It’s been 30 years since the publishing of that wonderful gem of a pirate book called The Windflower. To celebrate the anniversary, this fun book is being re-released in ebook format April 29, 2014. So, now’s the time to read it! And, thanks Tracy at Tracys Place for reminding me of this lovely book. Following is a reissue of a review I did a few years ago.
I confess, I've never been a big fan of pirate stories; however, w-a-y back in 1984 there was a wonderful gem of a pirate romance novel called The Windflower. Written by the husband and wife team Tom and Sharon Curtis under the nom de plume of Laura London, it has long since been considered a classic in Romanceland circles. Now, whenever I reread a much loved book, I always cross my fingers. Some books hold up over time, but others have me scratching my head over how much my tastes have changed over the years. So, crossing my fingers I opened The Windflower. Drum roll please...
Right away, I was struck with a difference in language. It's amazing how much romance language has changed in 30 years, and yes, that is a short period of time if you consider the whole history of romance books. The very first sentence, "Merry Patricia Wilding was sitting on a cobblestone wall, sketching three rutabagas and daydreaming about the unicorn," had me grinning and rubbing my hands together in anticipation. It was the rutabagas that grabbed me right away. This book is filled with wonderful prose, delightful plot-lines and fantastic characters.
Let's talk about the prose. I think over the years, I have become lazy while reading my books. I am used to historical romance books that make clear statements in almost modern language, and every once in a while a lovely poetic line is thrown in for our edification. The Windflower, on the other hand, is filled with wonderful lyrical words, and I loved every minute of reading them. Now, these were not the flowery words that one might run into if one were reading, say, a Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. And granted there were some phrases that if they were said to me by a real man might elicit a giggle/laugh. However, in the context of the book they brought on Ahhh moments. For instance our hero, Devon, whispers to Merry, "Love, together we can find where clouds are born." See, husband says=giggle/laugh, Devon=Ahhhh. Wonderful language!
The plot-line/s. We have the standard aristocrat-turned-pirate-but-he's-really-a-good-guy-because-he-is-spying-for-his-country meets the kidnapped-innocent-mistaken-for-a-whore-virgin heroine. This is not new to us and it wasn’t new to us in 1984. But in the hands of Tom and Sharon Curtis it turns into a magical journey. Even with scurvy soft-hearted pirates who all fall in love with Merry.
Characters! What a bunch of well-written personalities on board this ship. These are not flat cardboard people inhabiting the pages of this book. And, for those of you who have read The Windflower, I know you can all empathize with me when I sniffle over the wonderful sequels that should have been, but never were. From the enigmatic Rand Morgan to the handsome Raven and finally the mysterious, cold-blooded Cat. Never was there a character in a romance novel that screamed sequel more than Cat! Love Cat! And then there's Merry. What a young, young, heroine. She's almost irritating in the beginning, so innocent, so naive and constantly crying. But, then she's 18 and she's just been kidnapped and deposited on a boatload of pirates, so who wouldn't cry. Throughout the book we watch her grow and we fall in love with her at the same time the pirate crew does. Her relationship with Cat is touching and at times humorous. I chuckled when he was whining about the manner in which she told him it was that time of the month. She left a note on the table for him and while he was reading it, she hid under a nearby blanket.
Even though I enjoyed reading The Windflower again, this is not to say I didn't have a problem with some things. In one word, Devon. Don't get me wrong, Devon made a great hero. But there were times when he was too silent, too obscure, too mysterious and too brutal in his treatment of Merry. However, he was just a minor hiccup.
This book has an advantage over books that are written now -- it's over 500 pages in length, so the authors had time to develop their tale. There isn't the mad rush to tie up loose ends. I wish that books written now could be the same length, because it does make a difference. Of course, there is also the fact that Sharon and Tom Curtis were great writers. I said were because they seem to have retired around 1996. They are published under Laura London, Robin James and Sharon and Tom Curtis. I wish they were still writing, and I dream of the day when Cat's sequel will hit the bookstores. However, I know how hard it would be for them to pick up the cadence of writing a sequel after an absence of 30 years, but a person can wish, can't she?
So, for those of you who have never read this book, you really should. The Windflower has stood up to the passage of time pretty well. This is the Curtis' crowning achievement, and I found it to be a delightful, beautifully told story. And, I loved the words!
Time/Place: High seas, England, 1800s