The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue


Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Series: N/A

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: June 20th 2017

Rating:

Five Stars

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artefact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

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 travelling 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.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to go courting trouble, is all.”
“We’re not courting trouble,” I say. “Flirting with it, at most.”

Henry “Monty” Montague is about to go on tour, travelling around Europe with his best friend Percy. However the wild tour Monty has planned – full of gambling, drinking and the pleasurable company of women and men – is immediately brought to a halt by his father. This tour is Monty’s last chance to prove  himself responsible; if his father hears even a hint of scandal Monty will lose everything and the estate will go to his new baby brother.

So instead of vice and pleasure Monty’s tour begins with learning and lectures he has no interest in, and the company of his younger sister Felicity who they are escorting to her finished school in Marseilles. Monty refuses to let this be his and Percy’s send off, and a party in Versailles that starts with Monty being introduced to his father’s influential peers ends with him running naked through the palace gardens, something that definitely doesn’t belong to him hidden in his coat pocket.

“Oh no.”
Percy looks sideways at me. “Oh no what?”
I swallow. “I’d first like it to be noted that I am most certainly not a smuggler.”
“Monty…” he says, my name sopping with dread.
“And,” I continue overtop him, “I’d like you to both remember just how much you adore me and how dull and gloomy your lives would be without me in them.”
“What did you do?”

Believing this to be the last straw Mr Lockwood, Monty and Percy’s bear-leader, prepares to take Felicity to her school before taking Monty home again, but when they’re stopped by highway men searching for the box Monty stole their tour drastically changes course.

Monty, Percy and Felicity flee; but what starts out as a simple desire to be reunited with Lockwood and to commence their tour, after all a harrowing escape from highway men has to be worth more than Monty’s actions in Versailles, ends with a journey across Europe. Monty, Percy and Felicity travel through Barcelona and Venice to try and reunite the box with its owners, facing down French soldiers and pirates as they struggle to stay one step ahead of the Duke of Bourbon.

There was plenty of hype surrounding The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in the run up to its release, everyone seemed to be eagerly anticipating this book, but it was only once it was released that I saw some of the amazing reviews that I took an interest in this book. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an incredible book, reminding me in ways of My Lady Jane as it retells history in an attention grabbing story full of amazing characters, a dash of magic, and plenty of humour.

…The Characters

He raises his head. “You’re nothing like your father, Monty. For a start, you’re far more decent than he is.”
I’m not sure how, after all the terrible things I’ve done, he can possibly mean that.

Monty has always been a disappointment to his father; but in his father’s eyes being expelled from the finest boarding schools and always finding his way into trouble pales in comparison to Monty being bisexual. Monty has lived with years of abuse at his father’s hands, and while you wouldn’t know it to look at him you can see the scars his father’s words and actions have left in Monty’s interactions with people who have power over him.

He may seem a vain character, all too aware of his good looks, slightly ignorant, unaware of the hardships Percy faces as a black man or Felicity faces as a woman, and impulsive with a tendency to put his foot in his mouth more often than not but Monty is trying his best. Everything he does is for Percy, for someone he loves, and he is good at thinking quickly on his feet which gets them out of scraps a fair few times. Although they’re always scraped Monty has gotten them into.

“So long as you don’t go falling in love with me.”
I don’t know why I say it. Call it battlements around my helpless heart. Percy looks away from me fast, shoulders curling up. It almost looks like a flinch. But then he says, “I’ll try my best.”

Percy had been Monty’s best friend for years. He is aware of everything there is to know about Monty, including the abuse he suffers at his father’s hands which is something Monty has kept carefully hidden from the rest of the world, but Percy has his own secrets. As a black man in a time when slavery is still occurring Percy is looked down on by Monty’s peers. He’s almost accepted it’s just the way the world works, and he knows there is little he can do to change people’s opinions of him. As soon as they see the colour of his skin they’ve already formed their bigoted opinions.

Even though Monty says the wrong thing more often than not around Percy, even though he doesn’t understand anything Percy is going through, the two are still always there for each other. The danger they find themselves in that threatens their lives is more than the petty troubles they have. For years now Monty has been in love with Percy, but he pines from afar unwilling to lose his best friend, thinking Percy couldn’t ever feel the same way. When it comes down to it Percy and Monty are always going to be on each other’s sides, and while Monty doesn’t understand some of the oppression Percy faces he starts to see it during this trip, starts to learn more about it. I loved reading the relationship between the two boys because it was such a close one, even before their feeling got in the middle they were best friends, and Percy makes Monty want more when his father’s makes him want to give up.

“Just thinking about all that blood.” I nearly shudder. “Doesn’t it make you a bit squeamish?”
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.

Felicity is Monty’s little sister and before the tour he never took much notice of her, quiet but stubborn with her head constantly buried in a book, but as their adventure unfolds he sees a different side to Felicity even his parents aren’t aware of. For years Felicity has wanted to go to school, she wants to learn more of the world and maybe become a doctor, but instead her parents are sending her to finishing school, and she hates the idea. Felicity is the brains, on their extended, off-the-map tour. She comes up with the plans and is the common sense against Monty’s impulse, trying to hold him back from doing anything else too stupid.

I loved all three of our main characters, all of them were incredibly developed and made you feel for them in different ways. All of them seemed to have two sides to their personalities; there’s the side they present to the world and the real them, which they reveal more and more as the tour commences and they come even further off the map.

…The Setting

“As we sail across the Channel toward Calais, this is what I’m thinking of—Percy and me and England sinking into the sea behind us, and also French lads and their tight breeches and, zounds, I can’t wait to get to Paris. I am also maybe a tiny bit drunk.”

One of my favourite things to see in books, any book from any genre, is travel and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was full of it. We follow Monty, Percy and Felicity on their tour and beyond; from Paris, to Versailles, to Barcelona, to Venice and to the island of Maria e Marta. It’s not an easy journey but everything about the setting of this book was well researched; from the travel itself to the period typical attitudes to LGBT+ sexualities, epilepsy, and how they treat women and people of colour. The idea of the tour was an interesting one, an eighteenth century take on a gap year, and while Monty, Percy and Felicity had to deal with sinking islands, highway men and pirates along the way there was also plenty of fun to be had.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is part of the historical comedy genre, and it’s a genre I love. Between this book and My Lady Jane I don’t think I’ve laughed so much reading a story. Monty, Percy and Felicity are easy characters to love and I found myself rooting for them, rooting for Monty and Percy especially as they danced around their feelings, very quickly. Honestly I don’t think I can recommend this book enough, but if you loved My Lady Jane you need to pick up The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue next.

What did you think of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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55 thoughts on “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

  1. Wow, all these characters really sound fantastic. I love the premise behind this book, it really screams originality. It even explores so many different places all in one book, and all with a purpose. Fantastic review, Beth. Seems like the hype is real with this one! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing review like always, Beth!! So glad you enjoyed this one 😀 I loved the characters SO MUCH. Felicity is easily one of my new favourite female characters and I don’t ship characters much anymore but Monty and Percy were so adorable. It was such a fun adventure too. I felt like I was right there with everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lauren! 😀 Yes I thought this was a brilliant book, and I’m so glad I ended up picking it up as well. All the characters were amazing, I don’t think I could choose my favourite but I am so excited we’re getting another book with Felicity at the forefront. Hopefully it will be as much of a fun adventure as this one was! 😀 ❤

      Like

  3. I have heard so many amazing things about this book! I have actually wanted to read it since I first heard about it (which was some months ago) and seeing many positive reviews for it just makes me more exited to pick it up!! 😀 I really want to read more historical fiction and this book seems like a great place to start. I hope that I will be able to pick it up soon. Great review Beth! ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s a brilliant book Anna, and in my opinion all the amazing things you’ve been seeing about it are all true! 😀 I hope you manage to get around to this one soon, especially given you’ve been meaning to for a while. If you’re looking for more historical fiction this is a great place to start, and I hope you love it.
      Thanks so much! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic review, Beth! I agree with everything you said. Between My Lady Jane and this book, I don’t think I’ve laughed quite so much! While it was extremely witty and full of daring, I also appreciate how the author delved into social issues (bigotry and homophobia) as well as mental and familial issues. I wasn’t really expecting Monty’s father to be so abusive and it was intriguing to see how those interactions with his father had left their scars and had shaped Monty’s behavior. Monty was far from a perfect character, but his flaws made him so easy to relate to and to root for. The characters were definitely the strongest part of the book because they were all so complex, multi-dimensional, and completely believable. I have to say the direction the plot took towards the end really surprised me. Wasn’t expecting to see a bit of magic/alchemy thrown in there. It just made the story even more exciting and harrowing than before. I’m so glad you loved this one as much as I did. It deserves all the stars in my opinion! Can’t wait to read the second book about Felicity! Again, excellent review! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Azia. 😀 Yeah there were plenty of similarities in terms of how funny both books were. I really loved them but The Gentleman’s Guide did delve more into the society issues which I loved seeing as well. Yes I thought that was really interesting to see, it was subtle wasn’t it but the way Monty acted at times you could see how his father’s actions had left their mark. The characters were all brilliant, honestly I could talk for hours about them all. I was a little surprised about the magical/alchemy aspect, but not bad surprised because I love anything with magic in and obviously this book was no exception! 😀
      Definitely deserved all the stars, and definitely definitely excited for Felicity’s story.
      Thanks so much Azia! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The author did an excellent job in balancing humor with seriousness. I love it when books manage to find that middle ground. It’s a perfect contrast that keeps you both engaged in the severity of a situation and entertained by adventure and personable characters! I really have nothing bad to say about any of these characters. They make me want to reread the book already haha 😀 ❤ The alchemy was such a surprise, but always a welcome one 😀
        Just an amazing book. Can't wait to read it again!
        Np! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Same here, and the things that shouldn’t have been made light of never were which was nice to see; subjects like the racism Percy experienced of the abuse Monty did.
        No neither do I, and actually talking about this book with you is making me want to re-read it again right away! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Actually, now I want to reread BOTH My Lady Jane and The Gentleman’s Guide haha. Both are so well done 😀 I think we’re very lucky to have them on our shelves ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This book is really popular right now and I’m glad to see it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not the type of book I usually read, but the reviews are all lovely and everyone praises the characters (which are usually the most important part of the book for me) so I’m going to add it to my TBR and give it a shot.
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it really is. I know this was a lot of peoples most anticipated release of the year and from what I’ve read, both in terms of the book and the reviews, the anticipation was worth it!
      That’s great to hear, in that case I hope you really love this book and the risk adding it to your to-read list was worth it. 😀
      Thanks Lauren.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a great review, Beth! I haven’t read that one OR My Lady Jane, but both need to be on my TBR because I have heard wonderful things about both of these books. Ordinary, I don’t really go towards the historical kind of books, but I’m guessing that with all the fun you seemed to have in that one, maybe I won’t mind the historical setting which I’m not usually too fond of. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. 🙂 I’d highly highly recommend this book and My Lady Jane, they’re both amazing reads and I’m pretty sure all the wonderful things you’ve heard about both books are 100% true! 😀
      I don’t ordinarily go for historical fiction either, but there was something about the concept of this book I liked so I thought I’d give it a go and I’m glad I did. I’m sure if you read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue you’ll feel the same way.
      That’s all right, I’m glad you enjoyed my review! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I want to read this one now more than ever! My Lady Jane as well 🙂 It’s a genre I haven’t reached out for much (unless you count Meg Cabot’s historical chick lit novels) but one I’m quite interested in.
    I love that the characters have more sides to them than just the one they present to society, and how adorable Monty and Percy are. I like that it’s so historically accurate too – sometimes a story can be all kinds of wonderful but miss on that aspect, which makes it unrealistic and shallow.
    Felicity sounds incredible! Travel is one of my favorite things in books, too, so I’m happy this one has plenty of it.
    Wonderful review, Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes definitely pick up this book, and My Lady Jane, when you get a chance Sophie. They’re both amazing books and I’m sure you’ll love them as well! 😀 Honestly I haven’t read too many historical books myself but pretty much all of them I’ve loved so maybe I need to check out the genre a little more. 🙂
      The characters were amazing, and probably my favourite part of this book (maybe tied with the travel aspects of the story actually). There was some incredible development and it wasn’t long before I was really rooting for them all.
      Ha, travel is one of my favourite things in books too, and thanks Sophie! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I listened to a Book Riot podcast just this morning where they talked about this book, and after reading your review I guess I definitely need to pick it up. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d definitely recommend this book Kelsey, I thought it was a brilliant read and while I don’t know what Book Riot said about The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue if it was something positive I’m sure it was well deserved. That’s all right, I’m glad you enjoyed my review! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great review! I totally agree that this was a fast-paced, fun read – and though I haven’t read MY LADY JANE, your comparison definitely makes me more inclined to pick up that one. I honestly had so many issues with Monty’s character that it brought down the book for me quite a bit. I get he’s supposed to be the doofus you can’t help but love, but some of the things he said permanently marred his image in my eyes. 😦

    ~ Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Aimal. 😀 Oh I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one too, and if you haven’t read My Lady Jane I’d definitely recommend it. It’s a brilliant book and though they’re not the same story so much in this book brought it to mind again.
      Oh that is a shame, but yeah I can see what you mean. There are only so many times a character can keep making mistakes and putting his foot in his mouth before you start getting a little tired of it. :/

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    1. Thanks so much, and yes I’d recommend this book to everyone but especially to fans of My Lady Jane. It was brilliant; the plot, the characters, the settings, there was nothing I didn’t love about The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so glad you loved this book! It was so amazing and I wish I could read it for the first time again!! Did you hear that the author is writing a second book from Felicity’s perspective? I can’t wait! Great review 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh going back and reading this book for the first time again would be amazing. I kind of wish there was a way to do that with our favourite books, still I thought The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was an amazing read, and it’s definitely a book I’ll be picking up again at some point. 😀
      Yes I did hear, I am so excited for it. I loved Felicity’s character and can’t wait to read more from her. Thanks so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I just picked this book up and am about to start reading it! I’m so glad to hear you liked it! And I’m even happier to hear that you compare it to “My Lady Jane” as that is one of my all-time favorite reads! It has been so hard to find a book that will make me laugh as much as “My Lady Jane”! I am hoping this will be it!

    Great Review!
    -Lo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I really hope you enjoy it in that case. 🙂 Thanks, this book was a lot better than I thought it would be and after reading some of the reviews for it my expectations were high. Yes I’d recommend The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue to anyone but especially people who loved My Lady Jane. Hopefully this book will make you laugh as much as that one did! 😀
      Thanks so much. 🙂

      Like

  12. !!!!! What a great review! This made me so happy, you have no idea. I’ve seen so much hype for this book but I thought it might disappoint. The way you’ve described everything sounds fantastic however! Thank you for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Izzi, yeah I saw plenty of hype for this book as well. It seemed to be everywhere in the run up to it’s release and after it was released I saw plenty of amazing reviews. Luckily it was just as good as I’d hoped, and as everyone said it was. 🙂
      Do you plan to read this book at some point, if you do I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
      That’s all right! 🙂 ❤

      Like

  13. “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an incredible book, reminding me in ways of My Lady Jane as it retells history in an attention grabbing story full of amazing characters, a dash of magic, and plenty of humor” —-YES! 100% agree with this statement & wall throughout thought the same to myself. As a fan of My Lady Jane, i miss how much that book made me laugh & the amazing characters. I didn’t expect to come across a book I’d love equally as much so soon yet here it is! I am so glad you loved this book Beth & you’ve written a FAB review! ❤ the quotes you've chosen, making me smile as I remember those passages. These characters are some of my fave in YA and I cannot wait for the authors upcoming spin-off companion with Felicity *excited emoji* haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you agree with my review Lilly, and yes The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was a perfect book wasn’t it. It’s one I would recommend to everyone but especially people who loved My Lady Jane because it brings back all those memories and I didn’t expect to find a book quite like it anytime soon. 🙂
      Thanks so much, I had a lot of fun looking at quotes for this review, there were so many of them I loved that I could have picked, but these were my favourites I think. God neither can I. I loved Felicity in this book and can’t wait to see her adventures continue! 😀 ❤

      Like

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