Ingenue: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Ingenue by Jillian LarkinGloria Carmody had to leave Chicago in a hurry after killing a mobster. She hoped to find a new start in New York City with Jerome Johnson. But a white woman loving a black man is just as hard in New York as it was in Chicago. Love aside, living in New York is much harder without the Carmody money supporting her.

Vera Johnson knows Gloria and her brother Jerome left Chicago for good reason. But when trouble threatens to follow them to New York will Vera be able to warn them both before it’s too late?

Lorraine Dyer is reader for a fresh start of her own in New York. One short summer is all that stands between her and a clean slate at Barnard. But before she can forget about her less than glamorous departure from Chicago society, Lorraine needs to mete out some justice. Gloria was supposed to be her best friend. Instead she abandoned Lorraine and let her be humiliated. In public. It’s only fair that Lorraine help give Gloria what she has coming to her.

Following her boyfriend Marcus Eastman to New York seemed like the perfect idea. Clara Knowles was sure it would help cement her new life leaving her flapper days far behind. But when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity draws her back to glittering world of booze and flappers, Clara isn’t sure she can walk away again.

A new city. A new life. Everyone is trying to get away from their past. But sometimes life won’t let you forget a thing in Ingenue (2011) by Jillian Larkin.

Ingenue is the second book in The Flappers series which started last year with Vixen. (The series will conclude in 2012 with Diva.)

Much like the blase parties Clara observes upon her return to New York City, the latest installment in this series has lost some of its luster.

While the plot moved logically here building on the events of the first book, the characters did not. A lot of their behaviors felt contrived, especially Clara who went abruptly  from reading a lot to fervently wanting to a writer. And then became kind of selfish about it besides. It was also disappointing to see Lorraine once again being so sorely abused. (She is either a much abused heroine or the most sympathetic villain in the entire world–which one she is will hopefully be determined once and for all in Diva.)

With none of the characters actually seeing each other until the last hundred or so pages of the novel, the alternating chapters following each heroine just feel choppy and disjointed. Combined with the numerous missed connections between Vera and Gloria the book started to feel very forced.

Ingenue is a decent installment and a fine bridge to the conclusion of the trilogy. It just was not, sadly, quite as brilliant as the first book in the series.

Possible Pairings: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher, Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, The Sheik by Edith Hull, Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor

Exclusive Bonus Content: The titles of these books are annoying me. I really think they should have been reversed and the first book should have been called Ingenue since Gloria really was new to the flapper world and everything in the first book. Vixen, to me, is a much more fitting title for this second volume. At least the third title (Diva) sounds like it will be appropriate.

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