Georgette Heyer is kinda like Jane Austen-lite. Wonderful comedies of manners and society that are well written. When I pick up a Heyer book from the library, I look forward to emmersing myself into her world. These Old Shades was a big let down.
The story is interesting enough - The Duke of Avon finds a interesting French boy and makes him his page. The page turns out to be a girl of noble birth that the Duke decides to use to revenge himself against his biggest enemy. (The revenge bit is a little complicated, but interesting). The set up and the characters are all right until we come to the page / Cinderella girl, Leonie. She's written as a blithering idiot. At first I chalked it up to Heyer writing in a way that shows the girl's difficulty with the English language, but latter for a brief bit it tells you what she's thinking and that is done in the same blithering idiot style.
Leonie's motives (when she has any) are those of a small child - even though she's 19 and has been raised in a rough neighborhood. Its all so frustrating!
Plus there was the endlessly annoying habit of needing to fill in each character as they caught up with the main two. Even though it wasn't a complete re-hashing, even reading, "and then they were filled in" and so on drove me batty - absolutely batty! Ack!
Anyway, I give this a 2 - and the two was only gained because a few of the characters were interesting enough to redeem it a bit.