Monday, April 12, 2021

Georgette Heyer’s THESE OLD SHADES – Wonderful Story of a Jaded Duke and a Feisty Urchin he “Buys” for His Page


This has to be one of my favorites by Heyer. Set in the 18th century in the time of Louis XV, this is the story of Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon, who, because of this reputation as a debauched rake, is dubbed “Satanas”.

Late one evening, the Duke stumbles across Leon, a red headed urchin fleeing a certain beating from his brother who is a tavern owner in a bad part of town. Finding the urchin of keen interest, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. But it soon becomes clear to Avon that Leon is not what he seems. For one thing, 19-year-old “Leon” can read and write and he speaks very well. His features are refined, too.

The duke has a score to settle with an enemy and knows this redheaded page is somehow tied into that family. Avon must unravel the mystery. But the jaded duke doesn’t count on falling in love with the waif who turns out to be a beautiful young woman named Leonie.


A well-told, clever and, at times, funny story I really enjoyed. Witty dialog, intrigue and treachery abound. Great characters populate the pages. The only thing I kept asking myself is how everyone missed that Leonie had to be menstruating by this time in her life. (And what the title had to do with the story.) But, oh well, those are minor points. Highly recommended.

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