About the Book:
A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi Lee—Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.
Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are 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.
So Monty 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, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.
This book had a lot going on. It was really enjoyable, but there was a lot. Like, maybe too much.
Historical fiction with a male/male romance, bisexual representation, biracial representation, a bluestocking sister, a disapproving abusive father who is also a hypocrite, a boring chaperone, an evil duke, thievery, pirates (sort of), alchemy and magic.
All of this is stuff I enjoy in a book, but maybe it should have been two books? I would have read both of them happily. The first half of the book felt like an absolutely delightful m/m historical romance full of adventure and steep obstacles for our heroes to overcome. I was 100% in.
Then things title a little and now we are in a fantasy novel… sort of? (I’m not against this sudden switch from realism to magical realism on principle. It can really work for me. See: Magonia.) It was a little too jarring. Maybe it wasn’t enough for me? Instead of one piece of magic in an otherwise standard historical setting, I could have used more magical underground in this setting. I think that would have helped.
The last half of the book just wasn’t as cohesive as the first. The ending was a bit unsatisfying – I’d rather see a real path to an HEA, rather than a “screw you dad, we’ll figure something out.”
I really did love the three main characters, even spoiled Monty. I want to know Felicity and Percy more and the single POV did prevent that – though it appears that I’ll have that desired fulfilled by Felicity’s companion POV novel! I loved the relationships between the three. It felt realistic and comfortable, which made me ache more when things weren’t right between them. Really looking forward to Felicity’s story.