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. (Goodreads synopsis)
The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was a fun adventure story with a lot of depth to it. The character growth of Monty was so refreshing to read and it did not at all seem implausible. I liked how Mackenzi Lee set the story in the 1700’s and discussed the whole concept of European tours. I have not often read books set in the 18th century so it was a nice change of pace. Lee was able to discuss topics of sexuality, parental pressures, societal pressures, and coming of age without it being tropey or cliche. Percy, Monty’s best friend, was a delight to get to know and Felicity was a kicka** female character. I enjoyed parts of the book, but for some reason I didn’t love it. I don’t know if it was the timing that I read the book or if I needed to devote more attention to it. When I was reading it I was enjoying it but it was super easy for me to put it down and not be in a rush to pick it up. I will probably give it a re-read. I have heard that the audiobook was fantastic!
Parental guide: drinking, sexual language, coarse language, parental abuse, mild violence (recommend this book for older YA readers)
Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for a fun YA historical fiction with so much more. I will be reading anything else Mackenzie Lee writes and I hopefully will get to meet her in October at the Texas Teen Book Festival.