Thursday, July 27, 2017

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

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee 
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 513
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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. 

Monty (really named Henry Montague, but never ever call him that), is about to embark on his European Grand Tour with his best friend, Percy, and his sister, Felicity. Only one thing stands in the way of Monty having the best year of his life - he is completely and hopelessly in love with Percy and Percy has no idea. Oh, and Monty's father has decided that he needs to learn to be a respectable citizen and has taken all the drunken debauchery out of his Tour. Now Monty must suffer through a year of acting like a gentleman and keeping his feelings hidden. But there is never a dull moment with Monty, and he manages to find plenty of trouble to get tied up in...and to drag Percy and Felicity into as well.

What a lovely adventure this book turned out to be. It managed to be historically accurate without feeling like a history lesson. Even though the characters were galavanting around 17th-century Europe, they felt so vivd and real - like you could run into them walking down the street in today's world. Monty is a hilariously stubborn teen who refuses to grow up. He is set to inherit his father's lands and title when he returns from his Grand Tour, and he wants absolutely nothing to do with responsibility. Percy has had to deal with multiple social stigmas for his entire life, and just wants everyone to see him as he truly is. Felicity is a woman, and is therefore stuck with all of the restrictions that her gender entails. She sets her sights higher than what society has to offer her, and surprises everyone with her strength and intelligence. The characters were wonderful and lovable despite their flaws. They were so relatable, and everyone can find something of themselves in our trio of characters.

One of the best things about The Gentleman's Guide was that although it was set in the 17th century, it explored topics that were both interesting to learn about from a Victorian perspective, and still incredibly prevalent in today's world. It explored identity, sexuality, race, friendship, responsibility, and the troublesome time between childhood innocence and becoming a respectable adult. No matter what age or time period, these are topics everyone has encountered and can relate to. It brought numerous social issues (of then and now) to light and faced them straight on. It was a powerful book with an important message, which it managed to deliver through adventure and hilarity.

Obviously, I really loved The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and can't say enough good things about it. It was hilarious, light-hearted, powerful, intense, and meaningful all at the same time. The writing was superb and the story was engaging and amazing. I highly recommend this book, even if you don't like historical fiction. There is something in this book that will appeal to everyone. We can all find ourselves in The Gentleman's Guide and find something to learn from it.