Thank you so much Harper for sending me a review copy of this book!
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’
To say that I loved this book would be a HUUUUUUGE understatement. It’s easily one of the most exciting, adventurous books I’ve read in a long time, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for adventure, pirates, thrills, and a love story tucked into the pages.
Henry ‘Monty’ Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but that lifestyle just doesn’t suit him. Instead of grand dinner parties and paying attention at Eton, Monty is far more fond of drinking and gambling, and definitely isn’t shy about getting into the pants of the women or men that catch his eye. To put a stop to this behaviour, Monty’s father sends him off – along with his irritating sister and sensible best friend – to take part in his Grand Tour with the hopes that he’ll calm down, stop sleeping with men, and take over the estate. Monty has other ideas, and wants to make this Tour full of drinking, partying, and maybe even confessing his feelings of head-over-heels love to best friend Percy. However, when one of Monty’s reckless decisions throws their Tour into absolute chaos, it calls into question everything he knows…
This book was an absolute dream to read, and I was so sad when I finally finished all 513 pages of it. Luckily, I’ve been told there’s a second book in the series so I can look forward to something! I fell in love with everything in this book, so here’s a handy little bullet point list of what I loved.
- Bisexual representation. This has been one of the first books I’ve read where the main character is bisexual. Monty isn’t shy or ashamed of his attraction to men and women; he’s fond of breasts and of charming boys with his dimpled grin and floppy hair. He’s proud of being in love with Percy, to the point where he’s shy of making the first move incase it all crumbles down. The love story between these two was only infuriating because I wanted them to be together and happy forever and ever damn it! Monty and Percy were just so lovely together!
- Characters. Each of the main characters were cleverly written and all so different, and I loved all of them.
-Monty was selfish, had no filter between his head and his mouth, and could charm anyone in his path. Behind that devilish grin though, Monty was insecure, anxious, and prone to self-deprecating jokes to push away the thoughts in his head and to battle his anxiety and panic attacks. It’s not the best way of coping at all, but it’s interesting to see what he keeps hidden.
-Percy was the sensible one, who tried his hardest not to let his skin colour get in the way of living his life. As he is of mixed heritage, this makes things a lot harder, and he has to deal with racial slurs, insults, and people continually thinking he is property (which Monty despises as it couldn’t be further from the truth). It also becomes clear early in the novel that Percy isn’t well, which calls into question his entire relationship with Monty and whether they can be together. Regardless of this, Percy is a romantic who loves art, music, and his best friend.
-Felicity is by far the wildcard in the whole book. Perceived as an annoyance by Monty, his sibling is far more crafty than what meets the eye. Behind the ruffles of her dress and her stern, ‘spinster’ look, Felicity isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in when it comes to defending herself or teaching the boys a thing or two about science and medicine.
- ADVENTURE!! There’s highwaymen, pirates, supernatural elements, prison escapades, and more run ins with bad guys than you can shake a stick at. Monty, Percy and Felicity find themselves in far too many scrapes and hijinks than are necessary for a Grand Tour, but they only have Monty to blame for that…
‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’ has been one of those books that I can’t wait to reread again and again. I learnt a lot about history, and at most times I felt like being friends with Monty would be a whale of a time – in small quantities of course. The love story between Monty and Percy was beautifully hard to read, made even harder by the facts of them both being male and Percy being mixed race. It was unacceptable in the time period for men to be together, let alone an upper class white gentleman with a lower class mixed race boy. Monty and Percy suffered with these hardships, making it harder for them to try and admit their feelings or to even think of being together. It was interesting to see this sort of relationship written about from a historical perspective.
I also really enjoyed the entire quest the trio were sent on – you’ll be pleased to know that it all works itself out in the end! It was exciting, thrilling, nerve-wracking at moments, and I didn’t want to put it down. It all seemed plausible too, as some fantasy elements in books can be a bit far-fetched. It was great to see how the Tour slowly unraveled and things went from bad to worse too…I’m a sucker for punishment, and for everything to go bad before getting better is a favourite trope! I never read historical fiction, but I highly enjoyed this one! I can’t wait for the next book from Felicity’s perspective too, which I think would be great fun!
Final thoughts: Abso-bloody-lutely brilliant YA! 5/5