Society believes the worst of Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon. When he encounters a young boy, Léon, who is running from his abusive brother, Avon employs the boy as his page, parading him around parties and other society events in full view of his bitter rival, the Comte de Saint-Vire.
But the truth is soon uncovered: Léon is in fact a girl named Léonie and is actually the legitimate child of the Comte and his wife. While Avon is intent on his plan to reveal the Comte’s duplicity and ruin him publicly, he is charmed by Léonie’s kindness, falls in love, and becomes a changed man.
First published in 1926 to great commercial success, These Old Shades showcases Heyer at her romantic best and remains a charming and entertaining listen for all fans of historical romances.
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"I came very late to Georgette Heyer, having read my first of her books only a couple of years ago because it was on the Guardian's 1000 Novels You Must Read list. I'm working my way through, and found that one of the most recommended books, An Infamous Army, was listed as third in "the Alastair trilogy." This is the first of those, and the first of her books I've read that is not set during the Regency period for which Heyer is best known. I believe the time period is about 1760, well before the French Revolution and Napoleon, so Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, can readily travel between Paris and England. Justin is a typical Heyer hero -- arrogant, rich, handsome and apparently quite selfish. When a young boy cannons into him on the street, fleeing from a brutish relative, Justin has no qualms about buying the boy with a piece of jewelry. He already suspects that all is not as it seems, and that his new page may be the means of settling an old score. Surprises are in store for one and all, and not least for Justin himself. A very enjoyable read, and as well-researched as the Regency books as far as I could tell."
Nikki (4 out of 5 stars)