Millions of women fell in love with romance the moment they picked up Kathleen E. Woodiwiss' classic The Flame and the Flower. Now, 26 years later, she brings us back to the Birminghams with the story of Brandon and Heather's son Beau and his search for a bride.

When her guardian suddenly dies, Cerynise Kendall finds herself alone and penniless in London, thrown out her home by the greedy Alister Winthrop. Cerynise must find a way to get to her uncle in Charleston. It appears that the only way is to sail on Beau Birmingham's ship.

Beau remembers Cerynise from childhood, but the little girl of his past is nothing like the stunning beauty he sees before him. When Alister tries to force Cerynise to return to London, Beau offers her passage and the protection of his name.

Just like Beau's parents' marriage, this marriage of convenience takes twists and turns neither expects. Passions soar and Cerynise cannot deny her growing attraction to Beau, which finally erupts in one night of all consuming desire.

Pride comes between the newlyweds, however. Cerynise leaves Beau, expecting him to get an annulment. Everything changes when she finds that Beau loves her and that she is pregnant.

Truly happy as a wife and mother-to-be, Cerynise has no idea her past nemesis is out to destroy her. Murder, madness, greed and danger plague Cerynise, just as they did Heather.

Expectations are always very high when it comes to a new book by a renowned author. Readers will find THE ELUSIVE FLAME highly reminiscent of The Flame and the Flower, but lacking her usual lyrical prose, searing sexual tension and strong mystery/Gothic overtones. Readers will find Ms. Woodiwiss' latest is a kinder, gentler retelling of the original. SENSUAL (Oct., 428 pp., $14.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin