Book Review: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (4/5)

11 May

I absolutely adored the first book in this series so to say I put it on a pedestal is perhaps an understatement. I was so excited to start it that I didn’t think about book club picks that might get in the way and had to stop three hours in for more than a month to squeeze in some other books before coming back to it. But when I did return, I powered through.

PetticoatsThe Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) by Mackenzi Lee

Other books by Lee reviewed on this blog:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky

Summary from Amazon:

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

This book was fun and a great adventure, but I was looking for something more and unfortunately didn’t get it. Don’t get me wrong Felicity’s voice is great and Johanna and Sim were amazing companions. However, I didn’t fee like Felicity grew much during the book and Monty’s growth was part of what I loved so much in the first book. Felicity grew more in the first book than she seemed to in this one. It felt a bit more like a forced sequel than a true second plot and I was disappointed. By my rating, you can see I still enjoyed it, but I couldn’t give it the full Five Stars.

I didn’t believe Felicity and Johanna as much as I would have liked. Felicity was so single minded for much of the book that I found it hard to believe she welcomed Johanna back into her life so quickly and abandoned her worship of Platt as fast as she did. The rest of the book, her focus was much more external and it seemed like a sudden shift. Johanna was more likeable the second half of the book but I didn’t understand why she was so subservient before she ran away. She seemed so happy and content and many of the comments she and her uncle made made it seem like she wanted to get married. She never seemed to contradict this later so her decision to abscond baffled me for much of the book.

Sim was my favorite character. I thought her motivation was the strongest out of the female leads. Her relationship with her father was appropriately complicated. I also liked how Lee brought in a Muslim character and the cultural opportunities that opened the book to because of that diverse pick. Sim was a strong a powerful character and I think I’d rather a sequel about her than another Montague sibling at this point.

There wasn’t much relatable about Felicity which is part of why I didn’t engage with her. Her adventure was larger than life and very fun, but it’s not something most of us will even get a chance to experience. Her friendship with Johanna ended poorly and that could have been something I understood and related to, but their resuming of their friendship was almost too quick and they never seemed to sort out what had driven them apart. Her desire to do something society pushed back against has become (thankfully) less relatable for most people. I think this was supposed to be one thing that made her relatable to women but in this case, I think time has made her struggles less common and her drive less relatable.


Mackenzi Lee Author image via HarperCollins

I enjoyed the time the girls spent in Zurich best. After that, the book started moving so fast that I had some trouble keeping up with it. Zurich gave them time to develop as individuals and to bond as a group which was fun to watch. Felicity was able to show her knowledge and apply it well with Sim’s injury and we got to see how the three could work together for the rest of the book.

Platt’s character was the most disappointing part of the entire book to me. Felicity looked up to him so much and we know that he’s a very intelligent person from the books that he wrote and the work that he did. The way he carved a way for himself in the medical field was admirable. However, he was a wreck once he appeared. His addiction was to blame for a lot of this, but it seemed too much of an oversimplification based on how he’d been built up. I was really hoping for a bit more, for his genius to shine through in some way or for him to at least show his medical knowledge.

The audiobook was narrated by Moira Quirk. I didn’t hate her reading, but it wasn’t my favorite. She made a lot of things sounds flippant that I don’t think should have been read in such flippant tones. It was hard for me to tell if that was the writing or the narration, though. I will say that I liked her dramatic pauses when large turns happened. She had good voices for the characters, though Johanna and Felicity were a bit similar.

Felicity takes her fate into her own hands, not letting her society dictate what she can or should do. She refuses romantic relationships and pursues professional growth. She’s a very modern woman living in the 1700s. The book shows how far women have come since Felicity is very limited by her sex and the time she lives in. Many of the things she is barred from doing are much more easily obtainable by women today. Her fight it what makes this so. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the women who came before us, women like Felicity who pushed back and found their own way.

Writer’s Takeaway: Lee kept a first-person narration story moving forward at a good pace which can be hard to do! Her time jumps were well managed and she kept Felicity at the center of the excitement without it seeming forced out out of character. I’ve tried to write first person and struggled so I was so excited to see a story move so smoothly.

Overall, a fun read but nothing like the first in the series. Four out of Five Stars

This book fulfills the 1700-1799 time period of the When Are You Reading? 2021 Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #2) | Steeping Stories
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) Review | BookLoversBlog
‘The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats and Piracy’ by Mackenzi Lee, 2018. A review by John Cook. | queerreaders
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (ARC): A Loveable Girl Gang on an Adventure Saving Sea Monsters | Vicky Who Reads
Book Review | The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy – Mackenzi Lee | For the Love of Books


4 Responses to “Book Review: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (4/5)”

  1. Ash Williams May 11, 2021 at 10:03 AM #

    Thanks for linking my review 🧡


    • Sam May 11, 2021 at 10:55 AM #

      Thanks for reviewing! I always appreciate others with the same love of books as me. Happy reading!


  2. Deanna Reads and Sleeps May 12, 2021 at 12:19 AM #

    This was such a fun read! I loved the confrontation when Johanna told Felicity off by telling her to get off her high horse and let go of her ‘I’m Not Like Other Girls Syndrome’, and that there was nothing wrong with say, preferring tea parties and clothes to books and adventures. At least I think that’s how it went, as I read this book ages ago. Felicity attacked misogyny by hating femininity and I liked that she was forced to recon with that problematic perspective and what it cost her.


    • Sam May 12, 2021 at 6:45 AM #

      Yes! Agree completely. Felicity completely misjudged Johanna and realized it, too. Liking pretty dresses doesn’t mean you’re less intelligent or dedicated to knowledge and that’s where Felicity misstepped, assuming her way of doing things was the only way. Thanks for commenting and happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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