Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Georgette Heyer
I am grateful and honored to be
reviewing the incomparable Georgette Heyer's novel. I want to
give just a little background before telling you the absolutely
perfect plot line of this, her very first novel. Ms. Heyer wrote
over fifty novels before leaving the world behind in 1974. She
was and is still known as the Queen of Regency Romance - a title that
I'm sure she will never lose no matter who tries to "take up"
the mantle. The research that this author did for her works was
sheer perfection; the historical accuracy of her time periods,
clothes, language - and anything else you can possibly think of - was
dead-on, and she is sorely missed in many circles.
With These Old Shoes, Ms Heyer introduces the world to Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon. Alastair has so many levels that he flows easily between the role of hero and the mark of the devil, depending on who he has in his sights. In fact, most all refer to him as "Satanas" behind his back and in front of his face. Even his own family, who love him, usually cast their eyes downward and apologize for their brothers' actions in "polite society." But Justin is also as smart as they come. He lost his entire fortune in his youth - the respectable fortune left to him by his respectable parents. However, he won a brand new fortune at the gaming tables...so all is well with him. One night, as he is traveling through a "seedier" side of town, he is literally run over by a small boy, racing through the streets away from his brother who wants to do the boy excessive harm. Justin is so amused by the red-haired boy that he pays the brother off and makes this young urchin, Leon, his page.
The boy is at once grateful and begins to follow the Duke into all sorts of seedy places, watching the way he wins games with his wit and charm. For his part, Justin grows a heart for the young boy and begins to teach him all about the wold that he inhabits; who is good and who is not. Soon, the reader is taken away by the fact that the Duke of Avon (through Heyer's fantastic writing) knows far more about the boy that's become his page than anybody could possibly know. Very soon, it's revealed that Leon is actually Leonie - a girl in boy's clothing. And, above all, the Duke must change this lowly page into his high-class ward so Leonie can be accepted by all the right society. Not only that, Justin knows the child's real background - and he's going to use this secret to bring down the most loathsome enemy he's ever had.
The humor is fantastic in this book. The characters are hysterical and fun. Rupert, Justin's brother, is a man who loves to gamble. He also joins up with his brother to make the biggest "play" that could possibly happen in the world of snobs that surround them. Fanny, their sister, is the woman who will take care of young Leonie and raise her to be the belle of the ball - not knowing the plan that her brother has come up with. Each and every character is bold, cunning, and absolutely charming, especially Leonie, herself. She is so new to this strange world around her, but she will allow no high-brows to change her heart, mind, and soul. And the love she has for her guardian is a die-hard respect that no one around her can understand.
I miss Georgette Heyer, but I am so unbeliveably excited to see her books come back into the foreground of literature. It's like starting a journey of humor, love, and faith with the one woman who knew exactly what she was doing. Run as fast as you can to your bookstore, every month, and build your very own Heyer collection. I'm telling you, you won't regret it. There will never be another Regency writer this perfect.
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