The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1)


The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1) by Mackenzi Lee

Blurb:

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.

Review:
The tragic great love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness. It is also not an epic monolith that has plagued me since boyhood, as might be expected. 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.
It's hard to think of anything that is "wrong" with this book because it does a lot of great things, especially in terms of representation and explaining the view-point of the under-represented. Thus, I can't properly express why I couldn't connect with this book the way I hoped I would. Maybe it is because of the aforementioned explaining. I'm female, I'm queer, growing up one of my best friends had epilepsy – she still has it, we're just not that close anymore – so there's really no use in trying to explain to me how all of these things change and influence a person and their opportunities and how all this doesn't change the fact that one is still a normal, capable person.

Perhaps it was the inherent issue of anti-chemistry between Monty and me. Sure, he seems like a decent lad who went through a lot of horrible shit and, sure, he was portrayed in a way that would make clear that he is well-meaning, un-knowing, and has an infuriating tendency towards the insensible but no matter how hard I tried to keep all this in mind it took a very, very long time until I was warmed up to him as the narrator. His decisions were so horrid in the beginning and he just didn't learn from them and every time things could go (at least) two ways I was cringing in anticipation of the worst.

"Try to behave. And don't torment Felicity."
"Mother. I'm the victim. She torments me."
"She's fifteen."
"The most vicious age."
It could also be because I expected something more fun/funny. To the credit of this book, I really didn't realize how "long" it was because there was a lot going on (I read the e-book so I was told I had to read about 200 pages, they felt like 300 pages at most and really not like the 500 pages it actually sports) and I never got bored but I did expect more/more gripping travel-shenanigans (nothing ever felt truly threatening to me), more witty banter, more humor. It was an entertaining book it just wasn't funny. (Obviously humor is a very subjective thing and most people seem to find this book hilarious so I might just be the odd one out.)

Also, there is a distinct possibility that I was rather put-off by the development of Percy's and Monty's romance. Within the first couple of pages I was already confident that they're both into each other but wouldn't act on it until the very end of the novel (seriously, that was my first proper reaction to their interactions). Urgh. So much ignorance is just frustrating. It's also way too much like me so that's a pretty soft spot to touch upon. Not nice, book, not nice.

But, all things considered, I did enjoy myself a decent amount. Sure, Monty and his tendencies stressed me out (I can never watch when I see people steering into their own doom), his relationship with Percy secondhand-embarrassed me, their antics weren't as comical to me as they are, apparently, to others, and I don't need to be lectured on the topics represented (if this book had included the representation of ageism I could probably have profited) but it was great to read from the perspective of a bisexual character, to see Felicity kick-ass (she's my favorite), and to know that there are people out there who are now a little more aware of epilepsy. So, in conclusion, I enjoyed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue even though I have my quarrels with it. Also, none of the things I quarrel with are the book's fault if you haven't noticed yet. Well, maybe that last bit about the romance but the rest is entirely due to my own volition.

"Because I want you to know," she says, "that there is life after survival."

Rating:

My gut says 3 stars but my brain thinks that this book did so many things right that I rally shouldn't go below 3.5, thus, I'll settle on 3.5/5 stars.

Details:

Name: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Deutscher Titel: Cavaliersreise: Die Bekenntnisse eines Gentlemans
Series: Guide
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 513
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (Deutsche Ausgabe)

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