Second Look: Jillian Larkin’s VIXEN (Flappers #1) (HC, 2010)

Title: Vixen
Author: Jillian Larkin
Series: The Flappers
Age: Young Adult (Grade 7+, nothing to raunchy)
Genre: Historical Fiction

What It’s About
Intersecting stories from three perspectives (Clara, Gloria, Lorraine), the story takes place in Chicago during the early 1920s.  Prohibition is in full swing and mobsters run the best speakeasies in town.  Clara, after spending a rebellious year in New York, is shipped to live with her Aunt Bea and cousin Gloria in hopes that she’ll “shape up.”  While in Chicago, Clara decides to give herself a new role to play – Country Clara.  Gloria, a socialite, is engaged to marry Sebastian Grey, the son of one of the best families in town.  However, Gloria’s not in love with Sebastian and yearns for something more.  Along with her bff, Marcus, Gloria visits the best speakeasy in Chicago and falls for the black piano player.  Lorraine, Gloria’s best childhood friend, schemes to get what she wants (namely Marcus and Gloria’s attention back from Sebastian).  All three girls have motives for doing whatever it takes to get what they want.

Generally, I liked it.  The chapters alternate between the three girls’ perspectives and shows how each feels about different events.  Larkin really shows how the characters transform from beginning to middle to end in a believable fashion.  The girls were easy to like (and hate) and their motives were understood.  The description of the setting is one of the best things about the book.  Larkin really pulls you into 1923 Chicago, especially from the view of two girls who are completely fish out of water in the mafia-run speakeasies.

In my opinion, Clara was the most likable of the girls.  Marcus, as a supporting character, was pretty awesome, too.  I felt for Gloria, the literal poor little rich girl, who wants nothing more than to be free of her engagement and duty and sing on the stage.

Highly recommended to anyone who’s a fan of the 1920s scene.  Also recommended enthusiastically if you like Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things series.  The plots are different enough that you won’t get bored with the same ideas in the same setting.

Final Rating: 7/10.
**I’m not sure if I’ll read the second book of the series.  The first leaves enough of an ending to be satisfied with the outcome.


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