The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Happy holidays, everybody! My gift to you this week is a recommendation to read one of the best books I read in 2017: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Historical fiction doesn’t get any better than this, and I highly recommend the audio version for added entertainment.
Seventeen year-old Henry “Monty” Montague could have any lady of his choosing. He has the looks, charm, money and family name to woo any girl in 1700’s England, but Monty has eyes only for his male best friend Percy. Monty isn’t sure if Percy feels the same way, but they’ll have the whole year on tour of Europe together to sort it out before Monty becomes his father’s apprentice and Percy heads to law school.
Their tour, of course, doesn’t go as planned. Monty’s hateful father assigns Monty, Percy and Monty’s sister Felicity a “handler” who forces them to partake in educational experiences and forbids the boys from their favorite nighttime activities: drinking, gambling and romancing. Thinking the situation can’t get worse, the group is nearly scared to death when their coach is attacked on a rural road in France, and Monty, Percy and Felicity become separated from their staff and must wander the country penniless and with only the clothes on their backs. Monty quickly realizes their attackers are after a puzzle box he stole from an enemy he made at Versailles, and the contents of the box must be very valuable indeed.
The trio’s quest to open the box and access its treasure takes them to a spooky house in Spain, on a pirate ship and to a sinking island in Italy. There is plenty of action, intrigue and humor in every chapter, and it’s impossible to predict what trouble Monty will get into next. This wild adventure tests Monty and Percy’s love for one another and the sacrifices they are willing to make to be together.
As I read this book, I was fascinated by the concept of the Baseggio Box and its Lazarus Key which are central to the story’s action. I’d heard about puzzle boxes in the past, but I’d never come across one myself. Through a little Google searching, I located a retailer called The Puzzle Warehouse in St. Louis. It is the self-proclaimed, “Largest jigsaw puzzle store in the USA!” I grabbed my puzzle-loving pal Ali Jean, and we headed to the store, a legit warehouse FULL of every kind of puzzle you can imagine, including puzzle boxes.
Let me back up for a second because when Ali Jean and I arrived at The Puzzle Warehouse, we laughed at the signs in the parking lot which limited shoppers to two hour parking. Who could spend TWO HOURS in a puzzle store, we scoffed. You know who? Us two. We had the time of our lives in there, and we ended up with a shopping cart packed with puzzles. If you are a friend of family member of ours, there’s a pretty solid chance you got a puzzle for Christmas. You’re welcome!
Anyway, The Puzzle Warehouse has an awesome variety of wooden puzzle boxes. I didn’t end up buying any of these, but seeing them up close gave me a better idea of what the Baseggio Box must have looked like. I’m thinking a DIY puzzle box might be fun to add to a Breakout Box game at school.
Ali and I spent the rest of our time browsing the endless aisles of puzzles where we found everything from 3D puzzles to puzzles with googly eyes and 40,000+ piece puzzles! Now you know how we spent two hours there. . .
As a Christmas gift, I bought my dad a 4D puzzle of Budapest since Mike and I had the amazing opportunity to travel there with him and my mom this summer. A 4D puzzle, folks! Mind blown!
I can’t wait for the sequel/companion of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue to drop. Narrated by Monty’s sister, Felicity, it’s called The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. Look for it in October 2018.
Happy reading (and puzzling),