Kathleen Woodiwiss: Historical Romance Novels

Friends introduced me to romance novels by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss back in the 80s.

You would not call her a prolific writer. But if you are into historical romance novels you would definitely say she was a terrific writer.

When I first saw a photograph of this author, my impression was that she looked like somebody’s sweet grandma; a church lady. If you had met her walking on the streets your immediate thoughts would not be: ‘This lady writes steamy hot romance novels in a historical settings with pirates, prisoners, evil villains, and of course, beautiful maidens with handsome husbands, who because of their naivety and inexperience, don’t quite know how fortunate they are to have been united in marriage with such noble and honorable men.’

rose and heart

historical romanceshannaCome to find out her books are very popular amongst church ladies. My research indicated that this American-born writer actually pioneered the historical romance genre. Who would have thunk it?! Sadly she is no longer with us, as she lost her battle with cancer and passed away in 2007.  The novel that put Ms. Woodiwiss on the map was her 1972 novel, “The Flame and the Flower”. It was good. But my two favorite books are: “A Rose in Winter” and “Shanna”.  You can’t judge a book by its cover, but authors should learn a lesson from average readers like me.  It was the book covers that made me want to read the books.  One pink with lush tropical flowers and the other with the moody somber winter colors, with the word “rose” in the title.  The attraction was instant and irresistible.  I just had to know what was inside.  The contents did not disappoint me.  From the very beginning when the female characters are introduced, you connect with them right away.  You understand the situation they are in, why they don’t want to be where they are, and wonder how they are going to find a way to rise above their circumstances.

Winter rose

Winter rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Storyline for “A Rose in Winter:  Why can’t Erienne Fleming marry for love? Why? Because her father had huge gambling debts and needed to pay them off! His solution to raise the money needed is to auction off his beautiful daughter to the highest bidder. Who is the highest bidder? She doesn’t know! He always wears a mask and a cloak. She was told that he hides disfiguring scars caused by fire. Whenever he enters her bed chamber it is always in the dark. When she sees him by day, he is such a gentle man and never mistreats her. She wants to be a true and loyal wife to him, only another man enters or re-enters her world.


Bahasa Melayu: Plumeria / Frangipani

Bahasa Melayu: Plumeria / Frangipani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Storyline for “Shanna:  Shanna is a beautiful heiress who is about to be forced into an arranged marriage. But what if? What if she were already married? She can’t be forced into a union with another if she is lawfully and legally in a marriage. So that’s it! She’ll go get married! But who will be her husband? Well, it will have to somebody in prison facing certain death upon the gallows. So she visits Newgate Prison and seals a pact with a criminal. For his consent to wed, she promises to be his wife in full for one night; an entire night of passion and ecstasy. Of course, she had no intention of fulfilling her part of the bargain. What did that matter? That lowly criminal was going to face the gallows and she was going to face her father and tell him that she could not possibly marry because she was already a wife and a widow. Only things didn’t quite go according to her plans.

Tell me you don’t want to know what happens.

(Image credit: Photo of Kathleen Woodiwiss, Wikipedia)


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