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The Flame and the Flower (Birmingham #1)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,511 Ratings  ·  572 Reviews
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 dock
ebook, 512 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat Kennedy
I read this book years ago when I was a teenager. I had borrowed all the Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novels from my mother's shelf and she had stolen them from her mother. Kind of creepy, yes, but I read my grandmother's literary porn.

As a teenager I may have actually given this book three stars. I actually enjoyed reading Brandon's dominating ways and Heather's bodice-ripping adventures. Though, despite my youngish years, I still found their first encounter "disturbing" and Brandon's subsequent trea
Teresa Medeiros
Jul 20, 2011 Teresa Medeiros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1972, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss did what every writer dreams of doing—she wrote a classic novel with her very first book. The Flame and the Flower had it all—passion, conflict, adventure, drama, a setting that sweeps us from Georgian England to a plantation in the Carolinas, and unforgettable characters. She broke all the conventional rules of historical fiction by making the sexual relationship between her hero and heroine a vital component of their emotional relationship and in doing so, gave b ...more
May 25, 2015 Mo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mo by: Crystal~BIG book addict~

4.5 stars.

"Kathleen 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 that created a literary precedent."

Well done to her for "creating" this genre .... many have learned from her, I'm sure.

I can see how some might have issues with what happened in the beginning of the book ... it's fiction ... it is what used to be termed "a bodice ripper" ... it happened.

Her struggle pulled his s
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
It was nice to finally read this signature romance by a historical romance great. I quite enjoyed it. Initially, I was a bit worried, because Brandon came off as an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk. However, he really redeemed himself, showing a profound selflessness and dedication for his young wife. Yes, he did rape her. If you don't like rape in a romance, then you won't like this book, and I would not judge you. We all have our personal tastes and comfort zones. Rape is a plot device I can toler ...more
What I learned from this book: 1. rape is ok if you're a hot, sensuous man. 2. beauty= good, ugly= bad

I am reading my way through Romance Readers Top 100 and I finished Shanna first and then The Flame and the Flower. I really enjoyed Shanna's story, protagonists and flowery language. I read The Flame and the Flower next and am frankly mystified as to why it holds such a special place in so many readers hearts. Is is because it was one of the first romance novels you read?

My principal misgiving
I really don't get why people considered Kathleen E Woodiwiss to be the queen of historical romance?! I mean I have only read two of her novels and I can honestly say that she was nowhere near as good as other talented authors such as Judith Mcnaught and Laurie Mcbain. This book for instance is utter shite, full of stupid one dimensional characters with a pointless storyline that just drags on and on!!

Don't waste your precious time reading this crap, you will only be sorry!
Beth F.
My modern sensibilities were deeply offended by this classic 1970’s romance. It is reading books like this when I regret my quirk of always needing to finish books, even when I don’t like them. At the beginning of the story, the 18-year-old heroine is living with her verbally abusive aunt and hen-pecked uncle. They decide to foist her off on an extended member of the family who claims he can have her admitted to a prestigious finishing school for young ladies. But as soon as she’s left for Londo ...more
dnf @ 12%

Well, turns out I'm not really into bodice rippers, and more into good guys (read non-assholes) and consensual sex. Thank you very much.
I'm sleepy and have had wine so please take my ranting in stride, scroll past it, or better yet read Melissa's cutting, and frankly amazing, review here.

I'm not going to rate this because I only read 5 of the 10 chapters. It takes a lot for me to not finish a book. Yes, life is too short to read books we don't enjoy, but you're looking at a person who spent two years trying to finish a 200 page Don DeLillo novel she couldn't stand. But this book is far worse than that one was.

I was feeling a bi
Jul 14, 2010 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
I'm afraid I didn't like either of the characters in this book. He was a jerk who RAPED her at their first encounter -- repeatedly -- and she was a mouse with no backbone. Mostly, I didn't like him. He never redeemed himself for what he did to her in any way and I have no idea why they fell in love. She'd been running from another rape attempt when she fell into his clutches, but apparently that rape attempt was not ok...because he wasn't good looking? I'm not sure what differentiated the two. O ...more
Yes, Brandon can be a class A jerk and extremely arrogant. Heather is very sweet, innocent, and meek. Actually, I found Heather refreshing since so many of the heroines are feisty beyond reason and not at all an accurate protrayal of women of their time. This book hits many of my "kinks" - captor/captive, mistaken identity (he thinks she's a prostitue), noncon, a much older hero (she's 17/18 and he's 35) . THis is a fantasy. Period. Realistic has nothing to do with it. If that's what you want, t ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochists, purple prose lovers
Shelves: did-not-finish
I wouldn't normally bother rating a book I didn't finish, but I got through half of The Flame and the Flower before giving up, so I have some pretty strong opinions and plenty to say. If my pain can spare some of you anguish, then it will all be worthwhile.

I was actually a little bit excited to read this book, even though I knew it had a reputation as being very of its time and, to today's readers, fairly offensive. But I don't have an extremely thin skin. After all, I love Outlander, in spite o
Nenia Campbell

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Woodiwiss is often credited with creating the first bodice ripper or the first "modern historical romance novel." I would actually disagree with both of those remarks - especially since they mean very different things. I wouldn't actually classify bodice-rippers as "romance" novels; they're more like anti-romance novels. The hero in these types of books is usually very similar to the villain, distinguishable only by a very thin and wavering
Jenny Q
Feb 03, 2010 Jenny Q rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 0 Stars out of 5

This was my first experience with a true "bodice ripper" and it will be my last. In the first chapter the heroine kills a man defending herself from attempted rape, runs for her life and ends up with the "hero" who then rapes her himself, repeatedly. And I don't mean a case of "your lips say no but your eyes say yes", I mean lips, eyes, fists and feet all say no. I didn't make it to chapter two. I skimmed a few pages here and there through the rest of the book. I actually
Jan 03, 2010 TJ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book starts with the abuse then rape of an innocent girl, a subsequent pregnancy then forced marriage to the man who raped her. Needless to say, I HATED it! Woodiwiss' writing skills undoubtably draw you into the story, however, therefore the two stars.
Aug 04, 2012 Chloe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I forced my way through this novel from start to end. If it hadn't been so horrifically genuine it would have been funny. Every single stupid thought you've ever heard an abused woman utter with that tragic loss of logic is in the plot of this book. From 'he rapes me but he really loves me deep down' to 'a baby will fix our marriage'. True it's written slightly better then your average two-bit rape porno but that hardly makes up for a plot that encourages the idea that raping women is a good way ...more
Inés Izal
Jul 27, 2014 Inés Izal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, favoritos
¡Me encanta esta mujer!
Hace poco que descubrí a Kathleen, pero bendita sea la hora. Se ha ganado el puesto de mis favoritas en género histórico.
Me encanta como de las situaciones más tensas y difíciles, crea historias de amor únicas.
Dec 14, 2008 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: romance lovers
I love this book. There sweet love story will make you believe there is love to be found. Brandon is a hero's hero. He makes you want to move to the south and find someone like him. Heather is one of those strong women packaged in a tiny body. This is truely a romantic classic.
Sep 15, 2013 Nihawmi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bir daha okudum. Pişman değilim.

Apr 13, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book that started it all. Anyone interested in writing romance novels (or fans of same) should read this book. It's not Woodiwiss' best, and contains a number of elements that would be considered serious taboos in today's romance novel world. However, the Flame and the Flower was the first romance novel of the kind we know today -- rather than fading to black or moving behind a closed door, Woodiwiss included sex scenes, with minimal euphemism and a connection to the emotional development of ...more
Maureen Feeney
Loved it,loved it ,loved it.
After reading all the reviews here i have to say i agree with the majority.
The plot of the story has been done so wont bore you by repeating it.
The characters Heather and Brandon are really interesting.Maybe Brandon should have been redeemed earlier in the book and Hannahs character stronger but i think she is only 18 to his thirty something years so in my opinion she was immature rather than weak at the start of the book.
The rape scene bothers some people, I can unde
Burçak Kılıç
Süper kitaptı :D Başta kızın saflığına ve Brandon'ın gıcık tavırlarına uyuz olsamda sonradan çok sevdim karakterleri :)) Ben kızın gemiye getirilme olayına çok güldüm ya aptalın önde gideni resmen hahaha :DD Yalnız ben bu tarz kitaplarda karakterleri yok öyle güzel yok böyle güzel diyince hayal edemiom ya öyle insanlar var sanki pehh :PP Neyse kitap anlatım olarakta konu olarakta çok akıcıydı işin içine finaller girmese çoktan bitirirdim..Valla aklım kitapda kalmıştı yarında final var ama dayana ...more
The first full length romance novel I read. The one that got me hooked! Heather, the heroine, is taken to London by her aunt's brother who has evil plans for the young beauty. Captain Brandon Birmingham, the hero, is an American on his last journey before settling down at his plantation home and getting married. The captain's men pick up what they believe is a prostitute but it's Heather who has run away after she believes she has killed a man. She thinks the men are the law and have come after ...more
I read this years ago when I was probably a young teenager. I loved this book then. As I read it now I am (a bit) aghast at the fact that Brandon basically raped Heather and took her virginity and he did it again. I don't think that will fly in modern times like these.

Of course I read somewhere that this is one of (if not the first) original 'bodice rippers'. I guess it would be since it was first published in 1972.
Sep 14, 2014 Etana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No just No! There is nothing much to say than the first time the main characters meet the male rapes the female and in the end of the book they jock about it. Sorry not for me!
This was my very first Romance novel and I fell in love with Kathleen Woodiwiss. I think I own and have read all her books.
Jan 19, 2016 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just don't get it. This book was supposedly responsible for "flinging the door open" on the historical romance novel. Granted, it doesn't hold back with the bedroom scenes, but aside from the first 30 pages and the last 30 pages, this one was a real snoozefest for me. Nothing really happens! Scenes just drag on and on and on and on, endlessly, with no bearing on the plot, whatsoever. Reading back over prior reviews, I'm rather stunned at how this book is held in such high esteem. It could've b ...more
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
Leigh‘s review posted on Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews


Meeting under circumstances where both were mistaken about the true identity of the other, timid English rose Heather Simmons and American ship captain Brandon Birmingham have a love that is one of my all-time favorites in any romance novel I have ever read. Perhaps it is because this was the first book of its kind that I was ever exposed to, pulling it out of a stack I found in our garage as a teenager, or maybe because Ms. Woodiwiss’
Ashley S.
Apr 25, 2015 Ashley S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I could not put down...

Before I get into the "actual" review I must say that this was the first book that ever introduced me to the historical romance world. I can never forget it and as we speak I smile, remembering the way I came upon it. My mother and I were in discussion and she had had this tattered paperback Avon novel in her hands. The cover kept bounding in and out of sight, captivating me. Every so often she would chuckle and finally becoming overbearing...I inquire
Dec 15, 2010 Ing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Kathleen Erin Hogg was born on June 3, 1939, in Alexandria, Louisiana, she was the youngest of eight siblings by Gladys (Coker) and Charles Wingrove Hogg, a disabled World War I veteran. She long relished creating original narratives, and by age 6 was telling herself stories at night to help herself fall asleep. At age 16, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Eugene Woodiwiss at a dance, ...more
More about Kathleen E. Woodiwiss...

Other Books in the Series

Birmingham (3 books)
  • A Season Beyond a Kiss
  • The Elusive Flame

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