Book Title: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: Guide #1
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Pub Date: 06/27/17
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.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is my first finished read of 2018, my first attempt to read a historical fiction fantasy novel, and my first Mackenzi Lee novel! The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a cute, ironically relevant to modern-day story that I highly recommend to anyone who’s sick and tired of reading the same romance story involving cisgender people crying over how hard they have it in today’s world.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue takes place before the French revolution, with Henry Montague leading the story for us. Henry is 18 years old and is setting out to go on a tour of Europe with his younger sister Felicity (before she heads to school), and his best friend Percy. Henry and Felicity are the children of a noble family in England, both privileged by their family’s wealth and good looks. Percy, Henry’s best friend, is the son of another wealthy family in England, however he does not come from the privilege that both Henry and Felicity enjoy. Percy is biracial, with his mother unbeknownst to him, somewhere in the Caribbean. He was brought over to England by his father and although his family takes care of him, Percy is treated as an outcast due to the nature of his skin.
As Henry, Percy, Felicity, and their chaperone venture out on this tour, we quickly find out the back story of each of our main characters. Henry is the typical good looking cliché—superficial, hypersexual, and a natural pain in the ass for his parents. Henry also has been outed by his school after finding him in bed with another male classmate. Felicity is an intelligent, strong woman, who dreams of furthering her education, rather than diminishing it due to the social climate of their current society’s view on women’s rights. Percy on the other hand, is optimistic, strong-willed, and good-natured, and… oh wait, he also is the love of Henry’s life. As the three of them venture out on this tour, the group deals heavily with society’s racism, homophobia, and sexism. Without telling you any more of the story, the group must cope with society’s limitations in order to finish the tour—alive. I can’t tell you any more of the story without giving away any spoilers! #bye
I was very conflicted on how to rate The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue for a variety of different reasons. First and foremost, anything that I rate 3.5 and above is considered an enjoyable read to me. I really loved how this book handed controversial topics that we are still faced today, but back in a time period where we thought that these discussions were non-existent. I really loved the vulnerabilities that Henry, Percy, and Felicity faced. No solution for the conflicts they faced were just handed to them. Each character successfully grew over time, proving their strength and self-worth, while also allowing me to feel emotionally invested in their success. I felt that the beginning of the story was very strong and well initiated, but then started to slow down mid-way. I was really excited about hearing more about their travels and felt that we would be given a chance to read about European cities in the 1800s, but alas the story focused heavily on the characterization of the three main characters, and not so much about the time period at hand. Not to say it was a boring read by any means, but I feel that at 500+ pages, we can skip a few chapters of repeated character confrontations and more of the exciting visualizations of traveling to new cities. When the group was traveling to a new city, it literally could have been [insert random city name here] when welcoming the new setting to the story.
Like I said early in my review, I plan to recommend this book to any of my LGBTQ allies and friends because it is such a well thought out story that’s different from anything you’ve ever read. I know Mackenzi Lee is writing a follow-up to this story, but I’m not too sure that I will be continuing with this group.