yet it was so terribly hard, Cerynise groaned inwardly. If Lydia had been ill even one day of those five years or if there had been some kind of warning, then the whole household would have been better prepared, but as much as it might have forewarned her, Cerynise would never have wished a long, debilitating illness on the elder. No, if the hand of death could not have been stayed, then the fact that Lydia had succumbed in such seemingly good health was truly a blessing, however much it had shocked the young woman who had loved her in life and now grieved her passing.

Meet the Author

(1939 - 2007) Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, creator of the modern historical romance, died July 6, 2007 in Minnesota. She had just turned 68. Her attorney, William Messerlie, said that she died after a long illness.

Born on June 3, 1939 in Alexandria, Louisiana, Mrs. Woodiwiss was the youngest of eight siblings. She long relished creating original narratives, and by age six was telling herself stories at night to help herself fall asleep. At age 16, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Woodiwiss at a dance, and they married the following year. She wrote her first book in longhand while living at a military outpost in Japan.

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, creating literary precedent. The Flame and the Flower revolutionized mainstream publishing, featuring an epic historical romance with a strong heroine and impassioned sex scenes. "Kathleeen E. Woodiwiss is the founding mother of the historical romance genre," says Carrie Feron, vice president/editorial director of William Morrow and Avon Books, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers. Feron, who has been Woodiwiss's editor for 13 years, continues, "Avon Books is proud to have been Kathleen's sole publishing partner for her paperbacks and hardcover novels for more than three decades." Avon Books, a leader in the historical romance genre to this day, remains Mrs. Woodiwiss's original and only paperback publisher; William Morrow, Avon's sister company, publishes Mrs. Woodiwiss's hardcovers.

The Flame and the Flower was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers, who deemed it as "too long" at 600 pages. Rather than follow the advice of the rejection letters and rewrite the novel, Mrs. Woodiwiss instead submitted it to paperback publishers. The first publisher on her list, Avon, quickly purchased the novel and arranged an initial 500,000 print run. The novel sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication.

The success of this novel prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The romance novels which followed in her example featured longer plots, more controversial situations and characters, and more intimate and steamy sex scenes.

"Her words engendered an incredible passion among readers," notes Feron. Bestselling author Julia Quinn agrees, saying, "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a leading voice in the women's fiction arena, says, "We all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into."

The pioneering author has written 13 novels over the course of 35 years, all New York Times bestsellers. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's final literary work, the upcoming Everlasing, will be published by William Morrow in October 2007. "Everlasting is Kathleen's final gift to her fans," notes Feron.

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, who was predeceased by her husband and son Dorren, is survived by sons Sean and Heath, and numerous grandchildren.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
June 3, 1939
Date of Death:
July 6, 2007
Place of Birth:
Alexandria, Louisiana
Place of Death:
Princeton, Minnesota

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The Elusive Flame 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
minnieMG More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Kathleen Woodiweis books and they are wonderful books that you feel you can't put down. I am now getting them again on my NOOK.
Guest More than 1 year ago
my favorite romance novel, hands down. yes, its sappy and contrived and almost laughably unrealistic - but i love it and i dont care. i can read it and get lost in its story and care about the characters and lust after Beau and feel immensely satisfied when its finished. its a great curl-up-during-a-storm-with-hot-chocolate book! ive read it countless times and it never fails to thrill me and excite me and make me daydream for days on end. (beau is an absolute dream... *sigh*)
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading A Rose in Winter I decided to read some of Woodiwiss's other novels, and I found The Elusive Flame. This is hands down my favorite book that she was written. It contains everything that would satisfy a reader, well a girl reader at least. The romance between Cerynise and Beau is one I think every girl wants, without all of the complications....
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the moment i opened this book, i knew that Kathleen Woodiwiss had another hit. The romance in this story was truely magical. It helped me get through some lonely nights. The flame is still burning inside of me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very good all the way through, but my all time favorite was Shanna. I have always thought that a movie should be made for Shanna,and the Flame and the Flower. I look for her books all the time she is my favorite author, there's nobody like her.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I've only read about 20pgs. and there's so many people that have already entered the picture that it's overwhelming to me.I want to get everyone clear because l want to be able to know which ones are detramental to the story so I can focus on the key players and push aside the ones that are not going to make or break the story.Might have to give this one up but I'm going to go on some more and maybe who's who will sink in.I did read The Flame and the Flower and I thought this one would just flow on.Oh well,here l go again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read her books years ago, unfortunately lost track. Someone mentioned this writter and I thought I'd give it a try again. SO glad I did! Totally enjoyed the book, and fun to feel the joy of a happily ever after. I think I'm going to read more of these.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Birmingham clan, from the bottom of there testosterone males to the tops of their "a man is worth his hire" no slave policy. The fact that they are fully committed in their marriage relationships and feel no hostilities about going to church every Sunday is refreshing too. The parents story Heather and Brandon (The Flame and the Flower) is as wonderful as is their son Beau's love story, both are my favorites. I not only occasionally reread them, but over the years I have developed their story in my head, extending it out into the sea trip that Beau had planned for himself and Cerinise and their son AND grand parents Hearher and Brandon at the end of the book. The characters in her books have stuck with me for life.
Mimilin More than 1 year ago
As in all Ms. Woodiwiss' books, this is highly entertaining. She always puts the heroin in situations that are real. The love story in itself is the best written today. She has always been one of my favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
and study it.  It is the possession of our home and many of Kathleen’s books in my big romance novel box in the closet.  I have a few authors I like and Woodwiss in in the top 3.  When I have my quiet Women holy grail day, I prefer that it rains and is one of those “feels good to be inside days.  I sometimes by gold foil wrapped candy from the mall.  Then I open up The Elusive Flame and read the “good parts” which is every page.  I recommend buying all of her books.  They move along at a nice reading speed.  They are not hard to follow as far as reading ahead and going back to the previous chapter where you were at.  I had breast cancer 20 years ago.  I was 31 and my mother had died 2 weeks prior to my diagnosis. (she was heart related)  I had surgery to remove the right side then reconstruction after a couple of months.  It came back in one of my vertebra and I was told that was the end of the line.  That was 16 years ago.  I cannot stress enough to any person with cancer.   The type or types (cell types) treatments and any type of clinical  study, medications, chemo, everything.    I would want you to keep reading Ms. Woodwiss..  She has a lot more books to help me relax on a "day to me">
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book...with humor...a must read!
officeick More than 1 year ago
What if there was really someone out there that could make you happy, what if there was that person you had a crush way back when and suddenly what you had dreamed of came true? This story couldn't put it down.
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motherofash More than 1 year ago
I loved it, highly recommended.
imouse1 More than 1 year ago
I hate myself for liking this book. I hate myself more for loving parts of this book. Like it was previously said, there are parts of this book that should be laughed at. Admittedly, the first time I read this was in eighth grade after winning it at my younger brother's elementary school bingo fundraiser (which is why I never saw any of it coming). I re-read it in high school and still loved it. It's funny, I can't bring myself to buy/borrow/read other romance novels (except Pride and Prejudice, which I read once a year). Even so, it played into all of my girlhood fantasies and I can't bring myself to hate it. This book goes against everything I hold dear to believe about my character. The man is the stereotypical successful, rich, well-built, and intense male archetype. The woman is barely legal, completely innocent, and her first love is not only a childhood crush but the only man she has ever been with. They fight incessantly because they don't want to give in but they do. They try to protect each other while simultaneously trying to keep hold of each other. They let one another go while burning intensely for one another. They wish terrible things on one another hoping they'll be miserable without them. Yet, to each other there is no more perfect mate, partner, or love maker. He gets the submissive girl who will bend to his every need at the expense of her own happiness and she gets the provider who finds no greater pleasure than doting on her. Like I said, I hate myself for liking this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good Read