Title: The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks
Series: Montague Siblings #3
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Published: November 16th, 2021 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Synopsis: Adrian Montague has a bright future. The sole heir to his father’s estate, he is an up and coming political writer and engaged to an activist who challenges and inspires him. But most young Lords aren’t battling the debilitating anxiety Adrian secretly lives with, or the growing fear that it might consume him and all he hopes to accomplish. In the wake of his mother’s unexpected death, Adrian is also concerned people will find out that he has the mental illness she struggled with for years.
When a newly found keepsake of hers-a piece of a broken spyglass-comes into Adrian’s possession, he’s thrust into the past and finds himself face to face with an older brother he never knew he had. Henry “Monty” Montague has been living quietly in London for years, and his sudden appearance sends Adrian on a quest to unravel family secrets that only the spyglass can answer.
In pursuit of answers about the relic, the brothers chart a course to locate their sister Felicity. But as they travel between the pirate courts of Rabat, Portuguese islands, the canals of Amsterdam, and into unknown Arctic waters, the Montague siblings are thrown into one final adventure as they face a ghostly legend that threatens their whole family.
Nearly two decades after the events of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, Adrian Montague, now 19, is his father’s sole heir and a budding political writer. But in the wake of his mother’s recent death under somewhat mysterious circumstances, he has been struggling more and more with his mental illness, the same his mother had, and fears that people will find out about it. When he receives a keepsake of his mother, a broken piece of a spyglass, Adrian sets out to find more about it, only to happen upon an older brother he never knew he had – Henry Montague, aka Monty. Adrian’s mission to find answers soon turns into a quest across the sea to find their sister Felicity and a jaunt through various countries, in search of something only spoken of in legend.
Well, it was good to return to these familiar faces, but this book was definitely the weakest of the series. The mood of the entire story has changed and there’s none of the side-splittingly funny moments or ridiculous antics that I so enjoyed in the series thus far, and it made this book, quite frankly, tiresome. The fantasy/supernatural theme from The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy continued here as well, and I didn’t enjoy it any better. The pacing was really slow towards the beginning, but improved once the actual plot started. What was well depicted however, was the representation of Adrian’s anxiety disorder and OCD and how he struggles to cope with it in a society and era where it is taboo.
Adrian started out as a rather interesting character, and the initial chapters build up some background surrounding his relationships with his father and fiancee and how his political future will turn out. All that goes down the drain however, when he more or less leaves everything behind to gallivant across Europe on a wild goose chase in search of a ghost out of legend and none of these concerns are remotely significant until the end of the book. He was a character who was easy to empathize with, and very well written from that perspective, but Adrian didn’t really make for that good of a narrator, especially if you compare him to the ridiculously entertaining Monty from the first book.
The most jarring aspect for me however, was that Monty and Felicity, who would be nearly 40 years old in this book, simply did not act their age. They still behaved more or less like their teenage versions from the previous two books, and as a reader, knowing that they’re supposed to be so much older. Then again, it is extremely difficult to picture either of them as grown adults, which made reading this book a very strange experience. I’m also rather disappointed at how little page time Percy had.
Overall, following the journey of the Montague siblings was fun, but this felt more like a check in with the characters rather than a solid plotline, and the book really could have been condensed a lot – maybe even into a novella. If you’ve read the first two books, I’d recommend reading this one to complete the series but don’t go into it with too high expectations.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: