Monty and Percy are to start on their Grand Tour, travelling Europe for a year before going their separate ways, after a life-long friendship. After Monty steals a valuable item in the heat of an uncomfortable moment, they, along with Monty’s sister Felicity, are chased across Europe to solve the mystery put before them.
Why this book?: It’s a very hyped up M/M historical romance with my type of comedy thrown in. I’m not normally a fan of historical, but this sounds amazing.
I’ve been trying to sort my thoughts about this book for a few days since I’ve finished reading it, but I’ve decided that if if these are my thoughts, then people should hear them. Especially since I’m a book reviewer.
I was originally expecting for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (here on out referred to as Gent’s Guide) to be a humorous adventure-romance with two friends with one’s snarky sister follower them around. What I got was much heavier, and so I only recommend this book to people once they are aware of the long list of trigger warnings. TWs are provided at the bottom of this review.
Going past that warning, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved Gent’s Guide, especially because I was already hyping it up for myself. I was afraid that I had hyped it too much, and would be disappointed, but Mackenzi Lee managed to wow me even before I opened up the book. Mackenzi managed to mix an adventure-humor story with heavy topics perfectly, giving depth to the characters and the plot. It was truly wonderful. All of these wild adventures that Monty and Percy went on were the most hilarious scenes I’d ever read, but when you find out the reasoning behind the actions, you’ll realize that even the gallows-style humor comes from even more pain. That’s what’s really amazing about this book. Every action, ever scene, is caused by or from pain–and yet Mackenzi crafted the pain into something that brought joy not only to the characters, but to the readers.
Gent’s Guide tackled a variety of things, saying things that normally would have been considered hugely problematic. The difference was that at every turn, Felicity, Monty’s sister, or Percy, Monty’s companion, would challenge or correct him. That’s how you deal with these heavy topics–you call them out in text, showing and explaining how they’re wrong. The way Mackenzi tackled these topics was spot on, and I loved how she didn’t just stop at homomisia or racism–there was ableism, child abuse, PTSD, and lots of others. Mackenzi and her book recognize that not everyone is the “ideal”, that some are mixed race, have physical and mental illnesses, as well as don’t conform to society.
Even while Mackenzi does all of this, she still manages to develop the characters amazingly well, as well as add in a compelling and hilarious plot. Every time there was a spat between any of the characters, I was laughing my ass off with how funny they were. I felt like I knew all of them, like we were best friends, before the end of the story, and they weren’t even the only ones! Characters were added in, some later on, that I just fell in love with. Scipio and his crew were probably some of my favorite characters, right up there with the main trio, Percy, Monty, and Felicity.
Percy, a biracial adoptee with a chronic illness, and Monty’s love interest, was such a compelling character. Monty had such a relatable background and characterization, and every flashback he had from his PTSD was like a knife in my heart. I loved Felicity, for how she broke social customs and wanted to learn medicine and science and how she seemed to, possibly (?) be asexual! Gent’s Guide cast of characters were so unique and diverse, and I loved all of them. (Monty could be a bit intolerable at times, with his reckless and impulsive behavior, but by the end of the book, TRUST ME, he will grow on you. And his humor is A+.)
I also have to talk about the plot too, because that was one of the best historical-mystery-adventure-fantasy-thing-mixture I have ever read. Gent’s Guide is very heavily historical, which is where the whole idea for “The Grand Tour” came from. But in addition to that, there was an alchemical mystery, a puzzle box, and some sort of fantasy mixed in there. The genre blending was done with an expert hand, and I found myself reading large chucks of the book all at once, wanting more and more and more. I was never satisfied with this book, to be honest, because I just needed more, and I only got 500 pages of it!!
Final Rating: ★★★★★
I am still in awe of this book. I might need to reread it again, just to be sure that what I read was true. I loved every aspect of this book, from the writing to the characters, from the plot to the settings. Everything was so beautifully developed and intricate, and I loved the relationships (especially Monty and Percy. GOD those two will be the death of me.) I cannot gush about this book enough.
Would I Recommend?
Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t recommend this unless people were aware of all of the triggers within it. Although it’s a humorous book, it still deals with very heavy topics, and I wouldn’t want anyone hurt over my recommendation. However, if you want a fun story, with hilarious and well-developed characters, then please, try this one out.
Trigger warnings for homomisia, bimisia (-misia will be replacing -phobia from now on), ableism, child abuse, abuse, racism, sexism, depression/PTSD, suicidal ideation, slut shaming, minor gore, and violence (non-graphic).
Published: June 27th, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 513
Synopsis: via 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.