Flashback: These Old Shades
A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux. The gentleman in question is Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, known by friends and enemies alike as Satanas–the devil. On this particular evening, the dangerous rake crosses paths with Léon, a red-headed youth of low birth who is fleeing a certain beating at his brutal brother’s hands. On a whim, Avon buys the boy and makes him his page. It soon becomes clear, however, that Léon is not what he seems, and that Avon has an ulterior motive for bringing him into his household.
Author: Georgette Heyer
ISBN: 0-373-83559-0 (Harlequin)
Who: Léonie de Saint-Vire and Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon
These Old Shades is a vast improvement over The Black Moth. This book is not a sequel, as all the characters have been changed, but it is a “rethought”. Justin is more developed as a character than the Duke of Andover. The history of between Justin and the Saint-Vire family helps shed some light on why a high-ranking nobleman would kidnap a woman in order to force her to marry him. The arrival of Léonie changes the duke, though it is not apparent at first. Justin seems to have little use for his siblings, Lady Fanny Marling and Lord Rupert Alastair. He tells his friend Hugh that he does not know (or care) about Rupert’s current situation. However, we learn later from a comment Rupert makes to Lord Anthony Merivale that Justin has been sending his younger brother a generous allowance for some time and so far, it has kept him out of debtor’s prison. Justin goes so far as to entrust Léonie’s grooming to his sister, acknowledging her abilities to instruct the girl in the ways of Polite Society. Later, when it looks as though Rupert and Léonie have eloped (they hadn’t: she was kidnaped and he is in pursuit), Justin is confident that they have not, and his faith in his brother is well founded when he learns that Rupert is trying to rescue her. Léonie is not the only one reunited with family. She has helped Justin, Fanny, and Rupert grow closer and helped smooth the breech between Justin and Anthony.
“By the way, what did you do with Mr. Manvers’ roan?”
“Lord, is there anything you don’t know? Who told you that?”
“Mr. Manvers himself. I arrived at Avon on the evening of the day you — er — left. Mr. Manvers came to retrieve his property.”
“Curse his impudence! I left him a message! Does the fellow think I’m not to be trusted with a horse?”
“That was rather the impression he gave us. What did you do with it?”
“Well, to tell the truth, I sold it.”
— Justin, discussing the rescue attempt with Rupert, learns the fate of a horse.