The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee – A Review

The Gentleman's Guide to Getting Lucky Mackenzi Lee.jpg

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky (Montague Siblings #1.5) by Mackenzi Lee
Historical Fiction | Romance | LGBTQ | Novella | Young Adult
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Released November 26th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

One of my biggest book-related surprises last year was discovering Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Young adult historical fiction was a genre I generally avoided for no real reason, but after seeing this book talked about online, I found myself intrigued enough to pick it up. And boy, am I glad I did.

Lee’s Montague Siblings series has quickly become a favorite of mine, and I pre-ordered The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky as soon as the physical copy was announced. Originally, this novella had been part of a pre-order campaign during the release of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, but after her fans kept asking for it, her publisher agreed to do a hardcover release of it.

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I haven’t read any of Mackenzi Lee’s non-Montague Siblings books yet (although I definitely want to), but for this particular series, I love how Lee combines humor with serious topics and infuses a bit of magic into her world. All of these books were an absolute delight to read, and I’m already planning on re-reading them when the third book, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, is released in mid-2020.

This novella focuses on Monty and Percy, the main characters from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It takes place after the events in that book and picks up with them living on a beach with Monty’s sister, Felicity, and a group of sailors.

Monty and Percy are life-long best friends who have been in love with one another secretly for years and are finally together as a couple. The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky is about the beginning of their relationship, specifically the first time they, ahem, get lucky.

The story was definitely entertaining, infused with Lee’s humor and the perfect characters that she’s developed. I devoured it in about an hour the same day I received it in the mail, and I really enjoyed it.

I have a difficult time with novellas because I find that I always want more of the story, and that was true of this. I wanted it to continue on so that I could see more of the life that Monty and Percy built together. That said, however, the story was adorable, and is a great example that romances and love-making are not always perfect the way it’s portrayed literally everywhere. Fuck-ups and hilarious things happen, and it’s okay. It’s real life.

Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was that Monty was very respectful of Percy not wanting to jump into sex right away. As this is a young adult book, it was nice to see that and is something that I hope young people pick up on and internalize.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the Montague Siblings series, you’re going to want to read this. However, if those stories didn’t do anything for you, you’ll get absolutely nothing out of this. I enjoyed it, and whenever I do re-reads of the series I’ll read it. I hope more novellas and novels are in the future for this series!


Are you a fan of Mackenzi Lee’s Montague Siblings series? Let me know in the comments!




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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Book Review of The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee; historical fiction; best books of 2018; what should i read next; great feminist books

“Everyone has heared stories of women like us – cautionary tales, morality plays, warning of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for this world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone. 

“Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.”

The Book

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Amazon | Goodreads
Published by Katerine Tegan Books, a division of Harper Collins
Released October 2, 2018
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram

What It Is

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a sequel/companion novel to Lee’s wonderful The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, one of my favorite books that I had the pleasure of reading in 2018.

The story follows Felicity as she tries to become a doctor in a society that believes women are inferior and have no place in medicine.

After the events of The Gentleman’s Guide, Felicity finds herself working at a bakeshop in Edinburgh to make ends meet. The owner of the shop, Callum, wants to marry Felicity, but Felicity is horrified at the thought and flees to Monty and Percy in London.

While in London, she makes an attempt to petition Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital to take her on as a student. An attempt that goes disastrously, but afterward, when she feels that things are never going to go her way, one of the men run outside after her to advise her to reach out to Alexander Platt, her medical hero, a man whose books she has obsessed over.

Much to the horror of Monty and Percy, she takes off with a pirate girl named Sim to go confront Alexander Platt, who is marrying Felicity’s former best friend, a girl named Johanna who she had a massive falling out with. She takes a serious gamble undertaking this journey – Sim seems rather dangerous as she threatened someone’s life just as the journey is getting started, she hasn’t spoken to Johanna in years, and she has no idea if she’ll even make it in time to get to Platt before he and Johanna leave for their honeymoon. It’s the only chance she has though, so she risks everything for this one last shot of becoming a doctor.

My Thoughts

You deserve to be here. You deserve to exist. You deserve to take up space in this world of men..png

Everything about this book is amazing! I loved it just as much as The Gentleman’s Guide and Felicity is a force to be reckoned with. She was one of my favorite parts of The Gentleman’s Guide, so as soon as I found out Lee’s sequel would be told from her perspective, I immediately pre-ordered it.

Lee deals with the sexist attitudes of the 1700s very well, although there are so many difficulties that Felicity encounters that women of today understand all too well, which is quite unfortunate. From the very beginning, when Callum is asking for her hand in marriage, he tells her that her dreams of becoming a doctor are frivolous and something she’ll eventually grow out of. Not only that, but he decides that if she doesn’t accept his proposal, she can find work elsewhere. He also assumes that she’s going to say yes, even though it’s clear that she’s going to say no. Felicity is better than that though:

“I do not want to spend the rest of my life smelling sugar. I don’t want pastry beneath my fingernails and a man content with the hand life has dealt him and my heart a hungry, wild creature savaging me from the inside out.”

All three of the main female characters are well-written and loveable. I’ve already talked a lot about Felicity, but we also have Sim, a tough-as-nails pirate who has sailed with the Crown & Cleaver and is completely fearless; and Johanna, a naturalist who wants to know all there is to know about flora and fauna, while still embracing feminity and pink bows. I adore their relationships with each other and their very distinct personalities. I found myself wanting to be best friends with each one of them.

Felicity’s burning passion to become a doctor is the real star of this book, and it’s a passion that I recognize in myself and in many of the women around me.

“I want to know what it is and how it works and why it saved Sim. When all my indignance over inequality, the plight of women in the world, and the education denied me is boiled away, what is always left is that wanting, hard and spare and alive, like a heart made of bone. I want to know all of it…I want to know how things go wrong. How we break and the best way to put ourselves back together. I want to know it all so badly it feels like a bird trapped inside my chest, throwing its body against my rib cage in search of the strong wind that will carry it out into the world. I would tear myself open if it meant setting it free.”

The characters also all know that they don’t need to be saved by men, that they can save themselves, especially if they work together. Heroic men saving weak women is a trope I loathe, and I love seeing women save themselves in this novel:

“Zounds, does this fool actually think he’s saving me? Another storybook hero to swoop in and rescue a girl from a dragon or a monster or herself – they’re all the same. A woman must be protected, must be sheltered, must be kept from the winds that would batter her into the earth.

“But I am a wildflower and will stand against the gales. Rare and uncultivated, difficult to find, impossible to forget.”

An aspect of Mackenzi Lee’s novels that are particularly amazing is the amount of diversity and representation she writes into her characters. In this series, we meet characters that are queer, black, Muslim, rich, poor, asexual, epileptic, as well as being shown difficult issues such as familial abuse, sexism, homophobia, and addiction.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but one of my favorite things about the books were the creatures that Felicity, Sim, and Joanna are trying to save. They were completely unexpected, and I actually gasped with excitement when they were introduced into the story!

One of the things that I love about both of Mackenzi Lee’s books that I’ve read is that at the end of the book she includes a bit of history and her inspirations for the story. This is something that I wish all books had, and I hope more writers take note of it. It’s always great to understand how a writer came up with a character and to see the historical setting that the book was inspired by.

Verdict

5 out of 5 stars, easily. This is a book you should buy because you’ll end up reading it over and over and over again. If you want to read an empowering book where women fight for themselves and come out on top, go read this one right now.

October TBR

It’s finally October! I love this month so much. Pumpkin everything, the leaves changing color, spooky stuff everywhere, cooler weather… there’s just so much to love. The fall is a time when I always feel rejuvenated and at my happiest.

Since it’s the first day of the month, that means it’s time to put together my TBR list for the month. I doubt I’m going to be able to get through everything on the list, but I am certainly going to try! I also have a habit of picking up books on a whim, so expect this list to change a little.

Currently Reading:

Want to Read:

And then also, a healthy dose of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.

What are you planning on reading this month?


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Header image thanks to Elke Bürgin on Unsplash

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Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Book

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Amazon | Goodreads
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Published: 2017
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction, adventure, LGBT
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram

What It Is

Set in the 1700s, the story follows Henry Montague (“Monty”), his sister Felicity, and his best friend Percy, as they embark on their grand tour of the European continent. For Monty, this is going to be the last year before he’s forced to help run his father’s estate (a future that he is definitely not keen on) and, also, a year before Percy has to go off to Holland to attend school. Thus, it is supposed to be a year of parties, gambling, drinking, and romancing.

Things do not go as planned, however. In fact, things start going terribly, terribly wrong. They encounter highwaymen and pirates; conspiracies and alchemical cure-alls. The three of them end up having a tumultuous adventure, full of surprises and lucky escapes.

There’s another reason Monty is looking forward to his grand tour – he’s in love with Percy, only Percy doesn’t know it. Alongside the adventure story, we also get to watch the blossoming (and trials) of their relationship.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue deals with several heavy topics that give the book an added dimension. Most obviously, it deals with homosexuality in the 1700s, a time when people could be severely punished for the act. Percy is also bi-racial, and we witness how he gets treated by higher society, and the racism of that time period. There are also underlying themes of child abuse, chronic illness (Percy has epilepsy), and sexism (Felicity is prevented from going to several of the events that Percy and Monty are dragged to, even though she actually wants to go).

The book is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once, and has something for everyone, from fight scenes and romance, to swashbuckling and alchemy.

What I Loved

The relationship between Monty and Percy was spectacular. Every time they fought in the book, or something pulled them apart, I felt it in my heart. I was rooting for their romance throughout the whole book.

All of the main characters were so well-developed, and I really appreciated that in fiction. Despite Monty being self-absorbed, naive, and very spoiled, he’s still relatable. I found myself wanting him to succeed, even when he was making very terrible decisions. Although, at times, I also wanted to reach into the pages, grab him by the shoulders, and shake him whenever he did something spectacularly dumb. A large part of this book is his coming to terms with who he is and his realization of how others see him.

Percy is instantly loveable, and just a genuinely great friend. He puts up with Monty’s foolishness (to a point), and, even when they’re fighting, he’s still there to support him. One of the things that immediately pulled me into loving his character is that he carries around a violin he inherited from his deceased father. My mother died in 2010, and the loss of a parent and the role that their heirlooms play in your remembrance of them really resonated with me.

Then we get to Felicity, who is simply a badass. I can’t wait for the sequel, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, to be released, because it focuses on Felicity’s adventures after the end of The Gentleman’s Guide. Whenever Monty and Percy are panicking and unsure of how to proceed, Felicity comes to their rescue. She also took it upon herself to educate herself in science and medicine, which, due to the times and the feelings of her family, she otherwise would not have been allowed to study.

What I Disliked

This is hard. I spent a good twenty minutes trying to come up with something I could say in this section, but I have nothing. I suppose the only real thing I disliked was that it was too short. I wanted so much more. Luckily, there’s the sequel…

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Buy! This was an incredibly fun book to read. I originally downloaded it for my Kindle, but before I was even finished with the book I purchased a physical copy from Amazon because I knew that this was a book I would be going back to several times.

Have you read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue? What did you think?