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These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
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These Old Shades (1926)

by Georgette Heyer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alastair-Audley (1)

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    The Knave of Hearts = The Innocent Heiress by Barbara Cartland (Anonymous user)
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Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
Let's get the difficult bit out the way first. There is something a tad distasteful in the relationship at the heart of this book. The two protagonists are 19 and 40, which may not be totally unheard of, but still leaves a mildly unpleasant taste in the mouth. He has a disreputable past and is notorious, she is masquerading as a boy and is bought for a gold coin. See, I said it didn't sit very well. He starts out by using her to his own ends, she is so grateful that she worships him (for no very good reason, that I could see). It all feel a bit uncomfortable.
Avon at least has the grace to evolve through the story, with his growing feelings for Leonie coming as much as a surprise to him as they are to his family and friends. He manages to carry the change off with some grace and humility, which is refreshing and unexpected. He manages to achieve his aim of revenge as well as carrying off a well born bride, which was not part of the original plan. His heroine, however was a tad annoying. The french interjections and occasionally poor english are a bit too put on to feel real. What she gets wrong in english is often less complex than what he gets right. She wants to dress as a boy, even after having to learn to be a girl, which I can kind of understand, but then relies on people to come and rescue her. It's all very well wanting to be self reliant, but you do have to then be self reliant. I also found the hero worship just far too much to take.
If you can put that to one side, and remove modern morality from a tale set in the past, when this would have seemed a lot less unusual, then it's not too bad. ( )
  Helenliz | Jun 2, 2018 |
This book is literally exactly the opposite of what the cover implies. Except that it is a regency romance. Léon(ie) isn't some demurely innocent maid (though she does learn to love pretty dresses, as all women naturally do I guess?) and I can only assume the guy draping herself over her in the woods must be Rupert, who isn't actually the hero; contrariwise I can scarcely imagine Avon lounging on a log like that.

Anyway, though, fun intrigues. I guessed the secret fairly early on, but not how it'd play out. A slightly slow but pleasant read. ( )
  zeborah | Apr 20, 2018 |
Heyer was a favorite author of my mom's. I decided to read one of the regency romances, because I'm missing mama, and felt like this would make her smile.
  bookczuk | Feb 14, 2018 |
This is one of my favourite books; it was the first Georgette Heyer that I read and I was just delighted by it. Disguises, kidnappings and intrigue underpin an unconventional love story. And the Duke of Avon has to be one of Heyer's most compelling and attractive characters. Perfect. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Dec 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
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Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garrett, CorneliusNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0373835590, Mass Market Paperback)

A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux. He walked mincingly, for the red heels of his shoes were very high. A long purple cloak, rose-lined, hung from his shoulders and was allowed to fall carelessly back from his dress, revealing a full-skirted coat of purple satin, heavily laced with gold; a waistcoat of flowered silk; faultless small clothes; and a lavish sprinkling of jewels on his cravat and breast.
The gentleman in question is Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, known by friends and enemies alike as Satanas--the devil. On this particular evening, the dangerous rake crosses paths with Léon, a red-headed youth of low birth who is fleeing a certain beating at his brutal brother's hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. It soon becomes clear, however, that Léon is not what he seems, and that Avon has an ulterior motive for bringing him into his household. Set in pre-Revolutionary France, These Old Shades follows a twisting course as young Léon (or is it Léonie?) is swept up in a dangerous mystery: how to account for the page's amazing resemblance to the sinister Compte de Saint Vire, for example; and why will this man go to any lengths to get the youth in his power?

Georgette Heyer's historical romances tend to fall into two different camps: later novels such as Cotillion, False Colours, and Sylvester feature larger-than-life comic characters and romantic pairings more akin to Beatrice and Benedick than Hero and Claudio. Earlier works such as These Old Shades, however, tend to be darker, tinged with mystery and overshadowed by very real menace. What both types share is Heyer's fine storytelling and encyclopedic knowledge of Regency mores and manners--her books are the next best thing to a time machine. These Old Shades's greatest asset, however, is the charming Léonie: beautiful, brave, and loyal to a fault, with a fondness for swordplay and pistols and a delightfully incomplete grasp of the English language. Heyer herself was so fond of this character that she featured her in two more novels, Devil's Cub and An Infamous Army. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Set in the Georgian period, about 20 years before the Regency, "These Old Shades" features two of Heyer's most memorable characters: Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, and Leonie, whom he rescues from a life of ignominy and comes to love and marry.

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