Author: Jillian Larkin
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 421
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
This book is absolutely addictive. Larkin’s sultry, tawdry, beautifully detailed 1920s Chicago drew me in immediately, and made me wish that I could be right there with Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine, witnessing the glory days of speakeasies and feeling the dangerous thrill of mingling with gangsters, musicians, and flappers.
Each chapter alternates between Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine, who all have very different motivations, but, in a way, the same goal–they all feel trapped in their lives and what to be something more they who they appear to be–they want to be who they really are.
Seventeen-year-old society girl Gloria wants to shirk her responsibilities for a life as a real flapper and a singer in a speakeasy. She’s sick of having to put up with her nouveau riche family or her powerful, over-bearing fiancé–especially when she meets black jazz musician Jerome Johnson.
Clara, Gloria’s wild cousin, has been to NYC and lived as a flapper, but has been tremendously hurt by a man she calls The Cad. After a particularly crazy night, she finds herself forced to leave New York and shipped to Chicago to stay with her aunt and cousin. Instead of rebelling against this plan, she goes along with it so that she can escape her flapper days and reinvent herself.
Then there’s Lorraine, Gloria’s reckless, jealous best friend, who wants all the things that Gloria has–beauty, talent, charm, a powerful fiancé, and gorgeous male best friend. She wants it so much that she allows her jealousy to overcome her and decides that she will overshadow Gloria, no matter the cost.
Not that I want to pick a favorite of the girls, but I found myself most loving Clara, the flapper running from her past by pretending to be a girl from the country visiting her rich and perfect younger cousin. Although that story arc would have been enough by itself, she also meets Marcus Eastman, Gloria’s male best friend and the object of Lorraine’s desire, who is just the right combination of bad boy charm and genuine sweetness.
Vixen is chalk full of drama, back-stabbing, ulterior motives, and forbidden loves. Overall, this book, with its film noir qualities and jazz lingo (Really, why don’t we use the term “cat’s pajamas” anymore?) isthe cat’s pajamas. It’s fun and dramatic and smolderingly sexy, and definitely a series that I will continue to read.