If you're curious as to why I've been reading and reviewing so many of Georgette Heyer's romances, I was contacted by Sourcebooks Casablanca, and asked if I was interested in receiving some of the reprints. Since I last read Georgette Heyer over 35 years ago, I thought it was a nice way to become reacquainted. The books are trade paperbacks, with enticing covers; affordable editions for readers and libraries alike. And, the publisher might have sent me copies (as many do), but, if you read my review of The Convenient Marriage, you'll see I wasn't excited about that one.
Frederica is another story. I can recommend this book wholeheartedly, and with enthusiasm. What a treat! As in most of Heyer's romances, it starts with a wealthy bachelor, who loves his clothes and his horses, but only toys with women. Naturally, he's been "the most brilliant catch on the Matrimonial Market." In this case, it's Vernon, the Marquis of Alverstock, who refuses to hold coming out balls for his niece and the sister of his heir. He's never been interested in any of his nieces or nephews, and isn't going to start to take an interest at his ripe old age of thirty-seven.
But, Lord Alverstoke is struck with a wicked idea when his secretary tells him he received a visit from a woman claiming to be a distant cousin, who has a beautiful sister. When he calls upon Frederica Merriville, she tells him she rented a house in order to bring her younger sister out in society, and brought along her two younger brothers. Frederica is a composed woman of twenty-four, mistress of her household for years, who was hoping he would help launch her sister, Charis. Alverstoke thinks it would be marvelous to trick his sisters, throw the ball, and launch a young girl so much more beautiful than his own niece. He's immediately impressed with Frederica's manner, and agrees to pretend to be their guardian.
And, suddenly Lord Alverstoke, a man with no interest in anyone other than himself, finds himself caught up the Merriville family dramas. Before he can catch his breath, he's rescuing Frederica's dog, taking twelve-year-old Felix to a foundry, and allowing sixteen-year-old Jessamy to drive his horses. But, it was Frederica that caught his attention. "He liked her composure, her frankness, the smile in her eyes, her ready appreciation of the ridiculous, the gay courage with which she shouldered her burdens too heavy for a girl to bear, the way she caught herself up guiltily on a cant phrase culled from her brothers' vocabulary,...but what was there in all that to disrupt his present life, and to place his untrammelled future in jeopardy?"
Frederica is a fun, charming book. What's more fun than two interesting people sparring verbally with the wit so common in Heyer's books? Heyer's books may have a common theme of romance, but this one, with a man falling for a strong woman with a family to care for, will undoubtedly remain one of my favorites. Frederica is a keeper, going on my bookshelf. It's my favorite, so far, although I have high hopes for The Grand Sophy, due out in a few months.
Frederica by Georgette Heyer. Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009. ISBN 9781402214769 (paperback), 446p.