Gloria Carmody is a society princess in 1920's Chicago. Engaged to Sebastian Grey, both powerful and handsome, she is expected to be little more than an ornament to him. After spending a night at the notorious speakeasy the Green Mill, though, Gloria knows that there's more to life than balls and socialising...
Clara Knowles - Gloria's cousin - is a notorious flapper given one last chance to reinvent herself as a good girl; if she can't do it she'll end up at reform school. Meanwhile, Gloria's best friend Lorraine Dyer is tired of living in the other girl's shadow - who knows what lengths she'll go to to break out of it?
Jillian Larkin does an incredible job of capturing the mood of Prohibition-era Chicago here, complete with flappers, gangsters, illicit alcohol, clandestine relationships and dialogue to die for. One way in which Larkin does this is by using the lyrics of classic jazz standards which are being sung as the characters are in the Green Mill - it works very well, really drawing the reader into the scenes. It's the atmosphere that Larkin creates which really makes the book succeed - I would normally have thought there was a little too much of the early part of the book given over to scene-setting but when the scene being set is so vividly done it's hard to complain about that. She also creates interesting characters, and it's a very romantic read. In particular, the interracial relationship which becomes a major part of the book is especially well done and made me care about both characters involved. I really enjoyed Larkin's style of writing, as well - it was perfect for a book with this setting, gorgeous and lyrical.
One warning - the ending is a major cliffhanger! As soon as you finish this one you'll be desperate to read book two, Ingenue, to see what happens!
Strong recommendation for a great start to a series - and the second book is arguably even better! Check out my review of that one here.
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