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The Flame and the Flower

(Birmingham #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  15,735 ratings  ·  804 reviews
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.
Paperback, 430 pages
Published April 1972 by Avon (first published 1972)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,735 ratings  ·  804 reviews

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Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ 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 on
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
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 23, 2015 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 whstars.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
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
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 principa
Chantal ❤️
Wtf!!! So if I guy thought you were hot and wanted you he could just rape you and you had to marry your rapist!!!!
Holy bat shit!
That is nuts!
Also what the hell kind of polite society is it that lets a young girl suffer thought all that and then he has the nerve to joke about it!!!!
I can't believe this.
I understand things were different but good god man that is crazy!
Poor baby to have to live with that and the poor girl married to her rapist has to find a way to make peace and continue
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 books 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!
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
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
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 feeli
Jul 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 19, 2016 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 of th
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.

**Last read on 7/1/2015**
I still love this book. Not sure why
Jenny Q
Feb 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star, hr, awful
I've done it, and I shouldn't have done it. Having been in a reading slump for the better part of the last 2 months, I went back and re-read The Flame and The Flower. The Mother of all modern Historical Romances. Certainly the Mother of all Bodice Rippers.

I first read this book in my teenage years and I remember, even back then, not liking it very much.

I didn't like the plot. I didn't like Heather. I didn't like Brandon. I didn't like the fact that he raped her. Full stop.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Karen Witzler
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
My first bodice-ripper. Explained a lot of things that were mysterious to me in 1973. Lent to me by Brenda, my dear older cousin.
Color me surprised that I actually ended up enjoying this. Don't get me wrong, this book is problematic af, but I still appreciate what it did for the romance genre.
Heather was surprisingly autonomous, all things considered and keeping in mind the society in which the novel was published. I say surprisingly because on one page I would be like "Yes, girl! Stand up for yourself!" and then a few pages later I was yelling at her for being an idiot.

It definitely helps to go into this novel know
The writing style was beautiful. Some of the internal dialogue was like poetry. It fully drew me in, and my emotions were engaged. In fact, I cried when Heather was being raped and afterward when she was crying. If such a talented writer would write a story that didn't repel me with its message, I know I would love it.

Is this really what women fantasized about in the 1970s? Has what women idealized changed so much in the past 40 years?

I understand that in 1799 in the Amer
Jane Stewart
Weak, obedient female. Abusive, prideful male. They each think the other doesn’t want them. Pleasant reading, but feels dated.

This was first published in 1972. I haven’t read many romance novels published before the 1980s, but this is what I would expect. The heroine wants to be loving, serving, and obedient to her husband. Most heroines in today’s romance novels are different. They are smart, independent, adventurous, and not obedient, which generally makes
Dec 07, 2016 marked it as to-read
"A single book created the “bodice ripper” as a concept and cultural phenomenon: 1972's The Flame and the Flower. Written by Midwestern homemaker Kathleen Woodiwiss and published by Avon, the novel is widely considered to be the first sexually explicit romance novel, released just as the second wave of the feminist movement was cresting."

- this terrific article

Who's with me?
Oct 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
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!
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
This is the book that started my love for romance novels. A classic in every way possible. The first time I read it I was about 15 or 16. It was amazing! I’ve read it many,many times over the years, and it never fails to thrill me. It’s always wonderful and I love revisiting my very first book boyfriend! 😊

Heather Simmons was forced to live with her cruel, lazy aunt when she was orphaned. When her aunt’s brother William came to visit, he offered to help her get a position in London as
Melissa Delport
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
It's official - Shanna is my absolute favorite Woodiwiss novel! In my opinion, this one doesn't hold a candle to Shanna and Ruark's love affair :)
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 be
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
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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

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“I have no intention of spending the night in a chair and leaving you the bed.” 49 likes
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