Set in the Georgian period, about 20 years before the Regency, These Old Shades is considered to be the book that launched Heyer's career. It features two of Heyer's most memorable characters: Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, and Leonie, whom he rescues from a life of ignomy and comes to love and marry.
The Duke is known for his coldness of manner, his remarkable omniscience, and his debauched lifestyle. Late one evening, he is accosted by a young person dressed in ragged boy's clothing running away from a brutal rustic guardian. The Duke buys "Leon" and makes the child his page. "Leon" is in fact Leonie, and she serves the Duke with deep devotion. When he uncovers the true story of her birth, he wreaks an unforgettable revenge on her sinister father in a chilling scene of public humiliation.
PRAISE FOR GEORGETTE HEYER:
"Our Georgette Heyer display of the Sourcebooks reprints has been a huge success, not only to those early fans like myself, but to many new readers who appreciate her style and wit."
Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
"Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen."
"Wonderful characters, elegant, witty writing, perfect period detail, and rapturously romantic. Georgette Heyer achieves what the rest of us only aspire to."
"Absolute monarch of the Regency romance."
Topics: England, Love Story, France, Paris, Mistaken Identity, Disguises, Revenge, Romantic, Adventurous, Witty, Series, Comedy of Manners, 20th Century, British Author, and Female Author
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First of all, I had a hard time with the hero, Justin Alstair, the Duke of Avon. His motives at times seemed highly questionable. He claims he knew from the first that his new page was a girl, yet he let her continue with the charade much longer than seemed necessary; in fact, he went out of his way to flaunt his new page all over Paris society, taking her into places that few men brought their pages, places that were not at all suitable for a nineteen-year-old girl. I know it was all part of his plot to ruin his old rival, the Comte de Saint-Vire, but it showed a tremendous lack of respect for Leon/Leonie as a fellow human being rather than a disposable pawn. The fact that he called her his child over and over in the story was also a bit disturbing, given where readers know the story is going to end up. Leon/Leonine's slavish devotion to him, too, seems to be a bit much. Their relationship just had a few too many "ick" factors for me to be completely comfortable.
If you can get past the hero and heroine's questionable motives and actions, though, many parts of the story are enjoyable and trademark Heyer. The secondary characters are, as always, wonderfully drawn. The antagonist is delightfully evil, and the plot itself is good. The last third or so of the book did have my complete interest as much of the first half did not. All in all, I'm not sorry I read this one, but I am very glad that it wasn't my introduction to this author.more
Book was delightfully written - only two complaints being the age difference between the lead pair was mammoth, 20 years! And I feared that if the book continued 30-40 more pages, I would be irked of same 'delightful, innocent and at the same time 'infantile' tone of the heroine of the novel. However, Heyer did rein it tightly to keep the humor alive all through the book.
This one works for humor than for the passion.more
I enjoyed seeing a new view of Avon and of Leon *cough*, and especially of Rupert! Nonetheless, Devil's Cub remains my favorite (mostly because of Mary).more
The story begins when he rescues a waif from the streets of Paris with striking hair and makes him his page. There is a mystery subtly interwoven in between action and adventures that makes this book very enjoyable.more
I still want to read some Georgette Heyer romances, so hopefully I can eventually acquire an Alameda County library card (they have a large selection of Heyer Kindle books).more