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Publishers Weekly, 2003-02-17 The hardcover debut of historical romance doyenne Woodiwiss (The Flame and the Flower) recalls the era of romance writing when a hero could be said to sport his "fleshly horn" or "bold blade of passion" with no trace of irony. Some readers may find the prose a bit overblown ("she strove to unmount the iron-thewed thigh"), but the racy escapades are as entertaining as ever. Prodigal son Colton Wyndham returns to his home in England after fighting in the Napoleonic wars. His father, with whom he had a contentious relationship, has recently died, and Colton is the new Marquess of Randwulf. He enjoys flashing his "dark, shining orbs" at his beauteous neighbor, Lady Adriana Sutton, while in the throes of "manly imagination," "manly awareness" and "manly cravings." Upon discovering that his late father signed a betrothal agreement linking him to Adriana, Colton is torn between rebelling against his father's dictates and succumbing to his desire for Adriana. Adriana, still wounded by Colton's vehement declaration years ago that he would not wed her, fears that Colton will break her heart again and is determined not to fall prey to his charm. The mating dance starts slowly, but the introduction of a poisoning expert; a baby switching; and Colton's lowborn first wife, thought to be dead, keeps the plot lively. The prose is overwrought even by Woodiwiss's standards, but there's plenty here to amuse fans. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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