The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Mackenzi Lee5 out of 5
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.
Monty sees his life planned ahead by his strict father as a wearisome torture, but at least he has one last adventure with his Grand Tour. He plans to live life to excess with best friend, (and long time crush) Percy; before returning to the drudgery of reality.
This was so much fun.
I wasn't sure I was going to like Monty, to start with. On the surface, he appears to be a spoilt little lordling. He has wealth, a title, and a living all set ahead of him. Which is a good job, because he's a bit of a wastrel, with no skills, or inclination to work.
He flirts with absolutely everyone, and falls into bed with anyone who looks at him twice. In a time when buggery was illegal, Monty is hardly discreet with his flings with other men.
He has been kicked out of Eton, and thrown away any chance of bettering himself through education, so his father naturally wants to bring him into hand, and help run the family estate, etc.
First, Monty gets one last hurrah through Europe, with his best friend Percy, who is due to go to law school in Holland. Oh, and his annoyingly perfect little sister gets to tag along, before she goes to finishing school.
But... things aren't always what they seem.
I loved this three characters. As the story moves on, you learn more about them and realise there's a lot more going on in the background, and their lives aren't simple at all.
Even his little sister, Felicity, who you'd expect to be just a third-wheel to the Monty-Percy show, was really likeable and had so much more to her than society would allow.
The romantic aspect is so sweet. Percy has always been Monty's best friend, and the one to pull him out of trouble, where possible. And for the last couple of years, Monty has been completely in love with him, but never been able to utter a word.
Now that Percy is destined to move to Holland, Monty has to decide whether to finally confess his feelings, and suffer possible rejection; or to keep quiet with a broken heart.
So... the plot takes off from a fairly typical Grand Tour, into something.... Well, let's just say I wasn't expecting gypsies, pirates, alchemy and quite as much danger.
It was a surprise turn of events, but once it got going, I really enjoyed it.
The historical setting felt accurate, and I think it was fairly respectful in all the facts, but the author has given it a bit of a modern twist. It really was such fun to read.