Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Publication: Sourcebooks Casablanca (first published 1953), eBook, 355pg
Genres: Adult, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
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Kitty Charing can inherit a fortune from her irascible great-uncle Matthew when she marries one of her cousins. Kitty is not wholly averse, if the right nephew proposes. Unfortunately, Kitty has set her heart on Jack Westruther, a confirmed rake.
To make him jealous and to see a little more of the world, Kitty convinces cousin Freddy Standen to pose as her fiance. In London with his family, she hopes to render the elusive Jack madly jealous.
New friends embroil her in their romantic troubles, sprinkling witty banter with Parisian phrases. Her French cousin, Camille, a professional gambler, has won the heart of Olivia, in turn the object of Jack's dishonorable intentions. Doltish cousin Lord Dolphinton has fallen for a merchant's daughter in conflict with his mother. Kitty herself wonders who is really right for her. (from Goodreads)
Georgette Heyer’s romances are THE BEST. They’ve got everything you’d want in a romance! There’s humor, action, varied and layered characters, lovely descriptions of clothes and romance that would truly make me swoon if I was a swooning-type person.
She ALSO manages to always stick some sort of twist in her books. They’re not just “man meets lady and they fall in love the end” books. The romantic leads almost always have to work through a difficult situation to get to their happy ending, and that makes them love each other all the more! And as a reader, I find romances where the characters have to work out something to be together (even if it’s just getting over themselves, for example) much more satisfying than easy-peasy ones.
Spoilers for the book in this review! I can’t really talk about what I loved about Cotillion without them, so I’m sorry for that. But I’ve tried to keep things vague!
She nearly had me with Cotillion, though, because it SEEMED to be doing something terrible and unexpected. Kitty, who is flighty and somewhat wild and really naive (though not in an annoying way), was desirous of a relationship with a guy who…uh…well, he was definitely unsuitable. In fact, he’s the most disgusting character in a Georgette Heyer book I’ve read yet, even INCLUDING the guy who tried to kidnap himself a wife in The Black Moth.
But see, I thought he was supposed to be the actual romantic lead, because all those things I found disgusting about him? Are totally the sort of things that old school romances used to portray as GOOD romantic hero characteristics. So I was really confused and on the verge of putting the book down when I realized that, hey, no way would Georgette Heyer let a dingleberry like that guy be the romantic hero.
Her romances are not drippy bodice-rippers with gross heroes! And it turns out I was RIGHT. The actual romantic hero? Was SO. LOVELY. And almost totally unexpected! Most of the other Heyer books I’ve read have the dashing, sword-fighting sort of guy wooing his lady. This romantic hero is dashing, but in a more…foppish kind of way. He reminded me a bit of Bertie Wooster, only more competent. He likes clothes and being a little lazy and at the beginning of the book he’s a total pushover.
However! He’s also a total sweetheart and he can be forceful when necessary and he’s a perfect match for Kitty, for reals.
I really liked that he wasn’t just a guy who could tie a cravat all fancy, though. Like Kitty, he shows his virtues more clearly throughout the course of the book (mainly through getting the Kitty out of trouble, true), and by the end he ends up so lovely that when the “everyone gets married” ending happened I nearly cried with happiness.
If you’ve never read a Georgette Heyer book before, you DEFINITELY need to read Cotillion! I think it’s one of her best books!
Read: July 18-20, 2013