Monday, April 23, 2012
Review - Vixen by Jillian Larkin
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. . .
I was in the mood for a historical fiction book this past weekend, and when browsing my shelves I came across Vixen, which I remember buying the day it came out back in December 2010. It was precisely the type of book that I wanted to read, and I devoured all of the 400-plus pages on Saturday.
This book is set in the Jazz Age (1920s) in Chicago, and I was swept back in time to a world full of speakeasies and flapper girls immediately. The story switches between the perspectives of Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine with each chapter, so you get to really know each of their secrets and true feelings and therefore understand their actions. I enjoyed the storylines for Gloria and Clara the most, probably because both of their storylines involved romance and because I could hardly stand Lorraine.
Gloria is engaged to a man who has a strong family name, but her upcoming marriage is planned as a mere business arrangement between their families rather than for love. Gloria secretly wants to be a flapper and falls in love with a black pianist at a club she sneaks into during the last weeks she has before settling down as a wife. Clara, meanwhile, is Gloria's cousin who has come to Chicago to help with the wedding, but she really is not the goody-goody she pretends to be, as she has left behind a somewhat scandalous past on the east coast. Finally, Lorraine is Gloria's best friend who is constantly jealous and envious of Gloria's life.
I liked how this book included an interracial relationship between Gloria and Jerome (a black musician), but I didn't think their relationship was developed as well as it could have been. Perhaps it was the lack of tension that bothered me--they didn't have an instant love relationship, but the switch to the two of them being in love seemed kind of abrupt nonetheless. However, I was a big fan of the budding romance between Clara and Marcus, Gloria's best friend who was a bit of a player. I am most interested in reading more about their relationship in the next book in the series.
While the inclusion of romance in a story is sort of a "requirement" for me to really enjoy a book, I didn't think the romance was Vixen's strongest point (yet I still loved this book!). Rather, I thought the true strengths of this story were the historical setting and the relationships and social dynamics between the female characters.
Vixen is an incredibly entertaining and exciting book that I had trouble putting down because it was full of drama along with a dose of danger set during an interesting period of time. I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Ingenue, as soon as I can.