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These Old Shades

(Alastair-Audley Tetralogy #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  16,655 ratings  ·  1,458 reviews
Under the reign of Louis XV, corruption and intrigue have been allowed to blossom in France.

Lord Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon, known for his coldness of manner, his remarkable omniscience, and his debauched lifestyle. Society believes the worst of Justin, who is clearly proud of his sobriquet, 'Satanas'. In a dark Parisian back alley, he is accosted by Leon
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2001 by Arrow (first published 1926)
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Margaret Sullivan Heyer quotes the poem "Epilogue to 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes'" by Austin Dobson at the beginning of the book (at least in my edition). It includes…moreHeyer quotes the poem "Epilogue to 'Eighteenth Century Vignettes'" by Austin Dobson at the beginning of the book (at least in my edition). It includes the lines, "Whereas with these old shades of mine, Their ways and dress delight me; And should I trip by word or line, They cannot well indict me." She is referring to the fact that she has used these characters before, but she has changed their names etc. in this book. ("Shades" here refers to ghosts.)(less)

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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Jan 14, 2009 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
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 fo
L A i N E Y ~back in a bit~
"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
mark monday
what a wonderfully odd book. I had so many different kinds of guilty feelings that popped up while enjoying this... but the end result was that it turned out to be far from a guilty pleasure. it was pure pleasure, perfectly free from guilt! guilt's such an ugly, ungainly emotion anyway, who needs it.

one of the basic premises of the novel should have disgusted me to no end: that aristocrats should be solely with other aristocrats, and the "base born" should be with their ilk only. never the two s
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
My original review still stands.

This time I read the battered 1937 Hardback pictured. I was very glad to be able to read an edition where some copy editor/proofreader hadn't mangled Fanny's letter to Justin. I first noticed this reading this five in one These Old Shades / Sprig Muslin / Sylvester / The Corinthian / The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer which was published in 1977.

My old hardback

"Dear Edward has given Fanny a chocolate-coloured coach with pale blue cushions. The wheat is picked out in blue." He held the sheet at arm's length. "It
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 secret
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th-century, angels
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 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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Group Read Georgette Heyer Fans 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's back story is
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, 1700s, historical
I think I'm too much a product of my time. Having a hero who was 40yrs and a heroine who was 19, combined with the hero constantly calling her infant and for 80% of the story portraying her as very young, innocent, and wide-eyed, I couldn't and didn't want to buy into their romance.

If you liked Val from Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, you're going to love our hero Justin, definitely an inspiration for him. I was a big fan of Justin and his wit, he's constantly miles and moves ahead of everyone else
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
GAH! I adore Georgian period romances. The ridiculous extravagance and theatricality of action and costume are simply divine.

"I thought you disliked melodrama, my friend?"
"I do; but I have a veritable passion for--justice."
"You've nourished thoughts of vengeance--for twenty years?"

Other pluses which definitely made this a win: Heroine disguised as a boy, swordplay as well as hoydenish behaviors overlaid with a sweet naïveté; and an older sworn bachelor and renown rake charmed back into life
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 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
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
Sam (AMNReader)
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sam (AMNReader) by: Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew
A quick, zany, humorous book-- and my second Heyer, recommended by Georgie-who-is-Sarah as a better offering than Beauvallet. I'd have to agree, though that same swashbuckling feel exists here. Her writing is bold and upbeat.

I am still, somehow, by the end of their evolving and strange relationship, convinced of Justin's love for Leonie.

I had tons of fun with this, time reading is only due to print copy.
Sep 08, 2012 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
Jacob Proffitt
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I'm a huge fan of Georgette Heyer but I've been avoiding this story since, well, pretty much forever. I'm just not a fan of the excesses of Louis XV. The fashions were silly (even sillier than fashions usually are), the morals deeply disturbing, and the intrigues were singularly sordid. And I could tell that a lot of this took place in that milieu. But I tried to start Devil's Cub and the holes were so obvious that I just couldn't do it so I finally picked it up.

Heyer is great so I went along wi
Abigail Bok
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
These Old Shades is in some ways a rewrite of Heyer’s first novel, The Black Moth. It shows both how far she came in her skills over a few short years, and how far she had yet to go. Like The Black Moth, its hero is a hardened, vicious older man with a reputation for uncanny perspicacity; but the heroine of These Old Shades is miles ahead of her predecessor in interest and originality. And Heyer’s focus, instead of being solely on the hero, goes back and forth a bit here between hero and heroine ...more
Seema Khan
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a touching and lasting tale of love!
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
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book captured me from the start, barreling into the story just as Leon barrells into the Duke. The Duke’s machinations form the basis of the plot, but it’s the characters and their relationships which give the story it’s considerable charm.

I found Leonie adorable. I loved her language (I had to smile every time she called someone a “pig-person”), her bloodthirsty streak, and her utter devotion to the Duke. Although occasionally this made her seem a bit like an over-enthusiastic puppy, I th
Amy S
Feb 11, 2014 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 low reputa
Dec 24, 2016 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.
2020 Review
I just...I laugh out loud. Even knowing the lines are coming. Even already having read them 4 times. I can't help myself. I giggle helplessly every time I hit the scene with the guy with the stolen horse.

2019 Review
Major fangirling. Lovely re-read. Happy Amy.

March 29, 2017 Review 5 stars
It causes me almost physical pain re-reading my review from 2011...I must apologize. I was so young. However, on principle, I don't change reviews, only add to them. So here i
Apr 11, 2007 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
Maureen Carden
I first read this 50 years ago. These Old Shades is my favorite Heyer book and some of the details had stayed with me for 50 years which is a pretty strong recommendation for a book. Stayed with me so much so that this is the first re-reading I have given it.
Heyer invented a genre and I think this was the true blueprint for all of the thousands of historical romances that have come afterwards.
I find These Old Shades to be the best written, most intriguing plot, strongest characters and most
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to believe this book was first published in 1926. Almost 100 years ago. Wow. And it's hardly dated, although some of the dialogue does feel a little stilted or old-fashioned compared with 'modern' historical romances.

This book has to be one of the original cynical-rake-falls-for-good-woman-and-reforms-for-life tales, a much beloved HR trope still in 2020. It is is beautifully done, with Heyer's typical light touch. Leonie is such a charming, delightful character, and the mature Justin
I enjoyed this Heyer novel, but not as much as I was expecting to.

First of all, I'm a Regency girl. Georgian era powdered wigs and high-heeled frou-frou men are just not my cuppa tea. The Duke, Justin, is nicknamed Satan. He's a rake. I always love villains, right? Well, Monsigneur is a POSEUR VILLAIN who wears Nancy pants!

I did love Leonie. She had enough spark and mischief in her to keep her from being a Mary Sue. Supporting cast was magnifique!

I was surprised to discover that I understood
4.25 stars.
What a delightful read!
There is twenty years gap between H and h 😜

It's May - Dec romance in everything, in fact he wanted to adopt her before he was hopelessly in love with her, he even tried to be honorable and plan to find more suitable suitor for her.
But the girl, her world is monseigneur and she wanted him! Lol.

I think I will going Ms. Heyer' binge soon.
However, beware though Ms. Heyer is a snob, some of her view doesn't work in 21st century anymore and she also love using French
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I'm finding the protagonists quite distasteful -- actually morally reprehensible, rather than merely "not to my taste" -- and their relationship creepy and unhealthy. From what I gather from other people who've read this, they don't have some catharsis or rupturing and become better people. And it isn't even witty in the usual Heyer manner. I'm dropping this one, at least until I am all out of other Heyer novels. ...more
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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. Rougier later became a barrister and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance nov

Other books in the series

Alastair-Audley Tetralogy (4 books)
  • Devil's Cub (Alastair-Audley, #2)
  • Regency Buck (Alastair-Audley, #3)
  • An Infamous Army (Alastair-Audley, #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.” 66 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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