Book Reviews

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (ARC Review)

🌟4 stars 🌟

I was so excited when I won this ARC in an Instagram giveaway from Katherine Tegen Books! Now that I’ve finished The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I’ve been oscillating between 4/4.5 star rating before settling on 4 stars, because I was engrossed in the book while reading it, but it wasn’t one that left me thinking about it for days afterwards. Although not as action-packed as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, this was still a fun read. This review will contain minor spoilers for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

I think this book would be great for people who enjoy:

  • Strong Female Protagonists
  • Historical Fiction
  • Girl Gangs
  • Minority Representation


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.

“Everyone has heard stories of women like us–cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone. Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and we intend to make more of them.”

I’ll be honest that I was a little worried that this book would be similar to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue when reading about how Felicity will end up on a quest that takes her to various countries, but thankfully I was wrong. Felicity’s story is original and takes us on a new adventure through the trials she faces as she struggles to fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor in a world where men believe women are too inferior and inept to hold such a profession.

The story begins when Felicity bands together with a mysterious girl, Sim, from Scipio’s crew who will pay for her passage to Germany as long as she can accompany her disguised as her maid. Even though every bone in Felicity’s body tells her that she should not trust Sim; her ambition wins out and they set off for Germany. While in Germany, Felicity reconciles with a friend from her past, Johanna, who is betrothed to the doctor that Felicity idolizes.

This book is well-written and I never felt confused or in the dark about anything. I loved the dialogue between the characters and there were definitely a handful of scenes that made me laugh out loud. My only qualm, is that I felt that it was a little slow to start. I did not feel immersed in the plot until around halfway through the book, but it could have just taken me awhile to get into the story, because I jumped into it right after finishing Illuminae and I had a book hangover from it still.

Although I felt there was less action, I loved learning about the strengths and weaknesses of each of the three girls that play integral roles in this story. They all have different aspirations, but the hurdle that they all share is that they would not have had to fight so hard for their goals if they had just been born male.

“I do not want to know things. I want to understand things. I want to answer every question ever posed me. I want to leave no room for anyone to doubt me.”

I loved Felicity Montague in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, because of her strength and her continuous fight to pursue what she loves. I love that she is a headstrong girl that is willing to take the risks rather than settle into the life that is expected of her. However, she is not without her faults and there were moments where she had to be put in her place as well. She grew so much within this novel and it made me love her so much more.

“You refused to let me–or anyone!–like books and silk. Outdoors and cosmetics. You stopped taking me seriously when I stopped being the kind of woman you thought I had to be to be considered intelligent and strong.”

However, my favorite character in this novel is Johanna Hoffman. She was Felicity’s childhood best friend and they had a falling out a few years prior to this book. Since Felicity has to see her again in order to speak to the doctor that she has looked up to her entire life; they work to repair their tattered friendship. Johanna is a wonderful example of how women should not have to box themselves into gender roles. Just because a woman loves to dress up and wear makeup does not mean that she cannot also be strong and smart.

“I’d rather write my own legends. Or be the story someone else looks to someday. Build a strong foundation for those who follow us.”

I wish there were more scenes with Sim in this book. She is introduced as this mysterious and dangerous character, but first impressions are not always true. She is just a girl that has been shaped by the world she grew up in and will do anything it takes to get what is rightfully hers. She is the literal description of “looks like she can kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll” meme, but she could probably kill you too if she had to.

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

We remain completely unbearable.”

Of course our lovable boys from the first book do make a few appearances in this novel. A year later and still as lovesick as ever, Monty and Percy have settled into a new life that may not be the nicest, but it’s theirs. I didn’t know it was possible to love them more after The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but apparently there is still room in my heart for more Monty and Percy.

Overall, although this book didn’t hook me as much as I thought it would; I still loved it very much. I loved reading about how all these characters became the strong women they wanted to be all along; free to make their own decisions and do whatever they want to do with their lives. This book is for women who have faced backlash for pursuing what they love and instead of giving up, they persevere. They continue to follow their heart wherever it may lead, no matter what anyone says.

Quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change in the final publication.

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