Contest Book #7
Note: Since we didn't get a chance to post yesterday's review, you'll be getting two contest titles this evening.
Vixen, the first book in Jillian Larkin's new Gossip Girl-meets-Thoroughly Modern Millie young adult series, has a lot going for it. The cover looks great, Larkin has a wonderful time with period slang, music, and clothing, and flappers are totally hot right now. Unfortunately, the book doesn't have much bite to it—but we're not ruling out the potential for bite in future installments.
Larkin's booze- and jazz-soaked debut focuses on three teenage girls dreaming of love and independence in Prohibition-era Chicago. Wealthy, sheltered Gloria is engaged to one of the city's most desirable bachelors, but she's fighting an attraction to the black piano player at the local speakeasy. Her best friend Lorraine spends her days pining after her own unattainable man and brooding over the way Gloria's problems always seem to overshadow her own. Meanwhile, Gloria's new-in-town cousin Clara is acting like a country bumpkin, but she's desperate to conceal a past full of damning secrets.
Lying, cheating, and backstabbing are vital elements in the booming sub-genre of books about tempestuous female friendships, and Vixen boasts its fair share of all three. Unfortunately, none of Larkin's heroines are out-and-out villains, and the drama provided by Gloria's interracial romance falls flat. (It could have been highly dramatic, of course, but Larkin downplays the dangerous nature of their relationship, blithely ignoring the fact that a love affair between a poor black boy and a rich white girl in the nineteen twenties could—and probably would—get the boy killed and the girl shipped off to whatever convent was currently accepting flappers.) However, the next book in this series will introduce an additional girl to Larkin's troop of would-be femme fatales and shift the action to New York City. We're hoping these changes will be enough to fully realize this series' potential as a deliciously over-the-top historical soap.
[Review based on a publisher-provided copy.]