Rating: 4.5 STARS
Standalone/Series: Guide Series
How I got this book: Bought
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.
By Jove, this book was good!
I had no idea what to expect from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue except that I'd seen so many people raving about how great it was.
This book quite literally has everything in it I could ask for: grand adventure, love, friendship, sibling rivalries, sass, wit, mystery, deception, intrigue, slow burn romance, beautiful British humour, character development, a treasure hunt, pirates, gay and bi characters, diverse characters, and a strong-willed hellcat of a woman.
The entire novel is a coquettish rogue that seduces you from the moment you begin reading.
I adore the history in this book that sets the scene without being at all stilted or boring. I love particularly that we get to see what is probably an extremely realistic account of hormonal, ass-drunk teens during the period and all the amazingly fun and misadventures that follow.
The characters are wonderful. Monty is an arrogant, privileged rogue, but it's all part of his lovable charm. He has trials and torments that he needs to face, he misses the signs that are right in front of him, and in his own innocent ignorance, his mouth gets him into all sorts of trouble. But, it's Monty's witty, rambling, very heartfelt and at times naive narrative that really won me over.
"Lucky for me as well, or else we might never have met, and then what would have been the point of my life?"
I love that Monty isn't ashamed of who he is, or who he fancies, but that it's others who have the problem. He isn't actually afraid to express himself and I love that about him.
"I’ve always been of the mind that subtlety is a waste of time. Fortune favors the flirtatious. And by now, if Percy doesn’t know how I feel, it’s his own damn fault for being thick."
In case you hadn't guessed by now, this is a story with many themes. It's a love story, a coming of age story, a story of friendship, of loyalty, of overcoming fears and oppression.
"Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other’s mouth."
(I can't stop quoting this book!!)
Percy is Monty's best friend and he's the epitome of sweetness. He's loyal, steadfast and I want him to be my best friend!
"Percy had avenged me when no one else would look me in the eyes."
Then there's Felicity. My badass heroine who I was so excited to find out has a book of her very own coming out later this year!! YAY!! Felicity is sassy, intelligent, sharp and unafraid to be herself. She also incidentally delivers one of my favourite lines in this entire book!
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison."
(No, they do not!)
The adventure that these three unlikely heroes undertake is packed full of hilarious moments (like this) -
"Which is how I come to be running through the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, dressed only as Nature intended."
(I really need help! I told you I couldn't stop quoting this book!)
Alongside, fight scenes, lots of 'almosts', lingering touches, longing glances, near misses (and near kisses) and through it all, Monty's beautiful, touching narrative that takes this story to new heights and depths.
"We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved."
If you haven't read this book yet, do it.
In the meanwhile, I'll still be over here quoting every single line and counting down the days until The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is Released!
A resounding 4.5 stars from me!!
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Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, aspiring writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
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