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.
I’m a huge fan of the first book in this series, and I was so excited to read this sequel that I chucked aside my current read, tore through the mail packaging of this one and started reading it immediately upon arriving home from work the day it released completely neglecting my poor husband for the rest of the day. Totally worth it.
Like the first book, this one was a lot of fun. I appreciated Felicity as our main protagonist in this one. I didn’t always love her in the first book, at times thinking she was being a bit hard on Monty, and I have to say that sometimes I didn’t like her here either but…Felicity is kind of like a porcupine. She’s a bit prickly and she doesn’t always think before acting, but this does lead her into some interesting territory on occasion. Plus, seeing everything from her point of view really gave me new perspective on her. I’m much better able to understand the relationship between her and her brother, how much she cares for him even when she’s exasperated, disappointed, or resentful toward him.
Felicity, unlike her brother Monty, is extremely hard working. She knows that she’s going to be passed up for the work she wants to do, becoming a doctor, so she has to work two or three times as hard just to try and get her foot into the door. It’s natural that she would feel some resentment toward her brother, who she feels has squandered so much opportunity in life, opportunity she would love to have but doesn’t just because of her sex. I love Felicity’s tenacity in going after her dream, although at times it does feel like she’s making some rash decisions in order to achieve her goal, not thinking about the cost of those decisions. Just like her brother, Felicity definitely has some flaws, and these aspects of her character hinder her at times. This provides a great opportunity for us to see some character growth, something this author excels at.
Throughout the story we’re introduced to some new characters. First we meet Sim, a young woman pirate who has taken up with the crew of their former pirate friends from the first book. She’s a bit mysterious at first and it takes Felicity, and us as readers, a little while to find out more about her. Once I did get to know her better, I couldn’t help but love her. She’s also a woman in a man’s world, so there’s a lot of common ground between her and Felicity, despite all their differences. We also meet Johanna, Felicity’s best friend growing up. We learn how close they used to be and eventually we learn what drove them apart. Mackenzi Lee is great at writing characters and letting them drive her stories, and as much as I loved Gentleman’s Guide, I feel like this is a huge step up. I love how we explore these characters and what they want out of life. Each of them have very specific dreams and obstacles. Without giving a lot away, I love that these characters exist as who they are. And as much as I did love Felicity, I think Johanna might actually be my favorite character of the three main protagonists, because of some of the things she says to Felicity when explaining how their friendship fell apart.
The pacing of the story was great and the prose was strong. I rarely find myself wanting to tag quotes in books but there are definitely passages where I was like ‘man, that’s deep, I should probably quote that in my review’.
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life smelling sugar. I don’t want pastry beneath my fingernails and a man content with the hand life has dealt him and my heart a hungry, wild creature savaging me from the inside out.”
Well dang, Felicity. Tell me how you really feel. ❤
Honestly, I don’t really have much negative to say about this book. The fantasy element was more of a plot device, similar to the first book, but I feel like it was incorporated a little bit better into the story this time around. But really that’s negligible to the story as a whole.
I really loved this one, it definitely lived up to my expectations. 5/5 stars.