Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, LGBTQI, Romance, Young adult
Dates read: 19th – 22nd September 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
5th sentence, 74th page: Instead he says to me, very calmly, “How dare you speak to him like that.”
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.
I absolutely loved this novel just as much as I had expected. There is something fun, intriguing and seriously intense about this journey that makes it impossible to put down. And, even more importantly, seriously difficult to forget after you’ve turned that final page. This is definitely going to the top of my reread list and I think it’ll be one that I pick up again and again over the years.
Henry is a fantastic lead for a story which has a title such as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. He’s seriously damaged, a little bit neurotic, and honestly, just so damn cute. The fact that his cuteness is offset by some seriously stupid decisions… it works well. Then, partnering him with his best friend Percy (who is nothing like what you would expect) and his incredibly strong sister Felicity. Well, the characters alone are a recipe for a great story. Luckily though, there is a great adventure in here too.
Not only is this a fantastic historical fiction story (I’m not sure how realistic it is, but it is certainly fun), it is also a great social commentary. I knew that it dealt with LGBTQI+ issues in the form of Henry being in love with his male best friend. But what I didn’t expect was that it also dealt with issues of race (again Percy’s character), illness and sexism. Even the moment in which Felicity questions Henry’s sexuality and morality is so well written. Instead of this being accepted like some of the historical fiction books I’ve read, there is a constant issue with the sexuality and race of some of the lead characters. And, let’s face it, they’re still issues that are painful and not quite dealt with in today’s society.
Even though I loved the character of Henry, his backstory did actually break my heart a little. How could it not when there are just so many horrid moments throughout? I’m glad that he was able to find his own happily ever after. And, although the story doesn’t end with him completely finding his own bliss and getting over his vices… there is certainly some great movement towards it. Which left me feeling seriously optimistic after I turned the final page of this book.
Now, I just can’t wait to sink my literary teeth into Felicity and the Goblins’ stories… surely this series is just going to continue getting better from here on out?