Vernon, the Marquis of Alverstoke is a thirty seven year old 'creme of the ton' bachelor who is completely against marriage although he is the hope of every match making mother. He is as well known in society for his elegant dress as his lazy attitude because he never makes an effort to lift so much as a finger for anyone, least of all his sisters. This is shown at the beginning of the book, when he takes pleasure in the frustrations of his sister when he refuses to hold a ball at his house for the introduction of his niece to the ton on her season debut. He developed a lot throughout the book as he gets to know the Merriville family better throughout the book and learns to be willing to put himself out for others for the first time in his life, much to the surprise of society. However he is not one of those characters that goes from seemingly detestable to loving because I could see glimpses of the honourable man that was hiding inside him, for example in the respectful and friendly way he treats his secretary. One of my favourite things about his character was his dry wit and humorous banter with Frederica and it was great to see his feelings for her slowly developing.
I really loved reading about the antics of Frederica's younger brothers Jessamy and Felix and it turned out that their interactions with Vernon turned out to be some of my favourite parts of the book. I couldn't help but fall for the with the Merriville family because they are such a bubbly and loving brood with the best of intentions. Harry is the eldest of the family and the head now that their parents have died and a lot of responsibility fell on his shoulders at a young age. He doesn't really come into the book until late on because is is studying at Oxford. Jessamy is the eldest boy at home and often troubles himself considering moral issues and behaving older than his time and often tries to prove his worth as a young man instead of boy, resulting in hairy and embarrassing scrapes. Charis is the renowned beauty of the family who makes men fall for her left and right with her looks and sweet manners but is too tender hearted to discourage any of her unsuitable suitors. Despite her appearance, she is very feather brained and I found that she was outshined by her siblings. Twelve year old Felix is a mischievous yet intelligent little rascal causing worry and threats in his schemes yet so good natured and earnest that no one could help but like him. I felt that he was very three dimensional too and I liked his obsession with steam engines and hydraulics. It was amusing to see the way he softened Lord Alverstoke's heart and wrapped himself around his little finger where no one else could succeed - so cute!
Although the book is set during the London season, the plot doesn't just revolve around society parties and balls so I enjoyed seeing another aspect to life in Regency London and getting an insight into family life there. There was also some fantastic detail about the sights of London and new- fangled inventions such as hot air balloons. The Regency language is also very much present and my regency slang vocabulary increased a lot but it isn't cumbersome to the story or stuffy at all.
The only thing I would say is a small downfall is that it occasionally becomes too drawn out and some parts could be cut out to keep it from becoming too long unnecessarily.
Verdict: Frederica is a playful and adventurous historical romance filled with engaging characters, mischievous antics and humorously romantic conversations that put a smile on my face. It is my second favourite Heyer novel I've read yet and I would recommend it to all fans of the genre. If you're an Austen fan, then Heyer's books should be at the top of your TBR list.
Rating: 4 stars