The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Mackenzi Lee
Series Name: Guide
Genre: YA Diverse Historical Fiction
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
Pages: 513 (Hardcover)
Publishers: Katherine Tegen Books
4 and a half Star

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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.


I received this book in the July OwlCrate box. The book in the OwlCrate box had an exclusive OwlCrate cover. In the edition, I own the text on the cover is orange with everything that is yellow on the cover above is blue.

Trigger Warnings & Issues in this book: Abuse, Homophobia, Racism & Sexism. There is also somewhat of a negative view on Epilepsy, but understand that this book was set in the 1700s and Epilepsy was simply not understood at this time. 

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So I don’t particularly like covers with people on them but this one doesn’t bother me too much. I like all the little drawings on the front and on the spine. And I really enjoy the colouring of the OwlCrate exclusive edition a bit more than the original cover. Overall I really enjoy the cover of this book.

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I really enjoyed the writing of this book. It was easy to read and always flowed really well. The pacing was also really good as well. There is also a map!

I really enjoyed that at the back of the book there were authors notes and the author went into some detail about things like The Grand Tour, Politics, Race Relations in 18th century Europe, Epilepsy & Queer culture. I found the Queer Culture bit really interesting and would never have guessed some of the info that was mentioned.

This is something that is just personal preference.
I didn’t love how long some of the chapters were. I am someone who will only put a book down at the end of a chapter, not half way through and though a lot of the chapters were fairly short there was a couple that were ridiculously long and could have been broken up into 3 chapters or maybe even 4.

Okay, so this isn’t really about the writing it is just something I wanted to discuss. I have been seeing this book labeled as fantasy a fair bit, yet it is not. This book does take our real world a little step further, but it is still not fantasy. Alchemy is obviously something that was studied in the real world with the main focus being the Philosopher’s Stone. In this book there is a lot about Panacea, the word itself means a cure to all problems but in alchemy, it is a sort of medicine. Alchemist sort after a cure-all that would be a connection to the elixir of life. This Panacea would cure any illness and prolong life indefinitely. So, yes it sounds unrealistic, as does the Philosopher’s Stone but there are legends about certain Native America tribes using red sap of the elephant tree as a Panacea. So this is a real thing but like I said at the start of this paragraph this book does stretch reality a bit as I couldn’t find any info on the discovery of Panacea in Europe by the means that were used in this book. But either way, I still don’t think this book should be considered fantasy.

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This plot was definitely action packed! There was always something going on in this book! Even though this book was mostly fun and cute there was also a bit of a more serious side to it when it came to some factors in the book. I did find some parts of the plot a tiny bit predictable but most of the times I only guess the thing two or three pages before it actually happened or was discovered.

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I love that we have such a diverse range of characters in this book. Especially for a book set in the 1700s where a fair few of these things were considered illegal, unnatural or just simply degraded. In this book, we have a female who defies the limits of being a female in the 1700s. Gay character who could have been imprisoned or even killed because they were gay, we have a character with epilepsy that at that time was not understood and was just going to be shipped off to an asylum for it and lastly we have characters of colour, which at that time were used as slaves, treated like scum and weren’t even allowed a lot of places like Inns and such. Oh, and did I mention there are pirates in this book? Well kinda.

So firstly we have Monty (Henry Montague). Monty is an interested character, he has a lot going on and is kinda selfish and has a rather large ego. But throughout the book, he develops a lot! He discovers a lot through all the stuff he has to go through in this book!
Percy was the more sensible character but of course, has his own struggles. I wouldn’t exactly say he developed much in this book as he fairly well had his head screwed on the right way from the beginning but we do see his struggles and how he works through them. He is strong and he never lets the struggles get him down because he knows there is nothing he can do about them.
Felicity is another interesting character. Even though she is always considered less than and is held back from doing what she really wants because she is female she never lets it get to her and fights back in her own way. She is intelligent and badass and always knows what to do in difficult situations. I’m assuming the next book in the duology will be from her POV by looking at the name of it and I can’t wait!

There are other characters but I won’t talk too much about them. Monty’s father is a hypocrite and pathetic excuse for a man. The Duke is a selfish power hungry ass. Scipio is a funny character but I really liked him in the book. Lockwood is a little bit of a pain but he is just doing his job after all so he didn’t bother me too much. Dante is a very indecisive character and never knows whose side he should be on. Helena even though is a bit annoying she is loyal and would do anything for the people she loves.

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I really enjoyed this book! It was funny, cute and adventurous but it also covered some heavy topics. It was also educational as we learn how certain people were treated at that time. I don’t believe I have read a book set that far back before as usually the Historical Fiction books I read are about World War 2 so it was interesting to see all of this in a different era!

Well, that is all for this review! I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait for The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy to come out in 2018! It will most likely be about a year till it releases, which sucks but it will give me an excuse to reread this book when the next comes out!


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8 thoughts on “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee – Spoiler Free Review

  1. Awesome review! This continues to sound better and better every time I hear about it! The characters seem cool and different. And it deals with a lot of things that I still know very little of! So I agree it’ll be quite educational too! Can’t wait to read it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was curious and did my own research and decided to add it in my review too!
      And I’m pretty sure the only book I’ve read that had any reference to Alchemy is of course Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 😂


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