The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Book review. This high-stakes, diverse Victorian adventure by Mackenzi Lee is a must read.
The story stars a young lord by the name of Henry Montague, who prefers to be called Monty because Henry reminds him too much of his father. Monty is a bit of a rascal, falling into beds of men and women alike while squandering away his inheritance as his way of rebelling against his parents. While he’s not anxious to become the next lord of the estate and learn under his father, Monty believes that it’s the only course for his future.
His solution is to gallivant on one last Tour of Europe with his best friend Percy, whom he is utterly in love with. It is Monty’s wish to have one last year having as much fun as possible flirting with Percy, gambling, drinking, and trouble alike. Yet, when Monty’s penchant for mischief causes more trouble than he would like, the Tour turns into a manhunt across Europe with Monty, Percy, and Monty’s sister Felicity as the targets.
How I Received the Book
This book was one of my favorite spur-of-the-moment-buys-due-to-a-Tumblr-post that I’ve had in a while. The Tumblr post in question listed various reasons as to why one should buy this book, including race diversity, sexual diversity, pirates, and a journey around Europe for precious treasure. Mackenzi Lee certainly delivered with this fresh and lively story.
This book was a brilliant page-turner. The action of the adventure that Lee conjures for the reader never stop — even if the starring trio seem to get a chance to catch their breath while on the run, something troublesome is always lurking around the corner. The dynamic between the three main characters is absolutely wonderful, with them representing strong ties in platonic, romantic, and sibling relationships, and each of them are strong enough to develop and grow amidst exterior and interior troubles. Side and minor characters are even fully developed, each getting his or her own voice that are easily recognizable.
As if the characters and the adventure aren’t enough to keep you reading, the sheer wit and, at times, delicious sarcasm of Monty as the narrator will keep you invested. Monty has no filter, not as a narrator nor as part of conversations with the other characters, and it is wonderfully refreshing with plenty of comedic quips. Aside from adoring Monty and Percy together, the sibling relationship between Monty and Felicity was a delight. Reading their interactions and how they grow together in the story was amazing.
I cannot remember any issues that I had with the story. True, there were times when I wanted to shake Monty and Percy by the shoulders to get their acts together when it came to their feelings for one another, as I want to do with most pining teenage and young adult characters. Miscommunication — or just flat-out not communicating at all — between characters and their feelings is an annoying trope, but this book’s pacing and sheer adventure played well with the emotional drama.
If you’re interested in a period story about high-stakes adventure, witty description and dialogue, sibling banter, pining love, diversity in race and sexuality, and pirates that haven’t quite figured out how to be good pirates yet, then I highly recommend Lee’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.”
The sequel — “A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy” — was released in October 2018 to just as much acclaim, and a novella from just last year titled “The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky” is on my list to check out.
5 out of 5 stars.