Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 1, 2007
Genres: Historical Fiction, Regency, Romance
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Almost an heiress
Country-bred, spirited Kitty Charings is on the brink of inheriting a fortune from her eccentric guardian -- provided that she marries one of his grand-nephews. Kitty has spent her secluded life pining for the handsome, rakish Jack, who is well aware of her attachment.
A plan of her own
But when Jack fails to respond to his great-uncle's ultimatum, Kitty hatches a strategy of her own -- a counterfeit betrothal to mild-mannered Freddy Standen (who neither needs nor wants the money).
A most unlikely hero
And when Kitty's generous heart leads to all sorts of unintended troubles, there is only one man who can rescue her from more than one dreadful fix, pick up the pieces of her plotting and in the process her heart...
After a multi-year hiatus from reading (transitioning from school to the working world was a big change, plus, ya know, dumb life stuff), I’ve decided I want to get back into it. I signed up for a Kindle Unlimited membership to see if I like it (so far, very much!). Not knowing what I wanted to read, I started picking through books I’d read before and looking at the author’s other works.
I’ve read a book by Georgette Heyer before that I liked well enough, so when I read the description for Cotillion it sounded like a fun, low-stress read. I wasn’t disappointed – how stressful could a book with that description possibly be?
Cotillion opens up at Great-Uncle Matthew’s home, where he has summoned his five grand-nephews to hear the inheritance terms of his estate. He has no children of his own, but adopted Kitty Charings after her parents’ early demise and has determined the rules of inheritance: his estate will not be divided, and one of his grand-nephews must marry Kitty in order for the pair to inherit the entire estate, or none of them will inherit. He’s hoping that his favorite nephew Jack will be persuaded to offer for Kitty, who has had a not-so-secret crush on him since childhood.
Unfortunately for Kitty, Jack doesn’t like being ordered around, and declines to appear for the summons. Faced with the prospect of marrying the somber rector Hugh or simple-minded Lord Dolphinton, she impulsively proposes a sham betrothal to mild-mannered dandy Freddy instead. She’s always wanted to escape the dull estate where Uncle Matthew insists on pinching pennies as much as possible, and have a delightful romp in London.
‘I do not want neatness and propriety!’ interrupted Kitty, her cheeks flushed, and her eyes sparkling. ‘I want elegant dresses, and I want to have my hair cut in the first style of fashion, and I want to go to assemblies, and rout-parties, and to the theatre, and to the Opera, and not – not! – to be a poor little squab of a dowdy!’
While I had read a book of Georgette Heyer’s several years ago, it wasn’t really anything too impressive to me at the time; I really started reading Cotillion because some of the quotes on Goodreads said it was a really lighthearted book. Work has been really stressful for me lately, so what could be a better antidote than a Regency romance novel?
Absolutely nothing, it turns out! Silly and fun, Kitty browbeats Freddy into whisking her off to London where she gets mixed up in all sorts of affairs. Instead of the (expected) endless parties of the ton, Kitty instead takes us (and Freddy) on a tour of London courtesy of a guidebook, and attends a shockingly vulgar masquerade the ton would certainly not approve of.
Although Cotillion may be considered fluff, it’s very well-composed fluff. It features a wonderful cast of characters, from Lord Dolphinton’s harpy mother, to somber Hugh, eccentric Uncle Matthew and poetry-addled Fish; the story also has an undertone of somberness as both Kitty and her new friend Olivia are both entirely dependent on men’s fortunes to lead a comfortable life.
Overall, Cotillion is a wonderfully entertaining read and I highly recommend!
View Spoiler »I’m almost embarrassed to say that up until the very end, I was convinced that Jack was somehow the hero. I found him a very odious hero, and prematurely mourned that Kitty would somehow “come to her senses” and break her engagement to Freddy for the womanizing, selfish Jack. It didn’t occur to me until the book’s end that Georgette Heyer was poking fun at the Regency genre and reformed-rake trope with Jack!
The entire novel could actually be seen as Freddy’s story even more than Kitty’s – we are initially introduced to him as a not-very-bright young man who is only interested in clothes. When rescuing Kitty from all her scrapes, Freddy proves to both others and us that he is actually a capable young man who isn’t as dull as he thinks. His characteristic way of speaking – dropping pronouns and adding an exclamation point to every sentence – was odd to me at first (the initial draft of this review had something along the lines of “Georgette Heyer has a style of writing that I’m not quite used to”) really became endearing along with the rest of him by the end of the book – he’s probably one of my favorite book heroes ever. « Hide Spoiler