Review: “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee

Thumbs up for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Young adult historical romance.

It’s 17– and Monty’s in love with his best friend Percy. Joined by Monty’s sister Felicity, they go on the Grand Tour of Europe. Everything that happens after that would be spoilers. I was expecting a sarcastic teen romance with historical trappings which I would put down after ten pages. When I was fifty pages from the end, my roommate interrupted me, and I told her to go away so I could find out what happened. As it turns out, the author has a history degree and a lot of talent. There’s a half-dozen tightropes she has to walk: evocative historical setting vs. detail overload; internal drama vs. angst; sexiness vs. raciness; fun vs. silliness; realism vs. nastiness. It seemed more likely to go wrong than succeed, and I am genuinely shocked to say: I think she nailed all of it. You like historical romance adventures (and don’t mind that the romance is M/M)? Don’t miss this one.

“A pirate ship survives by outrunning and outgunning its enemies and victims alike,” Felicity says. “This doesn’t appear to be an overly fast ship, nor one in possession of enough guns for speed to not be a concern. You’ve hardly more weaponry than the merchant vessel we were on. And all pirates from the Barbary Coast deal with the slavers, especially when there’s so little taken, and you have walked away with hardly any get, for you haven’t crew to manage it, and you would have taken no hostages if Monty had kept his mouth shut. If you truly are pirates, you’re very bad at it.”

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