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

October 1, 2018

I received this book for free from Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, by Mackenzi LeeThe Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) by Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 2, 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, Diversity & Multicultural, Europe, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Girls & Women, Historical, Humorous, LGBT, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Katherine Tegen Books
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

In this highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. A must-have for fans of Mackenzi Lee’s extraordinary and Stonewall Honor-winning novel.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of 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 window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own 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 leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

oh man. oh manoh man! i adored this book so, so much. i don’t usually rate books so high, but Lady’s Guide was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 and after sitting on it, to process after i finished reading, it’s safe to safe my love for the book didn’t dwindle.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a historical novel set in Europe detailing the journey to independence of felicity montague, sister of roguish ex-bachelor henry “monty” montague, the narrator and protagonist of Lady’s Guide’s predecessor, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. i’m not an overly huge fan of historical fiction but something about this book made me fall in love with the genre. 

TELL ME ABOUT IT!

like i said above, Lady’s Guide is a historical fiction YA novel set in Europe, mainly Germany, following felicity’s chapter of the montague sibling storyline. 

felicity montague, officially independent having denounced her family name, finds herself struggling to find her footing in the male-driven world of European medicine. having spent her whole life disguising her passion for medicine she’s finally ready to be the woman she’s always dreamt of being–if, that is, she would be permitted into a hospital to study the trade. up until now, felicity’s life has been written out for her, bullet point after bullet point, a perfectly laid plan to success in ladydom. but felicity wants to write her own story–and she does. she rejects a proposal, travels to england, and becomes a criminal-adjacent.

I do not want to know things. I want to understand things.

the criminal felicity is adjacent to is sim, a pirate with a history, who offers to help felicity–for a price. sim will grant her passage to Zurich to meet her mentor, one doctor alexander platt–who happens to be the fiance of her childhood best friend, johanna– and convince him to allow her to train under him, finally getting her wish of being a physician. 

but of course, with the montague siblings, nothing can go according to plan. felicity, johanna, and sim uncover a plot that takes them across the seas, from Germany to Northern Africa to the middle of the Atlantic. sim’s ill intentions and johanna’s hidden family secrets come to light, sending the trio on a journey not soon to be forgotten.

Lady’s Guide is fast-paced and humorous, a lighthearted read for those seeking a girl-powered, science ganged, pirate life novel to keep them dreaming when the snow is settling outside. mackenzi lee has a voice about her–she let me connect with each and every character, finding little bits of myself in them all. 

but more than that, Lady’s Guide is an ode to the women who are erased through every history book and archive. it is a hymn of the strength and power that is held inside of a woman–through her hardship and pain, her delights and achievements, a story is bursting at the seams, waiting to be told. it is an accolade to every single woman, who despite the gender norms and misogynistic beliefs thrown in her path, persevered and kept going, showing the men around them just how fierce she is. 

I want my life to be messy and ugly and wicked and wild, and I want to feel it all. All those things that women are made to believe they are strange for harbouring in their hearts, and I want to surround myself with those same strange, wicked women who throw themselves open to all the wondrous things this world has to offer.

character wise? well, hi, welcome to chelsea’s house, where we stan lgbtq+ and poc diversity. and because we stan diversity in this house, i’m begining this section with a very important message. shipping felicity with any character is aphobic and promotes the idea that aro/ace people can be “fixed” my romantic relationships which is harmful and untrue.

there were three main characters in the book: felicity montague, johanna hoffman, and sim aldajah, and i loved them all so much. i’m a sucker for girl gangs and these ladies did not disappoint.

felicity is one of my favourite characters i’ve ever read about so when i found out we were getting an entire book in her POV i was ecstatic. felicity is unapologetically herself–a hardworking, badass, takes-crap-from-no-one type of girl, and yet, she’s still ridiculously relatable. she literally fangirls over an author and hates parties. if that isn’t the story of my life, then i don’t know what is. also! rep! felicity is canon aro/ace and it is so freaking refreshing to see. mackenzi lee handles felicity beautifully–the should i shouldn’t i of being aroace–often relating felicity’s apprehension to pursuing her dreams of being a physician to her apprehension towards romantic and sexual relationships. her arc through her internalized misogyny was a glorious edition, especially since the whole “i’m not like other girls” is rarely brushed upon when talking about girls who aren’t explicitly feminine.

“I didn’t realize it would be so hard?”

“To study medicine?”

Yes, I think, but also to be a woman alone in the world. My character was forged by independence and self-sufficiency, in the face of loneliness.

as for johanna: if felicity is unapologetically herself, then johanna is redefining the word. she doesn’t let society (or felicity’s) dictations of what femininity should look like deter her, and it is absolutely glorious. she is soft and hard, a lover of the outdoors and tea time. she allows herself to compromise between the child within her–the one who wishes to be a naturalist and run amok with her best friend–to the lady within her–the one that loves parties and dresses her enormous dog with a pink bow. she is a stunning character and serves as a reminder to all authors that female characters do not to be weak to be feminine and do not need to be hard to be tomboyish–an equilibrium exists, and johanna walks through it splendidly.

Johanna had let the world change her, let the winds polish her edges and the rain wear her smooth. She wasn’t changed–she was the same person I had known. Had always known. Just a version that was more completely her.

sim!! wow. WOW. a black muslim pirate? sim is everything i wanted in this novel. she’s the daughter of a ruthless pirate captain, and despite the fact that she’s a girl, nothing is standing in her way. she grew up in a world where men blocked her path, and she just pushed right through. her relationship with felicity is one i adored in this novel. friendship can be born of the most off putting things–such as lying and thieving. all in all, though, i truly did love sim. a lot of historical novels feature virtually no representation because “it didnt exist” (read my lips: BEE ESS) but lee proves that it does and it makes novels better.

She’s working very hard to appear much cooler and toucher than she actually is, like she hopes that will balance out the fact that she’s ripped open and vulnerable in asking me for this.

ok i know i said three main characters, but you think i’d make it through this review without talking about monty and percy? god, those boys melt my entire soul until i’m left a pile of mush resembling melted ice cream on a summer’s day. all though their role in the novel was short it was magnificent and i was squealing like a kid whenever they did anything remotely cute. also, my love for percy didn’t diminish since reading Gentleman’s Guide. he’s just so *bites fist* perfect.

“Are you two still nauseatingly obsessed with each other? I thought by now you’d have mellowed.”

“We remain completely unbearable. Come here, my most dearest darling love of loves.

OVERALL THOUGHTS?

yes. god yes. i loved this book. when i was sent the ARC, i thought to myself there’s no way you’ll like this better than Gentleman’s Guide and yet here i am, clutching this book to my chest and thanking the book gods for planting this seed of an idea into mackenzi lee’s mind. lee did an amazing thing with Lady’s Guide–she tackled issues authors ignored, she gave us the representation readers so desperately want, and she tied it all up with a beautiful, humorous, girl science gang European extravaganza coloured bow.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

be sure to check out Lady’s Guide when it comes out tomorrow, october 2nd!! are you excited for this sequel?

Chelsea Parker

chelsea is a seventeen-year-old with a passion for sleeping and apple cider. when they're not at school or play rehearsal, they're probably staring at a pile of books and wondering what to read.

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