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These Old Shades (Alastair-Audley #1)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  11,497 Ratings  ·  941 Reviews
Under the reign of Louis XV, corruption and intrigue have been allowed to blossom in France, and Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon and proud of his soubriquet 'Satanas', flourishes as well. Then, from a dark Parisian back alley, he plucks Leon, a redheaded urchin with strangely familiar looks, just in time for his long over-due schemes of revenge on the Comte de ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2001 by Arrow (first published 1926)
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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Jan 14, 2009 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of historical romance and fiction
Recommended to Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) by: AAR Special Titles Listing
Okay, I am officially a Georgette Heyer reader now. I can see why she is touted as the best of the best when it comes to historical romance. This book was thoroughly enjoyable. I tell you, Avon is a very singular hero. I have read few books with a hero whose dialogue was so expressive, yet ironic at the same time. His wit is so sharp that it could cut diamonds. What's really interesting is that Avon is considered the worst of the worst when it comes to being a debauched rake, yet you never see h ...more
l a i n e y
"If you desire to do good to la petite, send her to me"
"My dear father, I have never desired to do good to anyone"

When I first started this book this was my reaction to my fellow reading buddies "Doesn't the writing feel... off? It's not as flowing as my other experience with Heyer". And way too many French words/phrases?

That made me curious so I checked the publishing date, turns out this book was published in 1926 - almost 40 years before my favorite book of hers, Frederica. So it was one of
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
"La vengeance est un mets que l'on doit manger froid." (Revenge is a dish that should be eaten cold.)

--Credited to Charles Talleyrand, French diplomat (1754–1838).

Revenge and a Cinderella-type plot make a great combination in These Old Shades, one of Georgette Heyer's more well-known historical novels, set in the later 1700's.


The half-French Duke of Avon is walking down the street when a small body hurtles into him. He looks into the face of this young urchin and suddenly sees the potential for
May 08, 2013 Willow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: angels, 18th-century
I enjoyed These Old Shades. I think Heyer writes vivid, opinionated characters and she captures the Georgian period beautifully. I must admit though, I’m not sure this book is for everybody. There’s a lot of yakking. These characters talk, talk, and even more talk. Heyer doesn’t directly tell you what her characters are up to either, so you have to get to know them by what they say. Some of the dialogue is pretty hilarious, and some of it is kind of repetitive. To me this makes the characters mo ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: regency or georgian lit fans
This is one of my favorite romance novels, ever. I am not even afraid to review it here on this pretentious book site, I love it so much. I have worn through my copy of it. It is lovely beat up and bent back to the pages of all my favorite parts. The Heyer hallmarks are all here: great characters, hilarious plot, breaking the genre rules, a somewhat effete hero (but in a manly way). The main character, Leonie, is absolutely adorable. I don't even care if others find her annoying, she makes me la ...more
Update: I have it on good authority that this is an accurate representation of me while thinking of this book (or should I specify, the hero!):

By the way this book only gets better and funnier with each re-read I do! ;) Love these crazy people forever <3

{Please note that the following essay review contains spoilers}

I'm not sure that I can entirely express how much I truly love this book and how absolutely amazing it is.
I remember reading The Black Moth by the same author a while ago, and sec
The literary equivalent of those marvelous British period dramas with utterly glorious settings and luscious costumes.

I can never resist this sort thing. Pages of details of soft white brocades, ruffle upon ruffle, falling over great hoops, auburn hair piled in elaborate curls, pearls against soft pale skin, and perfect accessories like...chicken-skin fans.

And since this is 18th century France before the Revolution, the men are just as gorgeous and even more colorful....

When we first meet the h
Jun 12, 2007 Trin rated it did not like it
Most fandom people I've talked to either love or at least rather like this book, but it seems it's my turn to feel all "bwah?" and left out, as Punk does with The Dreyfus Affair and Siria does with Swordspoint. I hated it. I despised pretty much all the characters, other than Hugh and Rupert—Leonie was irritating, and Avon was just creepy. I know he was supposed to be "Satanas"—the devil of a man who isn't really that bad, but I found him neither enjoyably naughty nor charming; he was just kin ...more
Dec 24, 2016 Laure rated it really liked it
You would never know (or feel) that this book is made of 300 pages or so - it reads very quickly, enchantingly so. Very enjoyable as always.
A guardian-ward romance set in the reign of Louis XV, with a dash of Pygmalion, and a revenge dish served very, very cold, Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades was quite delicious, once I was able to ignore and set aside the hopelessly out of touch and destructive hypothesis that is at the core of the novel. That is, nature will always win out over nurture. So if an aristocratic, well-bred, pure-blood being is unwittingly ripped from its natural surroundings and thrust upon a dung heap, it will st ...more
Amy S
Feb 11, 2014 Amy S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I am not a tremendous Heyer fan, I do enjoy knocking them back like m&ms. That probably doesn't make sense to anyone but me. So by that I mean, like m&ms they don't have a lot of substance or weight, and it really annoys me that I keep eating them, and yet I can't seem to stop.

My understanding is that this is one of her first novels. It concerns Justin, the Duke of Avon, and Leone who -- whoopsie -- turns out to be Leonie. The Duke of Avon is supposed to be a first class rake of lo
Sep 08, 2012 Giedre rated it did not like it
I'm a fan of romance novels, especially historical, so I tend to read quite a bit of them. I know that Georgette Heyer is sort of a legend in this subgenre, but I have never read any of her books before now. I chose to read These Old Shades because it's part of a trilogy. I thought, hey, I'll read the three books and then decide what I think of her writing. Sadly I didn't enjoy the first installment. At all.

I found the Duke of Avon to be a rather fashionable reptile with a fan (yes, you read th
Apr 11, 2007 Res rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance
The character of Leonie is immensely likeable (though, like Amanda in Sprig Muslin, she'd make more sense as a 15-year-old than at her stated age, which is 19). I don't quite see in her what Avon says he sees, the results of a life of terrible, constant loneliness.

Avon is more problematic. Partly it's a Georgian-culture problem -- it's hard for me to distinguish between an ordinary, irresponsible nobleman of fashion and an actual rake in the old, non-playful sense of the word. We know he kidnapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Seema Khan
This review is just a picture of how personally I take my books and how involved I get! Great many spoilers and fan girl babbling ahead!

Now I don’t know how this happened but it was just a coincidence that I read The Black Moth before reading These Old Shades and I hadn’t read any of the blurbs about these books before beginning them either. While I read it, there was some clicking going on in my mind that something is familiar, that I know some of these things. I also felt that Satanas was so s
Jan 16, 2015 jade rated it liked it
The book is meant to be a light hearted, entertaining affair. It suited me perfectly for the holiday season. Avon's witty dialogue was always hilarious. Though I guessed the mystery surrounding Leon's birth from the very beginning, it was still entertaining to see how Avon planned out his revenge. The only thing that kind of got on my nerve was Leon's naiveté. Heyer might have exaggerated her innocence and lack of understanding for the entertainment value, but I feel that it went too far. The wa ...more
Listened to the audio for the first time having read the book plenty of times.
3.5 stars to the audio
But the story and the book remains an all-time fave, so always a 5+ starred reading experience...
Jun 23, 2013 Tweety rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Georgian lovers and all who adore wit
Léonie, was an imp, she went about calling people Pig-headed and stupid. (Only those who it fitted, of course.) Rupert was Avon younger brother and my! He was a prude! (Yes, yes I know the times!) But he an Léonie were hilarious together, it wouldn't have been the same without him. I completely love this book, I just know my copy will be worn to shreds, especially if I keep laughing so hard. If you want a laugh, Léonie will provide more that enough and Avon's witty combacks are not to be missed. ...more
Frankie Lovely
Feb 06, 2017 Frankie Lovely is currently reading it
BR with Rachelle, Marguerite, and Lainey!

Should be a nice change of pace from my usual fantasy genre
Maria Grazia
Jul 28, 2011 Maria Grazia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
“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”.
My review
If you meet Satanas in a dark alley in the middle of the night and you are desperately seeking escape from a wretched life of violence and harassment, maybe you’d be as happy as youn
Nov 18, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this, despite one or two minor annoyances:

1. The hero was referred to by any one of about eleven different names or titles randomly throughout - "Justin" "The Duke" "Alastair" "Avon" "His Grace". PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT, HEYER.
2. Leonie was funny but a bit of a twerp, she definitely didn't act 19 and her worshipful ADORATION of Alistavonjustingraceduke got on my nerves, as did his condescending "come here and let me wipe my feet on you, my infant" attitude to her.
3. What reference
Ruth Turner
Jun 13, 2014 Ruth Turner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: georgette-heyer

*sigh* *places hand on chest to still fluttering heart* Justin Alastair hasn't lost any of his charm.

These Old Shades was the first Georgette Heyer book that I read, many, many, many years ago. It was always, and still is, my favourite.

Witty, charming, with wonderful characters that were a pleasure to revisit.
I always wondered what it’d be like to read a kdrama in HR form and These Old Shades was the answer. If you’re at all familiar with kdramas, trust me when I say that this book had everything a drama addict would expect to find: revenge, birth secrets, a girl masquerading as a boy, a plucky heroine, an arrogant hero, a charming second man, an evil father figure and just plain unrealistic situations. For these reasons, I can understand why this book would not work for everyone, but it was just per ...more
Aug 23, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Justin Alistair is handsome, fashionable, and merciless. As the Duke of Avon in the mid-Eighteenth century, he has far more power and money than he really knows what to do with. An urchin's red hair catches his attention, and he buys the boy from his loutish older brother.

And thus begins the adventure of Leon, also known as Leonie, and her life with the duke. She has a sort of slavish devotion to him that is utterly inexplicable (and quite disturbs his friends), and he intends to use her to des
Feb 20, 2014 Abra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, history, romance
This is the first Georgette Heyer book I've read and I'm astonished. Astonished I had never read her before and astonished I liked it so much! Honestly, I wasn't anticipating much... I knew she was the "creator of regency romance" but I kind of figured the genre must have improved since 1926.


In fact, I realized that I have over the years read multiple blatant rip-offs of this exact novel (right down to the scene where Leonie and Fanny are arguing about pants) and none of them even come clos
Carol ♔Type, Oh Queen!♕
Group Read Georgette Heyer Group

This was my favourite book as a very young teen & I have read it more than any other title!

GH was not altogether happy with The Black Moth & decided to bring back Devil Belmanoir - this time as the romantic hero. This is well known, but also Lavinia & Richard become Fanny & Edward, Frank Fortescue becomes Hugh Davenant, Diana becomes Lady Merivale. I don't think Lord Merivale is Jack - he lacks Jack's whimsical sweetness. But their & Belmanoir'
Miss Jane
Jan 10, 2009 Miss Jane rated it it was ok
Bah, as Leonie would say. I wrote a review and it didn't get saved for some reason.

Anyway, my reaction to this book can be summed up in one word: CREEPY! Here's why:

1. Avon buys Leon/Leonie from her brother. Ew.
2. The age difference between Avon and Leonie (20+ years) was a bit much for me. A Heyer hero is often several years older than the heroine, but 20+ years put Avon into the creepy old man category for me.
3. Avon calls Leonie "my infant" half the time, which just reinforced #2 for me. UG
Aayesha Khatri
Feb 03, 2013 Aayesha Khatri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, heartbreakingly-wonderful-favourite, hero-i-loved, trope-large-age-difference, heroine-i-loved, heroine-i-admired, classic, romance-clean, humour, fop-dandy, bad-boy, historical-georgian, brooding-hero, hero-with-emotional-scars, hero-changes-heroine, alpha-gamma-hero, sweet-romance, romance-angsty, romance-sweet, adorable-spitfire-heroine, heroine-has-emotional-scars, trope-abduction, hero-i-more-than-loved, theme-english, virgin-heroine, hero-with-ex, kissing-but-no-sex, titled-gentry, h-in-love-with-hero-from-beginning, hero-is-charming-charismatic, destitute-heroine, hero-is-tortured-brooding-cynical, trope-the-innocent-tamed-the-wolf, wonderful-author, heroine-is-hardworking, trope-the-princess-and-the-commoner, setting-countryside, author-has-depth-in-writing, rich-guy-poor-girl-theme, setting-city, heroine-not-a-doormat, heroine-strong-independent, well-written, heroine-cheerful-happy, romance-historical, hero-is-a-woman-hater, heroine-outspoken-straightforward, setting-historical, heroine-never-complains, heroine-is-breathtakingly-beautiful, heroine-is-kind-selfless, trope-boss-employer-romance, heroine-is-overly-innocent, trope-human-bartering, overall-amazing-feel-read, heroine-with-lip, heroine-is-a-chatterbox, heroine-in-love-with-h-from-begenni, heroine-falls-in-love-first, heroine-with-past, trope-rich-guy-poor-girl, theme-french, heroine-is-sweet-innocent, hero-is-a-rake, hero-rake-yet-honourable-with-h, hero-is-an-original, heroine-is-smart-intelligent, hero-is-sweet-and-nice-to-h, trope-accidental-meeting, hero-is-arrogant, secondary-character-amusing, trope-heroine-disguised-as-a-man, georgette-heyer-ftw, hero-feels-he-is-not-good-enuf-4-h, hero-without-morals, heroine-trusts-h-blindly, trope-disguises
I absolutely loved this book so much. Even two years later, just thinking of the book gives me a warm feeling from inside. It was such a darling book, with the hero being such a cynical, jaded character, and Leonie, our heroine, being a breath of fresh air to him, sweet and innocent and loving and trusting. I have never read a book as sweet, or as filled with bittersweet angst, as this one.

And it was also my first Heyer book, one that got me hooked onto Heyer and turned me into an eternal fan.

I have hesitated to add a review of this because I'm pretty sure I can't do it justice. Brilliantly written, witty, fun and spot on historically. The Duke of Avon is one of the best heroes ever written. I love him and I can't see that anyone other than Leonie could have broken through his shell. Even though the romance is not torrid, you can see that absolute love he has for her. Sigh...
Jane Stewart
A delight from the beginning. I was smiling a lot during the book. Wonderful storytelling.

Characters are so entertaining. The way Justin speaks and the things he says are so funny to me. One of his oddities is calling his younger brother Rupert (an adult) and his ward (19) “my infants.” Rupert has some hilarious action and comments. For example, someone is kidnapped, and Rupert follows on foot chasing the horse drawn vehicle. He then continues following the kidnappers doing od
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Georgette Heyer was a prolific historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth.

In 1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

More about Georgette Heyer...

Other Books in the Series

Alastair-Audley (4 books)
  • Devil's Cub (Alastair, #2)
  • Regency Buck (Alastair, #3)
  • An Infamous Army (Alastair, #4)

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“Remind me one day to teach you how to achieve a sneer, Hugh. Yours is too pronounced, and thus but a grimace. It should be but a faint curl of the lips.” 55 likes
“His Grace was at her side, and lifted her down from the chair.
"My enfant," he said , "duchesses do not dance on chairs, nor do they call their brothers 'imbécile'."
Léonie's twinkled irrepressibly.
"I do," she said firmly.”
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