Friday, August 3, 2018

Book Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings #1)

Release Date: June 27, 2017
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Length: 513 pages
Source: OwlCrate Book

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.



Protagonist: After getting thrown out of boarding school, Henry "Monty" Montague is preparing to go on his Tour of the Continent. When he comes home his life will be different, he'll have to take over the estate from his abusive father, his best friend who he might love will be going to Holland for Law School, and even his sister who he doesn't always get along with won't be there to pester him since she's off to finishing school. Monty hopes this tour will be a yearlong journey of debauchery before his life changes, but when Monty stumbles into some trouble, everything snowballs out of control. I love Monty so much, so many times in this story I just wanted to hold him and tell him he's worthy of happiness, his father has messed him up so much, and he does so much to hide it. Monty is by no means perfect, he's selfish and entitled, he's reckless and a bit of an alcoholic, but the best thing about this story is how he changes and at what rate. All the character development for not only Monty but all of the characters felt very natural and authentic, and the authenticity really lends itself to telling this complex tale.

Romance: As I mentioned above, Monty feels he's in love with his best friend, Percy, and while the romance didn't progress as quickly as I'd like the pacing does fit well with the overall tale so I'm not upset. I really love how Monty's sexuality was explored. At the start of this story, Monty knows he's bisexual, though they didn't have a word for that in the 1700s, and I love how well that's established, as someone who's bisexual, I love seeing that represented so wholly, we see Monty flirt and canoodle with both men and women and how he explains his feeling to his sister later in the book felt so freaking relateable I almost cried. Then there's the Percy of it all. From the start, Percy is the light of Monty's life, though since Monty's not so great with feelings or expressing them, Percy is unaware. They're best friends who've known each other since they were young and with that comes a very special relationship that I love seeing evolve into a romance. While Monty and Percy's romance comes with a whole lot of drama and a little miscommunication, I just love it and really enjoyed the ride.

World Building: First off, I love that this story doesn't take place during a specific year, it just takes place in 17--, which for someone like me who isn't all that interested in history and specific dates but gets swept away by romanticized historic time periods, this was perfect, and the time period isn't even romanticized, well maybe a little bit, but this story shows a harsher side of history, there's racism in this book, slavery, abuse, homophobia, etc. This isn't a story where the setting is perfect and beautiful, but as with great characters, I'd rather have realistic over idealistic. The settings are fantastic, as our group travels across Europe we see a variety of settings and I was swept away but the imagery and locales, I've always wanted to travel around Europe so I loved doing it vicariously, even if it's 1700s Europe. Going into this book I had thought there were no speculative fiction elements and I guess to some degree this isn't speculative fiction depending on what you believe, but when the story gets started the plot seems to move in a bit of a speculative direction and while I wasn't prepared for that, I ended up really enjoying the plot and how it fed into the subplots of this book.

Predictability: When it comes to the story on the whole, since I pretty much read this book in one sitting, there wasn't a whole lot of time for me to do speculating beyond what I pretty much go into any book understanding, characters are introduced, shenanigans happen, it ends happily. I did do some speculating about the spot of trouble our Touring group finds themselves in, and I was way off, I was also trying to figure out how this story will end, besides happily, and I'll get to the ending in a second, but pretty much right up until the end of this story, I had no idea how everything would play out. This book caught me off guard so many times and I loved mostly just following the story along as we Toured Europe.

Ending: I have so many favorite scenes from this book, but one of them is how this story comes to a close. The final climax is awash with action, adventure, shocking revelations, and devastating choices. As I said I wasn't sure how this story was going to end, but how everything is resolved blew me away, and there's something a bit poetic about something specific that happens to Monty that I'm still a little shook by. There is also a bit of an epilogue portion of this book that gives a small view into the future of our heroes, one of whom has an adventure of her own coming soon, and wraps the story up very nicely.


As you can no doubt tell by my gushing, I love this book so much, from the bisexual representation to the fact of a male protagonist, something that's a bit rare in YA stories, to the dazzling settings and the complex characters, I love this story so much and cannot wait to read Felicity's adventure soon!


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