The Reluctant Suitor is the perfect Victorian swoon, complete with an unbearably gorgeous heroine matched with a cynical yet gentlemanly war hero. Colton Wyndham, newly returned from war, appears to be stunned into flowery compliments at every turn for the dramatic beauty that is Lady Adriana Sutton-a girl he once rejected when she was six, but who is now the object of his lust. And being a true lady of her times, Adriana is insufferable-weak-willed, haughty and petty, a terrible personality stuck in a shallow shell. Their relationship is a frustrating and uninteresting read as it mostly consists of Adriana's half-hearted attempts to be strong and of Colton's desires to keep her without the benefit of marriage. But what really makes the story drag from cover to cover is the thick, baroque-style language-its opulence is perfect for a historical read but not suitable for romance.
Woodiwiss has written some wonderful works in the past, but with The Reluctant Suitor, she tries a little too hard to impress with her dressy prose. She neglects character development in favor of capturing a detailed-setting. Emerging from the novel, I'm greatly disappointed with both Adriana (for her lack of growth and depth) and Colton (for his hypocritical attitude). It is not an easy novel to trudge through, given its overflow of adjectives and flat chemistry; rather, it's a charming literary time machine for those with the time and the patience.
For as long as she can remember, Lady Adriana Sutton has adored Colton Wyndham, to whom she has been betrothed since childhood. But Colton was too proud to submit to a future not of his own choosing, and he fled his ancestral home for a life of adventure as a British army officer. Years later, the girl Colton spurned has blossomed into an uncommon beauty desired by every eligible bachelor in the land -- except the man she desires, the decorated hero who has finally returned home. As arrogant and seductive as ever, Colton agrees to court Lady Adriana for ninety days to prove that love cannot be forced, after which time he will be free. But this stunning, spirited woman is far different from the young chit he left behind. And a heroic heart, once tightly closed, is now susceptible to Adriana's charm and sensuality -- even as dark secrets and a rival's treachery threaten to steal her from Colton's arms forever.