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The Flame and the Flower

The Flame and the Flower

4.3 276
by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

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The Flower

Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence—until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee. . . and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.

The Flame

A lusty adventurer married to the sea, Captain Brandon Birmingham courts scorn and peril when he abducts the beautiful fugitive from the


The Flower

Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence—until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee. . . and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.

The Flame

A lusty adventurer married to the sea, Captain Brandon Birmingham courts scorn and peril when he abducts the beautiful fugitive from the tumultuous London dockside. But no power on Earth can compel him to relinquish his exquisite prize. For he is determined to make the sapphire-eyed 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.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
“A phenemenon.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The queen of historical romance.”
Library Journal

A fugitive heroine and an adventurous sea captain make a new life for themselves in the American Colonies in this passionate romance that started a revolution. Original: 1972.

—Kristin Ramsdell

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Birmingham Family Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

With her first book, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss forever changed the nature of romance novels. Feisty heroine Heather Simmons—young and captivating, thrust into the care of a spiteful aunt first meets Captain Brandon Birmingham after an occurrence that leaves her believing she has killed a man. The chemistry between them is instantaneous, and readers everywhere gasped at this explosive introduction to the special world of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

As they entered the captain' s cabin, a man rose from the desk where he had been sitting and, had it not been for her bruised state of mind, Heather would have noticed his tall, muscular build and piercing green eyes. Fawn-colored breeches were fitted snug about his narrow hips and a white ruffled shirt, opened to the waist, revealed a chest wide and firmly muscled beneath a mat of crisp black hair. He had the look of a pirate about him, or even Satan himself, with his dark, curly hair and long sideburns that accentuated the lean, handsome features of his face. His nose was thin and straight except for a slight hook in its profile just below the bridge. His hair was raven black and his skin darkly tanned. White teeth flashed in contrast as he smiled and came forward, sweeping her with a bold gaze from top to toe.

"Aye, you've done a handsome night's work with this one, George. You must have searched hard and wide for her."

"Nay, cap'n," the old man returned. "We found her walking the streets of the waterfront. She came most willingly, cap'n."

The man nodded and walked slowly, deliberately, completely around Heather as she stood rooted to the floor, not touching her with anything but those emerald eyes and they were enough. He pausedbefore her for a moment, smiling, but her eyes would not meet his. She kept them cast downward and stood humbly awaiting some indication of her fate. Behind her the two men grinned, extremely pleased with themselves.

The tall man moved aside with them and the fellow, George, spoke in a low voice. Heather' s eyes moved about the cabin but saw nothing. Outwardly she appeared calm, but the emotional strains raging within her further sapped her strength. She was exhausted, bone tired, confused. She found it difficult to reconcile a magistrate of the law on board a ship, but knowing little of the processes of justice, reasoned that she was probably to be sent to some penal colony, for in her own mind she was guilty of murder.

"Oh God," she thought, "that I should be raised from a sty by the temptation of a life of ease and for my sin plunged into a prison. I killed a man and I've been caught and I must now accept whatever fate decrees for me."

Her mind stopped and held and was trapped by these final facts. She was guilty. She was caught. Justice had done with her and she had no further word. She did not hear the door close behind her as the seamen left, but words from the man who stood before her roused her from her thoughts. He laughed gently and made a sweeping bow.

''Welcome back, m'lady, and I repeat, what is your name."

"Heather," she murmured softly. "Heather Simmons, sir."

"Ah," he sighed. "A small, tempting flower from the moors. It's a most lovely and fitting name, m'lady. Brandon Birmingham is my name. Most of my friends call me Bran. Have you dined this evening?"

She made a small nod.

"Then perhaps some wine, a very fine Madeira," he asked.

She shook her head slowly, dropping her gaze to the floor. He laughed softly and came forward to stand close before her. He took the bundle she clutched and tossed it in a nearby chair as he stared down at her, dazzled by her youthful beauty and the gown that seemed only a sparkling veil over her body. Her ivory skin glowed softly in the candlelight, and by the golden flames he saw before him a small woman, gracefully slender with breasts full and round, generously and temptingly swelling above her gown. They rose and fell slowly.

He moved closer and in a rapid movement slipped his arm about her narrow waist, nearly lifting her from the floor, and then covered her mouth with his, engulfing Heather in a heady scent, not unlike that of a brandy her father had been fond of. She was too surprised to resist and hung limp in his embrace. She saw herself as if from outside her body and felt with mild amusement his tongue parting her lips and thrusting within. From a low level of consciousness there grew a vague feeling of pleasure and, had the circumstances been different, she might have enjoyed the hard, masculine feel of his body against hers.

()1972 by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss)

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

Customer Reviews

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The Flame and the Flower 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 276 reviews.
Heather Hagert More than 1 year ago
I read this book several years ago and was excited to finally be able to find it and read it again. Yes it is erotic; however, there is an extra element of surprise as it marries patient endurance and chastity with passionate love. I'm not really into romance that includes the betrayal of one lover for another one, which is another reason this novel stands out for me, since it is entirely absent of this. Even what may appear to be a betrayal is more of a severing of old and rather loose habits; this in trade for the stability of true devotion is benefitial to all. Apparently, Woodwiss created a whole new type of the historical romance genre with this, her first novel! It holds a quality that is often absent in other romance novels. I would highly recommend this tender morsel!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book around the time it was published. Now, years later, I still think about this story. As I read it I felt as though I was there with the characters, watching everything unfold before my eyes. This story has remained so vivid to me unlike any other book I have ever read. Honestly, I have read plenty of books in my lifetime, but none have ever moved me like 'The Flame and the Flower'. If you haven't read this book yet please don't pass it by.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is seriously the first book I ever read and I love it! I am always rereading it! I will keep that book forever! It is just so good! I love Brandon and Heather! I also love Jeff in this book and in his own book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't call this the best romance novel I've ever read, but I still couldn't put it down at the end of the day. I didn't want to read this book at first because of some previous reviews about rape. I'm not into that and I find it very unromantic. I thought reading it would ruin all other woodiwiss novels for me. I say give it a try anyway. This 'rape' is not what you think. I thought I would be outraged, but the way the story unfolds I wasn't that upset. It brings some reality to the story. Real life is not always full of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy and girl live happily ever after. This twist makes it real because life isn't always a fairytalle. Give this book a try and I'm sure you could forgive Brandon as Heather does.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book on the first page. I can, and have read this book over and over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best romance novel ever. It is the novel that got me stuck on reading romances. It may not be for the faint of heart due to the beginning, but it really is a story that gives the message that love really does overcome all obstacles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was utterly flawless. When I finished it, it felt like I had been holding my breath it was that exciting and good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book 3-4 times over the last 20 years. Woodiwiss is a great story teller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not well written, has unbelievable plot lines, has multiple characters who think womwn are simpletons, excuses rape, etc. In spite of all that it is oddly fascinating. According to wikipedia, this book, published 1972, changed the romance genre forever by introducing fairly steamy sex scenes, a full length format, and a complicated plot including murder, betrayal, travel over oceans, mistaken identities, blackmail, and virtually every other romance novel plot device you have come to know and love. The story starts off Cinderella fashion with the beautiful young girl being worked like a slave. Every time a woman is alone in this book...and I mean every time...someone tries to rape her, even in the middle of the day with other people near at hand. The first time she stabs the culprit. The next time it is the hero who is the culprit. After that our hero just rips the would be rapists off our heroine and pummels them. Well true love takes awhile because all plot devices have to be explored, plus there are all these would be rapists and murderers to dispatch. The author obviously has watched Gone with the Wind a million times. I swear a lot of the dialog is lifted directly from it...especially for Hatti and Heather. It is full of historical inaccuracies...but could be worse. My favorite character is the brother Jeff. He is the only one who seemed real. Overall I'm not going to read anymore in this series, but I might try more recent books by this author as this is her first and very rough. Of course I have a weakness for the preposterously dominant hero.....but hey..it's not real, thank God!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some reviews stated they didn't like the beginning of the story. If you stick with it and keep reading, it's well worth it! I love stories about bearded sea captains that meet a woman that "gets" to them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This IS the best book I have ever read, I could not put it down, read the whole book in 1 day. I liked it so much I have read this book 4 times over the past several years!!!! and i'm planning on reading it again!!! Kathleen Woodiwess is a wonderful wrighter. This is a book not to be missed, I also love Petals on the River and have read it twice!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am now reading this book for the second time and love it just as much as the first time! I couldn't put it down. I love the teasing sexiness of Brandon and Heather's relationship. Very sexy indeed.
Anonymous 6 months ago
After the Virgin escapes being raped by one man, she is kidnapped and raped by another man shortly after. Then he tells her she isn't going to leave, this time it will be better and basically rapes her again. I didn't even bother to read how the author would make a victim of rape into a romance story after that point. Shame on the author for making light of rape. Deseves NO stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kathleen Woodiwiss is on of my favorite autthors! I have read this book dozens of times and still can't get enough! The elusive flame is the sequal about their son Beau amd it is a wonderful spinoff from the flame and the flower!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the reviews and the hoopla about the rapes I thought oh brother,another sleezy book.When the attempted rape at the beginning took place that actually turned my stomach.Maybe because of that it made the real rape less sickening.Plus the era might have made it seem more forgiving.I'm half way through now and there has been no sex and I'm wondering what I might have missed because l don't recall any deals or what-nots being made.I really find this odd for the extreme turn-about to being celabet.Oh well,I'm enjoying the read,the fantasy per-say.Make note that I used the word fantasy for those that can't get past "THE RAPE"Good Lord people,you are reading this in private and for your enjoyment,right?You aren't reading this to your children as a bedtime story and teaching life time lessons are you?So get over it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact that I don't find reading about a young lady being repeatedly raped, the story was absurd. The characters were poorly written and ridiculous. This is my first read by this author and will be my last. I would't recommend this book even if it was free. Horrible...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of KW's novels and I still feel that this one is the best!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nomisway56 More than 1 year ago
Kathleen Woodiwiss is my favorite author. Have read all her books and read most of them multiple times. Her vivid description of clothing and such gives a wonderful picture in your mind as to what things looked like. We lost a great author when she past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't care if this did start it new genre, the whole idea behind the plot is warped. Even in 1972, rape was still rape. Granted, it is horrifically true that rape at that time was considered almost justified if a woman was considered to be "asking for it" if she dressed provocatively. Maybe in that sense, a novel from 1972 read nowadays gives us a glimpse into the warped mindset of the 1970s that could justify rape in some circumstances as a reasonable response of a man in certain situations. This doesn't excuse the plot element of rape in this case, though, as the novel was supposed to take place in the 1790s. Mistaken identity? I might buy that, except the expensive gown Heather is wearing is clearly not within the budget of a dockside whore. Then there's the fact that even after the "hero" (and I don't find him heroic) discovers in the act that she is a virgin, he keeps going. Even after that, when he knows she's not a whore but was a virgin until he raped her, he goes at her again against her will (yet another rape) and then compounds his sins by locking this girl he now knows for sure was innocent in his cabin, so he can use her and rape her however he pleases and whenever. How is this romantic? As for Heather, the heroine, I wanted repeatedly to slap her. I've read historical letters from the time period, and not even Heather's history of abuse by her aunt explains her personality of a doormat for everyone to trod on. She finally gets a bit of back bone later in the novel, but not as much as she should. The only character I really liked was the hero's brothrr, Jeff. Too bad I understand his story is weakly done and is the third in the series, as I won't be reading the second. The second book apparently repeats the plot with rape as the start of a relationship. I liked another book by this author a lot, but hated this one. I shudder to think what a warped view of love any teen that gets ahold of this book would get. Only for mature readers. Be warned to avoid this unless you think rape is a great start to a romantic relationship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sammy63 More than 1 year ago
I began reading Romance novels with this book many years ago. I loved it then, and it remains my favorite to this day. I have since purchased it for by Nook and reread it a few times every year. It's a great love story with a happy ending.