books

Mackenzi Lee


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017), The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018)


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017)

Set in Europe in the 1700s

Henry “Monty” Montague is a rake. He was kicked out of Eton, is constantly in drunk, and is the despair of his parents.

He is also in love with his best friend, Percy.

In a last ditch attempt at reform, Henry is being sent on a Grand Tour with Percy, and Henry’s younger sister, Felicity is going along for the first part, before being sent to finishing school.

“Under my watch,” Lockwood says, “there will be no gambling, limited tobacco, and absolutely no cigars.”

Well, this is turning a bit not good.

“No visitations to any dens of iniquity,” he goes on, “or sordid establishments of any kind. No caterwauling, no inappropriate relations with the opposite sex. No fornication. No slothfulness, or excessive sleeping late.”

It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favorites.

“And,” he says, rust on the razor’s edge, “spirits in moderation only.”

It took several tries for me to get started on this book. Mostly because Monty is so dissolute, I had a hard time caring what happened to him.

But I quite liked Percy, and I really liked Felicity.

“They’re going to throw you out of school if you behave this way.”

“Well, it took Eton years to catch on to your larks, and I’m a fair amount cleverer, so I’m not concerned.”

“I’ve been stripping the covers off amatory novels and swapping them with medical textbooks for years so Father wouldn’t find out. He’d rather I read those trampy Eliza Haywoods than study almanacs on surgery and anatomy.”

But slowly we discover more about Monty, and learn why Percy puts up with him. And that he isn’t quite as much of an ass as he seems.

I want to run away right then but there’s just Percy in the cabin and water on either side, and the person I most want to run away from is me.

He really does turn out to be far better than he seems at first, and you do end up rooting for him, if only to get his life in order.

But mostly it’s a fun romp, and quite enjoyable.

I am better than the worst things I’ve done.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 8/10

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018)

Set in Europe and other locales in the 1700s.

Oh this was FUN!

The sequel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue follows Felicity Montague, a young woman who does not want to be a proper lady but instead wants more than anything to be a doctor. She’s spent the past year trying to get into medical colleges and been denied at every turn. So she returns to London and her brother Monty, to regroup.

Felicity is a nerd who has no interest in society or marriage or anything else that is to be expected to young women of her time.

It is, I must confess, the most excited I have ever been in Callum’s presence. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited. Here I am with an actual medical emergency and no male physicians to push me out of the way to handle it. With a chunk of his finger missing, Callum is the most interesting he has ever been to me.

I’m far more comfortable discussing epilepsy than fornication.

“I’m talking about menstruation, sir!” I shout in return.

It’s like I set the hall on fire, manifested a venomous snake from thin air, also set that snake on fire, and then threw it at the board. The men all erupt into protestations and a fair number of horrified gasps. I swear one of them actually swoons at the mention of womanly bleeding.

We do get to see Monty and Percy in this book, and although he’s much better (for one, he’s sober) Monty remains indomitable.

My brother, always one for histrionics, has made his fall into poverty as dramatic as possible.

What makes this book awesome:

1. Felicity is probably an ACE.
2. Things do not work out for Felicity in any way she might have hoped. But it’s ok (the same is true for Monty and Precy).
3. Felicity discovers that perhaps she has some blame for the failure of her friendship with Johanna.

Also: there are three strong, independent female characters, all different and opinionated, and eventually they learn to accept themselves (and each other) for who they are.

Your beauty is not a tax you are required to pay to take up space in this world.

(Y)ou should not be frightened of the darkness, but instead be sure that the most frightening thing in it is you.

It’s lovely, and unlike the first book, it took me no time at all to dive in, since I’d already met and liked Felicity.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 9/10