Apr 262017

A Rollicking Romp of Intrigue and Revenge

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Purchased

TYPE OF NOVEL: Georgian Romance, Historical Fiction

SETTING: 1750’s France and England


  • Justin Alistair, Duke of Avon “Satanas”: a debauched rake who has earned the nickname “Satan” for all the scandalous and dishonorable deeds he commits. Age 40
  • Léon Bonnard: a poor and abused child running away from his brother who beats him and forces him to work in his tavern. Age 19
  • Comte de Saint-Vire: Justin’s mortal enemy. Twenty years ago the Comte refused Justin’s petition of marriage for his sister and humiliated him throughout all of Paris. (There is a lot of bad history between these two)


By chance on a walk home the Duke of Avon encounters Léon who is running away from his tyrannical brother. The Duke is quick to notice something particular about Léon’s appearance – with his cooper-red curls and violet-blue eyes. A very unique combination… The Duke purchases Léon on a whim thinking he will be of some use to him, not just as a page, but in a very important game of revenge. But as the story unravels we learn more and more about Léon and everything is not as it seems…


  • The Duke: A libertine rake who is reformed by love? Yes, please! I adored this Heyer hero! He enchants from the first encounter with his calm and suave manner. He truly is a quick wit and Heyer’s talent for satirical dialogue is on full display with Alistair. I loved hearing all of his witty replies, sarcastic observations, and dry rejoinders. But I think what I loved most is witnessing his transformation. We know he has a devilish past, but we see the Duke act responsibly, care for the well-being of others, and grow to be most tender and affectionate.
  • It’s A Bit My Fair Lady: It may just be me, but I felt some Henry Higgins/Eliza Doolittle vibes in this story! Especially because staying with the Duke is his good friend, Hugh Davenant, who behaved in a very Colonel Pickering fashion by frowning at the Duke for buying Léon and continuously wanting him to “end this folly.” In addition, Léon is later put through a rigorous education and transformation in order to debut into society, and is something of a smashing success, just like dear Eliza. 😉
  • The Magnificent Climax: Throughout the story we learn that the Duke has an agenda against his mortal enemy, Saint-Vire, and that Léon plays some part in it all. And while readers might piece it all together beforehand, the moment when the Duke finally strikes to end the game is nothing short of masterful. Talk about a delivery! Talk about composure!  Something truly heart-wrenching happens (a scene so poignant it brought me to tears), and with steely determination the Duke is forced to play his final move. And to know that his tender devotion and sense of justice truly propels his actions (not just revenge), makes you admire his actions all the more. It was brilliantly, brilliantly done.
  • The Whole Gang Works Together: Of course there are some entertaining and likable secondary characters full of personality in this story! And throughout the tale they assist our principal characters in their mission each developing a special relationship with Léon. It was wonderful to see these secondary characters band together at the end to aide in the Duke’s final move. (Rupert and Hugh were my favorites)


  • Some may complain about the age difference/paternal relationshi between our hero and heroine, but I wasn’t bothered by it. I did sometimes feel, however, that Léon acted more like someone at the age of 15 or 16 rather than 19 though.

NOTE: There are two more stories written about the Alistair family (some generations later) Devil’s Cub and The Infamous Army. Also, it is said that These Old Shades was originally intended as a sequel to The Black Moth, but with changed character names.


Scandal, dishonorable secrets, revenge, abductions, rescues, transformations, reformations, and romance – These Old Shades is brimming with action and drama! It is such an endearing and lively tale one that is sure to entertain and delight readers of historical fiction and humorous escapades. My list of Georgette Heyer favorites grows longer and longer… 😉

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~ Georgette Heyer Books I’ve Read and Reviewed ~

Arabella      Cotillion      Devil’s Cub

Sylvester: or the Wicked Uncle      The Black Moth      The Convenient Marriage

The Grand Sophy      The Masqueraders      Venetia

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  23 Responses to “These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer”


    One can never go wrong with the genius that is Georgette Heyer. Ever her not-so-great novels are great. It’s all relative. Terrific review.


    Wonderful review! Intriguing without spoiling anything. Thanks for the reminder to get back to Heyer! Reading sparkling wit is just what I need. 🙂


    I’m so glad you enjoyed this Meredith. As I said this was the first one of hers I read in the 70s and I have read and collected the rest including her mysteries set in the early 20th century. I love the humour in them. This is one of my many favourites. I love the part where Rupert gives chase and the Duke turns up just in time.
    And as you say the confrontation scene is very emotional.
    Looking at the books you have read I would suggest either Frederica or The Black Sheep next. I must re read these for the millionth time when I can tear myself away from Darcy


      She is a master at humor and hijinx, isn’t she? Yes, I was so proud of Rupert for going after them at mad-dash!

      I do have the Black Sheep so maybe that will be my next one! 🙂


    Oh, goody! Now you can move on to Devil’s Cub, one of my favorites!


    Oh this sounds rather intriguing! I haven’t read a GH in decades, so I just might try this one! Thank you Meredith for a lovely and intriguing review!


    Glad you enjoyed it Meredith. I LOVE GH books. I have all the historical ones and I’m enjoying very much reading them all again with the GH group on GR’s.


      That’s great, Teresa! It will be a long while before I can say I’ve read them all, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey!!


    Oh is was such a fun story! I have read all of Heyer’s works, because of your blog actually, and enjoyed them so much. Many times I was caught laugh out loud in a quiet room…lol


      Wow! That’s awesome that you read them all! I hope to do that one day! 🙂 I love how fun and comedic they are!


    I totally swooned as the Duke changed and it was fun to see his interactions with his friend and Leoni. Loved all three of the books in the Allistars set.


    So glad you enjoyed this one Meredith 🙂


    So happy you loved this one! It was such an entertaining read! I loved the Duke’s brother, he would have been a perfect hero if he had had his own story!


    Glad to see you enjoyed it — this series includes some of my favorite Heyer books. Don’t leave out Regency Buck, though! It’s actually my favorite out of all of them and is #3 in the reading order. The first two cover the Alistair family, the third the Audley family, and in the fourth (An Infamous Army), they all come together.

    I do feel like when reading pretty much all Regency romances I have to attempt to turn off the part of my brain that’s bothered by the paternalistic nature of men generally marrying women who are younger than them and not very experienced in life. TOS at least includes some discussions over it and some qualms from the gentleman.


      Hi Sophie! Thanks so much for commenting! I did read that about Regency Buck! How fun that there is a bit of a family saga thing going on! 😉 I’ll need to track down Regency Buck before reading An Infamous Army.


    Shucks, I missed this post and I’m late to the game. 🙁 Loved your review, makes it imperative I go back and reread These Old Shades, which I haven’t read in 4 or 5 years. And I’m so glad to have the info about the reading order from Sophie Turner. Even though I’m late, just had to put my two cents in when it comes to a Georgette Heyer.

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