Last summer, just as the Romance Writers of America conference rolled into Dallas, the news leaked through the ranks: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss had died. Some sources hint that her heart was broken after the untimely death of her son, Dorren, who died weeks before she did; others say it was simply the more prosaic, but no less tragic, cancer. Romance readers only know it was too soon. The beloved author had just turned 68. Woodiwiss is widely regarded as the mother of the modern historical romance, and her 12 novels (beginning with 1972's The Flame and the Flower) boast a staggering 30 million copies in print. Her strong-willed heroines are beautiful, her heroes devastatingly handsome, and the pair finds adventure and romance on the way to their happy ending. Woodiwiss sparked a passion in readers and writers alike, flinging open the doors to what has become a thriving genre offering work to hundreds of (mostly) female writers.

In a tribute to Woodiwiss, New York Times best-selling historical romance author Teresa Medeiros wrote, I am humbled by what a great debt of gratitude we all owe Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. At the conclusion of The Flame and the Flower, she should have written not The End,' but The Beginning.' One consolation is that Woodiwiss left a final completed manuscript for her devoted readers: Everlasting, a sumptuous story set in the turbulent aftermath of the Crusades. Abrielle's beloved fiancĂ…½ has died, leaving her to find a husband who will help save her mother and step- father from ruin. Cornered by the specter of poverty, Abrielle agrees to a union with the loathsome Desmond de Marle, despite her conflicted attraction to a Scotsman, Raven Seabern. Raven is powerfully drawn to the beautiful and spirited Abrielle, and when her husband meets a fitting death, he becomes Abrielle's champion. Abrielle must sort out the truth of her feelings and Raven's if the pair is to find lasting happiness. This lushly written last offering is classic Woodiwiss, and every romance collection should include this final chapter in a brilliant career.

Colorado writer Barbara Samuel is the author of several historical romances.

 

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