Book Quibbles: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

During the eighteenth century upperclass, young men went on tours of Europe to broaden their horizons before venturing into adulthood. Henry “Monty” Montague sets out on his own with the hopes of it being a grand adventure until it turns into a life or death situation with his best friend and sister at his side.

In any other circumstance, this wouldn’t be the first book I’d pick off the shelf. However, my sister received a deluxe copy in her Owlcrate, therefore giving me the original she bought. And I’m glad she did.

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Premise

Monty is a rebellious, rambunctious eighteen year old who lives a life of alcohol, partying, and fancying a taste to men and women. Before he sets out for his tour, his father gives him a grave warning of either becoming a better person or to never come home.

He’s off with his best friend Percy, whom he also has a hopeless crush on, and sister Felicity, whom he doesn’t get along with. What starts out as endless ways to learn more about other cultures and reel Monty in from his ways turns into a run from some powerful people.

During this journey Monty will learn that his set ways are not a life worth living as he deals with his feelings towards Percy.

The Grand Tour

Tours are something young men did to broaden their minds while also keeping them closed, since they usually avoided Greece and Spain on account of them being “dirty” cities. Monty is lucky he’s a lord and can do this, but at the same time, doesn’t want to learn about other cultures. He wants to drink his nights away, usually to drown out the thoughts of Percy. Despite this, he’s not an unredeemable character. You know there’s someone good in there and just needs to be pulled out bit-by-bit.

Meanwhile Percy is set on learning. He has darker skin and is usually seen as Monty’s servant, but is a respectable, likable person. He’s intelligent, funny, and a nice friend to have. All the more reason Monty falls in love with him.

Felicity on the other hand, doesn’t act the way a lady should. She wants to go to university and learn about medicine instead of living a life of womanly duties and raising a family. Hell, she doesn’t even know if she wants to be with someone. Felicity and Monty start the book not caring about one another but over time learn they have more in common than originally thought.

There are side characters who don’t get as much backstory because in the end they don’t matter as a whole and are only present for a short time. They do come in contact with a group of wannabe pirates who aren’t as they seem and get on well with the main three. I enjoyed the scenes with them and wished they got more time.

The Love Interest

Usually I roll my eyes at love interests in books, but I rooted for Monty and Percy the entire way through. Percy tries to rail Monty in while dealing with his own demons (not literally as I should definitely point out in this case.) Monty wants to be with Percy, even with the world being against them.

During this time being in a sexual relationship with the same sex resulted in jail or death. Monty knows it’s a big deal but it doesn’t come off as his main worry. That belongs to whether Percy feels the same way. Apparently romanic friendships did exist, when two men kissed or held hands but never acted beyond that. It’s easy to say that’s what they have, but Monty wants more.

Percy is the reason Monty wants to become a better person and think of a life that isn’t ruled by his father. Percy gives him courage and Monty opens Percy up in a way no one else can. They work well together.

Quibbles

The only complaint I have is the ending and the loose ends that didn’t get tied up. After the final climatic scene our main three characters went on with their lives, but we didn’t get to learn about the rest of the side characters and where they are post-climax. Not that they are important, but a major character in this world, possibly never to be seen again, should raise some questions regarding the last people who saw him, i.e. Monty, Percy, and Felicity.

Overall

I’m surprised at how much I liked this book. I like that it doesn’t meander with the minute details when it comes to the tour. They don’t settle on one thing or location unless it’s necessary to the story, but I appreciate the details when they are there.

It’s fun to watch Monty grow as a person, as well as get closer to Felicity and Percy. And I must say his relationship with his sister is important despite the story being about him and Percy.

I usually don’t read historical fiction, being the ideas are so old-fashioned, but these are characters trying to break the mold. Felicity just doesn’t want to be another lowly woman and Percy wants to be seen as more than his skin color. Even Monty wants to be more than his reputation.

Overall, I finished the book rather quickly, a big chunk in one day. A story about a person redeeming while discovering themselves is always a good read.

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