I liked it OK... the story would've been great if it hadn't been for the way the protagonists got together in the very first. I was just never able to truly forgive the 'hero' for, in my opinion, rape. Not the she-doesn't-want-to-be-a-'bad'-girl-but-is-overcome-by-passion type of almost, but not quite, rape common to romance novels, but out-and-out rape. I just couldn't get past it; no amount of nice-guy-ness afterward could make up for it, and it ruined the story for me. I would've really liked it otherwise, so if you have a more forgiving nature than I evidently do, you might like it.
Lisa F. (lisaf) reviewed The Flame and the Flower (Birmingham, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 2
I first read this book as a teenager back in the 80's, and have read all of Woodisiss' novels. This was one of my favorites - but having just re-read it through the eyes of a 39 year old in 2009, it left me a little disturbed. The beginning is pretty harsh considering the misunderstanding that brings Heather and Brandon together, and you'll want to put the hero, Brandon through a wall during most of the book. He is arrogant, rude, and can't seem to acknowledge any wrongdoing or fault. A true jerk. I do believe it is historically accurate - though. These aren't modern characters and Woodiwiss does a good job of creating a story that is plausible for the characters given their place in history and societal norms of the time. I'm going to re-read the other two books in the Birmingham series and see if Brandon every truly redeems himself.
Didn't read past the first 40 pages. I could never like a protagonist who rapes the heroine, not once but twice. I was hoping after she explained her circumstances, he would straighten up, but it just didn't happen. Truly horrid. Will never read a book by her, ever.
I tried to read this book, but just could not get past the fact that the heroine was raped by the hero. I kept reading, hoping that he would apologize, but he didn't. Obviously at some point he becomes a good guy, but I couldn't make myself read long enough to get to that point.
I couldn't even get past the first bit of this book. The "hero" rapes the main character a couple times - really rapes, not the "I'm going to be won over by this handsome man eventually" seduction of an at first unwilling woman. I couldn't read past it. Maybe it gets better, but this type of story just doesn't interest me.
It was a page turner, but not in a good way. I wanted to see just how more jaw-droppingly offensive it could get. Still, I kept in mind that it was Exhibit A of the old skool bodice-ripper genre with a dirtbag Alpha Male hero & a TSTL doormat heroine. It was...interesting. I'll give it that. But not arousing or romantic in the slightest.
Heather is offered a chance to escape her aunt and go to finishing school in London. Upon arrival, she is attacked and accidentally kills the attacker. Running away she is caputed by sailors who take her to their captain. He soon learns she is not what he thought her to be.
In an age of great turmoil, the breathtaking romance of Heather Simmons and Captain Brandon Birmingham spans oceans and continents! Their stormy saga reaches the limits of human passion as we follow Heather's tumultuous journey from poverty... to her kidnapping at a squalid London dockside... to the splendor of Harthaven, the Carolina plantation where Brandon finally probes the depts of Heather's full womanhood!
"For the flame will surely come,
And burn, and blacken, and lay bare the hill.
But with the first sweet breath of spring
The shy and lovely flower will again show
Its face among the charred ruins.
It yields to the searing heat,
But with its persistent beauty
Far surpasses and finally tames the flame."
I absolutely LOVE this book. This was one of the historical romance books that I ever read. I will grant that some of the behaviors are out of date but I believe I stayed up all night to read and finish this book. This is a gem of a book.
I read this book back in the 70's when it first came out. It was really a fantastic book from what I remember. Im so glad that I've rediscovered it. And I also found The Wolf and the Dove. I believe a sequel to this book. So I just ordered The Flame and the Flower and I know I will enjoy it again as much as I enjoyed it back in the 70's.
The extraordinary Birmingham Family Saga commences in The Flame and the Flower -- it continues in The Elusive Flame and concludes in A Season Beyond a Kiss. 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 lovely his woman. . .and to carry her off to far, uncharted realms of sensuous, passionate love.
Fearing for her innocence, doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons commits a shocking and desperate acr.Now she must flee- and seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.
Captin Brandon Birmingham is a lusty adventurer married to the ea.Through courting scorn and serious peril throught his actions,he abducts the beautiful sapphire-eyed fugitive from the tumultuouse London dockside. For it is destiny that bring Heather to Brandon 's side ,and no power on Earth will force him to relinquish this exquisite prize. Only she can unlock the tendernes in his heart;and Brandon vows she will be his- to love and cherish ,to desire,and to carry off to far uncharted realms of sensuous passion...
This is still one of my favorite books, in spite of the events at the beginning. Heather is young and innocent and quite the Cinderella figure. Her parents are dead and she is forced to live with her aunt and uncle. The uncle is henpecked and the aunt is abusive and obviously jealous of Heather's youth and beauty. Heather is turned over to her aunt's brother, who offers to take her to London and get her a job at a school. However, he's lying through his teeth, because he plans to use her himself then sell her to a brothel owner. In a rare show of spirit, Heather manages to escape him but ends up lost on the London docks. There she is grabbed by a couple of American sailors and given to their captain.
Brandon's ship has just arrived in London from South Carolina and he's feeling frisky. He's had a bit to drink and doesn't believe Heather's claims of not being a prostitute until after he has forced her. While he feels a slight pinch in his conscience, he's determined to set her up as his mistress for future visits. He's arrogant and overbearing and fully expects her to obey him when he tells her to stay put.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Heather show a bit of backbone when it came to her escape. Previously she had been quite timid and gave in quickly when berated by anyone. It was great fun to see her overcome Brandon's servant George with an empty pistol, then make her way back to her aunt's home. I ached for her and the abuse she continued to experience at her aunt's hands. Though Fanny's motives were selfish, I was happy to see her go to Lord Hampton for help in finding Brandon. I loved Lord Hampton's kindness and how he wanted what was best for Heather. In that time period, that meant forcing the man in question to "do the right thing." Though Brandon is angry at being threatened, there were hints that he isn't quite as bad as first impressions indicated. I loved the scene where he covered Heather in his cloak after Fanny ripped Heather's dress.
It was terrific to see the changes that both Brandon and Heather undergo over the course of the book. Brandon is initially arrogant, angry, and sometimes cruel. But when it comes down to it, actions can speak louder than words. His anger is expressed in the things he says, accusing Heather of setting out to trap him. He makes threats about keeping her prisoner, making sure she gets no benefits from the marriage, and stating that he will never sleep with her again. Yeah, that one comes back to haunt him. But in spite of his words, he takes her to get a whole new wardrobe (including something special for the cold weather sea voyage) and makes sure she is protected while they wait to sail. Heather is quiet and fearful and provoking Brandon's temper, but inside there is a spark of spirit that continues to grow. I loved her obvious relief that she is going to avoid her "wifely duties" and the dent that made in Brandon's ego.
I enjoyed the development of their relationship. Brandon becomes more intrigued by Heather with each day. She isn't what he expected and he isn't quite sure how to deal with that. I enjoyed seeing the kinder side of him emerge and loved his shopping trip with her. There were times during that period that Heather was able to forget her fear. I loved her sense of wonder and fun during those lighter moments and ached for her when something would set Brandon off. It made me laugh to see the way his physical frustration grew because it was his own fault. During the sea voyage, the confrontation between Brandon and Heather that ended up causing her illness was a turning point in their relationship. Brandon's attitude softened somewhat and Heather was able to relax a little bit of her hyperawareness.
The secondary characters were very well done. Louisa was an excellent foil for Heather. Her selfishness and arrogance made her so very easy to dislike. It was quite satisfying to see the way that she was consistently shown up by the differences between her and Heather. Her frustration at not being able to drive a wedge between Heather and Brandon was acute. I must admit to enjoying the scenes where she was thwarted in her attempts to do so. I feel badly about what happened to her at the end, but it did serve to wrap things up well. I also enjoyed Hattie and her fussing over all the Birminghams. It was fun to see her get in a few digs against Brandon and his idiocy. My favorite secondary character was Jeff. I loved how close he was to Brandon and the respect and love they had for each other. I adored his immediate support of Heather and the friendship that grew so quickly between them. I loved the scenes where he showed Brandon what an idiot he was. I especially loved the scene while he and Brandon were waiting for Heather to give birth and the calculations he did. He had such an air of innocence while he was jerking Brandon's chain. I know I have read his story, but I would like to go back and read it again.
The bit of mystery at the end, dealing with Heather's past and the murders that took place, was also interesting. The fear that Heather felt was real and kept me hooked to see how it would turn out. The final confrontation was intense and I could feel Heather's terror as she tried to escape.
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.
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.
I didn't read it. My sister gave it to me to read. She didn't say anything about it either, it was included in a bag she gave me. I don't read "heaving bosom" romances ;-)...I'm more of a murder mystery gal.