One of the books I’ve treated myself to was These Old Shades, the first of three books about the Alastair family. My mother lent me her copy, knowing that I would get around to reading it before she would. In fact, based on my recommendations, my mother has bought several Heyer novels – but has yet to read any, if I remember correctly. What treasures lurk in to-be-read piles!
These Old Shades takes place mostly in Paris. Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, is walking home late one night when a boy crashes into him. The boy is running away from his brother. Justin spontaneously decides to purchase him and make him his page. This earns the boy’s undying gratitude and an extreme amount of loyalty. The boy, Leon, begins his life as Justin’s page, but Justin soons discovers that Leon is not exactly who – or what – he seems. This book is a mystery and a romance, giving insights into the not-so-wholesome life of the nobility and glimpses of Versailles under Louis XV. The climax is suspenseful and dramatic, but leads (as you would expect from Heyer) to a happy ending for the characters you have come to love.
If I told you any more about the plot, I would spoil the mystery! Suffice it to say that the characters are endearing (even Justin – eventually), the plot is twisty, and the wit is present as always. Heyer delivers a very enjoyable tale again – the perfect escape for, well, just about anytime you’d like an escape!
P.S. Does anyone know what the phrase “make a leg” means? The male characters were constantly “making a leg” to another character. Of the many Heyer books I’ve read, I don’t remember seeing this phrase before. Is it a type of a bow? That was the best explanation I could come up with. Anyone got another??