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These Old Shades

(Alastair-Audley Tetralogy #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  15,265 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews
Under the reign of Louis XV, corruption and intrigue have been allowed to blossom in France, and 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 ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2001 by Arrow (first published 1926)
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Sally Hudd These Old Shades was first published in England by Wm. Heinemann Ltd. of London in 1926.
My own paperback copy was published in 1956 and is held…more
These Old Shades was first published in England by Wm. Heinemann Ltd. of London in 1926.
My own paperback copy was published in 1956 and is held together by sticky tape.(less)
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 ...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 (17541838).

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
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
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
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 08, 2013 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, Im not sure this book is for everybody. Theres a lot of yakking. These characters talk, talk, and even more talk. Heyer doesnt 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 more ...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
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 ...more
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's
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
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
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 RupertLeonie 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 kind ...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 &
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
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.
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 ...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 dont know how this happened but it was just a coincidence that I read The Black Moth before reading These Old Shades and I hadnt 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Jacqueline J
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...
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 is my addition:
For many years, I have viewed These Old Shades as my least favorite of my favorite Heyer novels. While I have read and re-read her other works, I've generally avoided this one.
Which probably was a good
Maria Grazia
Jul 28, 2011 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 Heyers career. It features two of Heyers 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 youd be as happy as young
Nov 18, 2008 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruth Turner
Jun 13, 2014 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.
This is the unabridged audio on CD.
One of my all time favorite Georgette Heyer titles masterfully read by Cornelius Garrett. He does an amazing job with the voice of the Duke of Avon. A story I have loved for years is given a new slant in this wonderful rendition.
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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

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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"My enfant," he said , "duchesses do not dance on chairs, nor do they call their brothers 'imbécile'."
Léonie's twinkled irrepressibly.
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