The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Henry "Monty" Montague is ready for his Grand Tour of the Continent. It is his last year of gambling and debauchery before he has to settle down and learn how to run the estate from his father. Unfortunately, his father is tired of Monty's ways and sends along a bear-leader (babysitter) to chaperone Monty, his sister Felicity, and his best friend Percy around Europe. Things are not going the way Monty planned until a wild night a Versailles. Monty is caught with his pants down (literally) and sort of steals a little something from the King's prime minister Bourbon. Turns out the little something was extremely valuable and Bourbon desperately wants it back. What follows is a wild and dangerous trek across Europe involving highwaymen, living rough, stowing away and pirates. Not quite the debauchery fest Monty was hoping for but much more exciting than all the "culture" he was enduring.
I loved this book more than I thought I would. Monty is an irresistible rascal desperately in love with his best friend Percy. But since he isn't sure his love is reciprocated Monty fools around with anyone boys and girls. He enjoys nothing better than a good drink and a flirt and can't seem to help himself in regards to either. Percy is not as free living. He is mixed race and has had to deal with that stigma; he also suffers from epilepsy and is bound for an asylum after their tour. Monty is crushed when he finds this out. I am so glad Felicity is getting her own book because she is incredible. She is a woman who knows her own mind and rebels against the societal roles forced upon her. She is the most competent of the group by far. I adored the scene where she sews her own arm while Monty and Percy are all squeamish.
The notes at the end indicate how much research Mackenzi Lee put into this book. There is a lot of historical accuracy here and it shows. The reactions to epilepsy and mixed race in Percy's case seemed very real and something privileged Monty can't understand as the son of an earl. My only complaint about the book was the bit about panaceas. Because the rest of the book seemed so historically accurate this bit of fantastical alchemy seemed out of place and unnecessary. Other than that little misstep, this was a winning book.