The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by MacKenzi Lee Review

Let’s start with the synopsis. This is a YA historical fiction novel that follows the story of Henry ‘Monty’ Montague as he embarks on a Tour before settling into his inheritance and life in society. Along for the ride is Percy, his best friend and secret love of his life, and Felicity, Monty’s sister and aspiring surgeon. At a party at Versailles, Monty steals something important and is thus chased by French nobles. I won’t go into anymore plot details, but let’s just say it involves medicine, alchemy, and secrets!
The book starts off quickly in terms of plot. Lee doesn’t spend too much time in England, and instead, the story opens on the morning of Monty’s & Co’s departure. The characters immediately popped off the page, and I could clearly envision them whilst reading. Monty is self-absorbed and spoiled at first glance (and truthfully, for most of the novel), but like any good protagonist changes throughout the course of the story. By the end, Monty had changed for the better without losing his humor.
Percy was my absolute favorite character. He is biracial and an epileptic, and this brought to attention historical and social issues within this time frame. Lee did a wonderful job using her history degree in informing, but not ‘info dumping’ the reader in regards to his character. We slowly learn more about Percy, and his is a completely fleshed out character. Where Monty is selfish, Percy is kind and thoughtful. *i.e, he’s a precious cinnamon roll that needs to be protected at all costs.* I was incredibly excited about Felicity’s character because she wanted nothing more than to go to medical school, something unheard of in this time frame. I thought she was brilliant and clever for a good bulk of the novel, but there was a scene that got on my nerves in which she and Monty discuss Monty’s bisexuality. I understand this story takes place in the 1700s, but hearing homophobic comments just made me want to scream. But again, historical context is important.
The romance in this was realistic and a slow burn! Which is better than insta-love, if you ask me. Several of the chapters had me swooning. More than once, I smiled like a complete idiot.
The only thing that kept me from giving this 5 stars instead of 4 is that it didn’t make me obsessive over reading it, if that makes sense. I was perfectly okay placing it aside in order to do something else.
The sequel that follows the events after this book, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (centered around Felicity’s POV) will be released October 2nd, 2018.
Rating: 4/5
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