The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee
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 only came to know about this book recently, God only knows what I was doing when it came out. Apparently, there was a lot of anticipation over it and well-deserved too! So, when I finally got to know about this book, I knew I had to give it a chance, not just because people were raving about it but also because it really sounded interesting and fun?
I am glad to say that it really was interesting and fun. Historical fiction is something I always read with a bit of caution, I don’t know why. Maybe there’s always that question whirring inside my mind, ‘Would this really happen? Did that really work back in the day?’ Sometimes, the answers aren’t pretty and I am, then, let down by the book but fortunately, it isn’t the case this time.
Now, it’s time for me to admit that I am huge fan of best friends becoming something more, only in cases where it’s valid though. Don’t worry, I don’t go about shipping every pair of best friends. Even I have my limits. However, in this book, I started shipping them pretty much from the start? I mean, what’s not to ship?
I have to admit that at times, Monty isn’t my favourite character ever because his very real and human flaws but that’s one of the reasons he also seemed real. His attachment to the comforts of being rich, him being unaware of the realities of being a coloured person, even if Percy was only a bit darker (him being biracial), him not caring beyond the moment…oh dear, I am not painting a pretty picture of him, am I? But those are the things that make the most sense when you think about it. However, there’s also an infectiousness to him, a sort of vulnerability due to his lack of loving family background, his truly lovely moments with Felicity. All of those things make Monty and the complete picture is pretty lovable, to be sure.
I would have to say that I wasn’t too hot on Percy in the beginning either but it was only because I couldn’t see him, with Monty, it’s an open book of sorts. With Percy, it’s only as the story starts getting deeper that you see Percy and the young man who emerges from it is seriously lovely. I just wanted to cuddle him, he’s just…so adorable and lovely. His struggles with being biracial, his confession of having epilepsy, his obvious fondness and just love for Monty. Everything makes him the perfect boy that Monty sees him as.
I think I loved Felicity the most! She’s a bookworm, has very strong ideas as to what she wants to do and does it (during their adventures, too!) and yet, she’s also gentle and lovely. She protects Monty without a single thought, there’s no hesitation while she’s planning something truly devious all the while managing to put Monty in his place (if he becomes too full of himself, it happens occasionally. Far too often, really.) She’s pretty awesome and I would love to read more about her in the next novel that’s coming out soon! Also, I am glad that there’s a novel all about her in the works. She deserves it.
Overall, I think it’s a book everyone can enjoy. There’s tons of things to choose from, historical fiction, pirates, sinking islands, dead bodies, mysteries and LGBT aspects. It pretty much has it all. So, please, give this book a chance. (There’s also a scene where Monty runs naked in the gardens of Versailles, that ought to tempt at least some of you?)