Monday, April 18, 2011

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Genre: YA historical/chic lit
Pages: 421 (hardcover)
Published: 2010 by Delacorte Books
Recommended for: fans of the Luxe book series

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

My Take:

Vixen does for the Roaring 20s-- age of the so-scandalous flappers, vamps, speakeasies, and gangsters-- what Anna Godbersen's Luxe series did for the Victorian Age.  Debut author Jillian Larkin's breezy, fun writing style and characters are very similar to that of the Luxe, and I highly recommend this book to fans of that popular series.

The story is set in Chicago and centered around three very different girls: Gloria, who at seventeen is unhappily engaged to the enigmatic and wealthy Bastian Grey; her best friend Lorraine, who wants to be a flapper more than anything; and Clara, Gloria's cousin who arrives in Chicago masquerading as the prime country-girl cousin, but is in fact a big-time flapper fresh from the streets and scandals of New York City.  The chapters alternate between the three girls, and I felt very strongly about each of them.  Lorraine I positively hated, but then I think the author wants and expects readers to dislike Lorraine.  She's in love with Gloria's friend Marcus, and is constantly, ceaselessly pining for him throughout the entire book, yet is also constantly flirting with every other male character.  If Lorraine were the sole protagonist of Vixen, I probably wouldn't have been able to stomach 20 pages of her whining and backstabbing.  Luckily we have Clara, whose secret past and slow romance with Marcus (yeah, the guy Lorraine thinks she's in love with) make for an entertaining story-- I loved how she kept up the act of her prudish alter-ego, 'Country Clara'.

Gloria's storyline was my favorite by far.  Unhappy with her early engagement to a man she feels like she barely knows, much less loves, Gloria ventures out one night to the Green Mill-- Chicago's most notorious speakeasy bar.  There she ends up auditioning to sing in the club's jazz band-- a talented, all-black jazz band which her white, upper-class parents would so never approve of.  Gloria's act of rebellion implodes into a personal crisis as she forgoes engagement parties to sing at the Green Mill... and take music lessons from the handsome and charismatic pianist, Jerome Johnson, who she quickly begins to fall in love with.  Gloria knows her relationship with Jerome will never be accepted by her friends and family, much less her fiance, and she is forced to make a choice between the love of her life and jazz, and the sheltered life which has been planned for her since her birth.  

Add a couple of (admittedly cliched) gangsters, one very jealous and very bitchy Lorraine, and a whole lot of scandal to the mix, and you have Vixen.  It's a thrill ride of a novel that you won't be able to put down-- a great start to a romantic and exciting series which really captures the feel of the 20s, and is for that matter a heck of a lot more fun than reading The Great Gatsby.  I can't wait for the sequel, Ingenue, mainly because I have to find out what happens to Gloria and Jerome!

Cover: 5/5 (like it!)
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5


Jenny said...

I've been wanting to read this one but haven't gotten to it yet. I love this time period and despite the fact that Lorraine's whining sounds a bit much, all the characters seem really interesting. Thanks for this review Kat!

Bridleless said...

Thank you for the great review - I wouldn't even have considered this book without your review but... I think I might try it. Au Revoir Kat!!!!!!!!!! J'amore vous!

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