Book Review: Vixen (Flappers 1) by Jillian Larkin

Publisher: Corgi

Published: 1st March 2012

Format: ARC

Pages: 400

Genre: Historical Romance,  YA

Recommended Reading Age: 16+

Rating: 7.5/10

Amazon/Goodreads

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’m a big fan of historical fiction, which, more often than not, tends to be either medieval or Victorian. While I love to read about those eras, it’s always exciting when you come across something a little bit different within the genre.

Despite some slightly average characters, Vixen was a book I really enjoyed. The passion Larkin has for the 1920’s shines through on every page and it was the rich atmosphere of the book that I loved. The details woven into the story, the intricate fashion, the language, the descriptive setting, all of it brought the 1920’s to life. Reading Vixen, you feel as though you are right there alongside the characters, walking into a tempting underground world of illegal booze, jazz, glitz, sex and smoke.

I also really liked that Vixen is largely about an interracial romance, which is rare in contemporary YA, let alone one set in the 1920’s. The danger, prejudice and alienation of such a relationship, along with the constant background presence of the mob, gives Vixen an edge to what is otherwise, a fun, but fairly typical, YA historical romance.

Vixen is told through three different narrators, Gloria, Clara and Lorraine, three society girls drawn to the illicit flapper lifestyle and each with their own secrets. I enjoyed their individual stories, their romances, friendships and break-ups. The other characters, particularly the romantic interests, weren’t as well-developed and dare I say it, a little bland. Clara and Jerome’s forbidden relationship was easily the most enticing of the three, but didn’t quite have the sizzle I was looking for. I have to admit that at times the characters felt a little too familiar, like I had read about them all before, but it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book.

Aside from the odd, frustrating, moment where the narrative would jump to a different girl, cutting of an important or interesting scene, I felt the multiple-narrative worked very well. Vixen is definitely a finding yourself, romance novel, as not much action really takes place until the last third of the book, where things suddenly become a lot more dangerous and certainly leave the reader intrigued for book two.

Fans of Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series will most likely love Vixen, as it has quite a similar feel (I believe Godbersen also has a series set in the 1920’s but since I haven’t read any of them I cannot compare the two). Larkin brings to life a fascinating period of American history, a time of Prohibition, speakeasies, gangsters and glamour. Vixen takes a while to establish the characters and for the readers to warm to them, but the atmosphere and setting, almost a character in itself, hits you from the first page. This book simply wouldn’t be the same, or half so interesting, set in any other period. Fans of the era should definitely pick this one up.

Review originally posted at Mostly Reading YA

*Many thanks to Random House for sending this through for review*

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