Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue Author: Mackenzi Lee Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy Rating: ★★★★☆ | 4.0 out of 5.0
If you asked me to draw up a wishlist of things I wanted from a queer YA historical novel, it would include the following:
tender queer boys
strong girls who are fallible but have agency & their own goals
road trips! (AKA the only reason I’d read a Grand Tour novel)
dropping trou before European dignitaries at Versailles
a nuanced handling of chronic illness and disability
And man, like. It delivers. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (hi, love that title) is an adventure romp about two boys and one judgemental, not-here-for-your-shit sister who go on a Grand Tour. But because of one of the boys’ assholery (Monty’s), they end up being chased across the Continent by a sinister duke with nefarious plans.
This was an incredibly well-written novel––there is one thing I love most in all the world and it’s the slightly offbeat, self aware humour of historical fantasy set in Regency England. Think Sorcerer to the Crown and Sorcery and Cecelia and you’ve got a good idea of what I’m talking about, because our narrator/erstwhile protagonist/resident douchebag Henry “Monty” Montague has wit and humour in spades. Also self-hate, because this novel goes to some dark places for something so otherwise lighthearted and enjoyable.
Title: Hold Me Author: Courtney Milan Genre: romance, contemporary, new adult Rating: ★★★★★ | 4.5
It seems like every review that I write about Courtney Milan has only good things to say. What can I say? Milan writes diverse characters and she writes them very well. She confronts issues like race, feminism, and sexuality in a way that not a lot of romance authors do. Hold Me is a contemporary romance that features a trans Latinx heroine and a bi Thai hero. It’s an enemies to lovers storyline and a friends to lovers storyline as well. Both of which are some of my favourite tropes in romance so I already knew I was really going to like this book.
The storyline is very balanced and the relationship between Maria and Jay never feels rushed or forced. In fact, there are times when they go weeks and months without talking to one another and considering what has taken place in the story just before it makes perfect sense. I’m glad Milan doesn’t feel the need to rush their interactions, it helps the story to feel more natural. It’s a credit to Milan, especially since some enemies to lovers stories can feel very rushed.
Have you guys seen the recent ads for Amazon TV? Because speaking of show holes, I have a whole category of shows that I have more or less condemned to my personal show hole––that is to say a bunch of shows that have treated its leads of colour so irredeemably poorly that I never want to hear from them again, except to hear about their upcoming cancellations and varying levels of sarcastic biting commentary on them. Sleepy Hollow is one. Teen Wolf is another. And also the thankfully cancelled subject of this review, Twisted.
Twisted began with a neat premise and shaky foundations, even from the start. Years after his conviction for his aunt’s murder, Danny Desai comes back to a town whose attitude towards him has totally changed. Though he maintains he didn’t kill his aunt, no one believes him. No one wants to be near him. No one except his two former best friends, Lacey and Jo (the former more reluctantly than the latter).