Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings #1

My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Historical Fiction Fantasy
Published June 27th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books

Source: Purchased
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
In general I think that I'm more of a plot driven reader and this is very much a character driven book, especially for the first twenty percent or so... So I was actually surprised with myself when I found myself really enjoying this book.

Henry Montague, our main character and narrator is not the easiest character to love... He's fairly narcissistic, immature and for all intents and purposes a scoundrel.
And yet I was drawn to him; to his deep seated insecurities and to the fact that he knew he rarely said the right thing but bumbled ahead anyways. He's unapologetic and frank and actually pretty endearing.

“You’ve had a rough go.”
“Everyone has a rough go. I’ve had it far easier than most people.”
“Maybe. But that doesn’t mean your feelings matter less.”

I also absolutely adored Percy and Felicity, the other two main characters in the story and the dynamic of the sibling relationship or Monty and Felicity and the age old friendship between Percy and Monty on their tour of Europe was just fantastic to read. The dialogue felt real, the actions felt germane and I loved the vicarious Grand Tour of the continent that I experienced through these pages.

Felicity was actually my favourite character; an extremely clever young lady in the 18th century just desperate for a proper education and absolutely set on rocking society's opinions of 'normal'. I absolutely cannot wait to read her book next!

I have to just touch on the diversity and representation in this book and how incredibly relevant this all is, even though this is an historical fiction novel! We have a bisexual male narrator, a POC homosexual main character, some really great mental health representation as well as amazing neurological disorder representation. Classism, racism, slavery, sexism, homophobia. It's all represented here and it is all done so well.

There's also a really fantastic amount of humour contained in these pages; actual laugh-out-loud moments, and while you may think that humour and all the representation above couldn't possibly be meshed together well, I have to say, Mackenzie Lee has managed it and made this such a thoughtful and pertinent book and yet still a fun read.

“In the east there is a tradition known as kintsukuroi. It is the practice of mending broken ceramic pottery using lacquer dusted with gold and silver and other precious metals. It is meant to symbolize that things can be more beautiful for having been broken.”

Pirates, villains and a touch of alchemical magic made this an exciting journey through history, through Europe and most of all, through watching these wonderful characters grow and learn, about themselves, about each other and about the worth of things and realising that just because something is 'broken' it doesn't mean it no longer has value.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) →

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