The book I’m absolutely beside myself to read is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.
Early reviewers seemed to be excited over this book, but it wasn’t until the publisher made the first four chapters available and I read them that I got truly pumped up. What I read had me feeling so many fantastic emotions. I laughed, I was shocked, I fanned myself, and I had my heart squeezed. All in the space of the first few chapters! When I had to stop reading at the end of chapter four, I was devastated. I cannot believe I have to wait until late June to pick this book up in full.
The book takes place in the 1700’s, which is great. So much of historical fiction is placed in Regency or Victorian England. It’s awesome to see a book set a bit earlier, with settings all over the European continent. But what really has me excited is that the main love story takes place between two young men in this time period. We are so lucky to be living in a century where gay rights are accelerating at a noticeable rate. True, what we have now is not good enough by a long shot, but just think… to be a man or woman, or otherwise, with an alternative sexuality in the 1700’s… What would that even be like?
Mackenzi Lee is a historian and writer who wants to answer that question. What I got to read so far is delightful and heart-wrenching.
The protagonist of the book, Monty, is bi-sexual, and it’s basically an open secret in his family’s circle. Less of an open secret is Monty’s infatuation with his best friend, Percy. Still, Monty thinks that Percy can’t be totally unaware of his not-so-platonic love.
Percy Newton is an excellent character so far. He’s half Bahamian and half Englishman and was raised by his aunt and uncle. He also suffers from a disability that has carried a lot of stigma throughout history. He makes up cute poems. I already adore him, so it’s easy to see why Monty is in love with him.
Monty is crazy. He brings the concept of ‘hard partier’ to a whooole new level. He’s not 100% likable, but I think that’s good. He has room for improvement within the novel. You can sympathize with him, though, because Percy loves him and because Monty’s father is the King of Assholes. If you have a parent that evil, you can’t help but be damaged.
A great potential character is Felicity, Monty’s younger sister. Reviewers are just going ballistic with excitement over her, saying she’s a total fucking badass. I went spoiler-trolling on Goodreads and got some further insights into her character that have me excited, but I will leave you guys to search those details out if you’d like.
I also kind of like Mr. Lockwood, the “bear-leader” for the boys’ Grand Tour. I’m interested to see what becomes of him.
The only thing that has me worried after the first four chapters, is that there might be too much miscommunication between the characters. If things continue as they left off, it might begin to be contrived and frustrating. But that complaint is drowned out by how freaking good this sample was. Guys… So. Good.
June 27… Whyyyyyy?
Read the first four chapters of A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue HERE.