Read with: Scribd for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hero: Christian Richard Nicholas Francis Langland
Heroine: Archimedea Timms
Date of Publication: May 27, 2003
Started On: September 10, 2015
Finished On: September 14, 2015
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale is a book I attempted to read in my quest to go through the books in one of the AAR Top 100 Romances lists I found way back, the year of the list which I have forgotten. While I went in expecting a novel that would of course sweep me off my feet, I didn’t bargain on a read that would send my emotions in all directions, making me wonder whether I should have at times thrown the book at the wall or hugged it close to my heart. Because I think that pretty much sums up my emotions when I was lost in the story that Flowers from the Storm delivered.
For those newbies like myself to the novel, Flowers from the Storm stars the rakish hero Christian Richard Nicholas Francis Langland, His Grace the Duke of Jervaulx, Earl of Langland and Viscount Glade. By rakish, I mean that Christian is the type of man who has no qualms about sleeping with a married woman, impregnating her, nor much care for what the society thinks of him. His one and only passion apart from being as notorious as they come with the ladies, lies in the field of Mathematics, an interest that he keeps close to his heart.
Archimedea Timms (Maddy) is a of the Quaker faith, something which I came to know of only when I encountered Maddy’s character and her “odd” ways in the novel. Conservative to the bone in the way she was brought up, Maddy’s faith dictates all the ways of her life. Companion to her father John Timms who himself is a Mathematics enthusiast, it is through this shared connection between Maddy’s father and Christian that Maddy crosses paths with Christian. However their “acquaintanceship” is a short lived one because an event of significant impact that occurs in Christian’s life sends him away, leaving everyone to think he had died, until Maddy encounters him months later, at the asylum that is run by her cousin Dr. Edward.
When Maddy’s paths crosses that with Christian’s, Maddy finds herself unable to walk away from the man that is chained to his current existence in more ways than one. Maddy answers to her God’s calling so to speak, when determinedly pursuing Christian’s path to recovery, hindered altogether too much by Christian’s wayward emotions together with that of the leave that Maddy’s senses take, every time she is in close quarters with Christian.
One thing leads to another & before she knows it, Maddy finds herself married to Christian, going against every major tenet of her belief system, against everything she has known and holds dear to her heart. Her existence with Christian is one fraught with desires of the kind that Maddy has been sheltered from all her life. The extravagance of Christian’s life, not to mention the treacherous game she has to play with Christian’s family that would rather see his determined spirit locked up is one that eats away at Maddy’s soul, day in and day out. Until it all comes to its explosive conclusion which left a thousand different feelings coursing right through me.
There were times that I wanted to shake Maddy, times that she made me grit my teeth and trudge on. All because her belief system, the very core of her existence which had been her life up till Christian entered into it was one that prevented her from going all in when it comes to him. I wanted Maddy to throw away everything she had known, abandon ship and jump right on board with Christian. But then again, I knew deep in my heart that that wouldn’t have delivered half the emotion and realism that Maddy’s character lent to the story. Once all was said and done, I was grateful for Laura Kinsale for penning Maddy, for giving readers a character that threw my emotions all over the place. Because that is in essence what great storytelling does to a reader.
Christian was of course, easy to fall in love with. Easy to relate to. And oh how my heart wept for what happened to him. But his sheer determination to do right by his wife is one that had me stand up and cheer him on. In a journey that was fraught with danger of the kind that actually had my skin crawling. Not because bad guys were out and about with their pistols blazing. But because the danger was too close to home in the case of Christian. And I for one hyperventilated at the thought of him going back into a life of captivity, the fire inside of him extinguished day by day until even the embers of his soul are too tired to put up a fight. There were so many times that I wanted to Google and find out what had happened to him, what had rendered him to become so. A thousand times I waited for a miracle to happen, for him to just get all better. But then Laura Kinsale proved me wrong and delivered something better. And that is the sense of realism that I am talking about when it comes to Flowers from the Storm.
Flowers from the Storm is for readers who want to go beyond your usual variety of romances where the rake reforms overnight and the heroine just goes along with it like it was meant to be. There is so much more happening in the story, all of it intricately woven to give readers something that they would carry with them for the rest of their lives. Kudos Laura Kinsale. For you certainly deserve it after delivering a read this explosive to the mind, heart and soul.
Final Verdict: Flowers from the Storm is a novel that changes you. Dare you to find out for yourself!
His mouth hovered near hers. Even if she had tried to step back, she couldn’t have, without kittens toppling in all directions. She felt herself entrapped by it, frozen into place by him.
He brushed his mouth against hers, so lightly and briefly that it was a mere breath, a warmth, a touch and then gone before her lips parted to object. He was smiling at them, at her, holding kittens at her ears, caressing the protesting animals along her cheeks. She sucked in a quick breath as pins burrowed into her forehead and the kitten on top tried to scamper down her nose.
The whistle slipped from his fingers. She felt it bounce against her breasts as his mouth came to hers. He touched her as the silver had touched her, just a light graze, but warm.
He took modesty and virtue and salvation away from her so easily. She gave it up so easily.
She stood washed in the sensation of his featherlight contact against her lips, his breath mingling with hers. It seemed as if God’s light within her must be shining bright, filling her with wonder. This man, his eyes closed, dark lashes so frivolously long as they rested against his skin: even his eyelashes were unholy in their opulence.
She felt her own will leap up to meet his. Her mouth opened; he answered instantly with a deep and ardent union. His hands drew downward, closing as he leaned into her, bracing his forearms on the door.
He enveloped her. The feel of his kiss was strange and painful and electric. Her hands opened helplessly, trying to find something to touch that wasn’t him, but everything was him: all the solid reality within reach.
He opened his palms and smoothed her hair—sweetly, over and over like a parent would touch a child—at the same time that he kissed her, pressing hard against her, a forceful intercourse of their mouths and bodies.
The duke looked up at Maddy. He swept his hand over the formula her father had completed, where the value for the earth’s distance from the sun was multiplied by numbers half a million times greater than itself to reach the realms of their new geometry.
“Stars,” he said, his face alight with passion. “In… finity.”
And he smiled at her as if he owned it: distance and space and stars and infinity… as if he owned her, too.
A scarlet petal floated downward, avoided the brim of her bonnet and caught on her shoulder.
The scrap of crimson lay there, close to the pale curve of her throat, between the stark collar and the tight upward sweep of her hair. Christian reached out and caught the petal between his fingers. She held stiff, breathing like a frightened doe. He let the moment spin out, his hand suspended near her cheek, not quite touching—not quite, not quite—a whisper away, a restraint as intimate as a kiss.
Color flooded her cheeks. Expectation. Her eyes, those eyes that turned hazel to gold under wanton lashes; her eyes held terror and wonder.
He stepped back and set her free.
Her braid lay over her shoulder and their hands. He toyed with the tip of it. He held it in one fist and ran his thumb against it. The single strand of hair, the tiny thread that she’d looped tight to hold it—the strand broke, and the plait came free.
He made a sound, low and hot. And then he released her—before she could find herself in his embrace, before she could say what it felt like—only that he was solid and tall and heated and catastrophic, only that she felt bare and hollow when he let her go.
She lifted her chin and kissed him back.
He had been her teacher: she knew how to taste his mouth, search the corners while he grew still, his lips parting a little. His body seemed to respond with a slow tautness, a tightening over her; his hands pressed into her skin. Yet he lay motionless, suspended, his mouth acquiescent to hers, as if his whole concentration was on what it felt like. His lips opened more with each contact, allowing her to seek further—inviting it.
She touched him with her tongue. He was foreign and familiar, so close and yet so strange to her. A nobleman, with fairies and Welshmen and kings in his history, lord of this hall and castle, but most alien and potent of all: a man.
He locked his hands with hers and spread them out on the cold stone. His signet ring drove into her finger, caught between his hand and hers, painful pressure down to the bone, but she wanted it. She wanted it there, as she wanted him. Everything inside her arched upward to meet his kiss. It seemed that she had been bound up, held tight by threads that he had broken with a touch.
She heard herself, like a whimpering child, moaning with the terrible pleasure of it. She moved; she could not help it, taking the rhythm that he gave her with his tongue, arching to find more.
“Maddy,” he said, between hard breaths, “make you…glad. I swear.”
She smoothed her hand down his shoulder and his back. She could feel his heart beating. He shuddered again and pushed himself closer to her.
“I’ll make you glad,” he repeated.
She bit her lip, resting her head against his.
He turned his face deeper into her. “Black Guard won’t get you,” he said, muffled.
Stop. Oh, stop, say stop, but it’s too late.
Too late. Because God forgive me, I love thee more than my own life.
He lifted his head from the carpet to suckle her. She moved with awkward exquisite jerks, writhing, until he cupped his hands at her buttocks and taught her the rhythm, her hair sliding between his palms and her skin. With a lovely suddenness, she came— with little female cries, like an unquiet dreamer: he brought his arms up around her and held her close for an instant—then with one deep thrust, holding her hips down to take it, he let go of the lust he’d kept dammed inside him.
When it was finished he held her hard against his chest and never closed his eyes— to make it real, and banish nightmares in the firelight.
She sat looking down at her lap desk. She fiddled with the corner of the paper, rolling it up, and then unrolling it. “Christian,” she said, watching her fingers. “Wouldst thou please come tonight?”
For a moment he didn’t do anything. Then he steepled his hands and lifted his head from the back of the chair, resting his chin on the tips of his fingers, gazing at her.
“Why wait?” He smiled. “I’m here…now.”
She gave him a push. The book slid down; he held it out behind him and let it fall with a flutter and thump as he leaned forward to kiss her mouth. He caught her body in his hands, his thumbs passing provocatively over her breasts, caressing the tips, back and forth. The feel of it drew a liquid arching, a breath and a pressing flex of all her muscles toward him.
“Want me?” he whispered, licentious, the Devil at her ear in full daylight: a man’s firm elegant hands on her body, blue eyes and long dusky beautiful eyelashes.
He pulled her petticoat and dress higher, cupping her hips and her buttocks with his bare hands. He made a rough, ardent sound near her ear. He bit her, hurt her, kneading her body in his palms, but it was sweet pain and sinful ecstasy. She felt him release his own buttons; his hard male part pushed and pressed, and she began to pant in desperate guilty excitement.
Like stone melting, her body slackened, her legs allowed him between. The sound of his breath was caustic, an animal engine, brushing heat across her nakedness. He pressed her hips, a rash hard grip of his fingers, making her close her legs on his shaft.
“Want me?” His voice was grinding, insistent, taut with extremity. “Maddy… inside you.”
She bit her lip, her face turned aside to the wall. “I want thee,” she said, on a sob. “I want thee.”
And he showed her how, then. How to bend and submit for him, in bondage to him, in daylight, sinking together on their knees to the floor, with him deep inside her, over her and around her, his hands holding her breasts, his mouth against the nape of her neck—lost in him and in his coupling with her. She cried out with violent joy at the height, her voice mingling with his masculine groan: the two of them no more, and no less, than every wild creature that God had made of clay to walk the earth.