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Vixen: The Flappers    by Jillian Larkin order for
by Jillian Larkin
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

A century ago, there really were not any books aimed directly at young adults. It's not that teenagers did not read, they just were not viewed as a separate market. Because of this, we do not have any books today that really deal with the life of those growing up during this time, aimed at readers of the same age. Some authors have taken it upon themselves to rectify this situation by creating new historical fiction series. One such is Jillian Larkin, who tackles the roaring 20s with Vixen, the first book in her new Flappers series.

Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody has always been seen as a good girl. She's smart, pretty, and engaged to one of Chicago's most eligible bachelors. Her best friend Lorriane is just the opposite, and was the first girl at their prep school to go full-on flapper. Gloria, though, wants to have some fun before she is stuck in a loveless marriage with stuffy Sebastian. She convinces her other best friend, Marcus, to take her to the Green Mill, Chicago's most notorious speakeasy.

It is there that Gloria's life changes forever when she sets eyes on jazz pianist Jerome. While mixed-race relationship are frowned upon in high society, she cannot help falling for him and designs to get closer to him when his band loses their singer. With dreams of being more than a housewife, Gloria auditions and gets chosen as the band's new torch - which means she will have to do plenty of sneaking out around both her mother and her hick cousin Clara who has come to town to prepare for the wedding - at least that's what Gloria thinks. It turns out that Gloria is not the only one with a secret, but who will be left standing when everything comes to light?

Vixen was a very fun read, especially as the pace really amped up about halfway through. As each girl gets more and more embroiled in their facade, the story really comes together and the pages fly by. Larkin chose to give each of the three main girls a chapter at a time in rotation, which helps the reader get a taste of the time from each one's point of view. By far, Clara was the most interesting as she had the biggest secret to hide and, being a year older and more experienced, was not as flighty as Gloria and Lorraine. However, I am sure many readers will be able to connect to Gloria and might know a girl just like Lorraine.

Aside from creating a great story with diverse characters, Larkin also excelled at creating a picture of the time period. The dresses she describes practically leap off the page fully-formed and the atmosphere in the speakeasy closes in around the reader. My only caveat is that parts of the dialogue seem a little too modern, but as I was nowhere near alive in the 20s, I cannot say with certainty whether or not they are historically accurate. As the rest of the descriptions seem to be spot-on, I am assuming that Larkin did her research, but there were times that I felt pulled from the time period and back into the 21st century.

Fans of Anna Godbersen's The Luxe series will be salivating over The Flappers. Jillian Larkin has created a lush world where danger really does exist everywhere, which heightens the excitement. And if that's not enough, Vixen ends with one heck of a cliffhanger that puts a whole new kink in the story.

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