Her debut novel, The Flame and the Flower, was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers as being too long at 600 pages. Rather than follow the advice of the rejection letters and rewrite the novel, Woodiwiss instead submitted it to paperback publishers. The first publisher on her list, Avon, quickly purchased the novel and arranged an initial 500,000 print run. The Flame and the Flower was revolutionary, featuring an epic historical romance with a strong heroine and actual sex scenes. This novel, published in 1972, sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication and is credited with spawning the modern romance genre, becoming the first romance novel "to [follow] the principals into the bedroom." The success of this novel prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The romance novels which followed in her example featured longer plots, more controversial situations and characters, and more intimate and steamy sex scenes.
Woodiwiss published twelve best-selling romance novels, with over thirty-six million copies in print. Woodiwiss was known for the quality of her novels rather than the quantity of works she published. She often took four to five years to write a single novel. In some cases, Woodiwiss attributed the lag in publication time to personal and health issues, while in others she confessed to having suffered burnout and needing a rest to recover her interest in writing.
To read more: