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A Rose in Winter

A Rose in Winter

4.4 149
by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

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The fairest flower in Mawbry is Erienne Fleming, the enchanting, raven-haired daughter of the village mayor. Charming, spirited and exquisitely lovely, she is beset on all sides by suitors, any one of whom would pay a king's fortune for a place in her heart. But Erienne has eyes for only one: the dashing and witty young Yankee, Christopher Seton.

But marriage


The fairest flower in Mawbry is Erienne Fleming, the enchanting, raven-haired daughter of the village mayor. Charming, spirited and exquisitely lovely, she is beset on all sides by suitors, any one of whom would pay a king's fortune for a place in her heart. But Erienne has eyes for only one: the dashing and witty young Yankee, Christopher Seton.

But marriage for love is not to be, for her irresponsible and unscrupulous father, crippled by gambling debts, is intent on auctioning off his beautiful daughter to the highest bidder. And in the end, Erienne is devastated to find it is the strange and secretive Lord Saxton who has purchased her—a mysterious, tragic figure who wears a mask and a cloak at all times to hide disfiguring scars gained in a terrible fire some years back.

But in the passing days, Saxton's true nature is revealed to her. A gentle and adoring soul, he treats his new bride with warmth and abiding tenderness, yet appears to her only by daylight. She, in turn, vows to be a good and loyal wife to him. And then Christopher Seton reenters Erienne's world Conflicted by emotions she cannot suppress, Erienne valiantly attempts to remain honorable to her elusive, enigmatic husband but feels herself irresistibly drawn to Seton's passion, his fire, and his secrets. Entangled in intrigues she doesn't yet understand, Erienne Fleming will soon have to make a devastating choice: between love and honor . . . between her duty and her heart.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This classic early Woodiwiss, finally in hardcover, features a young woman forced to marry a rich, shrouded suitor.

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Erienne was somewhat dazzled by the warmth in his voice and failed to devote due attention to the stairs. Her slippered foot partially missed the first step, causing her to stumble and teeter precariously on the brink of a precipitous descent. Her breath froze in her throat, but before she could react, a long arm encircled her waist and yanked her back to safety. Caught against his broad, hard chest, she gasped in breathless relief. Finally, tremblingly, she raised her gaze to the face above her own. Filled with concern, his eyes searched hers until gradually the worry left them, to be replaced by a deeper, smoldering light.

"Miss Fleming . . ."

"Erienne, please." Her whisper was subdued and distant.

Neither of them heard the front door being opened or the mingled masculine voices drifting up from below. They were caught in their own private universe and might have remained there undisturbed for several more moments had not an enraged bellow roused them to abrupt awareness.

"Here now! What's the meanin' o' this?"

Still much in a daze, Erienne pulled away and glanced down to the hall below, where her father and another man stared back in equal amazement. The rapidly darkening, wide-eyed face of Avery Fleming was enough to unsettle her composure, but the thing that really roused doubt about the rightness of her world was the coarse featured visage of the thin, bony stranger who stood beside her parent. He matched her vision of Christopher Seton exactly. All he needed was a large wart on his chin to be her foe incarnate.

Avery Fleming's righteous display of anger fairly shook the house. "I asked ye what's the meanin' o' this!" He gave her no moment to answer before he rantedon. "I leave ye for no more 'an a moment or two an' come back to find ye flauntin' a man in me own . . . You!" Avery threw his hat to the floor, and his sparse hair stood on end. "Be damned! Betrayed in me own house! By me own kin!"

Red-faced with embarrassment, Erienne quickly descended the stairs as she tried to shush her kin. "Please, Father, let me explain . . ."

"Ahhh, ye needn't!" he snarled in derision. "I can see it all with me own eyes! Betrayed, it is! An' by me own daughter!'' He flung up a hand contemptuously toward the man who came down the stairs behind her and sneered, "With this bloody bastard!"

'Father!'' Erienne was shocked at his choice of titles. "This . . ." She also indicated the one descending down the steps. "This is the man you sent. Silas Chambers, I believe."

The raw-faced stranger stepped forward, bobbing his head in a confused, birdlike manner. He jabbed his hat out in front of him to gain their notice and began to stutter, "I . . . I a-a-am, I-I m mean, h-he . . . he's n-not . . . ooof!''

The last was an abrupt exhalation caused by Avery when he stepped forward and flung his arms wide in a gesture of complete disgust. The gaunt man was brushed aside as the father's discomfiture burst in broad display.

"Ye mindless little twit! Have ye lost yer wits? He's not Silas Chambers!'' He thrust a thumb over his shoulder at the bony one. "This one's yer man! Right 'ere!" Then he struck a portly, bowlegged pose and stabbed a stubby finger at the man on the stairs. "'At one! 'At fatherless swine . . ."

Erienne leaned against the wall and shut her eyes tightly. She already knew what her father would say.

". . . 'E's the one what blasted poor Farrell's arm! 'E's yer Mr. Seton! Christopher Seton, it is!"

"Christopher Seton?'' Erienne's lips formed the words, but no sound issued forth. She opened her eyes and searched her father's face as if fervently seeking a denial of what she had heard. Her gaze went to the gawky stranger, and the truth was only too clear. He was no different from the rest of the suitors her father had brought for her consideration.

"You foolish ninny!" Avery continued to berate her. "This is Silas Chambers! Not that conceited scoundrel ye was wrapped up with!"

An expression of stunned horror on her face, Erienne stared up into the green eyes.

Christopher smiled sympathetically. "My apologies, Erienne, but I thought you knew. If you'll remember, I questioned you about it."

The dismay on her face yielded beneath the onslaught of pure rage. She had been duped! And her pride ached for revenge. Hauling back a hand, she let fly a stinging slap to his bronze cheek. " 'Tis Miss Fleming to you!"

Rubbing the side of his face, Christopher Seton laughed softly, his eyes still warm and sparkling. Erienne could not bear his taunting gaze and presented her back to him. He admired it briefly before he lent his attention to her father. "I came to inquire about a debt you promised to make good, sir. I'm wondering when I might expect such an event to take place."

Avery's head lowered sheepishly between his shoulders while his face glowed a bright red. Avoiding Silas's inquisitive stare, he mum bled something about paying the debt as soon as he could.

Christopher stepped into the parlor to retrieve his coat and came back shrugging it into place. "I was hoping you could be a bit more specific than that, Mayor. I don't like to intrude on your hospitality too often, and you did promise to pay me within a month's time. As you must be aware, the month has come and gone."

Avery clenched his hands into tight fists but dared not bring them up from his sides lest the movement be taken as a challenge. "You'd best keep yer moldy presence away from here, Mr. Seton. I won't have the likes o' ye servicin' me daughter. She'll be gettin' married, and I'll not see ye hinderin' the nuptials."

"Ah, yes, I did hear some rumors about that," Christopher replied with a sarcastic smile. "After meeting her, I'm somewhat amazed that you haven't been more successful, though it seems rather unjust that she must pay the rest of her life for a debt you made."

"Me daughter's none o' yer concern!"

Though Silas Chambers had jumped as each word was being shouted, Christopher had held a bland smile on his face. He appeared undaunted as he replied, "I hate to think that she'll be forced into a marriage because of a debt owed to me."

Avery gaped at him in surprise. "Aye? Ye wouldn't be thinkin' o' forgettin' 'bout the debt, now would ye?"

Christopher's laughter dispelled the notion. "Hardly! But I'm not without eyes in my head, and I realize your daughter would be a most charming companion. I'd be willing to wait a bit longer for what is due me if you would allow me to court her." He shrugged casually. "Who knows what might come of it."

Avery nearly strangled over the suggestion. "Blackmail and debauchery! I'd sooner see her dead than taken up with the likes o' ye!"

Christopher considered Silas, who nervously crushed his tricorn against his chest. When he returned his gaze to the mayor, his mockery was subtle yet direct. "Aye, I imagine you would."

Avery blustered under the jibe. He was aware that Silas was not much to look at, but the man had a modest fortune. Besides, his daughter was better off avoiding marriage to a handsome rake who would get her with a brood of brats. Silas would be suitable enough for her needs. But then, after seeing her with this Seton devil, Silas might be hesitant about offering marriage for fear he might be getting tainted goods.

"There be plenty o' suitors willing to pay the bride price," Avery insisted, just in case Silas had any doubts. "Men what are wise enough to see what treasures she'll bring 'em, and not one of 'em abused her kin."

Facing Erienne, Christopher favored her with a lopsided grin. "I suppose this means I won't be welcomed here again?"

"Get out! And don't ever darken this door again!" she cried, fighting tears of anger and humiliation. Her lips curling with contempt, she gave him a scathing perusal. "Were a twisted, scar-faced, hunch backed cripple the only other man on earth, I would surely choose him over you!"

Christopher let his gaze glide down her. "As for me, Erienne, were you cast down before me, I would not be wont to cross over you to get to some broad bovine." He smiled in wry humor as his eyes met hers again. "Twould be pure foolishness to spite myself for the sake of pride."

"Out!" The word was spat from her lips with vengeance as her arm thrust out in the direction of the door.

Christopher gave a curt, mocking bow of compliance and approached the peg which bore his redingote while Avery seized his daughter's arm and jerked her into the parlor.

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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A Rose in Winter 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 149 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one that is to be read over and over and over again. I first read it at the age of 15 and I've read it about 20 times more. It is classic Woodiwiss. The characters are wonderful, even the villains in the story. The feel of the book is described so well, one truly can picture the settings and the story has just enough 'star-crossedness' between the two lovers that when Erienne and Christopher finally come together with no secrets or masks between them, the reader will cheer out loud. Ms. Woodiwiss is truly a spectacular author and I recommend her books to all! This is a must read and a must keep. I do not loan Ms. Woodiwiss out to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is my all time favorite book. I love it. I have read this book several times. I have to purchase another copy because the one I have has been read so many times it is falling apart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book about a year ago when I was 14 and couldn't put it down. The story was so captivating and the way Woodiwiss penned each line was utterly amazing. She put wit and soul into each character that you don't always find in a book nowadays. One of the best she has ever written
Guest More than 1 year ago
I admit, it took me a few days to really get into this book, but once I did I was sneaking as many reading sessions in as I could!! It's not a short novel at 560 pages (in my older version than the one shown), but it really drew me in and I just LOVED both the hero and the heroine!!! The progression of the characters and development of the plot were expertly done and very easy to read. I highly recommend this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Rose in Winter is one of the best love stories of all time! I must have read this page turner at least 5 times over the last 5 or more years, and it has the same effect on me each time. Kathleen develops these characters in a way that draws you to them. She has a knack for drawing you into the world of her major characters and I was so there! I felt Erienne, Christopher, and Lord Saxton's passion, pain, and internal conflict across the pages. I got swept up in the fantasy and didn't want it to end. What an escape! This novel is a must read!! I just wish she published more often. The waiting between books is torture.
Geegat More than 1 year ago
LOVED IT!! I read this many many years ago, and am so glad I read it again. It is among my top 3 K.W. books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not her best work to be honest. It only took me two days to finish Shanna, which happens to be my favorite book from her. It took me forever to finish this one and I found myself reluctantly picking it up just to get it over with. Characters were not fully developed nor had a substantial relationship. Their so-called relationship was solely based on physical attraction.
georgiegirl More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It draws you in to the story & you will love the characters. Great plot & true love story! This is one of my favorites & I don't normally do this but, I will read this one again!
rustyRV More than 1 year ago
At the beginning i did not like this book that much.It seemed that author is delaying to tell her story.After Erienne met Lord Saxton i really started enjoyed the book.I loved the misterious Lord Saxton's character and i could not wait until he relieved his identity.I knew from the start who the Lord Saxton was,it was funny that it took for ever for Eriene to figure out who he was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorites. I've read this many times and still cannot get enough. The plot is wonderful and keeps you hanging on. I notice new things everytime I re-read the book. i actually need to buy myself a new copy because it is falling apart. i recommend this to anyone who want to read a story of a love that knows no bounds.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, this is my favorite book ever!!! I love it so much that Ive read it so many times, and I dont do that! I didnt want it to end!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly, I have read this book at least 16 times and that is the truth. It's that good and it keeps getting better every time I read it. A wonderful story a wonderful plot wonderful characters with just enough sex. Kathleen Woodiwiss is a classy dame of romance writing and she remains one of my absolute favorites. This is a romance novel you can let your young teenage daughter read. I love it!!!!! Just may have to read it again, again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book for its characters and plot. You really feel Erienne's conflict with Christopher, Lord Saxton, her heart, and her duty. I have read all of her books and this is one of my favorites of all. Woodiwiss is definitely one of the best romance writers of all time!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the very first book of Woodiwiss that i have read. Im only 16, but i love a good romance. This is by far one of the best books i have ever read. It just sucks you in and holds you. You will never be able to put it down and when it ends...you just cant help but start over!!!! An Amazing read!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a captivating story, and I loved Christopher, although I didn't like it when he had to fight an intruder in the nude. Yuk! I also didn't like the graphic and unnecessary way in which he hurt Erienne's younger brother. Her father was a pig, but that's neither here nor there. Christopher was a classy guy from a classy family. A truly great book.
Anonymous 9 days ago
This one has been on my Keeper Shelf for over 20 years. Now buying the E Book version. Worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am really disappointed with this one. Usually loved her books, but this one drags. Badly. 100 pages in and you are still waiting foe her to be sold, and when she does... nothing happens. She has little to no interaction with her husband. Little interaction with anyone. She just whines about her life over and over... half way through and still nothing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVE IT! Couldn't put it down and had to read it twice...about to go for a third.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Romance readers will enjoy this one. I have read many of Kathleen Woodiwiss's books and this one is as good as the others. I have a hard time putting it down.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book the first time I read it and have read it several times since.