Tuesday, March 17, 2009

REVIEW: The Windflower by Laura London

So you never thought you'd see the day, did you? I'm finally getting around to posting my final thoughts on The Windflower, largely due to the pressure that Shannon of What Women Read has finished reading the book and anticipates posting her thoughts very soon. My apologies to the other participants in The Windflower Blogging Extravaganza for holding up the tour with my turn. All of you make horrible pirates and really should have made me walk the plank several times over by now. Seriously. No eye patches for you.

So without further ado, I present to you my long awaited final comments on The Windflower....

The Windflower is an historical romance set in 1813. The story starts out stateside in Virginia where our young heroine, Merry Patricia Welding lives with her Aunt who serves as her guardian since her mother passed away and her father and brother are both too preoccupied with their military efforts for the American cause against Britain during the War of 1812 to properly see after Merry.

Merry is a recreational artist, and is quite good at it, too. One of her greatest talents is her ability to draw accurate sketches of people she simply sees in the streets. Capitalizing on this, Merry's brother takes her to a local tavern at which he wants her to take careful note of some British pirates who are expected to show up there so that she can draw sketches in order to create wanted posters of them. Well, plans don't go exactly as planned and Merry makes a narrow escape from the tavern, but not before the pirate Devon Crandall corners Merry in order to extract details about her suspicious behavior and ends up stealing extremely passionate kisses with her. Passionate and mysterious, because both Devon and Merry are strongly effected by a few simple kisses.

Several weeks pass after this incident and Merry's aunt decides it is time to take her to England for a holiday, and with hopes of possibly meeting some suitable man for marriage. Well, plans don't go exactly as planned again, and shortly after boarding her ship bound for England, Merry gets inadvertently kidnapped and delivered to The Black Joke, the pirate ship of Captain Rand Morgan and his cohort, yes, you guessed it, Devon Crandall. Merry spends most of the remainder of the book as a prisoner on The Black Joke pirate ship,keeping out of harms way and inevitably lands a special place in the hearts of the crew--especially one such pirate named Devon Crandall who falls deeply for the beautiful, naive maiden, and she for him. Of course she tries desperately to not fall for him because he's a brute and an ass. And of course he tries desperately to resist falling for her because he thinks she's the lover of his worst enemy. Of course she refuses to denounce any false accusations about what she was doing in the tavern that night in order to protect her brother and his American idealist role in the war. Plus Devon isn't actually forthright with why he needs to know, either, so their game of cat and mouse ensues. Secrets and confusion between Merry and Devon are the norm for pretty much the entire novel, yet truths are finally reveled and they acknowledge their love and go on to live happily ever after, the end.

The Windflower pretty much exemplifies a lot of stereotypes of the romance genre and I can't seem to blame anyone who rolls their eyes at this novel. Merry is the classic young, naive, virginal damsel in distress who cries, flails her dainty wrists, and gets an entire crew of pirates to fall for her. Devon is the domineering, controlling, aggressive .... oh, I don't know.... jerk? I'm pretty sure the only reason I tolerated his character is because I enjoyed witnessing Merry squirming whenever they interacted, followed by her feisty, intelligent and consistently amusing responses. Their verbal banter was fairly entertaining, I must admit. In fact, I liked Merry a lot from the very beginning right through to the end. Except for one thing: I just don't get what she saw in Devon. At all. Especially after we meet the cast of colorful characters on board The Black Joke. I could think of at least three secondary characters (Cat, Raven, and even Captain Morgan!) who were no doubt more worthy of Merry's affections. They were caring, funny, intelligent, and suave. I really liked them. Devon, not so much. He was simply a brute. What the heck did Merry see in him? I never figured it out. Considering The Windflower is a romance novel, I should have been convinced that their love was well founded and I wasn't. I think Merry would have lived more happily ever after with someone else.

Aside from Merry, I have to say I really enjoyed some of the secondary characters, specifically Cat, Raven and the Captain. They had personality and character. I believed in their earnestness and felt they grew and changed just like Merry did during the short time their lives were intertwined.

The political conflicts throughout the story turned out to be more complex and interesting than I expected. The little plot twists and character revelations that unraveled as the story progressed added much welcomed depth to the story. Especially in light of the fact that the love between the hero and heroine was so shallow.

Overall, I enjoyed Merry's character and her interactions with Cat, Raven, and Captain Rand Morgan, yet the romance between Merry and Devon failed. I was never convinced that what Merry felt for Devon was really love, and in fact her relationships with the secondary characters were more genuine and believable and what held the story together. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this popular old school romance so that I could find out for myself what the big deal is over it, but frankly.... I didn't discover any big deal at all.


The token Windflower World Tour pose upon completing the read and review. Copied from KMont who copied from Ana.

Next up on The Windflower World Tour is Shannon of What Women Read. Keep an eye out on her blog. She'll be posting her thoughts on The Windflower very soon!


  1. Oh, no. I thought for sure it was going to be some grand story. I think that's how I had perceived it when I read about the "tour". Plus, I love the old school cover and tend to think they automatically mean a powerful, saga like romance.

    Your review was wonderful, though, and very informative. I had wondered exactly what the story entailed. I'm not a big fan of heros who continuosly act like fools even after realizing that they have feelings for the heroine.

    Sorry it wasn't as grand a romance as it seemed it would be.

  2. Having seen the tour (and mixed reviews,) I was really looking forward to your (long-awaited) review. Good one!

    It's funny how hero "types" go in and out of fashion. Devon really seems to be that old-fashioned (sometimes boorish) romance hero. I think our expectations of alpha heroes have changed over the years.

  3. Woohoo! Another one for Team I Hate Devon!! *evil laugh*

    Great review Christine. and Man, you have the most beautiful blue eyes. /random.

  4. I've had this sitting in Mt. TBR for years now. I'm not sure why I've hesitated to read it. It's considered such a classic. It's good to read some opposing viewpoints. Thanks Christine!

  5. I thought this was one I wanted to read but it seems that maybe I don't want to now... LOL I can't stand to read any of the old romances any more due to all the sterotypes

  6. I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it more, Christine, but thanks for reading it, and for your entertaining review!

  7. Oh, yikes and double yikes!!!

    After getting caught up in the whole "Windflower", tour extravaganza, and because I am a diagnosed glommer, I decided I had to read this book.

    Barbara and Amy kindly sent it too me and now it is sitting in the alps.

    Considering my aversion to historical romance and now having read your wonderful review, I'm sure I'll be squirming my way through this one. Oh no! lolololol

    Amazing Review Christine.

    Thank you

  8. I always thought I should read The Windflower because it's a classic. But after reading your review (really liked it) and the other less enthusiastic reviews in The Windflower Blogging Extravaganza, I'm now pretty sure I can do without. *g*

  9. Oh no! The pressure! Now I have to go write up my review. ::eyeballs book sitting on the ottoman::

    I love how everyone has such differing opinions of this book. I completely agree with you about Cat and Raven. LOVED them!

    Off to type my review...

  10. If only Cat's story would be written!

  11. Ah yes - Cat - and the story that never was and we all wish there was. I don't think anyone whether they loved it or not - didn't wish we had had Cat's story.

  12. Barbara: It actually is some grand story. I just think the hero dramatically interfered with it's success for me, that's all. I know you're a fan of historical romance, so I think you ought to try it. You may really love its old school charm!

    Renee: I think you got it right. At one time, I can imagine Devon being very popular.

    Ana: I don't think he deserved Merry at all.

    Thanks for the beautiful eyes compliment! /flattered).

    Phyl: It is considered a classic, and by all means, you should read it. If you don't, sell it on ebay! I think copies go for almost $30 these days! LOL

    Kati: I'm sorry you had to read another disappointed review, Kati. I'm sure there will be some more positive ones ahead. It will appeal to someone's love of old fashioned romance.

    Lea: You should give it a go, anyway! Let me know if you do, and I'll spread the word when you post your thoughts. The more dialogue/opinions, the better.

    Taja: Oops. Sorry to have discouraged you. I still think if you come across a copy of The Windflower, you should try it out.

    Shannon: LOL! No pressure!!! I just didn't want readers to think I was still sitting on it. There's sharks in those waters, you know? ;p j/k

    KB: Cat was great. The most interesting character of them all really. Too bad he and Merry didn't end up together.

  13. Kristie: Hi! You're so right! I think that's ONE thing we can all agree on regarding this book. How much we all loved Cat's character.

  14. LOL! Imitation is sincerest form and all. Great pic! :P

    Kudos to you for finishing the book! Now worries whatsoever about the time it took. These days its all we can do to crack the pages sometimes. This is the most understanding group of pirates lol. Sans eye patches. :)

  15. Kmont: Ahoy, matey! I actually finished the book in early December. Things just got so busy with the holidays/house/life, that my half written review sat unfinished so long. :/

    We'd look cool with eye patches, though, don't you think? ;)

  16. Christine, you didn't discouraged me, just confirmed my impression that I would pass on this book (if I ever would find it). :)

  17. It's amazing to how many different views of this book there are. Some LOVE it and some HATE it and then some are so/so about it. I'm dying to have it be my turn so I can make my decision one way or the other! lol

    Great review!

  18. Thank you Christine! Can I just say, you have amazingly blue eyes!

    Were there ever any sequels for this book out of interest? And is it just me...or is the male cover model wearing make-up? *ducks* I mean no offence to the honour of The Windflower - honest!

  19. Taja: Okay. :)

    Tracy: I'm definitely in the SO-SO category. I can't wait to hear everyone else's opinions.

    orannia: Aww, thanks.

    I don't think there were ever any sequels to the book... but a lot of people wish there was at least a story for Cat. He was a very intriguing character.

  20. I woke up this morning thinking about a romance novel I'd read many years ago when I was a teenager. I don't know why I suddenly recalled it (maybe a dream I had?) but it would not let me go. I thought and thought but for the life of me I could not remember its name, the author, the setting or time period or the name of any of the main characters...except for one. I remembered my favourite person in the story: a lovely young pirate with a long blond plait/ponytail. I knew his name was Cat and I always remembered him because I thought A) he was gorgeous. And B) the heroine should have ended up with him instead of the arrogant bastard she chose in the end, who showed no real interest in her or displayed any deep caring towards her, in my opinion.

    So, having nothing to go by except the words 'romance novel', 'pirate' and 'Cat' I searched on Google. I clicked on a few links that went nowhere and was starting to think I'd never find this damn book but then I discovered this post and oh, I was so happy! Especially to learn that other people loved Cat as much as I did and how much they too hated Devon (as I now recall him much more clearly). I thought he was a prick and did not understand what she saw in him. At all. Cat was so funny, cute, sweet and sexy. The scene where he gives Merry /that/ kiss...OMG. Never forgot it. Ever.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for posting this awesome review and you know what? I might buy the book again, skip most of it, and just re-read Cat's parts with a dreamy smile on my face. ^__^

    Some boys you just fall in love with forever... <3

  21. Hi Rina!
    I'm so glad your search brought you to my blog and you enjoyed my review so much! It's also very reassuring that you, too, would have preferred a romance between Merry and Cat. Oh and that kiss!!! That kiss between them was one of the best scenes in the whole book, wasn't it? It woke things in both Merry and Cat. It was startling, but so sweet and emotional. *sigh*

    Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Rina. You really made my day. Connections and discussions with other readers like this is absolutely one of the best things about blogging. Thanks for reaffirming that for me today. : )

  22. You're very welcome! Thank you for replying.

    I still read romance novels but only ones with a hero that /I/ would actually fall for. The first one I read that had a man actually worthy of the heroine's affections was Surrender in Scarlet by Patricia Camden. Now THERE was a real man! A strong yet sensitive soldier, with a tortured past that only the gentle touch of a good woman could help ease. He wasn't an arrogant ass and it was the first story where I actually /believed/ the love I was reading about. I adored the book so much I have kept it, ever since I was 15 years old (I'm now 32). It's a paperback and it's falling apart because I've re-read it so often but to me, that's the standard I look for in my romance hero. And heroine. She's no virginal Merry - she's a mature woman with a small son to take care of and after reading about all these silly, naive girls who've never been with a man I found her womanly strength and passion to be so refreshing and realistic. Haha, maybe I should post a review on this book somehere...

    Just thought you may be interested in reading it, if you haven't already. :)


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