Review: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer



These Old Shades
by Georgette Heyer
Series: Alistair-Audley, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance (France and England during reign of King Louis XV)
Published by Sourcebooks, 2009 (originally published 1926)
E-book, Purchased
400 pages
Grade: C-
Synopsis: Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, is called ‘Satanas’ by enemy and friend alike. In the aristocratic circles of London and Louis XV’s he has a reputation as a debauched rake.

Late one evening, the Duke stumbles across Leon, a red headed urchin fleeing a certain beating at his brother’s hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. But it soon becomes clear that Leon is not what he seems…

When the grubby Leon turns out to be the enchanting Leonie, the Duke is not prepared for the breathtaking transformation or the tender emotions she awakens in him, or the unconditional love she has for the man who saved her.

 “This,’ she told herself, ‘is not very nice, I think. Monseigneur has gone away, and I could never find him in this great, horrible London. That Fanny is a fool, I think. Or perhaps she is mad, as she said,’ Leonie paused to consider the point, ‘Well, perhaps she is is just English….”


“She is twenty, my dear, or near it. ‘Twould be charming! She will always think him wonderful, and she’ll not mind his morals, for she’s none herself; and he — oh, he will be the strictest husband in town, and the most delightful. She will always be his infant, I dare swear, and he ‘Monseigneur.’ I am determined he shall wed her. Now what do you say?”


  • The book is fun to read for the fashion, the manners, the social chatter.
  •  I like the titles for each chapter. I’m not sure if that was still common when Ms. Heyer wrote her books, but it reminds me of books from the 1800’s.
  • The fashions of the time–maybe 1750’s–are so interesting because the men dress just as extravagantly and gaudily as the women.
  • The Duke of Avon is fun to read about. He dresses extravagantly, acts languid and indifferent much of the time, but is very intelligent and quick to size up a situation.


  • It bothers me Leonie is constantly talked about as being so young–an “infant.” She’s actually 19, but she does act younger than that sometimes. In other ways she’s older than her years because of the way she was forced to live. However, check out the quote above.
  • The characters in the book (including the Duke) are aware of the difference in age. The Duke of Avon is 40 and Leonie is 19. That age gap just seems too big…especially since the Duke constantly calls her “infant.” This has an “ick” factor for me.


  • I thought this book was too long. but I suspect that is just me. I’m used to books getting to the point quicker! I know I read some of Ms. Heyer’s books when I was in high school and liked them. I guess I had more patience then…LOL. I don’t remember ever reading this one.
  • Maybe the age difference isn’t that unusual in both the 1700’s or 1920’s. It bothers me because of the terminology used in the book (and because one of my daughters dated someone who was 38 when she was 19!)
  • The Duke of Avon reminds me of some of Mary Balogh’s heroes/rakes…though I don’t think their age difference is as great as between Leonie and the Duke.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

I’m participating in the following reading challenges for this book: