Top critical review
Better than expected...
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.