Petals on the River

Petals on the River

4.2 67
by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
     
 

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A proud and spirited woman whose life was stolen from her. . .A man of secrets accused of a terrible crime. . .In a place of new beginnings their destinies are joined—in a gloriously romantic new work from the incomparable storyteller.

The fiery and outspoken adopted daughter of one of England's most formidable a women, Shemaine O'Hearn has made powerful

Overview

A proud and spirited woman whose life was stolen from her. . .A man of secrets accused of a terrible crime. . .In a place of new beginnings their destinies are joined—in a gloriously romantic new work from the incomparable storyteller.

The fiery and outspoken adopted daughter of one of England's most formidable a women, Shemaine O'Hearn has made powerful enemies. And now her adversaries have found a way to remove the hot-blooded beauty from her life of privilege: by falsely convicting Shemaine of thievery and sending her in shackles to America, where she is to be sold in indentured servitude to the highest bidder.

In a bustling port city in the colony of Virginia, she becomes the servant of Gage Thornton—a shipbuilder with a young child in need of a nanny. And despite whispered rumors condemning the handsome widower for the untimely death of his wife, Shemaine cannot ignore her desire for this caring, generous and enigmatic stranger who silently aches with his growing need for her—even as grave peril reaches out from across a vast ocean to threaten their flowering love. The fiery and outspoken adopted daughter of one of England's most formidable women, Shemaine O'Hearn has made powerful enemies. And now her adversaries have found a way to remove the hot-blooded beauty from her life of privilege: by falsely convicting Shemaine of thievery and sending her in shackles to America, where she is to be sold in indentured servitude to the highest bidder.

In a bustling port city in the colony of Virginia, she becomes the servant of Gage Thornton-a shipbuilder with a young child in need of a nanny. And despite whispered rumors condemning the handsome widower for the untimely death of his wife, Shemaine cannot ignore her desire for this caring, generous and enigmatic stranger who silently aches with his growing need for her-even as grave peril reaches out from across a vast ocean to threaten their flowering love.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Laural Merlington does a terrific job of characterization in this classic Woodiwiss romance. Although over the past 20 years the romance genre has matured along with changing mores, Woodiwiss has not altered her style. Her prose remains lush and flowery; her characters are extremes: good/evil, beautiful/ugly, wealthy/poor. Her heroines are unrealistic even within the romance-as-fantasy concept. Shemaine O'Hearn hasn't bathed in three months, has spent the prior four days in a dark, rat-infested closet, and yet every man within sight lusts after her to the point of desperation. Women are vindictive toward her because she's beautiful. Merlington uses Irish and English accents to capture the characters' spirits with cadence and lilts, and she is able to move from demure to fiery, vulgar to innocent with barely a breath. Unfortunately, even her expert ministrations can't overcome the overall tedium of the story. Not recommended except where Woodiwiss has a very strong following. Jodi L. Israel, Norwood, Mass.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380798285
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Series:
Avon Historical Romance Series
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
269,391
Product dimensions:
6.72(w) x 4.18(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Newportes Newes, Virqinia April 25, 1747

The London Pride chafed against the quay as the currents of a rising nor'easter slowly rocked the vessel on her cables. Close above her mastheads, errant clouds tumbled in darkening portent of an advancing storm. Gulls swooped in and out of the ship's rigging, lending their raucous cries to the rattle of chains as a double file of thin, ragged convicts stumbled up from the companionway and shuffled in unison across the weathered planking. The men, hobbled by leg irons and bound to each other by no more than a fathom's length of chain, were prodded into line for the bosun's inspection. The women were individually shackled and could move at their own pace toward the forward hatch where they had been told to wait.

Farther aft, a common swabber paused in his labors to observe the latter group. After casting a cautious glance toward the quarterdeck, he grew bold at the continued absence of Captain Fitch and his bovine wife and hastily stowed his mop and bucket before ambling across the deck. Strutting like a well-preened rooster around the shabby women, he provoked a near-solid bulwark of embittered glares with his leering grin and brash manner. The singular exception was a dark-eyed, raven-haired harlot who had been convicted of lifting the purses of the men she had bedded and of seriously wounding a goodly number in the process. She alone offered a promising smile to the tar.

"I ain't seen the bogtrotter 'round in nigh a week, Mr. Potts," the strumpet remarked coarsely, tossing a triumphant smirk toward her glowering companions. "Ye don't suppose the li'l beggar's gone an' caughther death in the cable tier, now do ye? 'Twould be a right fittin' comeuppance for biffin' me in the nose."

A small wisp of a woman with limp brown hair pushed her way out of the cluster of women and gave the harlot a crisp retort. "Ye can twist that lyin' tongue all ye want, Morrisa 'Atcher, but the lot o' us know m'liedy give ye no more'n ye deserved. The way ye jabbed her in the ribs when she weren't lookin', ye should've been the one what spent time in the chain locker! If 'tweren't for yer li'l lap doggie here" — she indicated Potts with scathing abhorrence — "bendin' Mrs. Fitch's ear, m'liedy might've been allowed ta have her say."

Setting his beefy arms akimbo, Potts faced the small, feisty woman. "An' ye, Annie Carver, might've done us all a heap o' good fillin' our sheets with wind from yer ever-flappin' tongue. Ain't no question 'bout it, we'd have run ahead soarin' free on that gale."

The sound of dragging chains drifted up from the hold, claiming the swabber's attention. His small, beady eyes took on a sadistic gleam. "Well, blimey! I thinks I hear m'liedy comin' now." Chortling to himself, he lumbered toward the companionway and hunkered down to squint into the shadows below. "Eh, bogtrotter? Be it yer own bloomin' self comin' up from 'em lower chambers?"

Shemaine O'Hearn lifted seething green eyes toward the broad silhouette looming over the opening. For daring to defend herself against this oaf's shipboard doxy, she had spent the last four days isolated in a dank pit in the forward depths of the ship. There she had been forced to scrap with rats and roaches for every morsel of bread that had been tossed to her. If not for her sorely depleted strength, she might have clawed her way up the stairs and raked the tar's ugly visage with ragged nails, but heavy sarcasm was the most she could muster energy for. "And what other poor wretch would this smelly toad have come to fetch, if not me, Mr. Potts?" she asked, jerking her head to indicate the squat, little man who limped along beside her. "I was sure you had persuaded Mrs. Fitch to reserve those quarters for me alone."

Potts heaved an exaggerated sigh of displeasure, making much of her disparagement. "There ye go, Sh'maine, insultin' me friends again."

Her escort reached out and viciously pinched her arm for a second time since freeing her from the cable tier. Freddy was every bit as mean as Potts and needed no coaxing to take his spite out on anyone who couldn't fight back. "Watch yer manners, ye highfalutin tootie!"

"I will, Freddy," she gritted, snatching her arm away from his grubby fingers, "the very day the lot of you learn some.

Potts's gruff voice resonated through the companionway. "Ye'd better get up here an' be quick 'bout it, Sh'mame, or I'll have ta teach ye 'nother lesson."

The girl scoffed at the ogre's rapidly diminishing leverage. "Captain Fitch may have something to say about your heavy-handed ways if he intends to sell me today."

"The cap'n may have his say, al'right," Potts allowed, bestowing a cocky grin upon her as she struggled to make an ascent hindered by weighty iron anklets and chains. "But ever'body knows his missus has the final say on this here voyage."

Since being hauled in shackles aboard the bark, Shemaine had become convinced that no other place on earth was more akin to the pits of hell than an English prison ship bound for the colonies. And surely, no other person had done as much to advance that belief as Gertrude Turnbull Fitch, wife of its captain and only offspring of J. Horace Turnbull, solitary owner of the London Pride and a small fleet of other merchant ships.

With such a formidable reminder as Gertrude Fitch goading her to be wary, Shemaine paused to readjust a makeshift kerchief over her head. During several outings on deck, her fiery red tresses had incensed the dour-faced virago, causing Gertrude to berate the whole Irish race as a crass, slowwitted lot and to demean Shemaine as a filthy little bogtrotter, a derogatory appellation many an Englishman was wont to lay on the Irish.

"Don't ye dare dawdle now," Potts taunted. His pig eyes gleamed overbright, attesting to his penchant for cruelty as he eagerly watched for any infraction that he could pounce on.

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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Petals on the River 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep Going!
lrjohnson13 More than 1 year ago
When outspoken Shemaine O’Hearn arrives in America her life is far from the privileged one she held back in England. Wrongly accused by her enemies and now an indentured servant to a man with a shadowy past, Shemaine needs to escape her confides and return to the life she knows. Gage Thorton was in need of a nanny but Shemaine was not what he was expecting nor did he expect the desire that came with her. Once again Woodiwiss does not disappoint in this enigmatic tale of conspiracies and attempted murders. Gage is a hero to love with his mysterious past but easy going manner and Shemaine is a strong lead in this male dominated time. Woodiwiss lets Shemaine’s own character shine through creating an adventure and love standing against lies and betrayal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read K. Woodiwiss for years and always enjoyed her books, until this one. I pass all of my books on to others - when I finished this book (by skimming) I was angry that I took the time to do it - and I dumped the book in the recycling can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved it.i liked everything about the story.i was so happy for shemaine when she got married,and it was so exiting to see that maurice came to her rescue...my favorite part was the ending.i recommend this book to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I have read it several times throughout the years, and it never gets old. I also like how she cross referenced the Beauchamps as well.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still the best fanfic ever! Continue, now!!! I wanna know what happens to Rosekit!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome!!! Keep going!!!
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