May 302015

Silhouettes of a man and woman in Regency dress against a background of the number 80

The Heyer Regency in the spotlight today is Cotillion. Though Regency romance author, Elizabeth Johns, cut her teeth on the works of Jane Austen, when she had run though those, she moved on to the novels of Georgette Heyer, thus allowing her to continue to enjoy our favorite era, the Regency. Today, Elizabeth shares with us her views on Cotillion, one of the most light-hearted and amusing of all of Heyer’s Regencies.

As always, everyone is welcome to share their memories or favorite scenes from this, or any other Regency romance in comments to this article.

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Three young ladies in Regency ball gowns are standing together in front of a pink curtain, apparently look on as a dance is in progresss

I was drawn into the Regency world by one of my high school teachers that brought me a copy of Pride and Prejudice to read while I convalesced from surgery. Once I entered the world of the Regency, I have never looked back. There is something intoxicating to me about the era that seems a fantasy to one living in this modern technological frenzy where anything goes. I have a notion of chivalry from my father and husband, sadly a rare find these days. Many of us look for that in historical fiction, and once Austen opened the door for me, Heyer was the next logical step for one who drinks up humor and wit in a beautiful Regency binding.

Cotillion to me is the essence of Heyer; a complicated dance of formations where participants continuously changed partners and figures within squares. She weaves an intricate triangle of three primary actors through several side stories while providing a fantastic sense of absurdity and wit from page to page wrapped up in the elegant social season of London.

The heroine, Kitty Charing, an orphan taken in by an eccentric and miserly—yet wealthy—old man who enjoys watching his descendants dance like puppets to his commands. He bequeaths his entire fortune to his ward provided that she marry one of his great nephews. Kitty has her heart set on one of them, and on enjoying all that London and its high Society have to offer. She maneuvers one of her cousins into helping her achieve those goals by appealing to his gentlemanly nature and fondness of her by aiding her in a pretend betrothal and taking her to London. Her main drawback is a kind, naïve heart and natural willingness to help others which entangles her into untold fixes once on the town.

The first player, Freddy, is the quintessential gentleman who abides by his strict sense of propriety and good ton, but has no desire to succumb to leg shackles. The second, Jack, is the handsome rogue that women cannot resist, and the favorite chosen one by the uncle. However, in the maneuver to force Jack’s hand, Jack refused to be manipulated into playing the game while Kitty was angered and underestimated.

The triangle is surrounded by a colorful cast of eccentric characters from the simpering beauty to the handsome rake, and a scheming mama to the foppish dandy. The book plays out like the dance it is named for in changing partners and formations throughout, and wondering who will be Kitty’s partner in the end. A delightful adventure with several salient points about human nature to boot!

Bestselling author Elizabeth Johns was first an avid reader, though she was a reluctant convert. It was Jane Austen’s clever wit and unique turn of phrase that hooked Johns in her high school days. She began writing when she ran out of her favorite author’s books and decided to try her hand at crafting a Regency romance novel. Her journey into publishing began with the release of Surrender the Past, book one of the Loring-Abbott Series. Johns makes no pretensions to Austen’s wit but hopes readers will perhaps laugh and find some enjoyment in her writing.

Elizabeth attributes much of her inspiration to her mother, a retired English teacher. During their last summer together, Elizabeth would sit on the porch swing and read her stories to her mother, who encouraged her to continue writing. Busy with multiple careers, including a professional job in the medical field, author and mother of small children, Elizabeth squeezes in time for reading whenever possible.

Find Elizabeth online at:

  12 Responses to “Regency Turns 80 — Cotillion

  1. This one is a delight, isn’t it? I love the way the characters develop—and I love seeing Jack get his comeuppance!

  2. I love this story, but it was one of the ones where I wanted more. It ended way to suddenly for me.

  3. The first time I read this book, I think Georgette Heyer did a neat slight of hand with the story. Early on, I was certain that Kitty would end up with Jack, since he came off the most hero-like in those first few chapters. Freddie just seemed like the easy-going friend who was helpful and supportive, but not hero material.

    I did not think much of Freddie, until his dad entered the picture. I got a wicked crush on Freddie’s father, who, even though he makes only a couple of appearances, reminded me of other Heyer heroes from other books I had already read. As I was reading, it dawned on me that Freddie was maturing, and could well be much like his father when he did. Then I thought he would be a perfect hero and a good match for Kitty.



  4. Guess what I am re-reading next?

  5. I was so glad Kitty ended up with Freddy. He’s just like my real husband–kind-hearted, worldly wise, and good-natured, all good, solid traits for a husband.

  6. Love this book. Especially when they are trying to decipher the letter from Fish and when she meets Meg and Jack at the masquerade. One of my favourites.

  7. I always think Heyer’s books are too short and I am sad when they are finished! I thoroughly enjoyed this the first time or two I read this as a reader. As a writer, I think this story is as clever as it is brilliant. I think it would make a delightful stage show!

  8. “Cotillion” is definitely one of my favorites! The only reason it’s not my first recommendation to folks wanting to try Heyer is that here Heyer is playing games with her own archetypes, deconstructing her own genre, and getting great surprise and humor on the way. And such humor! I never tire of re-reading this one.

    Ah, Freddy, Freddy…you can remove lint from my sleeve any day of the week.

  9. I have been recommending Cotillion like mad on one of the sporking (lit-crit) websites about books with rotten Alpha male heroes (like Edward Cullen, Christian Grey, all those third-rate Mills & Boon (Harlequin) ones). It’s not only the clever deconstruction of the trope, it’s the fact that the heroine has so much more in common with the kind-hearted and fashionable Freddy than with Jack’s striking attitudes and selfishness, and by the end of the tale she has grown enough to realise she wants the man who will make her happy and talk to her over breakfast (while the Alpha male would probably be onto his next mistress).

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