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Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
I've never cared for regency romances, but when I noticed that Georgette Heyer had written one with gothic tendencies, I couldn't resist. I'm not surprised she is considered the queen of regencies. It's like she herself has lived at that time and hence is familiar with the slang, customs, jokes and proprieties like no other. It was all truly delightful.

Our heroine is Kate, who at 24, is a destitute orphan, has just been dismissed from her first post as a governess and is now staying with her old nurse, Sarah, for a while. Governessing wasn't very fun, so she's thinking of becoming an abigail, as she knows a lot about clothes and can sew and design them herself. Sarah won't hear of it and secretly writes to Kate's aunt, her father's halfsister, in a plea for help. Next they are visited by Lady Broome of Staplewood, who forthwith invites Kate to stay at her home for the summer. She is a most generous lady and Kate is presented with a new wardrobe and is by no means considered the poor relation. Lady Broome's household consists of her elderly husband, her 19-year old son Torquil, the house doctor Dr. Delabole, and of course an enormous staff of servants. Frequent visitor is a nephew, Philip, who shows an interest in Kate.
Kate is a sprightly young lady, who knows her mind and always finds the right words that will never give offence. People like her instantly, as does the reader. She enjoys her stay at Staplewood very much, though wishes there were more for her to do besides being a companion to Torquil, who behaves rather erratically at times and seems not to have outgrown the schoolroom. Lady Broome also seems not to be as nice as she appeared at first. Did she have an ulterior motive when she asked Kate to live with them?

So yes, we have the setting of a gothic: the house is very grand and imposing, things do go bump in the night, not everyone is trustworthy, and not everyone will live to see the last page.
My verdict: as a regency I suppose it could easily deserve a 9 out of 10, but as a gothic the mark would stop at a 7.

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