Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Oh my goodness, this book was just GLORIOUS! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the actor of Tom Riddle from Harry Potter, and as soon as I’d finished listening to it, I started the audio all over again. Not to mention, I have the physical copy on order. IT’S JUST SO GORGEOUS. Not to mention every time the narrator said ‘darling’ my heart melted a little bit more until it was just a puddle on the ground by the end. HOLD ME WHILE I SWOON. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue just swept me off my feet. YOU NEED THIS BOOK IN YOUR LIFE.
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the mention of a bisexual boy travelling Europe in the 1700s, and I mean, if that doesn’t immediately spark your interest, you’re a lost cause with this novel. I try to get my hands on as many YA novels with bisexual representation as possible so that I can wrap myself in the bi flag and cheer on these little queer munchkins — though, to be honest, I do that whenever I see LGBTQIA+ rep ANYWHERE — and getting to know Monty was an absolute treat. He was just downright SASSY and WITTY and ADORABLE.
But I also loved how Monty wasn’t perfect. He can be a complete git at times and some of the things he says shows how privileged he is, but what I loved was the way his friends called him out on it and he’d listen and learn. Admittedly, after having a bit of a sulk, but he’d LEARN. I absolutely adored the way his bisexuality was talked about, as well as all the other representation in the novel. My heart SHATTERED INTO TINY PIECES every time he would mention his father’s disapproval and the way he would be abused for being who he was. MONTY IS A PRECIOUS LITTLE MUNCHKIN AND I JUST WANT TO HUG HIM.
As well as the excellent LGBTQIA+ rep, this book includes SO MUCH DIVERSITY. This novel features a m/m romance, representation for epilepsy and ethnicity and anxiety and PTSD and I just adored how inclusive it was, but also how none of these issues were glossed over. The author talked about each of them both candidly and sensitively, and I cried on multiple occasions. Some of these themes may be triggering for some readers, and please be advised that this book also contains brief moments of suicidal ideation – just so you’re aware. THIS BOOK JUST GAVE ME ALL THE FEELS AND I STILL HAVEN’T RECOVERED. I’ll just go and cry now. Again.
Monty and Percy and Felicity honestly seem like the best three people to go on a tour with, and I wouldn’t even hesitate to drop out of my uni course and go on an adventure with them. Their relationships with each other were actually the cutest things ever, not to mention, Monty + Percy = PERFECTION. I mean, Percy was an adorable gay boy who was dealing with some hard things in life, and Felicity was a brave, headstrong asexual bookworm who wouldn’t take no for an answer. TOGETHER, THEY WILL RULE THE WORLD. These three characters are my new best friend, and telling me they don’t really exist won’t change that.
So there was a lot of heavy topics in this book, but it was also such a fun, light adventure for a lot of the narrative. There were parts that were just HILARIOUS and had me laughing out loud on the commute into the city. Some of the rich, high society members were completely amusing and Monty’s narration was silly and sarcastic. And goodness, the ridiculous amounts of time this trio got into trouble was honestly laughable. There was PIRATES and HIGHWAYMEN, for goodness sake! And then there was Richard Peele. I HATE RICHARD PEELE.
I was delightfully surprised by how much I adored this historical romance / adventure as I don’t typically enjoy historical fiction, but this one was simply PHENOMENAL. Seriously. Go and pick up a copy of this book and fall in love with it and come back to flail with me. AH IT WAS JUST SO GOOD! This one is definitely in my top five of the year and if you’re an audiobook person, the audio was absolutely delightful. OFF TO REREAD THIS GLORIOUS, QUEER BOOK!
Have you had a chance to read this phenomenal novel yet? Did you love it as much as I did? What are some of your favourite YA historical fiction novels? I’d love to know!