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Frederica (Regency Romances) Paperback – January 1, 2009
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"The novel ends on a most satisfying note, and I can think of no better way of spending a chilly winter evening - wrapped in a down comforter with my pooch sleeping by my side - than reading this gem of a book." - Jane Austen's World
"There was a playful, light-hearted feel to this book that, along with the engaging characters, totally charmed me." - Genre Reviews
" If the modern day romance novel is the wonder bread of the literary world, Georgette Heyer would offer readers the fiber-heavy complexity of whole grains." - Becky's Book Blog
"I think Ms. Heyer's writing is just so smart and witty... I highly recommend FREDERICA if you are looking for a good summer read. It is a very entertaining story with lots of romance." - Booking Mama
"I liked Frederica a lot, especially the banter between Frederica and Alverstone... " - Chris' Book-a-Rama
"I had previously posted on my blog that I was looking for that next favorite book, and I found it here with Frederica. This book is funny, charming and full of interesting characters. " - The Bookworm 07
"Frederica is a fun, witty and intelligent read... I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes a good historical romance." - At Home with Books
"Verdict: delightful repartee, a good Hero and crazy kids as secondary characters = win. " - The Book Smugglers
"Frederica is a powerful Regency romance, that every fan of the genre should read. " - Once Upon a Romance
"[A] fun, charming book... Frederica is a keeper, going on my bookshelf." - Lesa's Book Critiques
"This is a great book that explores both the relationships of the characters, and the Regency era itself. Fun, entertaining, enthralling!" - Wendi's Book Corner
"The novel is humorous, light-hearted... a nice, comfortable way to get your Austen-fix." - Love Romance Passion
"[F]ull of family, humor, society do's and don'ts and of course, romance." - Books and Needlepoint
"The characters can't help but be loveable - from the sister who is beautiful and can't tell anyone no, to the brother who can't help but be ernest, to the heroine herself. It all keeps you coming back for more." - A Blog of Books
From the Inside Flap
Rich, handsome, darling of the ton, the Marquis of Alverstoke at 37 sees no reason to put himself out for anyone, that is, until the strong-minded Frederica, who seems more concerned with her family's welfare than his attentions, catches his eye.
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Top Customer Reviews
A letter from Miss Frederica Merriville is about to change his life forever. Frederica has brought her siblings to London and hopes the Marquess will introduce her beautiful sister, Charis, to Society. She mentions that her father was a cousin of his. When the Marquess visits Frederica's rented house in an unsophisticated neighborhood, he meets Frederica, a twenty-four-year-old spinster in charge of nineteen-year-old Charis, sixteen-year-old Jessamy, and twelve-year-old Felix. The official head of the Merrillville family is Harry, presently studying at university. Also introduced to the Marquess is a huge mongrel dog named Lufra and Miss Seraphina Winsham, the elderly aunt who serves as chaperone to the Misses Merrillville. From the time of his meeting the Merrillvilles the Marquess is never bored and begins to take an interest in the whole family. Within the space of the four-hundred plus pages, the Marquess sees first-hand how family members interact, and he begins to fall in love and is loved in return. This is a delightful book.
The oldest of the Merriville children at 24, Frederica has been managing the family household since her mother's death when she was about 12. Although her brother Harry, 22, has been the nominal guardian of the younger Merrivilles since their father's death, it is Frederica who has them in charge: sister Charis, 19; and brothers Jessamy, 16, and Felix, 12. With Harry now at Oxford, Frederica has brought the others to London to give the beautiful Charis a season in hopes she might find a worthy match there. Frederica applies to the Marquis of Alverstoke, a very distantly related cousin, for help gaining entry to the ton. He agrees, merely to spite his sister, Louisa, who has been plaguing him to give a ball for the come-out of her oldest daughter.
At 37, Alverstoke is a confirmed bachelor and a known rake. Having been born to wealth and title and as the only son, he has never wanted for anything, but neither has he ever known family life of the type the Merrivilles enjoy. From birth he was left in the care of staff and saw little of his parents. His two oldest sisters constantly press him to marry one of the eligible females they introduce to him, mainly to prevent his cousin and heir, "that block Endymion" Dauntry, from stepping into his shoes. Alverstoke's cynicism about marriage stems from having been hunted for years as a matrimonial prize and the realization "that his first love would have been as ready to marry a hunchback possessed of his rank and fortune as himself."
Frederica has never been in love and has no plans to marry without it. Quite satisfied being single and having the care of her siblings, she is so accustomed to viewing herself as on the shelf that she's surprised to find herself with two suitors who decidedly prefer her to the beautiful Charis. As Alverstoke privately concludes, Charis "lacked what the ton called that certain sort of something, which meant, in a word, quality, and which characterised Frederica. It was apparent, he thought, in whatever Frederica did: from the air with which she wore her furbished-up gowns, to the assurance with which she received visitors in the shabby-genteel house she had hired for the season."
She is initially put off by Alverstoke's cynicism and the unscrupulous way he jockeys his sister Louisia into sponsoring the Merriville sisters' come-out, but gains a whole new appreciation for him with the "Baluchistan hound" incident, when she shows up on his doorstep with some park-keepers, a cowman and a hatchet-faced old busybody in tow. Luff had "forgot himself amongst the cows in Green Park" and fearing the family's beloved pet would be impounded, Frederica had manufactured a tale for this irate and ultimately unconvinced group that Luff was a rare breed of Barcelona collie, owned by the Marquis and only trying to herd the cows as he had been bred to do. In an hilarious scene, Alverstoke masterfully handles the situation by first telling Frederica before the whole group, "Really, cousin, you are too shatterbrained! He is a hound, not a collie; and what I told you was not Barcelona, but Baluchistan!" He then goes on to point out to the group precisely where, on the globe in his study, that country is located before giving the still officious busybody a well-deserved setdown and having the butler escort her out.
Without intending to, Alverstoke begins to assume a role in the lives of Frederica's younger brothers. First Felix, who is very bright and passionately interested in steam-powered engines, finagles the Marquis into taking him to tour a local foundry where some of these are being put to use: "The Marquis believed himself to be hardened against flattery. He thought that he had experienced every variety, but he discovered that he was mistaken: the blatantly worshipful look in the eyes of a twelve-year-old, anxiously raised to his, was new to him, and it pierced his defenses...he found himself quite unable to snub his latest and most youthful admirer. It would be like kicking a confiding puppy."
Alverstoke is especially deft in his handling of the sometimes emotionally volatile Jessamy. With plans to go into the clergy, Jessamy is sober and serious and harder on himself than on anyone else. When he gets into a minor scrape he turns to Alverstoke, who tells the guilt-ridden Jessamy, "I am glad to know you can fall into scrapes; you'll be a better parson if you have understanding of human frailty than if you were to be a saint at sixteen years of age!" Later, when Alverstoke and Jessamy are the first to arrive to Felix's bedside after he's injured in a hot air balloon accident some distance from London, Alverstoke's very human vulnerability is exposed when he realizes how unequal he feels to the task he must necessarily take on: "He stood watching Felix for a moment, and then turned his head to find that Jessamy’s eyes were fixed on his face, a painful question in them. As he met them, he realised suddenly that there was more than a question in them: there was trust as well. This queer boy, who was sometimes so much older than his years, not only trusted him, but was depending on him too, confident that he, who had all his life evaded irksome responsibilities, had seldom exerted himself on another’s behalf, and knew nothing about sickrooms, was competent to take charge of Felix, himself, the doctor, and even the hostile Miss Judbrook."
Along the way, first Alverstoke and eventually Frederica recognize that there is much more between them than just the ease they feel in each other's company, or their shared appreciation of the ridiculous or their ability to blurt out whatever they're thinking, no matter how ungracious or improper it might sound in different company. Frederica and her brothers exert a very humanizing influence on Alverstoke and he, in turn, becomes their protector and champion: "His lordship, in fact, previously ruthless on his own behalf, was now prepared to sacrifice the entire human race to spare his Frederica one moment’s pain. Except, perhaps, the two youngest members of the family she loved so much: Jessamy, concealing his chagrin at being allowed so little share of the nursing...and Felix – little devil that he was! – who was depending on his strength, and could be quietened by his voice."
Even knowing exactly how this story plays out, it's one I'm able to reread every now and then, enjoying all over again Heyer's eminently readable prose and her skill in crafting characters who are so easy to care about.
Unlike contemporary Regency romance writers, Heyer understands that the interest lies in a couple's discovering that they like/respect one another and are compatible, not that there's "chemistry." Chemistry is what causes trouble.
This is definitely NOT a bodice-ripper. It's a "clean" old-fashioned romance from the author who practically invented the Regency romance genre.