The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, is a YA (young adult) historical gay romance with a happy ending. Told in present tense, first person perspective. Monty, a young English Lord, is about to embark on his Grand Tour with his best friend and secret crush, Percy, a mixed race Peer. Along the way, they’re to drop off Percy’s sister, Felicity, at finishing school (no, not that Finishing School). But when Monty, in a fit of pique, steals something from the Duke of Bourbon, it sets off a chain of events that will see the party beset by highwaymen, pirates, and alchemists.
Monty and Percy have always been close but these last few years have seen Monty fall in love with Percy. Monty is a rake extraordinaire, flirting with and often bedding any young woman or man who takes his fancy. But with Percy it’s different. With Percy it’s love. Of course, Monty’s last affair with love saw him thrown out of school and beaten bloody by his father when it became known that his love was another boy. But Percy is worth the risk—if only Percy will realize Monty’s feelings are more than a fling.
The first stop on the Tour is Paris, where Monty’s father expects Monty to schmooze and make connections among the aristocracy. Things…do not go well, and end with Monty strolling out of a ball naked. Shortly thereafter, they all leave Paris, only to be beset by Highwaymen who, Monty realizes, want something other than money.
Fleeing on foot, the trio of young people end up in Marseilles, hunted and hungry. It’s during this leg of the trip that Monty and Felicity find out Percy’s deepest secret—Percy has epilepsy, a deeply misunderstood condition. Fortunately, Felicity has secretly been studying on her own to become a doctor, and so is more use than Monty in an emergency.
Anyway, they find out the box Monty stole from Bourbon belongs to an alchemist who’s been working on a panacea, a cure-all for every ailment. So Monty drags the crew off on a search for a cure for Percy so he won’t have to go to an asylum in the Netherlands.
Hiking to Barcelona isn’t pleasant, but Monty is determined—and understandably crushed when it turns out the alchemist they were looking for has died. But his son and daughter invite the crew to stay with them—a welcome respite for the now-broke trio. Of course, it turns out their hosts are harboring secrets. Secrets which could lead to Percy’s cure—or to something far more sinister, something that could change the balance of power the world over.
I am so happy to have finally finished The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It was a battle with my anxiety, and with too much exhaustion, but—as I said in the title of this piece—it was worth the wait. I enjoyed this book so much.