Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Series: Montague Siblings #1
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Published: June, 2017
Length: 513 pages
Content Warnings: homophobia, racism, abuse (physical & psychological)
Henry Montague is, to his parents’ great dismay, not very gentlemanly. He’s been kicked out of boarding school and constantly berated by his father to get his act together — stop drinking and bedding down with the closest available man or woman — but to no avail. Soon he will have to settle down and take over his father’s estate. First, however, he’s going on a Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend (and crush) Percy and his annoying younger sister Felicity. Of course, things don’t work out as planned. Instead of sampling the finest that Europe has to offer, Henry, Percy, and Felicity soon end up alone, penniless, and running for their lives.
God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.
I picked up this book expecting a funny feel-good adventure. I got that and a good deal more. This book is a coming of age story with superb character development, a slow burn romance you can get behind (read: I ship it), and a hint of the supernatural. (It does technically count as fantasy, but you won’t know why until halfway through.) I loved the environment and unique dialogue provided by the setting of 1700s England.
Felicity is a badass who refuses to be ladylike, and I love her for it. Percy is such a sweetheart. And Henry is… rather a dick and more than a bit idiotic. Sure, this annoyed me at first, but it made for one of the more realistic character developments in coming of age novels that I’ve seen. He started out as a dumbass teenager and progressed to being somewhat less of a dumbass teenager. These characters and their diversity are the highlight of this story!
We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.
Contrary to what I first assumed, this adventure isn’t all fun and games but touches on subjects such as homophobia, racism, alcoholism, abuse, and chronic illness. It does so in a way that’s genuine but still interspersed with comedy. The Gentleman’s Guide is also rather tropey, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it for the most part. One thing that did bother me somewhat is that miscommunication between characters was rather central to a lot of the plot, but that’s pretty much just a pet peeve of mine.
As an adventure story, this book is much more character-driven than plot-based. Nevertheless, the weakest part of this book for me was the plot in the second half. This is where the fantasy element is introduced, and I wasn’t quite convinced by the way it was handled by various characters. Still, I find this to be a pretty small complaint.
I loved this book enough that I’ve already started the sequel. It’s hilarious and soft but holds a good deal of depth. If you’re looking for a fun, character-driven, mostly light-hearted read that will occasionally make your heart ache, then look no further!