Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Review: Kathleen Woodiwiss’ THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER – Captivating Tale of a Sea Captain and the Woman he mistook for a Doxy—a Keeper!

This was Kathleen Woodiwiss' first romance, first published in 1972, and it's still a gold standard. She set the bar high and few can come close, even now. It's a timeless, wonderful story rich in detail and emotion. You will love it, I promise.

Set in 1799, it tells the story of the beautiful young Heather Simmons who was raised a nobleman's daughter. When her father, grieving at his wife’s death, gambled away the family’s money and then died himself, the young Heather was 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.

Heather 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. There, seamen from Capt. Brandon Birmingham's ship, looking for a doxy for their captain's pleasure, seize her. 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…a courageous heroine who cleverly escapes the hero’s bad intention). And so the tale begins.

It's an amazing story that will take you from a poor farm in England, to London, to a merchant ship sailing across the Atlantic, and finally 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. It’s a keeper!


  1. Thank you Regan, for steering romance readers to this one! For sure an all time masterpiece. I would recommend too, the sequeal- The Elusive Flame. Although many of us had to wait twenty years to read it, it's was well worth it.

    1. You are so welcome, Teresa! The Elusive Flame is part of the series:

      Birmingham Family Saga Series

      • The Flame and the Flower (1972)
      • The Elusive Flame (1998)
      • A Season Beyond a Kiss (2000)

      Related short stories:

      • "The Kiss" in THREE WEDDINGS AND A KISS, 1995
      • "Beyond the Kiss" in MARRIED AT MIDNIGHT, 1996

  2. An amazing author. 'The Wolf and the Dove' is my favorite romance of all time.

    1. So many people love it, Rachel. When I get to medieval romance in the fall, I'll do another review of it!

  3. Woodiwiss is one of my favorites. The Flame and the Flower was one of my earliest reads. My cousin turned me onto it, and I have been a Woodiwiss fan ever since.