cover image Vixen


Jillian Larkin, Delacorte, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-385-74034-0

Opening the Flappers series, Larkin's frothy debut tracks the lives of three flappers in Chicago at the height of the Roaring '20s. Gloria is wealthy, gorgeous, and engaged to the hottest bachelor in the Windy City. Her best friend, Lorraine, lusts after a boy she'll never win while spending daddy's money on sequined headbands and fringed sheaths she wears to knock back dirty martinis at speakeasies. Clara is Gloria's cousin, ostensibly dragged to Chicago to help with Gloria's wedding, but also escaping something shadowy in her past. All three lives change when Gloria busts out of her good girl role and starts visiting a nightclub. There she instantly falls for the black piano player and exhibits talent as a chanteuse. Forbidden romance ensues, followed by betrayal and scandal. Chick lit for the Gossip Girl crowd, the plot doesn't hold up to scrutiny (a thread about how cryptically menacing notes could be hidden in Clara's bedroom is never tied up) and certain scenes betray a misunderstanding of race relations during the period. Despite the considerable length, this installment ends without resolution.Book two, Ingénue, is due in 2011. Ages 12–up. (Dec.)