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East meets West across time and tradition as three young American women and their Indian immigrant mothers take first steps toward true sisterhood, shattering secrets and sharing joy and tears in Georgette Heyer's

Buy *Cotillion* by Georgette Heyer online

Georgette Heyer
288 pages
October 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The title of this book refers to the Regency dance where couples change partners during the dance, and that's what is apparently going to happen in this lighthearted read from the incomparable pen of Georgette Heyer. Kitty Charing, the heroine, is living with her guardian, Matthew Penicuik, and is surprised to discover that he has invited his four great-nephews to his house to vie for Kitty's hand. The one who Kitty marries will inherit Mr. Penicuik's fortune.

It's clear to all that Great-uncle Matthew wants Kitty to marry Jack Westruther, his favorite great-nephew, and a man for whom Kitty has carried a torch for many years. Jack, however, disliking being maneuvered by others, chooses not to attend the summoning by Great-uncle Matthew. Kitty is faced with choosing between the Reverend Hugh Rattray (a dry man who doesn't seem to appreciate Kitty), Lord Dolphinton (a simple man, much under his mother's thumb) or the Hon. Freddie Standen, a man-about-town in London but without great intelligence and not really interested in women. Fortunately, Kitty and Freddie have always got on, and they agree to a mock engagement so that Kitty can experience some time in London (to get a little 'town polish'). Then the engagement can be broken off. Of course Freddie, too, realizes that Kitty really wants Jack and that this is a plan to make Jack jealous; he only goes along with it because Kitty uses all her powers of persuasion.

Kitty and Freddie make their way to London and immediately fall into problems, their engagement making some things awkward. Freddie is forced to find new ideas and plans to help things go smoothly, Kitty begins to see the world through more mature eyes, and they both discover feet of clay in Jack and other people around them. As usual in a novel by Georgette Heyer, there are some wonderful side characters; Freddie's father Lord Legerwood is just brilliant and far more in the mold of the usual Heyer hero; Kitty's newly-discovered cousin Camille, a Frenchman, turns out to be not quite the Chevalier they originally thought; some of Kitty's acquaintances are lower-class, and she finds herself having to be rescued by Freddie. But when Jack finally makes the declaration, what is Kitty going to do?

Although a lighthearted story, there are some darker undertones, particularly with regard to Jack's pursuit of Olivia Broughty for his mistress, some of Kitty's experiences with lower-class people, and Dolphinton's problems escaping from his mother's tyrannical powers over him. Kitty and Freddie between them manage to sort everyone out, and although Freddie is certainly not the usual type of hero for a book like this, by the time the book is finished it's clear that Freddie is by far the best choice for Kitty and that she will be happy with him. This romance is more about people who will be comfortable and happy together rather than a grand passion, and the lightness of touch of the author's writing style makes it always an enjoyable read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Helen Hancox, 2007

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