The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzie Lee – Review
Monty is a rich aristocrat. He sets off on a tour of the continent with his best friend Percy and his sister, Felicity. He is ready to see the world and have an adventure. He is eager to spend a year closer to Percy, his secret crush. He has plans, all which go to hell when he steals something that makes them a target. Their tour becomes a run for their lives adventure. Along the way Monty learns a few things about himself, life and love.
What I loved:
This book was fun. It was fast paced and full of adventure. Once it got moving, it flew right by. Things never quite slowed down, which made it a quick read. I like when there is little time to sit around. Sometimes in these stories there can be a point in the middle where the characters meander around trying to figure out what to do. Not true here. They moved from one point to another.
Monty was a great character. I knew from page one that I was going to love him. His attitude was hilarious and I loved how it was juxtaposed to who he was SUPPOSED to be. He was raised with money and prestige but he was the playboy who wanted none of it. He just wants to have fun and the way he talks and jokes makes that obvious. I liked his sense of humor and his sarcasm. I love a good sarcastic character and Monty met that.
Monty was an interesting character because we saw how flawed he was from the very beginning. Monty was trying to escape the abusive home he found himself in. He was trying to find his own place. He had no say in his life and we watch him find a way to gain control over things.
Monty grew in a very obvious way in this story. He started off as a seemingly selfish character. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone else, other than Percy. We learn quickly that that is just a facade he puts up. He KNOWS his is flawed and I loved that. I loved how self aware his character was. That can be hard to write sometimes.
I also really liked his relationship with Percy. I thought this would be a book where the love interest was oblivious for much of the book. It turned out not to be true. We saw that the interest was there from the start but Monty’s character had to grow to make it work. I felt that it was much more real that way. It made it feel less stale and not cliche, which was nice.
I also thought the discussions around sexuality, race and women’s rights was interesting. This time period made it easy to talk about those issues. I liked how Lee was able to make connections that felt real to our time here and now. The talk about Monty not being able to not be attracted to men was poignant and important. Same with some of the realizations about race relations. I liked how it was all integrated into the story without making it feel like it didn’t belong there and was only to make a statement.
What I just okay with:
I enjoyed the overall plot. It was interesting and different. It was not what I expected but I was able to suspend disbelief about aspects without too much issue. The only real issue I had was with how convenient things were for the group.
There was no wrong turns or dead ends. They ended up right where they needed to be right away. If they needed information it was right there. There was no challenge to the plot. Things just worked out exactly as they needed them to.
Sometimes there are too many obstacles for a group. It can seem like no matter what they are never going to get where they need to go. This went the opposite direction and left little in the way. It was almost as if they just kept walking to each new plot point without an issue. I wanted a bit more challenge for them.
What I wished was different:
I loved Percy’s character but I felt like much of the time he was just there as Monty’s love interest. He was Monty’s foil and I do like that he played off Monty’s character. I just wished we knew more about him. We got a handful of details but not really enough to flesh him out.
I wanted to feel a greater connection to him. I think without Monty I wouldn’t have cared that much about Percy.
I gave this one four out of five stars on Goodreads. It was fun and thrilling, had some great characters and great lines. I just wish it had a bit more detail to some of the characters and storyline.
“Perhaps this is what the Grand Tour is meant to do – show me the way other people live, in lives that are not like my own. It’s a strange feeling, realizing that other people you don’t know have their own full lives that don’t touch yours.” (pg. 168)
“It is meant to symbolize that things can be more beautiful for having been broken.” (pg. 184).
“Which still doesn’t entirely make sense to me- perhaps it can’t.” (pg. 396) (End of a very interesting discussion on race and race relations).
“It was never a barrier until I knew, so it’s not something wrong with him.” (pg. 423). (Interesting discussion on medical issues and handicaps and the view people have about them.)