on January 19, 2002
Make that 3.5 stars. Although this book isn't as good as some of the vintage Woodiwiss books, it was still better than I expected, and thus, I enjoyed it. It starts off with interesting events - the death of Cerynise's guardian and unexpected arrival of her guardian's heir, Alistair. He doesn't particularly care for Cerynise and he makes no secret of that fact. Before she knows it, she's thrown out on the streets with no money and nowhere to go. Deciding her only choice is to return home to the states, Cerynise heads for the docks. Barely making it to the docks, she is rescued by Beau, a man she knew from her childhood. They enter into a hasty and temporary marriage as a means of keeping Alistair from taking her back as his ward.
During the long voyage to Charleston, Cerynise falls hopelessly in love with Beau. But because the marriage is only temporary, they both try not to give in to temptation and consummate the marriage -- and there's a lot of temptation. By the time they reach Charleston, both are in turmoil about the direction their relationship should take, and unbeknownst to them, Alistair is hot on their trail bringing with him the threat of death, and the destruction of their shaky relationship. To make matters worse, Beau is a much sought after and very wealthy bachelor whose family home is in Charleston. Upon their return, women pose another threat to Cerynise and her shaky marriage as they try to ensnare Beau for themselves.
While the Elusive Flame doesn't make the reader pant and sigh with emotion as much as some of Ms. Woodiwiss' earlier romance novels, it nonetheless delivers enough romance to hold your attention. The story has elements of danger, adventure, suspense, a little mystery, and a lot of jealousy - which adds a nice bit of spice. The different circumstances the two lovers find themselves in also add a good bit of excitement to the story. Both Beau and Cerynise are developed well enough that they come to life, and you can feel their feelings changing from merely curiosity and admiration for each other to a deep and lasting love.
While at first it seemed a little weird to have a man reading this book, I quickly got over my surprise since his reading didn't distract me from the story. Bottom line, this is a book I would recommend.
on July 1, 2001
I am also a fan of Kathleen Woodiwiss' books, and this was not her best. Many people have mentioned the confusion over the hero's eye-color, but there was something else that bothered me- When Cerynise is being thrown out of the house by Alistair, she questions the will, saying it was written prior to her coming to England as Lydia's ward, and that certainly Lydia must have updated the will after such a big change in her circumstances. Then on the boat, when Alistair attempts to claim her as his ward, Cerynise said that Lydia's will made no provision for her guardianship to be transferred. So did she see a new will or didn't she? Also, they got WAY too intimate immediately after this "marriage of convenience"! There was no tension or longing. I also believe the misunderstanding between Cerynise and Beau was too easily resolved. On the whole, it was too contrived. I expect a certain formula with romance novels, but this one was definitely not up to Kathleen Woodiwiss' standards.
on May 27, 2001
Woodiwiss has written some of my favorite romance novels. The Flame and the Flower, Petals on the River, and The Wolf and the Dove are wonderful. Each of these novels not only tells a great story but gives us a peek at what life might have been like during those times.
The Elusive Flame is a nice title and, like many of the elements of this book, doesn't really seem to belong to this story. A better title might be, The Flame and The Flower, 25 Years Later. Not only is the story a sloppy rehash of The Flame and the Flower, it is irritating. Where was the editor? Throughout the book the author describes Beau Birmingham's eyes as either green or blue?! On page 38, Cerynise first sees Beau and his "eyes of deep emerald green." On page 40 "his blue eyes twinkled" and so it goes throughout the book. The biggest bloober, however, was on page 336 when Beau was grilled about his appearance with another woman and he was referenced as Jeff! Finally, the author overused the words "portal" and "orb." All of these irritations could have been eliminated with better planning and editing. Save yourself some money and irritation. Get Woodiwiss' other books. Pass on this one.
on October 13, 2000
I just got to read the book, and i really liked it. My favorite fictional book is, hands down, The Flame And The Flower, and, of course, no book written will ever be as good. So going in to this, I didn't expect it to be even close. I was delighted that it was, indeed, close. Alot of my feelings are due to the fact that Heather and Brandon were included often, as well as the other Birminghams. I will always love the characters of Heather and Brandon Birmingham. I was really worried that this sequel might include one or both characters having passed on, or doing so in this book. Thank goodness Ms. Woodiwiss didn't do that to her loyal fans. I hope that she will continue this saga, and keep Heather and Brandon alive in the continuation. I had hoped that the next book (Season) would be about all of these characters, but, am understanding, that it is actually backdated to Jeff and Raelynn's new marriage. I think that story should have come first. So, I will wait, with much hope, that Katleen E Woodiwiss will continue from this point. By the way, did anyone catch the "blooper" ? On page 336 in the paperback edition, in the second to LAST paragraph, Beau is mistakenly called Jeff. Otherwise, this was a wonderful book. I look forward to Suzanne and Brenna's love stories!!!!!!!!!
on August 14, 2000
i have to mention after reading a few of the reveiws on this book that i am profoundly disappointed in the evaluations of the book/story prosecuters that have already judged this book/story. i am an avid reader, though i have always prefered science fiction or fantasy to anything else. i have always thought that the people who read romaces are extremely wishy-washy. However, a close friend of mine whose judgement i trust recommended this story to me. she made me promise to at least try to read it (and if i liked the author to find other books of hers). i began this book and soon found that the words were arranged in such a way that they compelled me to find what happened in the end. though this is only the 3rd or 4th romace i have read, i have found it to be very enjoyable, and kathleen woodiwiss has a way of making me laugh at some of the crazy situations that her characters are put through. (it has come to my mind that since i have not read the flame and the flower, i cannot judge the two, however, i think it was good for me to have a chance to read and enjoy this story first.) therefor, if you are searching for a bit of insight on the opinion of a prejudiced science fiction/fatasy reader, please let me state my stance clearly. the elusive flame is not enjoyable for those who search their romances for sexual appeasment, rather it is for those who enjoy elequent writing, enchanting events that can be created only for the minds eye, and enjoyable story endings. (far too many adjectives begin with e! )
on June 9, 2000
I admit this was a pretty good sequel to "The Flame and the Flower". A bit different from the original, but good. I usually dislike sequels and find them never holding a candle the original, but this one held a pretty strong one. The beginning was kinda hard to trudge through in my opinion, but once it got rolling, it was really good. I liked the hero Beau Birmingham,(Heather and Brandon's son from The Flame and Flower)he was a very strong character. Was alot like his father from the first book. Cerynise was a strong heroine and never seemed to falter and become weak as in some romance novels, she held her own. My only complaint was in the "villians". The first book, the villians were really scary and had you wondering what would happen next, very unpredictable. But these "villains" weren't anything of the sort. They were clumsy and predictable. I also was dissapointed in how quick the couple seemed to fall in love. They were suppose to be old friends and she always loved him as a child, but I just wasn't convinced. Though I was excited to see the characters from "Flame.." appear. Heather and Brandon was funny and the same as usual. The story line could've been better. As with the other reviews, I thought the ending was a bit stupid and seemed derived from a certain "movie", but I wont say anymore. =) Also I was as confused as everyone else to what color Beau's eyes were during the entire book! One time they were Blue the next they were like Brandon's(green), then Sapphire! Aside from that I did enjoy the story. Most of exciting part of the story is on the ship to the Carolinas. I am now looking forward to the 3rd in this series, "Season Beyond A Kiss". I hope this helps anyone out there!
on May 20, 2000
On an impulse I bought a copy of "The Flame and Flower" and immediately fell in love with it and it has now become my favorite romance novel of all time. When I read the preview for "The Elusive Flame" I was thrilled. I went out and bought the book when it came out. By chapter 3 I was disappointed with it and put it away without finishing it. I have recently taken it back out in hopes that it would interest me again. The story of Beau and Cerynise very much reminds me of the story of Heather and Brandon and I find the plot to be unoriginal. I found myself flipping through the book just to read the parts with Heather, Brandon, and Jeff and even those parts seem to be rather uninspired.
What really disappointed me was the lack of attention to detail. Beau's eyes are not blue. They are green.
Overall I just found the book to be seriously lacking and I really didn't care much for the characters. Cerynise was flat and Beau was just Brandon all over again without the essential spark.
on March 28, 2000
In March 1998 I fell in love with "The flame and the flower". One year later I found out there were another Birminghams stories written by K. E. W. Since then I couldn't get to see "The elusive flame" or something about Jeff. Three weeks ago I finally bought "The elusive flame" and all I can say is: I can't get enough of the Birminghams. Although Cerynise and Beau are not as richly drawn as Heather and Brandon - I think they're too perfect and have no faults. I LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF READING IT ESPECIALLY WHEN BARNDON AND HEATHER WERE PRESENTED. I laughed when I read that Jeff was still calling Heather "Tory" and that Mrs. Clark is still alive. I'm sooo happy to have "The elusive flame" and the Birminghams! Ms. Woodiwiss, would you mind writing another story about this marvellous family? For example about Beau's sisters Suzanne and Brenna? I'd be so glad and grateful. Please continue and again let us feel the unforgettable atmosphere of the world you create. Thank you! PS: LOOKING FORWARD TO "A SEASON BEYOND A KISS"!
on March 9, 2000
I ran out and bought this book after reading "The Flame and the Flower." While I've always enjoyed Woodiwiss, and have generally re-read her novels several times (My copy of Shanna is falling apart), this one is heading straight for the circular file.
I really loved the Birmingham story in "Flame and the Flower" - so much so that I started rereading it almost immediately upon finishing it. You know how they say sequels are never as good as the original - DEFINITELY the case here.
The plot was weak. The antagonists (Winthrop and his lawyer) were too stupid to be threatening. In the past, Woodiwiss's "bad guys" always seemed ruthlessly determined, and at times, downright scary. Alistar Winthrop is just a greedy knucklehead, through and through. Even before the "climatic ending" (and I use that phrase loosely), I had a picture in my head that these two buffoons looked like Joe Peschi and Daniel Stern of "Home Alone" fame. When Cerynise was doing the bad guys in, I kept waiting for her to grab her cheeks and scream ala Macauley Culkin. In fact, I wanted to do that myself! I think Ms. Woodiwiss is spending too much time watching kids movies' with her grandchildren if this is the type of ending she is coming up with now.
Bitten by the bug of political correctness, the rape or forcing of the heroine by the hero isn't present in this novel, either - which has always been part of the Woodiwiss formula. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, in this case, it made for a weaker story. There wasn't this huge emotional obstacle for them to overcome, just their own bumbling lack of communication. The emotional tension between Beau and Cerynise just isn't there, and that tension has always been one of the fun parts of the Woodiwiss novel.
There were editting problems, too. I could never figure out if Beau's eyes were blue or green. Because sometimes Cerynise is reminded of Heather's blue eyes, and at other times, she is looking into eyes of deep green. It makes me wonder if Woodiwiss even wrote this novel. That's something that should be decided upfront. Eyecolor is a no-brainer.
While I'm still planning on reading the newest Birmingham novel, I'm not rushing out to get it. I hope it's better than this one!
on July 14, 1999
I was very disappointed in this novel. I feel I waisted my money. Shame on Kathleen E. Woodiwiss for slapping this together. I am not a writer, but I feel sure I could have thrown this book together. Cerynise makes me ill. She is so one dimensional. The author tried too hard to convince us that all were awed by her beauty. Enough with the idiots that could not function normally in her company. Beau was an unbelievable hero for this novel. He was to candy apple perfect. His anger was non-believable as well. There was no chemistry between the main characters in their love scenes. Beau was supposed to come from a very uprights decent set of parents. What was he doing hanging out with all those harlots. I was also dissappointed with the accents. Beau and Cerynise were supposed to come from the Carolinas. They sounded more like English sailors.
All in all if I could have given this book no stars I would have. I find it hard to believe Kathleen E. Woodiwiss is a best selling author. I have never found any other of her novels to be all that great either. This one really takes the cake for lousy though.