The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee picks up a few months after The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ended. We find Felicity Montague struggling to make ends meet while she tries to get into medical school, which, as a woman, she’s barred from. Then, an unexpected proposition sends her fleeing back to London, and then on a cross-continental journey, as she chases her dream and gets caught up in a situation she never expected.
I enjoyed seeing more of Felicity, who was a supporting character in Gentleman’s Guide. I worried I wouldn’t like her as much as her brother Monty, but I shouldn’t have. Felicity is just as wonderful a person, just as complex and well-written. I was really rooting for her, and invested in how her character developed over time. By the time I finished the book, I felt—just as I did with Monty and Percy—that she was an old friend.
The new characters, Johanna and Sim, were amazing. Full of personality and quirks of their own, they complemented and clashed with Felicity in brilliant ways that made their rapport marvelous. All three core characters felt so relatable and real. The antagonist was also engaging and not at all a caricature. And returning characters were a joy to see. Goodness, this is a fantastic cast.
Another strength of this book, as with its predecessor, is the plot. It manages to be both entirely unpredictable and perfectly logical in its progression. I had no idea where the story was going, but each twist and turn was wonderful. Now, I can’t imagine another way this book could have told the story it did, and I loved every second of it.
The themes this book explores are also wonderful. Felicity is a woman in a world that she finds controlled by men, yet is determined to carve her own place in it. Yet she learns throughout this book that there is not one, single correct way to be a woman, to express feelings or femininity. Her idea of what a “strong woman” is shifts over the course of the story, and it’s a great message, especially for the target audience. This book also explores ideas of romance and sexuality that weren’t really touched upon in the first book in a positive, affirming way.
I listened to the audiobook of this novel, which is narrated by Moira Quirk. She did an excellent job, bringing life to Felicity and the adventure perfectly. However, I didn’t love how she did Monty and Percy’s voices, but that’s probably because I’m so used to Christian Coulson’s brilliance in delivering their lines in Gentleman’s Guide. Still, this is a spectacular audiobook.
In the end, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a phenomenal addition to this phenomenal series. The characters’ relationships and development, the unpredictable plot, and the moving and relevant themes explored combine to make this book something to treasure.
Overall rating: 9/10