Historical romance was born when the remarkable Kathleen E. Woodiwiss gifted the world with her groundbreaking love story, The Flame and the Flower. Now, twelve consecutive New York Times bestsellers later, "the first lady of the genre" (Publishers Weekly) returns with her most breathtaking masterwork to date—a glorious celebration of a secret love that is dangerous, irresistible, forbidden, and . . .
Once, Abrielle's name was on the lips of every unwed nobleman in London as a proud exceptional lady coveted for her bearing, her breeding, her wit, and her beauty.
But when her stepfather—respected for his courage and valor during the Crusades—is denied his rightful title and the wealth that accompanies it, Abrielle finds herself suddenly disgraced, no longer a suitable match for any proper gentleman. Only one would still have her, though he desires no more than physical pleasure: the oafish and grotesque Desmond de Marlé. His dark and scandalous reputation is legend, and Abrielle has heard rumors that his first two wives perished by his hand. Yet no one else can rescue her once-proud family's honor and keep her stepfather from debtor's prison, so she is left with no choice but to accept the cruel and hateful de Marlé's offer of marriage and sacrifice her virtue to a scoundrel she fears and detests . . . even as she yearns for another lover.
Dashing, handsome, tall, and kind—a black-haired Scotsman with vivid blue eyes—Raven Seabern is an emissary for his king, and quite unlike any man Abrielle has ever encountered. From the very first moment their eyes meet, he intrigues and mesmerizes her—and dancing in his arms at a royal banquet leaves her weak with the desire to surrender. But their love can never be, for Abrielle is betrothed to a monster. And the well-being of everyone she cares for demands that she honor her promise. Still, the fire lit that night will not be doused. Raven knows he has found the true one and must never let her go—though secrets, deceptions, dishonor, and unimaginable peril will surely be their fate if they follow the dictates of their hearts.
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(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.From AudioFile:
Xanthe Elbrick does an admirable job with Woodiwiss's final romance novel. Her voicing of heroine Abrielle is as crisp and sweet as Abrielle herself. Elbrick's bright British voice is well suited to the eleventh-century setting, and her treatment of the sometimes heavy-handed prose is tender enough to make the excessive summary of action seem just as engaging as the dialogue. Elbrick's only real weakness in this recording is her voicing of the male characters, especially that of the hero, Raven Seabern. Elbrick pulls off a decent Scots accent, but her performance is almost vaudevillian in its puffed-up exaggeration of the sound of a male voice. Despite the shortcomings of both prose and narrator, this volume is indeed satisfying (if a little predictable) to fans of the genre. A.A. 2008 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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