It’s the last Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for the Give a Sh*t Book Club!

Our book this month is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. It’s a Young Adult adventure novel with a hefty dose of romance and a side helping of history. Set in the 1700s, wealthy playboy Monty sets off on his Grand Tour of Europe with his BFF-and-maybe-more Percy. Monty expects the trip to be a bacchanalian festival of fun despite the sobering presence of his sister Felicity and a dour chaperone foisted upon them by his father, but his hedonistic impulses lead them into trouble at every turn. Their romp through various European countries ends up being both a journey of self-reflection and a rollicking good time.

I absolutely loved this book, and I hope you did too! Monty was such a fun character to read about, even as I knew if he were my friend in real life he would drive me crazy with his reckless antics. I am a big romance fan, and the will-they-won’t-they between Monty and Percy was tense and delightful and perfect.

Mackenzi Lee obviously takes representation seriously, and it was so fun to read about such a variety of characters. There was honest talk about sexual orientation, chronic illness, gender roles, and being non-white in a world where non-white people are enslaved.

Some specific things I appreciated:

  • Percy wants to be loved for himself, not “in spite of” his epilepsy (and believes he is worthy of love whether his illness is ever cured or not).

  • Monty is blind to his privilege as a white male (Percy has to explain to him that the rules are different for Percy due to his dark skin).

  • Felicity’s fumbling but endearing conversation with Monty about his orientation (she doesn’t have the vocabulary or the frame of reference to understand him, but she’s trying).

Beyond all that good stuff, the book is flippin’ hilarious as well. I laughed out loud at the scene where Monty is caught naked on the lawn at the fancy party and decides to play it off as if he’s fully clothed. I also got a chuckle from Monty and Percy heroically interrupting Felicity and Dante’s makeout session because they assumed she was being assaulted.

And can we talk about how utterly badass it was when Felicity stitched her own arm wound shut?! Who does that?!

This was a super fun book club choice for my birthday month. I hope you loved it as much as I did! Comments are open below; let me know what you thought of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue!