Book Review: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 8:55 am

I’ve been reading and enjoying Georgette Heyer since my early teenage years, but until this month, I could not have pointed out a particular Heyer book as my favorite. I am now happy to announce that Cotillion has filled that long open spot.

The rich but notoriously tight-fisted Matthew Penicuik has summoned his four grandnephews to his country home, declaring that he intends to settle his will. Almost everyone understands what this means. Penicuik intends to settle his fortune on his ward, Miss Kitty Charing – and intends that one of his grandnephews marry her. In fact, he so intends that one of his grandnephews marry her that he makes her inheriting conditional upon this term. If she does not marry one of the four, Uncle Matthew will leave his fortune to charity, leaving Kitty penniless and his nephews without any portion of his estate.

After Uncle Matthew announces his intentions to the two of his four nephews who answered the summons, he leaves his nephews with Kitty in the drawing room. Dim-witted Lord Dolphinton, at his mother’s behest, announces to Kitty that he is an earl and therefore a desirable match. Kitty clearly sees the designs of Lady Dolphinton behind this proposal and graciously declines Dolph’s offer – much to his delight. At this, the Reverend Hugh Rattray announces his own suit. He, of course, has no desire for the money, but does not wish for Kitty to end up penniless – and since neither Freddy nor Jack have shown up to press their own suits, he shall do the honors. Kitty summarily rejects this offer too and decides to run away, so humiliating is this whole situation.

But in the course of her running away, she happens upon “Cousin Freddy” who is a bit late in coming to hear his uncle’s announcement. He received the message late and hadn’t intended to go anyway since he had no interest in his great-uncle’s fortune (and no thought that the way of obtaining it would be to marry Kitty.) Yet when Cousin Freddy ran into Cousin Jack at a club, Jack had convinced Freddy that he really ought to go. When Kitty runs into Freddy, she at first berates him for coming – she had thought better of him than to angle after her for money – and then begs him to become engaged to her once she realizes that he had no intention of offering for her.

Her would be her chance, she thought. If she were betrothed to Freddy, she could go to London to visit his mother and enjoy a month-long reprieve from her tiresome life in the country. She could at last see the town – and perhaps, well, see… But no, of course, she had no desire to see Jack. That was not at all the plan. Although…betrothed to Freddy, she could perhaps prove to Jack that she wasn’t just waiting for him to offer for her in his own sweet time.

Thus begins a delightful romp of sham engagements and secret engagements and attractions that can never turn into engagements. That said, it’s not a super-sappy romance full of long speeches and loverly looks. Instead, it’s like watching a complicated country dance, in which partners are always switching and the usual comedies of unmatched partners arise.

I highly recommend this particular Heyer title.

Rating: 5 stars
Category: Regency Romance
Synopsis: Country-bred orphaned Kitty embarks upon a month in London under the watchful eye of her faux-fiance
Recommendation: If you like romances or Heyer or comedy – or if you’ve been told you should read Heyer at some point – this is the book for you.

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