The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue follows Henry "Monty" Montague, a young man who loves gambling, drinking, and sex. He embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend, Percy, whom he has a huge crush on, and his younger sister Felicity, an intelligent and headstrong young woman. Monty expects the trip to entail tons of fun and consequence-free debauchery. But when he makes a rash decision early on in their trip, the trio's journey turns a lot more sinister, forcing Monty to confront some devastating challenges, including his feelings for Percy.
I liked a lot of things about this novel. Mackenzi Lee paces the plot super well, such that I always wanted to know what would happen next. Amidst a literary landscape filled with insta-love and/or unhealthy relationships, I found Monty and Percy's connection adorable, sexy, and believable. Lee shows enough of their backstory and their current chemistry to make readers root for them. I also appreciated how she addressed issues of white privilege, sexism, abuse, and stigma surrounding illness within this book.
I sense that I would give this book five stars instead of four if Lee had gone a little deeper, either with Monty's character or some of the social justice topics. Monty is pretty awful throughout the book, in that he makes ignorant comments and lacks the ability to communicate his emotions. This latter fault drives a lot of the conflict in his relationship with Percy. Thus, I wish we could have seen more of Monty's process in working through his privileges, his past ignorant remarks, his issues with communication, etc. I get that Lee may have spent that time more on the adventure-based aspects of the plot, though.