All The Books I Can Read

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Review: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

on March 31, 2020

The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue (Montague Siblings #1)
Mackenzi Lee
Katherine Tegen Books
2017, 493p
Read via Scribd

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

I heard a lot about this book over the last year or two and it was always on my radar. So when I saw it on Scribd, I thought I’d take advantage of that and give it a go. I was originally going to listen to the audiobook but ended up reading it instead. I thought it would be something light and funny, as everything seemed to point in that direction and after reading Fence, I was in the mood for another book with LGBTQI+ themes and representation.

Unfortunately, this was just…..okay. The idea seemed really fun – Monty is an English Viscount who will one day inherit his father’s title but he’s not about that life. He likes drinking and gambling and is heavily attracted to members of both sexes although his one true love appears to be his best friend Percy. Monty has been in love with Percy for a long time but has never made a move. He doesn’t know how Percy feels but he’s managed to negotiate a deal with his father – a Grand Tour of the continent and then he’ll come back and begin learning his place in the family business. And Percy gets to accompany him. As a ward of people in trade, Percy is considered “beneath” Monty in society by people like Monty’s parents although they seem to tolerate the friendship well enough, even though Percy is also dark skinned due to his mother’s heritage.

My biggest problem was that I really didn’t like Monty at all. There were times when he was sort of amusing but mostly I just found him really tedious. I get that he’s only 18 and has a lifetime of responsibility as a titled gentleman ahead of him, it’s just that his pursuits are not particularly interesting to read about and he seems to really enjoy making a spectacle of himself and causing the most amount of trouble he possibly can. He’s incredibly vain and narcissistic and willing to basically bone anything that moved which often to be honest, made it hard to believe in his devotion to Percy. There are times when I felt quite sorry for him – his father is a very difficult man, not a nice man at all as well as being abusive. I suppose some people will find Monty refreshing but a lot of the time I just found him rude. He didn’t enjoy going to parties and talking to people but sometimes people made a real effort for him and he just came across as incredibly rude, ungrateful and entitled (which I suppose he is, as he’d been bred and raised to be) and quite ignorant of the world around him. At one stage Monty steals something, just for no reason at all, other than he wants to annoy someone whom he has already been rude to. That then sets up the rest of the book and it’s just so random and the more we learn about the item Monty stole the more bored I became and the weirder this book got. Like I was interested in the Grand Tour idea and I was hoping for loads of sexual tension between Monty and Percy but I did not at all care about what was in the thing Henry stole and how it related to someone and what it meant. Also Percy is incredibly unwell at one stage but they then hire horses and ride from Marseille to Barcelona or something. Also they have Monty’s 15 year old sister with them and she’s literally a self-taught medical genius from reading books. There are also pirates who are not pirates and a sinking island and this story just kind of hops from one thing to the next.

The sexual chemistry was disappointing and did not really take up as much of the story as I thought it might. There are a few promising moments but of course Monty spends a lot of the time being well, Monty and honestly, I thought Percy deserved way better.

For me, this book can be summed up as “things happen….for….reasons?” and it was just okay. I wish Monty had undergone more character development and that the plot had felt more coherent. It felt like one of those situations where the author throws something at a dartboard to decide what happens next.


Book #53 of 2020

3 responses to “Review: The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

  1. Marg says:

    Did you end up reading the Ladies Guide to Celestial Mechanics? which has nothing to do with this book except for the title remind me of that one.

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