Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (5/5)

31 Dec

I’d seen this book around so when I needed a final book to fill in the 1700s of the When Are You Reading Challenge 2019, this seemed like an easy pick. It was even better that it was on audio. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. I fell in love with it. The narrator was great and Monty was amazingly annoying/relatable/pitiable all at once. It was incredible and I can’t wait to read more by Lee.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1) by Mackenzi Lee

Summary from Goodreads:

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 absolutely loved this book. It was everything I love about historical fiction and everything I adore in YA all at once and it was amazing. I loved the depiction of Europe and the Grand Tour. I loved how Lee addressed the portrayal of black and gay characters. I even loved Felicity as much as she was annoying in Monty’s eyes. I wanted to hate Monty with every fiber of my being but I adored him. He was so vulnerable that I felt bad for him even when he was at his worst. Lee created an amazing cast of characters and I won’t soon forget it.

These characters were amazing. Percy and Monty alone could have made a book out of their romance. Pairing it with an adventure was exactly what I love. Felicity was a strong woman when strong women weren’t appreciated. Percy had an illness no one could cure. And Monty was struggling with homosexuality in a time when it was illegal. They all had an issue to deal with on their own and together there were amazingly flawed and fun to read about.

Despite some initial revulsion, I ended up loving Monty. (I feel like I have to say immediately it’s not because of his sexuality so please keep reading before roasting me.) When I first started the book, I thought Monty narrating was going to ruin the whole thing for me. He was just so pompous! He acted like nothing could touch him and he was so much better than everyone and it got under my skin fast. It’s a credit to Lee’s storytelling that I learned to love him. I learned that his bravado was a way of trying to attract Percy and his humor a way of deflecting the pain he carried with him. As he opened up about his past and true feelings, I saw him as the true and flawed person he was and I fell in love with the character. Now I hope he narrates future novels because I’d love to learn more about him.

I think Monty’s bravado ended up being relatable. I remember being a hormonal teenager and wanting to show off to impress a boy. I remember being impressed by a boy showing off. It was one of the most natural teenage things I think Monty could have done. The only difference was the time period he was in and the level of society he embarrassed himself at. That I wouldn’t have been capable of in high school.

Mackenzi Lee
Image via HarperCollins

I liked the time the party was in Spain. Yes, it’s partially because I speak Spanish and visited Barcelona last year. But I think it was a really good plot development time as well. Felicity became much more of a team member while they were there and Monty had to learn how to stay a bit calmer than he was used to. He had to be subtle. I liked how they snuck into prison as well. That seemed really risky but also calculated at the same time and I appreciated what they were able to do.

Ther scene at Versailles was my least favorite. While it was important and had a lasting impact on the plot, it seemed a bit over the top and didn’t give me a great first impression of the characters. I didn’t like Monty yet at this point and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot.

My audiobook was narrated by Christian Coulson and he was fan-freaking-tastic. He gave Monty an amazing voice with layers of sarcasm, woe, and anger that were just perfect. I can’t imagine reading this without having Coulson’s voice in my head. He was perfect in every way I can describe.

All of the characters had to pretend to be someone they weren’t. Felicity had to pretend she was a lady when she wanted to be a doctor. Percy had to pretend he was well when he was ill. Monty pretending to be straight when he was bisexual was hard for him because he felt he could only recognize part of his affections. It took time for them all to come clean with each other about what they wanted and who they were. It’s hard to be yourself sometimes and it can be hard to accept someone for who they are. But when we do, it’s really beautiful and we can stop seeing people for their flaws and see them for their beauty.

Writer’s Takeaway: I feel like I need to try writing in first person after seeing how wonderfully Lee did it. Monty’s narration gave the book the voice it needed to tackle the internal demons that he was dealing with. The book would have fallen flat without Monty narrating. I haven’t been brave enough to try the first person yet but I’m starting to feel like it’s needed.

An amazing story with great characters. Five out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1700-1799 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge. Challenge complete!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #1) | Steeping Stories
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue | Book Princess Reviews
Review #100 // The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee | The Book Deviant
Review: “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee | MadReviews

5 Responses to “Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (5/5)”

  1. Amanda December 31, 2019 at 8:07 PM #

    I’m glad you liked it! I was also surprised by how much I did haha. It’s true that Monty is annoying but somehow still so lovable.

    Like

    • Sam January 1, 2020 at 8:45 AM #

      I think he took time to grow on me. But now I can’t wait to read more about him. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top 5 Books of 2019 | Taking on a World of Words - January 14, 2020

    […] The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi […]

    Like

  2. Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee (4/5) | Taking On a World of Words - May 18, 2020

    […] heard about this little novella after I’d finished the first in the series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I wasn’t sure if it was fully necessary to read it before the second in the series, but I […]

    Like

  3. Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee (4/5) | Taking On a World of Words - May 18, 2020

    […] heard about this little novella after I’d finished the first in the series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I wasn’t sure if it was fully necessary to read it before the second in the series, but I […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: