The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – REVIEW
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 travelling 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.
“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.”
I did a book swap with a friend and they sent me this book, which I’ve had on my wishlist since I first heard about it on Litsy, and I LOVED IT SO MUCH! It was one of those books that I enjoyed from beginning to end. Saying it was a light-hearted romp through an eighteenth-century Grand Tour doesn’t do it justice. Yes, it was hilarious, the humour was farcical at times and the situations Monty gets himself into are absurd, but it was so much more than this. Serious issues, such as homosexuality, race, disability, and gender, were explored using this humour and some of the consequences suffered because of them by Monty, Percy, and Felicity, seemed to punch the reader in the gut with their force.
“It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.”
The characters were some of my favourites ever. Monty is a rake but he has some serious mental issues stemming from his upbringing and overbearing father. He seems to have PTSD and, perhaps, depression so I was rooting for him from the beginning. Monty is a flawed character in many ways but he’s lovable and his character growth is evident by the end of the book. In contrast, his best friend Percy is biracial, stoic, and incredibly sweet. He was the character I most wanted to have a happy ending because of the racism and prejudices he has endured for years and the threat of an awful future hanging over him. The relationship between Monty and Percy was beautiful and they have become one of my favourite OTP.
“I swear, you would play the coquette with a well-upholstered sofa.”
“First, I would not. And second, how handsome is this sofa?”
Monty’s sister Felicity wants more than society dictates women should have and she was an amazingly fierce character who I adored. Apparently, Felicity is the protagonist of the next book which I hope will be just as good as this one. Even the minor characters like Scipio and his pirates seemed fully-fleshed and interesting. Fingers crossed they feature in Felicity’s story as I’d love to read more about Scipio. Next time I need a book to cheer me up, this will be the one I choose. I like to imagine Monty and Percy living happily ever after and no one can convince me otherwise!
A hilariously witty romp through history with fantastic characters.
|About the Author
Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults.
She loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. On a perfect day, she can be found enjoying all three. She currently calls Boston home, where she works as an independent bookstore manager.