So, I recently was compelled to drive to St. Louis and back, which was actually enjoyable for once as it gave me a chance to finally finish listening to COTILLION.
My goodness, I hated this book so, so much. Until I finally (FINALLY) figured out that Kitty was never in a million years going to marry Jack. I think I must have been particularly slow to grasp this essential fact. Surely most readers get it before they’re halfway through the book, right?
What a total ass Jack is. Yet I’d just listened to THE DEVIL’S CUB, and Jack certainly isn’t much worse than Dominic, at least on the surface. I hereby declare that this reading order was what slowed me down in figuring out where COTILLION was actually headed, since I need an excuse to grasp at.
Here’s what Goodreads says about COTILLION:
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 … 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.
That bit about Kitty wondering who is right for her is basically not true until way into the book, and she never looks at the reader and declares, “Hey, you know, Freddy is growing on me.” She thinks she really wants Jack for a long time, is what I’m saying, and then the reader isn’t shown her wondering about Freddy, although of course it’s clear enough once you figure it out. I had to realize that for a male lead, Jack was just not getting much time on stage . . . and every time he did appear, he looked like a worse choice . . . and finally I was like, OH, WAIT, OF COURSE SHE ISN’T GOING TO MARRY JACK.
For me, Kitty is just okay as a heroine. I mean, she’s fine, but not particularly special. But Freddy, now. He’s so not your typical male lead. Wow, no. At first I didn’t particularly care for him either, and yet he grew on me exactly as he grew on Kitty, until by the end I couldn’t WAIT for him to declare himself. That he knocked down Jack in the process was definitely icing on the cake.
Freddy’s not your dragon slayer type of hero, being neither especially amazing physically nor particularly clever. On the other hand, if you can slay a dragon with kindness, generosity, unerring courtesy, impeccable good taste, and the ability to always produce exactly the right turn of phrase for any social situation, then Freddy’s your man. Oh, and when you need him, there he is. Dependable Freddy. In COTILLION, Heyer turns sheer dependability into the stuff of romance, and pulls it off beautifully. Good for her! Now this might be my favorite one of hers, and I look forward to reading or listening to it again in the next couple of years.
Also, while listening to COTILLION, I got a neat idea for a new book that draws on a kind of similar situation. I don’t know if I’ll ever write it, and if I do I’ll offset the Regency details into some kind of secondary world, but I did take quick notes about the situation and story. Maybe someday . . .