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Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Vixen (Book 1 of 3 in the Flapper Series) Jillian Larkin YA Historical Fiction Spoiler Alert: A little Coffee Bean Rating: 5/5

First of all, let me start out by saying, I LOVED this book, and have since passed it on to many friends. I was giddy when I saw it in hardcover on the shelves of my local book store. I wanted to grab someone and say, “I read that before it even came out and it’s REALLY good, so you should buy it.” But I didn’t.

Set in 1920’s Chicago, Jillian Larkin’s, Vixen, tells a story of love, jealousy, secrets, and revenge stitched together masterfully. The novel starts with a short prologue at only 169 words. I was left thinking, “Ooh, this is going to be good” The two sentences that got me?

And then, before snapping her bag closed, she added the small black handgun. Now she was ready.

Who’s she gonna kill? I don’t care! She’s gonna look HOT doing it.

Vixen is the first in The Flapper series and follows the life of Gloria Carmody. A rich white socialite engaged to the very eligible bachelor, Sebastian Grey, she thinks she’s in love. But that’s before she meets a black jazz piano player from the local speakeasy named Jerome Johnson.

Larkin tells the story from the alternating points of view of Gloria, her cousin Clara Knowles, and her best friend Lorraine Dyer. Through the book, it’s revealed that each girl has a secret to they’d kill to keep quiet.

Lorraine is hiding her midnight tryst with Gloria’s fiancé. Country Clara is hiding her Flapper past and scandalous ties in New York City. And Gloria is in love with a black man.

Each girl is tied to the other in her secrets, new friendships are formed, and old ones lost, as each has to deal with the decisions they make and their repercussions those decisions create.

Everything Larkin gave me is real and tangible. I could taste the descriptions of the clothes, hair, and atmosphere—from the dark and smoke-filled Speakeasies to the cheap liquor during Prohibition.

I felt the jealousy Lorraine had every moment she was with Gloria, the love she held for her best friend, and her unreturned feelings of love towards a boy who would never look at her the same way.

One downfall in the book was that I felt I could connect more with Lorraine rather than Gloria because everything about her was real. I felt that Gloria’s situation and problems were a little cliché and typical of this sort of book, but that in no way means I didn’t enjoy her character or her story.

I enjoyed the fact that Marcus and Gloria are best friends. That’s it. End of story. There isn’t a secret crush or love triangle involved—and it’s not because Marcus is gay. It’s because Larkin has seen that’s been overdone.

Despite the lack of romance between those two characters, there is A LOT of PG-rated sexual tension throughout the story and for each of the characters—from unreturned, reluctant, forbidden, to false love—it’s all there, and I found myself rooting for each of the characters.

This is a great debut novel. So many times, I see superficial writing and simple stories, especially in YA—it’s almost as if new authors are scared of going ‘too deep’. But not so with Larkin. Her novel is intricate and detailed, exciting and interesting.

When people say a book is character driven this is what they mean. The story is there and it’s strong, but it comes secondary to the characters and their arcs—their story. They are what move the plot. And it moves so smoothly.

I can’t say enough about how much I loved this book. It was a little over 300 pages, but it felt like a walk in the park. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second in the series.


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