The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Historical fiction is always such a blast. I know I talk about it a lot, but it’s one of my favorite genres. I love the sweeping, romantic worlds of the Victorian era, love the cigarette-scented, twilight moments of the Roaring ’20s. I love the side of history so far away it’s sepia-toned, the side of history that my grandparents saw, and the side that we’re making right here and now.

gentleman's guide

Henry Montague, better known as Monty, has made a complete mess of his entire life. Over his past eighteen years, there has been far too much drinking, gambling, seduction, and general gadding about for his father- or anyone- to approve of. For his final act of utter carelessness, he and his best friend and unrequited love Percy will be taking a one-year tour of the Continent, unsupervised and with plenty of time for scandalous hijinks.

Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned from the very start. Monty’s little sister, Felicity, is going to accompany them, along with Mr. Lockwood, a gentleman employed by Lord Montague to ensure that there is no scandal, no misbehavior, and positively no hijinks. Giving him the slip seems easier said than done, especially when he follows them everywhere.

At a party hosted by the Duke of Bourbon, Monty comes to blows with their host, steals a trinket box, and takes an unplanned streak through the garden. Though it seems inconsequential enough (except for his just having severed his family’s ties with half of France’s nobility, of course), when their carriage is accosted by rather stereotypical highwaymen searching for the very object Monty stole, their Tour becomes a madcap chase and their purpose becomes far more dire.

In a swashbuckling, fantastical caper featuring pirates, alchemy, and a side of dastardly scheming, Monty, Percy, and Felicity travel through Europe on a quest, though for what, exactly, they aren’t quite sure. Monty must battle slightly angry pirate crews, an insane alchemist, and his own feelings for Percy in order for them all to survive.

Mackenzi Lee’s wonderful novel had me on the edge of my seat from page one. This was one of the most anticipated YA books of 2017, and I am not disappointed in the slightest. Every elegant detail was so well-written that I could perfectly envision it in my head. The characters were wonderful, flawed, and realistic, and all of them seemed like real people who could have really existed, once upon a time.

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