Monday, October 10, 2011

ESCAPE TO THE PAST WITH: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

The books I’ve reviewed lately have been well-written with in-depth characterizations and I’ve enjoyed them, but they haven’t exactly been...cheery. I needed a change of pace. It was time to read another book for the Georgette Heyer Challenge hosted by Stephanie at Books are a Girl's Best Friend! Although this concludes my challenge, I’m sure I’ll be reading more of Heyer in the future.

I chose Cotillion this time around. In this Regency romance, a very light-hearted romp, Miss Kitty Charing is about to be named heiress to a fortune. She is an orphan who was adopted by the grouchy old Mr. Matthew Penicuik. With no children of his own, it was expected that Mr. Penicuik would leave something to Kitty and the rest to his great-nephews – the bulk likely to his favorite, the handsome rake, Jack Westruther. But instead, Uncle Matthew summons them all to his manor to announce that Kitty will receive it all, provided she marry one of them.

Not all the nephews show up for the announcement. Jack, who does not like to dance to his uncle’s tune, has not come. Other nephews dutifully offer for Kitty and are roundly refused. Not only are the proposals painful, but Kitty  wants to marry Jack. She’s been smitten with him for a long time. But she doesn’t want to be coerced into a marriage either, or to have Jack ask for her only because of the inheritance. Still, she’s miffed by his lack of interest.

And then, there is the last of the nephews, Freddy Standen. Good-natured and generous, Freddy is a dandy, more interested in clothes than females. He has plenty of money; he doesn’t need Kitty’s inheritance. He showed up by accident, not knowing why he was supposed to be there. He’s just the one Kitty needs to help her. She begs him to pretend to offer for her. With their false engagement, she can escape Uncle Matthew’s manor and spend a short while in London – all she’s ever dreamed of. Moreover, although she doesn’t mention this to Freddy, she’ll have a chance to make Jack jealous.

Freddy reluctantly goes along with the scheme, but once they get to London, nothing goes as planned. The story delightfully goes off in several directions as Kitty tries to play matchmaker for new friends and old ones. She has run-ins with Jack that bring her closer to her goal and then make her question what she really wants. And all along Freddy sticks by her side, rescuing her from her mistakes and, at the same time, learning what he is capable of. They both grow as characters – and guess what?

It’s sweet and fun. Innocent and silly. Hooray!