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.
Love Romance Passion Keira Gillet
For a truly exceptional read, Regency or otherwise, that makes you giddy with glee you need to pick up These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. It's a delightful story about a cross-dressing female who goes from rags to riches and from unloved to abundantly loved. It's even a guardian/ward romance! Not to mention the kidnapping sequence and the revenge plot! It's positively action packed.
The hero is a cross between a dandy-like Corinthian, with his scented handkerchief, heeled shoes, and fan -- and -- the veriest devil of a man with fierce eyes, keen intelligence, and a merciless thirst for revenge. The heroine is a Nonpareil who can sword fight, capture princes with a flutter of eyelashes, and shock matrons with her language!
What really pleased me is the slightly different formatting. There seemed to be much more dialogue in this novel than in others also by Heyer. In addition, every chapter has a little summary-like heading telling you what you'll find in the upcoming section. It was very nice and a source of amusement with titles such as 'Lady Fanny's Virtue is Outraged' and 'Mr. Marling Allows Himself to be Persuaded.'
One of my absolute favorite parts is a reflection of what's going on between some side characters:
'I don't trust him.'
'Why, I think I do for once.' Hugh laughed a little. 'When last I saw L�onie - L�on she was then - it was "Yes, Monseigneur" and "No, Monseigneur." Now it is "Monseigneur, you must do this," and "Monseigneur, I want that!" She twists him round her little finger, and, by Gad, he likes it!'
'Oh, but there's naught of the lover in his manner, Hugh! You have heard him with her, scolding, correcting.'
'Ay, and I have heard the note in his voice of - faith, of tenderness! This wooing will be no ordinary one, methinks, but there is a bridal in the air.'
'She is twenty years behind him!'
'Do you think it signifies? I would not give Justin a bride his own age. I'd give him a babe who must be cherished and guarded. And I'll swear he'd guard her well!'
'It must be. I do not know. She looks up to him, Davenant! She worships him!'
'Therein I see his salvation,' Hugh said.
These Old Shades, pg 274
I hardly have the words to describe how awesome that last line is and indeed this whole section. The only thing that could make this story better is more of it! I did not want it to end!
These Old Shades is a must read for Heyer fans and one I would very much recommend for new comers to try first. You will not be disappointed.
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October 01, 2009
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