These Old Shades is a book that has pretty much everything. It’s got love (of course) as well as jest and intrigue. The May/December romance is interesting – the young heroine is able to bring redemption to the cold ‘hero’ of the story (I think the word evil came to mind quite often while I was reading the book).
One thing I realized while enjoying These Old Shades if the fact that the book is suitable for a wide age range, men included. I don’t think that only women will enjoy the story. Come on, ladies! Now is the chance to get your husband/boyfriend/male friend interested in reading!
It’s nice to find a book that you want to frantically flip through to find out what is going to happen next, yet want to read slowly so you can savour every word at the same time.
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.