The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Published by: Katherine Tegan Books
Released: June 27th 2017 (in the US)
Read: October 28 2017
A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is one which will need to be sourced internationally at this point. It’s a historical novel set in the 1700’s, with main character, Monty offering a strong narrative voice, who initially, seems very selfish and oblivious. This is realistic given his privilege and social standing. His father is a Viscount, and Monty is expected to toe the upper class line, however, he refuses. His rash and reckless behaviour takes a while to be explained. There is much trauma in his childhood, linked directly to his father’s discovery that Monty enjoys the (intimate) company of both girls AND boys. This attitude is historically correct, but as modern readers, we find this attitude abhorrent and unacceptable. While it hangs over Monty like a cloud, it doesn’t detract from the novel’s celebratory and hilarious tone. Of course, Monty grows as a character, and becomes much more worthy of the delicious Percy.
Monty and Percy are on their ‘Grand Tour’, an adventure that takes them around Europe (Yes! There’s a map!), including an author note at the end showing her extensive research on the times. Monty and Percy are accompanied by Monty’s sister Felicity, who is depicted as an enigmatic, surly bookworm. We can expect to see her story in the future, and honestly, I can’t wait.
I liked that this novel went places I didn’t expect, and while not everything was explained completely, the HEA was worth waiting for. There are pirates and gamblers and much shenanigans, mostly from Monty who really is just trying to do the right thing, and find his own place in this very narrowly conceived world. His courage and enviable flair are undeniable. It’s quite a long novel, and some patience is required while Lee sets up the location, the characters, and the situation. The ending is open, but hopeful. I will reread this one, for certain.