Kitty Charing has been brought up by her rich guardian, Matthew Penicuik. Out of the blue, Matthew decides to name Kitty as his heiress, but with conditions: she will only receive her fortune if she marries one of his great-nephews. The horrid thing is the cousin she wants to marry (Jack) doesn’t even come to claim her hand, leaving her to pick from the rest of her weird cousins or be left destitute. She plans to runaway and runs into Freddy Standen another cousin who arrives unaware of his uncle’s intentions. Being a favorite of hers, she begs him to fake propose and take her to finally see London under the guise of being introduced to his parents. They plan that after a month they’ll quietly break it off and at least she would have seen London. Her real plan of course is to make Jack jealous and force him to finally propose, but what if Freddy is really the one for her?
This book was hilarious. Both Freddy and Kitty willingly put themselves in this farce, and although he knows Kitty has another plan he doesn’t know it involves the rakish Jack. Kitty sounds pretty conniving, yet I wouldn’t call her that in a negative way…like she’s crafty in a sweet way? If that makes any sense. Also, I love Freddy. He is the weirdest hero for sure. He’s described as being a dandy, very much interested in clothes and the latest fashion. Look at this description of him:
When he relinquished his coat, his hat, his cane, and his gloves into the landlord’s hands, a slight look of anxiety was in his face, but as soon as a penetrating glance at the mirror had satisfied him that the high points of his shirt-collar were uncrumpled, and the intricacies of a virgin cravat no more disarranged than a touch would set to rights, the anxious look disappeared, and he was able to turn his attention to other matters.
I guess he was the Ryan Seacrest of his day or something, and he doesn’t readily seem like a hero at all. I think that’s what’s so cool about this book, because of his growing love for Kitty he becomes a hero doing things he would not normally do. He becomes someone she can rely on, and he goes out of his way to make sure her wishes are granted. I love the trust between the two, and how he does everything in his power to help the people she loves.
I know some people have issues about the extreme details on all aspects of regency life in Heyer novels, but it wasn’t that bad. Sometimes the language confused me, but I liked reading all the regency slang (dashed well making a cake of me!), and the view of fashionable London through Kitty’s eyes.
I’m not an expert on Georgette Heyer, or if this is good book to start with. I often hear that if you are new to her novels you should start with Frederica, Venetia, or The Grand Sophy, but I really enjoyed Cotillion. It was witty, and fun to see all the couples in this book end up with who they should.
“Well, if this don’t beat the Dutch! First the fellow brings you to a devilish place like this, and then he dashed well leaves you here!”
“Freddy!” cried Miss Charing, jumping almost out of her skin.
“And don’t you say Freddy to me!” added Mr. Standen severely. “I told you I wouldn’t have it, Kit, and I dashed well meant it! Have the whole town talking!”
Kitty looked very much bewildered, but as it was plain that Mr. Standen was filled with righteous wrath she refrained from protest, merely saying in a small, doubtful voice: “Frederick? Should I, in public, call you Mr.Standen?”
“Call me Mr. Standen?” said Freddy, thrown quite out of his stride. “No, of course you should not! Never heard such a silly question in my life! And it ain’t a bit of use trying to turn the subject! Not one to take a pet for no reason, but this is the outside of enough, Kit!”
“I wasn’t trying to turn the subject! You said I must not call you Freddy!”
Mr. Standen stared at her. “Said you wasn’t to call me Freddy? Nonsense!”
“But you did!” replied Kitty indignantly. “Just this moment past! I must own, I think it was very unkind in you, for I had no notion it was wrong!”
“It’s my belief,” said Mr. Standen, with austerity, “that you’re trying to fob me off, Kit! Well, it won’t fadge! I saw you walk into this place on Dolph’s arm! Seems to me there’s something deuced havey-cavey going on between the pair of you. Time I had a word with Dolph! Where the devil is he?”
Enlightenment dawned on Miss Charing. She gave an irrepressible gurgle of mirth. “Oh, Freddy, is that what brings you here?”
“Yes, it is, and it ain’t anything to laugh at!” said Freddy.
“Good God, you don’t suppose I’d come to a place like this for no reason, do you? I’d as lief visit Westminster Abbey again!” He levelled his glass, and swept a condemnatory glance round the room. “In fact, liefer!” he added. “I don’t say those effigies weren’t pretty devilish, but they weren’t as devilish as this freak you was staring at when I came in.
You know what?–you’ll start having nightmares if you don’t take care! Lord, if it ain’t just like Dolph to choose a place like this for his dashed flirtations! Shows you he’s queer in his attic.”
“He did not bring me here to flirt with me!”
“Now, don’t you tell me he wanted to look at curiosities from the South Seas!” said Freddy warningly. “I ain’t a big enough bleater to swallow that one! Just a trifle too loud, Kit!”
“No, of course he did not. Oh, dear, how awkward this is! I wonder what I should do?”
“Well, I can tell you that!” said Freddy. “You can stop making a cake of me. What’s more, if you let Dolph go on hanging round you forever I’ll tell everyone that our betrothal is a hum!”
“Freddy, you would not!” exclaimed Miss Charing, turning pale. “What can it signify to you, after all?”
“Does signify. Here’s mother wanting to know what I’m about to let you go all over town with Dolph! Never felt such a flat in my life!”
“Oh, I am so very sorry!” said Kitty contritely.
“Yes, I daresay, but I’m dashed if I see what your lay is! If you wanted Dolph, why the deuce didn’t you accept his offer? No need to have dragged me into the business at all.”
Kitty laid an impulsive hand on his arm. “Freddy, you could not think that I would ever marry poor Dolph?”
“Well, no,” admitted Freddy. “In fact, I’ll take dashed good care you don’t!”