Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Title: Vixen
Author: Jillian Larkin
Genre: YA, Historical, Romance,
Perfect for: readers who need a break from 'current day' reads

Format: ARC
Release Date: December 14, 2010
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Taken from 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..."

Usually, a novel with the 'good girl gone bad' vibe doesn't catch my interest. Thanks to the historical nature of 'Vixen', however, this one did. To put it simply, I enjoyed reading 'Vixen'. A lot of the enjoyment came from the decade in which the novel is set-- the roaring 20's.  I've never read a novel set in the prohibition days and schools, well, they don't do a great job at teaching that era of US history. 'Vixen' was a nice chance to at least read a bit about the era, however romanticized author Jillian Larkin wrote it!

'Vixen' also touched home a bit for me because, while not a flapper, my great grandmother was a young adult in Chicago during the time period in which this novel took place. In 1923, my great grandma would have been twenty-two and was already married with child, but even for those who didn't 'party hardy' in speakeasy's, it must have been a neat time to live (albeit dangerous if you crossed the wrong person)!

Plot wise, I like the historical elements in the story. They were new to me and quite engaging. Larkin did a good job describing the prohibition period, as well as the novel's basic local's. The romance felt a bit weak, coming off forced or at least under-developed. I would have loved to see some scenes that 'built up' the relationship between romantic leads Gloria, white society girl engaged to be married, and Jerome, black jazz pianist, as opposed to the instantanious love connection we received in 'Vixen'. That being said, I like the pairing.

The characters are likable and interesting, though picky readers might find them to be a little flat. The main POV's of the novel are Gloria, Clara, and Raine. Each has their own storyline that nicely weaves together into the main one. Yes, certain elements of each seem too easy, but nonetheless, they're fun to read.

One of my favorite things about this novel? The language! I love the lingo that was used in this period piece. It kept the novel's writing fresh and gave us readers a bit more insight into the era.

For those worried about 'Vixen' having adult themes, don't worry. For all the drinking mentioned in this series, it's not as bad as you might assume it to be. Do the characters drink? Yes-- they're in a speakeasy, they can't exactly decline. Do they do anything that I think would be traumatizing for a 14 year old? Nope, not that I read. Compared to other popular series (think 'Gossip Girl'), this is nothing.

Should you pick up 'Vixen'? I think so. Forgiving the slightly under-developed elements, it is a good departure for those of us who don't always want something set in the typical 'present day, present time'.  It's a solid 3 out of 5 stars from me!  'Vixen' hits store shelves December 14th, 2010.

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