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The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy | Mackenzi Lee | Review

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.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is the sequel to Mackenzi Lee's incredibly popular novel, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, (you can read Anjali's review of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue here) and it is every bit as exciting and endearing as its predecessor.

A year after her brother's unintentionally eventful grand tour, Felicity Montague is more determined than ever to follow Monty's example and live her life on her own terms. For Felicity this means studying medicine, opening her own practice one day, and very definitely never getting married. Unfortunately, living life on her own terms is far easier said than done. No matter how many medical schools Felicity applies to, the answer is always the same: women simply are not permitted to study medicine, and none of the men in charge seem particularly keen to change that. To make matters worse, the baker Felicity has been working for while trying to make her case to be allowed to study medicine has a question of his own and it's one that Felicity really doesn't want to answer.

At last though, it seems Felicity might have a chance to follow her dreams. An old friend is marrying a doctor Felicity greatly admires and she's had a tip that he might be more open to the idea of a woman working alongside him. There are only two problems with her plan. The first problem is that Felicity can't afford to go to Germany for the wedding. The second problem is that she hasn't spoken to Johanna in years so she isn't actually invited. The first problem seems to be solved when a mysterious young woman from Scipio's crew offers to pay Felicity's way if Felicity allows her to come, disguised as Felicity's maid, and Felicity is sure the second problem will be solved once she arrives on Johanna's doorstep. Unfortunately for Felicity, these soon turn out not to be her only problems.

Felicity Montague's character is perfectly summed up by the moment in the first chapter of this novel, in which she has just finished sewing up a wound on a man's finger and then been proposed to, and her first reaction to the proposal is to think that she would rather be tending to the finger again. She is a woman who doesn't quite fit in with the role society wants her to take, not least because she has no interest in marriage or romantic relationships at all, and her determination to be accepted into medical school, of course, lands her in plenty of trouble. Felicity makes plenty of mistakes along her road to what she thinks she wants, particularly taking the mysterious young woman, Sim, into Johanna's home without truly knowing her motives for wanting to be there, and underestimating Johanna herself because of her love of pretty things.

Felicity is, at times, stubborn, selfish, and difficult, and it is extremely refreshing to see a female character allowed to be those things. Of course, she learns her lessons in the end, but the place from which she starts makes watching her learn them, and watching her friendship with Sim and Johanna blossom, incredibly joyful. This is a novel that champions girls who know who they are and aren't afraid to show the world, even when the world doesn't like it. It also has pirates, magical sea creatures, adventure, intrigue, and a very large, very friendly dog. What's not to like?

If you enjoyed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, you are sure to love The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, and if you haven't read either yet, I highly recommend you change that!

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