Series: Montague Siblings #2
Written by: Mackenzi Lee
Published: October 2, 2018 by Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins)
Synopsis: Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.
A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.
But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.
Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.
I absolutely loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue so when I heard Mackenzi was writing a companion sequel about Felicity I was over the moon. I was so excited to return to these characters and learn what would happen to her. And I thoroughly enjoyed this feminist piece of historical fiction.
One of the things that I loved about this book was the characters. In Gentleman’s Guide, Felicity is just a small part of the narrative but she still made a good impression. Here she gets the focus and it I really enjoyed unpacking her. The thing about Felicity though is that she is far less charming in the traditional sense but very charming in the figurative sense. She’s exactly what you think of when you consider an “unlikable female character.” She’s prickly and judgmental, ambitious and determined. But that’s part of her charm. She’s still the kind of character you root for and want to see achieve her goals. She’s fierce and fiery and I loved being in her head.
But some of the best character here were the secondary characters. I particularly enjoyed Johanna. What I liked about Johanna was that she is everything Felicity is not. She’s girly and sweet, caring about what society would expect a young woman to care about like fashion and appearances. But she’s also interested in science, animals, and exploration. Johanna is the character that most books would make the protagonist but here she is just part of the team and I almost liked that more. She’s a great foil for Felicity and ultimately a great example of different kinds of amazing and fierce women. But she wasn’t the only great secondary character. Dr. Alexander Platt was very complex and Sim was a really engaging female pirate character. Plus if you were hoping some good moments with Monty and Percy you are definitely in luck. Overall, I think the characters in this book were great.
I also really loved the historical setting. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and I am sometimes overly critical because I think a book really needs to be grounded in the time period. Mackenzi did exactly that while still making the book relevant for a modern reader. Here the focus is on women of the period, ambition women who want to do something that the patriarchy just doesn’t want them to do. I loved the way she explored these concepts with three very different women. But this was also a little bit about medicine in the 18th century. You can tell the author did her research into the techniques, however strange, at the time.
The only thing I didn’t totally live is the plot development. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t interesting. Because I did enjoy it. It wasn’t quite the globe trotting mystery and adventure that I was hoping for but it was complex and engaging and unfolded in a way that kept me reading and interested from beginning to end. The thing is, it had a what felt like a fantasy element element just added on to built interest and it felt weird and forced. I think the book would have just as good if that part had been a little more grounded in reality. Or maybe it was and it just wasn’t explained well enough. Either way, it felt like a strange addition to an otherwise great read.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had great characters that were complex and interesting, an immersive historical setting, and a plot that kept me reading and engaged.
I give The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee 9 out of 10 stars
Have you read The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!