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.
Synopsis from Amazon
If you’re like me, you’ve seen this book mentioned a lot on social media and in bookstores, but you weren’t sure if you wanted to read it because of the hype around it. I decided to give it a go (the wonderful cover eventually caught me and I had to pull it from my TBR list) and I’m happy to say that I had a really fun time reading it! It’s a great summer read: funny, light, with an adventure thrown in (pirates!).
Hilarious Historical Fiction
I love historical fiction, especially when it takes place in London. Although I would never want to live in this time period (no deodorant, no toilets, no gender equality, etc), I’m always excited when a book takes place in the Victorian Era. In this case, Lee brings us on a traditional gentleman’s Tour...that is anything but traditional. She has done a wonderful job of balancing the expectations of Monty’s class (the wealthy are completely dependent on their servants, but treat them shabbily) with the dangers of the road (highwaymen, pirates), while not making us completely hate Monty for his entitlement and wealth. While he is definitely entitled and has little understanding of how his actions have repercussions for others, this felt realistic of his class — although he did get on my nerves from time to time. It was also fun to be on Tour with him; many historical novels take place when the gentleman is older, which assumes that he’s already completed his tour and is busy settling in to managing the family business.
Bisexuality in The 1700s
I love how brilliantly Lee tells Monty’s story, specifically his love life. Although a cad, Monty’s interest in both men and women is incredibly refreshing when reading historical fiction. In a time of sexual repression, and when being gay would result in the death penalty, Monty is beaten by his father on a regular basis and still refuses to pretend to be straight; he doesn’t see himself as being brave, but I thought this was incredibly powerful. His sexual exploits with men and women often end up in hilarious (and sometimes awful) circumstances for him, but it doesn’t stop him from approaching his next admirer. As a history lover, I also found it interesting that Monty and Percy’s behaviour (sharing a bed, spending days and nights together) would probably not have been called into question at this time because it was assumed that men would have close relationships with other men. Monty got on my nerves somewhat throughout the book, but I adored reading about Monty and Percy and thought their relationship was fantastic.
Felicity is AMAZING!
While Monty is the protagonist of this story, it’s Felicity whom I was completely captivated by. Smart, creative, and brave, she has basically taught herself how to be a doctor, saves Percy and Monty numerous times, and is constantly finding ways to challenge her station as a woman in society. Some of her amazing moments in this book include:
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood.”
...”gives her embroidery an examination, looking pleased as Punch. ‘I’ve never actually done that on a person before.’” (After sewing her own wound closed!!)
I can’t wait for her book to come out in a few months so we can have more adventures with her. I hope that she truly does get the chance to become a doctor, because she is clearly already wonderful at medicine even without the proper education.
Overall, this was a fun book to read and I’m glad I finally took it from my TBR pile. Although Monty isn’t my favourite character, I do love him and Percy together and I’m really excited to read Felicity’s story in October! The traditional prim and properness of 1700s get a rude awakening with this sexually-charged, funny, adventure novel.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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