All in the name of SCIENCE, or my review of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Lady's Guide

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2)

By: Mackenzi Lee 

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018

Format: Hardcover

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.

  

4 star (griffin)

I had no idea what to expect when I first picked up A Gentleman’s Guide, but I fell in love immediately. Grand Tours, bi representation, male love, and the goof that is Monty all made that book one of my favorites of last year. So, when I heard that Mackenzie Lee was coming out with a companion-sequel focusing on Monty’s traveling companion and ace sister Felicity, I preordered it WELL in advance.

The book is definitely in the same vein as Gentleman’s Guide–Felicity has been living in Edinburgh for the past year and been desperately trying to find a way to become a doctor, until circumstances dictate that she leave for London, and then on an inadvertent adventure involving her former friend from childhood, a mysterious pirate girl, and a creature that seems to be straight out of myth. It’s a very similar story, plot-wise, and there is absolutely no doubt that if you liked Gentleman’s Guide that you’ll like this.

But at the same time, there are elements to the book that are uniquely Felicity. Besides her, of course–a little queer (in the sense meaning ‘odd’, but you know, also in the other way), passionate about science, uncomprehending of sex and a little also of people, arrogant in her own brilliance but also kind in her own way. But, as she learns throughout the book, just because she doesn’t care for people in THAT way doesn’t mean she’s incapable of caring for them in her own way. And so much of the book is other people–Sim, Johanna, Monty, Percy–all reminding her that she does have people who care about her and that she doesn’t have to be completely independent all of the time.

She also learns that her ambition is valid, but that there are other ways besides the conventional to achieve it. Her determination to learn medicine leads her to reunite with her old friend Johanna, who is about to marry her idol Alexander Platt. But after Platt reveals himself to be a desperate fraud, she works with Johanna to find the girl’s mother’s scientific work, and to keep it out of Platt’s hands. I was wondering when the book first mentioned Felicity’s and Johanna’s ex-friendship if it had something to do with sex–but then it veered in a very different direction, with it ending because Johanna felt that Felicity disapproved of her interest in fashion and looked down on her for being traditionally feminine. I enjoyed the lesson there, that one can be feminine and girly and also be deeply passionate about the sciences. I think that’s a lesson we all need to relearn from time to time.

But, even though Felicity’s and Johanna’s arrangement was entirely platonic, I did deeply enjoy Sims relationship with Felicity–and how she both made her peace with Felicity’s asexuality but also reminded her that there are other ways two people can connect romantically. I definitely squealed out loud when they kissed. And I thought that Sim was a fascinating figure also, although I don’t want to talk too much about her for fear of spoilers. And, finally, I loved how Monty and Percy reminded Felicity that they were her family, and they were always going to be there for her even when she thought they disapproved of her.

In short this book is a lot more about relationships than anything else–although it is also a fun romp around Europe and Northern Africa–and I thought it was really cute while also being very clear about some things. I don’t know if another book set in the same world is forthcoming, or if Lee is finished writing these, but I definitely wouldn’t mind another.  

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.

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