Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Read: June 4th-7th, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 528 pages
Source: McNally Robinson/ Be First Book Club

Description from GoodReads:

   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.


   Wait until you fall for the boy who can't love you back.
   Last year I had picked up My Lady Jane to read, after receiving it in the June 2016 OwlCrate, and I fell in love with the historical and comical aspects of the book. Since then, I've kept an eye out for that particular kind of book, and that's how The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue came into my radar. I was also lucky enough to have picked up a copy for McNally's Be First Book Club.

   Even though the book was from a completely different author than My Lady Jane, I couldn't help but compare TGGtVaV to My Lady Jane for the entirety of the book.  My Lady Jane contained magical aspects to the book, aspects that I couldn't help but feel like were needed in TGGtVaV, and thus I just couldn't help but not feel a big pull of interest to the book. In this case I blame myself for not being a big fan of contemporary novels, as well building the book up to be something completely different in my head.

   Although I had ruined the book for myself, I was still able to enjoy different aspects of the book, the characters and relationships in particular. The main character, Monty, is a bisexual who lives sometime in the 18th century, and life in the 18th century certainly isn't easy for a bisexual. Along with being a bisexual, being a person of colour or even a woman, aren't any easier when it comes to that time period. The three main characters that we encounter in the book happen to fit one or more of these categories. Although the novel pays more attention to the bisexual aspects of the book, and how the people of the time period don't support it or even view it as appriotate, Lee does a terrific job of also drawing attention to the way people of colour were/are treated poorly, and how the women of the time had to fit the mold that was created for them. Lee would throw in little facts throughout the book that made you pause and consider the truth in what was being said, instances like, "There is nothing good about watching another man claim your ship because your skin is too dark to do it yourself" and "Ladies haven't the luxury of being squeamish about blood.". Lee would never tiptoe around the truth, and would give you the facts as they were, you couldn't help but love the book because of this.

   Out of the main characters, I absolutely hated Monty. He was always so ignorant, could only ever care about himself, and not to mention he made so many problems for Percy and Felicity. In the end Lee could have made him perfect, but she made him imperfect which I couldn't help but enjoy, even if he infuriated me. The same went with the other two characters, Lee made them both imperfect as well, like all people are. It was different from most YA novels, and I hope to finally see that become a norm.

   And finally, I know it's only a small piece but I really enjoyed how the cover's little sketches predicted what was to come in the novel. The little sketches seemed like they were just kind of there when I began the novel, but I can't help but love them now.

   The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue was not what I had hoped it to be, but it did have some phenomenal parts to it and I would certainly recommend to to anyone who needs a "Big Gay European Road Trip Novel".  I will probably end up picking up the books companion spin-off, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy when it releases in 2018.


Favourite Quote:

"What we once were, that you are now. What we are now, soon you shall be."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQA+ Stories, Fantasy, Romance, Adventure


  1. I definitely love reading about flawed characters, which often lack in YA novels, so I'm glad this book includes not one, but three of them! Thank you for the review, it's the first time I read about this title and now I'm looking forward to reading it (you had me at "pirates" hahahaha).
    Loved your writing!

  2. I'm looking forward to reading this book! I usally don't read historical fiction, but I've heard such great things about this book that I really want to check it out. Aweosme review!

    I'm new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I'd love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.


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