Genre: Historical Fiction, YA
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books on June 27, 2017
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.
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.
Have you been searching for a book that has absolutely everything going for it? Look no further – here are five reasons to read Mackenzi Lee’s historical YA romp, THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE.
1. Monty, Percy, and Felicity
Monty is entirely too fond of boys, girls, and drink…and his best friend Percy. Before taking up the mantle of his aristocratic responsibilities, he’s determined to have one last hurrah with Percy on a Grand Tour of Europe; only he didn’t count on his little sister Felicity tagging along…nor did he anticipate that their itinerary would be more opera and museums and less bars and places of ill-repute. But when Monty’s sticky fingers land the gang in trouble, they’re quickly catapulted out of boredom and into the adventure of their lives. Monty is like that privileged friend who’s always getting you into trouble and has little concept of what life is like for other people, but you love them because they’re fun and clever and loyal. Percy is all things sensitive and beautiful and pure, with a teensy bit of mischief up his sleeve. Felicity is smarter than both combined and has an attitude that can only be described as “stabby.”
2. The Tiniest Smidgen of Magic
That little trinket that Monty stole during one of his less than sober moments? Yeah, turns out that not only does it belong to someone tres important and tres murderous, it’s also considerably more than a “little trinket.” It’s connected to shadowy alchemical rituals and a supposed panacea for illness, one that could have devastating consequences if it were to get in the wrong hands. What’s the gang to do? Why, race across the continent to try and deliver it to its rightful owners before they’re caught, of course!
3. A Free Euro Trip
Can’t afford to travel Europe this summer? Have no fear, because THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE provides readers with a gorgeous, free European vacation – albeit one through the 18th century. Mackenzi Lee does an incredible job of bringing various European cities to life, capturing the simultaneous filth and opulence of Paris, the beauty and culture of Catalonia, and the mystery of Venice. The many cultures and socio-political conflicts of these regions are well incorporated into the plot and I genuinely felt like I’d visited these locales after finishing the book.
4. Fantastic Representation
Bisexual male protagonist. Biracial queer main character. A young woman desperate for quality education and a career in medicine. Excellent disability and mental health representation. THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE has all this and more within its pages, and never once did any of it feel forced or shoehorned in. I am incredibly impressed by Lee’s ability to write a fun historical romp that manages to be more thoughtful, nuanced, and diverse than the vast majority of “serious issue” books out there.
5. A Swoon-Worthy Queer Romance
Monty and Percy are such a fantastic pair. They’ve been friends their whole lives but struggle to take the plunge into romance because of everything stacked against them. Homophobia, racism, and classism are all in their way – not to mention the prospect of hanging. Despite the risks, these two are inevitable. Everyone can see it but the two of them, and of course there’s a little bit of angst about that but y’all, it hurts so good. Percy pushes Monty to be a more empathetic and selfless person, and Monty helps Percy unwind and take things less seriously. And the swoony kisses…. lord. Trust me when I saw that Monty and Percy are perfect together.
Have you read THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE? If you could visit any 18th century European city, where would you go? Let me know in the comments!