Book review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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In 18th century England, Henry “Monty” Montague, his best friend Percy, and his sister Felicity embark on their Grand Tour of the Continent, hoping to hit such destinations as France and Spain before depositing Felicity at finishing school and Percy at law school.  While Monty assumes that his Tour will be filled with drinks, parties, and romantic escapades, his dreams are dashed when his strict father hires a man to watch over the trio and make sure no shenanigans are had.  Despite the preparations, everything that could possibly go wrong does, and the trio finds themselves faced with everything from highwaymen to sinking islands.  Meanwhile, Monty is dealing with his ever-present feelings for Percy and the knowledge that a public relationship with another boy would mean the end of his inheritance and everything he’s ever known.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book since the very first early reviews started rolling in, but the reviews since then have been pretty mixed.  I’m calling this my “book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read” because of the overall silly tone of it and the mixed reviews.

To start off, I want to say that I understand the criticisms of this book.  Even as I was reading, I thought to myself, “I bet this is a section a lot of people took issue with.”  Monty is not perfect.  He’s privileged, he’s flippant, and he feeds into bisexual stereotypes.  He runs around at all hours of the day and night with boys and girls and, initially, it seems like he’s never really faced any consequences for his actions.

Certainly, sometimes he doesn’t.  Monty truly is privileged in many ways.  His family’s wealth and position mean that he can be as rude as he likes to the nobility with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  He can be caught hooking up with a woman and not be punished.  He has never gone hungry, never been without a comfortable bed, never wanted for anything.  He has never considered the degree of his privilege.  I can absolutely see how Monty might be a frustrating character.  The thing is, it’s completely realistic.  Have you ever tried to tell someone like Monty that they’re privileged?  Yeah, good luck with that.

The thing that makes Monty a good character is that he learns from his mistakes and grows as a person.  At the beginning of the book, he can’t even comprehend other people’s struggles.  He’s never considered that his biracial best friend couldn’t get away with half of what Monty takes for granted.  He realizes that his sister, like many other females, might not be content to sit around waiting on her future husband.  He also realizes that he’s had it rather easy for much of his life and that things could most certainly be worse.

That said, I didn’t really expect this book to tackle quite so many issues!  The writing style is so lighthearted that sometimes I didn’t even notice that the author threw in a lesson until I took the time to think about it.  Through Monty’s eyes, we see racism, homophobia, ableism, anxiety, alcohol abuse, child abuse, and sexism.  When I first started this book, I wondered where Monty had found such liberal, accepting parents in the 1700s.  When we learn that Monty’s parents are actually anything but accepting and his father is actually an awful human being, I just wanted to adopt this fictional kid who lived 300 years ago.  Or at least just give him a hug.

Another big criticism of this book that I’ve seen, aside from the whole privilege piece, is Monty’s treatment of Percy.  I will agree that he does not behave in an ideal manner toward his friend.  However, I completely understand where he’s coming from.  He’s been released into the wild, so to speak, away from his abusive father and the confines of his home country.  Yes, he’s sassy and promiscuous and fancies himself an adult, but he’s just eighteen years old.  He’s the age of a high school senior and in love with his same-sex best friend.  He both desperately wants Percy to know on the off chance that something could happen, but he also absolutely doesn’t want him to know for fear of the repercussions.  How does he handle his feelings?  He jokes around.  He makes light of everything.  When asked if he likes Percy like that, he basically says, “Yes, no, maybe, I’m not sure what you want me to say.”  I get it.  I’m straight and living in the 21st century and this stuff is hard for me.  Imagine being bisexual in the 18th century!

So, all in all, the book isn’t without its faults, but it is a whole lot of fun.  It’s well-written with loveable characters and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much.  At the end of 2018, Mackenzi Lee is releasing The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, and I cannot wait.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

#mmdreading: a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read

2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

That’s that!  I have officially completed the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge!

  1. a book you chose for the cover: Batter Up by Robyn Neeley
  2. a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able: Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie
  3. a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
  4. a book you’ve already read: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  5. a juicy memoir: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
  6. a book about books or reading: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
  7. a book in a genre you usually avoid: Damaged Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie
  8. a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  9. a book in the backlist of a new favorite author: The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey
  10. a book recommended by someone with great taste: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  11. a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  12. a book about a topic or subject you already love: Glamour by A.L. Jackson, Sophie Jordan, Aleatha Romig, Skye Warren, Lili St. Germain, Nora Flite, Sierra Simone, and Nicola Rendell
  13. a Newbery award winner or honor book: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  14. a book in translation: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  15. a book that’s more than 600 pages: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  16. a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  17. a book of any genre that addresses current events: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  18. an immigrant story: Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
  19. a book published before you were born: Beauty by Robin McKinley
  20. three books by the same author: Double Team, Prince Albert, and Prick by Sabrina Paige
  21. a book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  22. a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  23. a book nominated for an award in 2017: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
  24. a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my winter TBR

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is ten books on my winter TBR and honestly, what don’t I want to read this winter?  These are ten books that are at the top of the top because I already have all of them in my possession.  Some of these are books that I acquired through giveaways, some are ARCs, some have been given to me as gifts, and one is borrowed from the library. I feel guilty about not reading all of them, so here we go.

Saving Sara by Nicola Marsh
✖ Before I Knew by Jamie Beck
✖ Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

✖ Saint Anything  by Sarah Dessen
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
✖ Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Infraction by Rachel Van Dyken
✖ #Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid
✖ The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

Meternity by Meghann Foye

What are you planning to read this winter?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m looking forward to in the second half of 2017

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  The real, official topics are on hiatus through August, so I’ve decided to go back and do some topics that I missed.  This topic is from a couple of weeks ago: ten books I’m looking forward to in the second half of 2017.  I decided to split this one up and do five that are already out and five that will be coming out shortly.

5 Upcoming Releases That I’m Looking Forward To…

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// Lovers Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie (10/31)
// Turtles All The Way Down by John Green (10/10)
// There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (9/26)

// If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout (9/5)
// Before The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (10/3)

…And 5 That I Thought I Would Have Read By Now

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// One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (5/30)
// Royal Chase by Marquita Valentina (5/9)

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// Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (6/13)
// The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (6/27)
// Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski (5/30)