My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. 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.
I have been anticipating this book since October 2016, as in dyyying to read it since I got my hands on some sample of the first four chapters. I fell in love with Monty’s voice — like very very quickly messaged all of my friends to make them read it too — and have spent ages trying to find a copy. I’ve legitimately been looking all over for this book, and all that time builds expectations that are pretty hard to match….
And yet, somehow this book was even better than I hoped?? That’s saying a lot, because I basically h for this book. I’m honestly kinda stunned by how much I adore this book (and Monty and Percy and Felicity).
To start, I’ve gotta gush about my love for Monty. I’ve read others call him arrogant but I absolutely adored this disaster of a human being. I loved him. Like a lot, if that’s not obvious yet. I mean he was a pretty, charming boy with all the privileges a rich white boy had (esp in that time) and he wasn’t an absolute pain to read? He was witty and self deprecating and his voice just felt so real, I just?? Want to write like that, honestly.
I loved that he was trying so hard to play this devil may care character but underneath it he was a whole lot more? He was dealing with a whole lot, and he was hurting a whole lot, and to be honest the growth he went through over the book was just a delight to read. I mean, I was kinda soft on the arrogance at the start, because it came with an awkwardness and a series of disasters that made it hard not to care for him, but when he started to get his shit together? I wanted to protect him so badly from all of the heart break in the book.
I really liked the way the book dealt with the abuse he had suffered, and his triggers as a result of what happened to him. There were some incredible scenes later in the books (that had me all teary, because I’m emotional af always) that honestly I’m not sure anyone could read and not feel for him.
And then, of course, there is Percy. What a lovely gem of a boy. I’m quite fond of soft boys (do I say this in every review?), and he really was no exception. I think what I liked most about him was that he was perfectly capable of keeping up with Monty, and keeping him in line. He was just as witty and ready to banter, and honestly I’m all about the way that he drove Monty mad (sharing a bed pls and thank you). I like that he was unafraid to call Monty out when it needed to happen (and ofc all of the angst that followed with any telling off and the spiral it resulted in).
(spoiler)Also the whole epilepsy story line was brilliantly done? I really liked the whole point of Percy not liking his illness but also not wanting to just remove it, especially with the price of a cure all. I liked that he continued to call Monty out on this, and the selfishness of wanting a cured Percy, even after they’d confessed their feelings.
And while I’m in spoiler territory, that confession! I loved how simply done it was, after all the angst and worries and disasters to that point(spoiler)
I think what I loved most about Percy and Monty was that the chemistry between them was dripping off the pages. This is what I want to see in a romance!! I ached for Monty, and his narration had me jumping at every brush of Percy’s fingers. Honestly, I’ve not seen romantic tension like this in a while, and I just adore it.
A review wouldn’t be complete without commenting on Felicity, who I also adored quite a bit. (There’s a bit of a theme here). She was competent and smart and honestly the only reason the boys survived the journey. I loved that she was even though the no nonsense younger sister to balance Monty, and that he learnt to see her as a human, as opposed to some robot.
Also she had reasons for the things that she knew (studying medicine, even though she’s a woman) and limits as well. It was also hinted that she’s ace-spec? (though the author says she can’t use labels for characters who wouldn’t know them) It’s really nice to see. I’m really really looking forward to a book from her pov.
I also just really liked the adventure of the book. I actually did not expect the turn that it took (I think I read the blurb long enough ago, so I’m not sure I got the heads up), but I was all about it. I mean pirates and alchemy and a trip with more than just a summer of fun at stake. I also like the way it brought the three of them together — Percy and Felicity and Monty. While Percy and Monty really were close to begin with, the three of them became a team of sorts, and they all ended up with such a good dynamic.
I need to really praise the book for touching on some like legitimate issues in a very tactful way, amongst all this humour and angst. I mean the book touched on sexuality, gender, disability and class in the 1700s, and it did so (in my opinion) really respectfully, without it coming across as lesson time. It should be the norm, and I very much like that this book didn’t use the (false) historical fiction excuse.
Honestly it was just such an engaging, funny read, with such a fresh, lovely voice and the sort of love that made me ache too. I want to recommend it to every one, but I need to stop rambling here because I think I need to let the book speak for itself.
“I have lived most of my life as a devotee of the philosophy that a man should not see two sevens in one day”
“I am somehow stuck with an obstinate mount that resembles less a horse and more a leggy sausage, and seems fond of ingesting my commands and then ignoring them in their entirety.”
“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”
A little aside to say that I actually got this book from my mum in a home made book box (like the subscription boxes that cost like ?? four thousand to ship to Australia). It was honestly one of the greatest presents I’ve ever received? It was beautiful and thoughtful and I’m probably going to brag about it forever, possibly on my blog.