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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. 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
My fave Georgette Heyer book. Always a fun storyline and great character development. Easy fast read. Amazon forces words for this review.Published 9 days ago by JL
I wish I hadn't read Noble Satyr, by Lucinda Brant. That book put me off so much that for years I avoided reading These Old Shades. I finally did and LOVED it. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Occasional Reviewer
One of my favourite Georgette Heyer books. First in the Alistair trilogy.Published 9 days ago by Mira
I've read about 15 or so of Georgette Heyer's books. This was the best one yet, in my opinion. Interesting characters, interesting situations, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Read morePublished 9 days ago by OnTopic
Fabulous read! Witty and humorous! One of the most engaging ones that came my way recently.Published 25 days ago by E
An adventurous story woven with beautiful English language that is humorous and very entertaining. Georgette Heyer was a master author and it is a pity there are not more like her... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Emma Hegarty
'These Old Shades' is incredible. So much happens, my kindle showed 50% at a point in the story where another Heyer novel might have ended. Read morePublished 2 months ago by forster
Not the usual Heyer light-hearted book. Her take on vengeance and how it played out was unsettling.Published 2 months ago by Love cats!
Georgette has done it perfectly! This was by far, my favorite of hers. Wit, intrigue, a rogues chit of a heroine, and 'Monseigneur' Duke of Avon. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer