The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Digital Audiobook narrated by Christian Coulson
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on June 27, 2017
Series: Montague Siblings #1
Genres: Historical, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 513 pages or 10 hours, 47 minutes
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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.
You know that feeling when you read a book or watch a movie and feel like you’re found a kindred spirit in the creator? That’s how I feel about Mackenzi Lee and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. There are so many bits and pieces that I really loved about this book… both its content and the writing itself.
Okay so first of all, let’s talk about the language Mackenzi Lee used. It’s perfect. Both the dialogue and the narrative flow expertly. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is completely immersive. Mackenzi Lee has gone the extra mile to use language that would have been fashionable at the time. There was a moment when Monty says he didn’t want to use a jacket as a flag because they’re all so “macaroni” and I chuckled – I don’t know if the language is something that most people would notice, but I did! And I thoroughly appreciated it.
She also went the extra mile in character creation. The conversation flows like real conversation, not book conversation. Limited use of first names, and the way that Monty says “Hello, darling” like a real life catch phrase? I absolutely love it. There is a lot of rep in this book – epilepsy, LGBTQ+, racism, domestic abuse – and none of it felt like it was there just to make a statement. This… this is how I want to see rep in books. The rep is not the plot – we simply have diverse characters and that’s awesome. I think it’s important to have books that blatantly point out the wrongness of some things, and that humans come in all types. But also, we need rep in books where it’s just different people doing things together without making a big statement. As Percy says, he thinks he can be perfectly happy living just as he is. So sometimes, it’s nice to see characters just… live. 🙂
The romance is perfectly melty and I adored every aspect of it. There were a lot of twists and turns so that while I wanted everything to work out, there were moments where I felt… “Wait! No!” but actually also appreciated the argument being made. While the historical fiction aspects were really good, this is a romance at heart. Few romances grip me the way this one did, but I am 100% here for Monty/Percy. I also loved Felicity’s angle on romance, which generally speaking was, “It’s not for me!”
Most the things I enjoyed were little bits and nuances. The fact there were pirates, and Grace O’Malley and Anne Bonny were both mentioned in passing. Percy and Monty shouting “WE HATE RICHARD PEELE!”. And just… the characters in general. They felt so real, and they were both kind and witty and smart and so naive at times. It was such a well-rounded novel, and it’s one I’ll definitely be adding to my collection.
Also, Mackenzi Lee, you have my heart. If everything she writes is like this, then I want it all.
Have you read either of the Montague sibling’s books? I actually own The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, so now I really can’t wait to read that one! Tell me your favorite in the comments!