Read American Blonde by Jennifer Niven Online


From the author of the New York Times bestselling All the Bright Places, a fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As “KiFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling All the Bright Places, a fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As “Kit Rogers,” she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth— risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series....

Title : American Blonde
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780452298217
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

American Blonde Reviews

  • ☮Karen
    2019-06-01 14:23

    This is 4th in a series of Velva Jean books, which wasn't mentioned in the book blurb. There were some vague references to past events and Velva Jean's family members that I probably would have understood better having read the previous books. I don't think it hindered my enjoyment of the book. I had trouble keeping straight MANY of the characters, though, as there seemed to be at least a hundred of them.This takes place in 1945-1947 Hollywood in the days of the big studios. I would recommend it for a light read, for anyone interested in war heroines, aspiring singers, and/or movie starlets during the Golden Age, as Velva Jean is of course all of the above. There is also a murder mystery, an unexpected added treat, in which Velva Jean tries to find out how her best friend and fellow movie star really died. There is much said about MGM "fixers" covering up this and other real scandals from the 1940s, manipulating facts and people so that murders seem like accidents, gay actors appear in public with young starlets, dysfunctional pasts turn into Cinderella stories, etc. Mustn't have the facade shattered of Hollywood being perfect and moral. But Velva Jean defies all their efforts to stop her, of which there are many. She is one lucky, gutsy lady.Do I feel inspired now to read the rest of the series? Probably not. I especially liked the true events being woven into the storyline, such as the Black Dahlia and other murders that followed, the Wallace Beery scandal, and the many real stars from the era mentioned throughout.3.5 stars.

  • Mary
    2019-06-09 14:29

    I really enjoyed this book by Jennifer Niven. The amount of research that must've gone in to this novel had to be extraordinary. I am filing this book under historical fiction but there are many guest appearances by real, larger than life people from Hollywood's legendary movie industry. One interesting guest appearance in Niven's tale is Louis B. Mayer, long ago king of Hollywood and the grand emperor of MGM. Mayer is once again at the helm and the reader is transported back to the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood that no longer exists, when stars were notoriously protected by their production company and managing teams used strong arm tactics to keep their stars free from scandal. MGM stars were wholesome, family-friendly, and led magical lives. At least in the public eye. What REALLY happened behind the scenes? American Blonde is about a fictitious WWII hero, who becomes a rising star at MGM. It's also the fourth book in the Velva Jean series by Jennifer Niven. I'm not usually a series book lover but this is one series I will definitely be exploring in the future. Velva Jean Hart has returned from WWII and is on her way to a new life in Hollywood. Velva Jean, a WASP from the hills of North Carolina, is transformed into the glamorous Kit Rogers. Kit is once again reunited in Hollywood with another former WASP and star named Barbara Fanning. Kit and Barbara share a love of flying and a close friendship but there are secrets that Barbara has not shared with Kit and they will soon be revealed. As Kit struggles to uncover the mysteries surrounding her friend, MGM will do all it can to keep these secrets hidden at all costs. I don't want to reveal to much because I hope other readers will be as surprised by the plot twists as I was. I enjoyed being taken back to the old days of Hollywood. The book came alive in my hands and I was able to envision the glitzy gowns, dressing rooms, the stage and all the performers. I loved the descriptions of the MGM lot in the late 1940's. I've always been fascinated with this period in film history. Niven describes this glorious, glamorous time so well and it was very easy to actually hear the music and live in the days when movies were magical and stars were big, bold, dramatic and real.Thanks to Penguin and First to Read for the opportunity to read this ARC/DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jennifer Gibbons
    2019-05-29 12:37

    This is the fourth Velva Jean book Niven has written, and by far my favorite. Velva Jean Hart has been a pilot and a spy. What's next? Movie star! After returning to her mountain home, a man from MGM comes a knocking, asking if she wants a movie contract. The big draw is singing lessons. Since she's an aspiring singer, Velva Jean jumps at the chance. She goes to Hollywood, then is renamed Kit Rodgers. Soon she finds out that the cliche is true: all that glitters is not gold. And that someone she loves dearly will pay for old mistakes. The book is fast paced, like an old Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell movie. Niven does an excellent job showing the subtle sexism women had to face back then (Velva Jean is often referred to as a "little girl" in newspaper articles/press releases. She's twenty-two years old) The only drawback is that we wonder what's going to happen next to this wonderful heroine!!

  • Kelsey
    2019-06-12 14:20

    As I find my way back homeHome where all my stars alignHome because it's finally timeHome to youHome to meSemi unfortunately, I think this is the last book in the Velva Jean series. I say semi, because while it's bittersweet, I also can't imagine a better ending.Honestly, I didn't love this story as I was reading it. It felt very un-Velva Jean like to me, like Niven forgot what made Velva Jean so special, so strong, so lively. There wasn't that sense of spark, of the human and emotional intelligence that pervaded the other three books as a whole. Instead, it came in waves, in little bits and pieces. In the clubs Velva Jean would go to occasionally, when the music would pump through her blood. In the fiery looks she would receive from Butch Dawkins. In the arguments she would have with MGM, when she felt another piece of her slipping away. In that, I was left feeling disappointed. Like this ending didn't suit Velva Jean. Like she deserved better. However, as I got to the end, I realized, that's exactly the point. Velva Jean really isn't Velva Jean in this book, at least not until the end. She just got home from WWII. She doesn't know if her family members are still alive. Her brother, and her best friend, Johnny Clay, almost died. She was a spy, and is still trying to get back her sense of self, and then, in two months, she's whisked away to Hollywood to be a movie star. It's a lot.Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the only thing it seems that MGM wants to do is totally get rid of Velva Jean as a person. They change her birthday, her hair, try to get rid of her freckles, tell her that her father is dead, rename her Kit Rogers. They tell her who to date, who to be seen with, revamp the way in which she sings, take away her voice (in more ways than one). However, Velva Jean, the strongest character I've ever had the pleasure to read, won't back down, especially when MGM covers up the death of her friend. Through skills she's learned as a pilot and as a spy, she finally realizes who the murderer really is, and who she is as a person as well. The book is broken up into three sections, "Miss Red, White, and Blue," "Kit Rogers," and "Velva Jean Hart". It's in the final section where the story really comes together. Velva Jean comes back. Her spark comes back. Her voice comes back. Her story comes back. Finally, she comes back into her own. She comes back to realizing what she truly wants. She comes back home.I won't lie and tell you that this was the perfect way to wrap up the series, if it is indeed done (there hasn't been word yet either way - Nov. 2017). I wanted more of Velva Jean. I didn't really care about detective Kit Rogers, but, in a way, that's what the series has been leading to, since the first book in which she's ten years old. Velva Jean sure has come a long way since then, in the fourteen years this series goes through, and to see her, so full and intelligent in who she is, go through different personalities, only to emerge as the same, more mature Velva Jean we're accustomed to, is a treat to behold.I said it once, and I'll say it again. This series, and Velva Jean in particular, has a hold over my heart that I don't think I can quite explain. Never have I read a character who is so in control of herself and her feelings, her emotions, her beliefs, so trusting in who she is as a person, so real and so developed. Sadly, I don't know if I will ever be able to get that same reaction in another book or series again. There's something special about Velva Jean, something alive and down home rooted, and I bless the day I decided to buy the series as a whole, not knowing what to expect.Velva Jean will stay with me, forever.

  • Elizabeth☮
    2019-06-08 16:31

    This is the fourth in the Velva Jean series. My library doesn't carry the third one, but when I found this one at the dollar store, I couldn't resist. Niven is good about filling in any details from the past books to give you a broader picture of what is happening. So even without reading book #3, I can follow the storyline.Velva Jean is coming off being a spy in the second world war and is going to Hollywood to be a star. She is re-packaged as Kit Rogers and soon begins to learn the ropes in the old studio days of Hollywood. There is a little bit of romance, a mystery she is trying to solve about the death of her friend, and plenty of historical references to stars and events happening in 1947. I like the fierce independence of Velva Jean and I love the suave and ever cool Butch Dawkins. I found the notes at the end particularly enlightening and I am eager to see if Niven adds another chapter to Velva Jean's story (can't we get the romance going with Butch already?).

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-06-16 16:46

    I didn't finish this book. I guess I've grown disenchanted with Velva Jean. I read book two and loved it, probably only because she was in the WASP and there was lots of flying, because book three certainly didn't enamor me as much. To be honest, VJ keeps getting more and more ridiculous with each story. She's almost like a comic book character, with all these incredible skills and abilities, with all the amazing things that happen to her. It's so implausible, like watching Agent Carter in fisticuffs on top of a moving car not lose her balance and kick the butts of two men without hardly a hair disheveled. It's eye-rolling.So VJ has gone from Grand Ole Opry to WASP pilot to super spy in WWII, to a movie star in Hollywood, where she's instantly in a blockbuster hit with a small amount of training. And her character just felt lacking in this one. I didn't care for the Hollywood setting at all. As usual there's more than one man trying to win her heart, and the characters around her this time are unlikable and fake. And frankly, her courage seems to have escaped her in this story and she seems to be becoming fake too.There's something different about the writing style as well and I noticed this in the previous novels. And it constantly keeps the reader disconnected from VJ. I don't sit there and as I read, become VJ. I feel like I'm on the outside looking in, at the most unbelievable series of events. I almost kept reading just to get to the bottom of the murder, but in the end didn't care enough about the murdered girl to bother.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-06 09:24

    First off, I gotta say I adore the period details in this. The glitzy, ritzy life of old Hollywood just comes to life in this 4th Velva Hart novel. Glamorous red carpet affairs, hoity-toity parties, and fan-tabulous mansions make the reader dive headfirst into the old studio era, where the lives of stars were controlled down to the relationship level and the studio moguls were God. The amount of research of the author put into this work is extremely evident, and I give all kudos to her for taking the time to really make this period shine.The main character took a bit of time for me to like her. Except for one incident where she fought for her music in her contract, it seemed like Velva Jean was just going to be the "yes" girl: go where she was told, date whom she was told to, and learn whatever she was told to. I was having a very hard time picturing the girl that got a divorce, learned to fly, was a spy in Nazi-Occupied France, and rescued her brother and others from transport to the camps. Maybe it was because this was my introduction to Velva Jean, and I wasn't able to see her in those earlier years.But boy does she prove me wrong once her friend gets murdered!! Out come the claws, in my mind. She's breaking into people's homes to investigate their connection to Mudge's murder, talking to witnesses once the case has been closed by a corrupt DA, and telling the studio to "Stick it!" (which I loved by the way!!!!) when they tried to tell her whom to marry. The girl who survived harsh Nazi prisons and had a mind of her own emerged and boy was I hooked! Here was my courageous, gritty, gutsy girl that I wanted to read about. It just took awhile to get her among all the period details in the first part of the book.I think I especially enjoyed reading how Velva grew through her music. She went to MGM to mainly, to her mind anyway, be educated more in music. But it actually seemed to box her in more than it taught her more. Through her relationship with Butch and being exposed/re-exposed (not sure which since I haven't read the first 3 Velva Jean books yet) to the emotional side of music, Velva seems to grow as an individual and mature even more. If this is a pattern that comes from the first three books, I'm very impressed. Her characterization seems to go through three distinct phases in this book alone. If the author does that in the other books too, I'm dang impressed with her characterization skills.With a fantastic story, characterization, and period details, this book won me over. It took a bit; the beginning of the novel seemed to almost drown in the period details with setting the scene and all. Characterization seemed to hide a bit during this. But once the story really got rolling, it was a fast-paced tale that never let up. I've already added the rest of the Velva Jean books to my "to-read" shelf, and I'm looking forward to the experience. Highly recommended author and novel!Note: Book received for free via GoodReads FirstReads Program in exchange for honest review.

  • Dawn
    2019-06-07 15:33

    Another great book in the Velva Jean series by Jennifer Niven! This series grabbed me right away with Velva Jean Learns to Drive and has kept me interested with each book and new journey Velva Jean takes. This one is set in Hollywood 1945-1947 and Velva Jean (Kit Rogers) is drawn to the big screen after coming back from WWII a war heroine. She meets up with an old WASP friend who happens to be a big time movie star, Mudge. She gives her a home to stay in and things seem to go great for a while until one night at a dinner party she finds her friend dead. Velva Jean suspects her friend has been murdered but the studio does everything possible to cover it up and play it off as an accident. So then there's this big mystery she needs to solve but the higher ups don't want her looking into it. She knows if the situation was reversed, Mudge would do everything possible to find out who killed her. So she continues.I just love how all of the books in this series have great little pieces of history in them. The big lights of Hollywood, a little murder mystery, some light romance and even briefly bringing in The Black Dahlia murder, this book had a great mix. The ending has left us with Velva Jean heading off on to a new adventure, aka new book. I really hope that's the case."Remember who you are, hold on to that, and whatever you do, don't let them change you"You can find this review and others at

  • Dawn Cancellieri
    2019-05-22 15:47

    ARC received in exchange for reviewAt first I thought this was a badly written novel. The author immediately made numerous references to people and events without explaining them, leaving me confused and frustrated. It was not until I was about a third of the way through the novel when I found out that this was the fourth book in a series about Velva Jean, but by that time most of the references to the past and previous relationships were being phased out as she became more entrenched in her new Hollywood life. It would have been helpful to know this was a series, it was never mentioned anywhere in the description.About halfway through the novel it became a pretty decent mystery, with our heroine tracking down clues and investigating suspects, all the while making a pretty blatant statement about the excesses and abuses of the studio system at the time. However, I felt that the characterizations were shallow and that I never truly understood any of the characters motivations and emotions. Velva Jean, or Kit as she is rechristened by the Hollywood studio, moves from relationship to relationship and I never really got to know any of the people she interacts with on any deep or profound level. I didn’t believe the ease with which she achieves success in Hollywood, nor how easily she leaves it all behind her.The ending is left open for another Velva Jean story, but since I never felt a connection with her in the first place I probably will not follow up with her if another one does come along.

  • Kathryn
    2019-06-03 10:48

    ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Jennifer Niven's American Blonde continues the story of Velva Jean Hart, a young girl from the Carolina mountains turned war hero, and eventually 40s Hollywood star. As I enjoy reading fiction set during the Hollywood studio-system, so-called "Golden Age" era, the premise of this novel grabbed me. I hadn't realized at the time that "American Blonde" is the fourth novel to star Velva Jean, but after reading I can vouch that the story stands well enough on its own. You may be inspired to backtrack for the full saga afterward.Velva Jean has returned triumphant from the war, and has little time to rest before she's approached by MGM to parlay her heroism into a film career. Transformed into starlet Kit Rogers, she reconnects with a fellow WASP and quickly learns how the major studios work to cover up scandals and minor inconveniences like the sudden death of a box office draw. In this case, though, it's Kit's friend, and she isn't going to play along. She's determined to solve a mystery at the risk of her career and fame."American Blonde" mixes golden age drama with a touch of noir mystery. It's not gritty like Ellroy's LA-set crime books, but you'll sense touches of the seedy side of Hollywood. Solid story with a likable female lead, hints of romance and further adventures to come.

  • Susan
    2019-06-02 15:43

    "Remember who you are, hold on to that, and whatever you do, don't let them change you," learns Velva Jean, aka Kit Rogers, Hollywood star under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's star system of an era past. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, contract players were ruled by the studios, and Hollywood moguls invented the publicity to promote their glamorous Hollywood images. This novel shows fictionalized stories of the struggles of a group of actors to succeed, the glamour and back-stabbing behind the scenes, mystery, the power of the Studio and even the interaction with the police. The author, having grown up in Hollywood speaks from a close connection to the business, and this is a decent enough novel. It felt contrived, even too pat, but for me it was a fun summer read.

  • Ashley
    2019-06-09 09:46

    I totally loved American Blonde! I couldn't put it down! This is definitely my favorite of Jennifer's Velva Jean books! :)

  • Enchanted Prose
    2019-06-19 09:33

    THE “OLD HOLLYWOOD” STUDIO SYSTEM AND THE MAKING OF A MOVIE STAR (1945-1947): Jennifer Niven’s American Blonde is like a walk down memory lane. You can almost see and hear Judy Garland singing, Fred Astaire dancing, Clark Gable acting. The author is in love with the Old Hollywood of the ‘30s and ‘40s when a big-league film studio like “Metro” (“sixty stars, the most of any studio. More stars than in heaven”) made stars bigger than life. Niven, whose name has a stardom ring to it, has an emotional attachment to those bygone days, which you’ll learn about in the last enlightening chapter, “Endings.” From what I gather, she’s waited a long time to craft a wistful Hollywood story she was meant to write, steeped into nostalgic details, for this is her fourth novel starring her beautiful, spirited country girl from Appalachia, Velva Jean.Velva Jean heartens us, the way she keeps re-inventing herself. In this novel, she’s Kit Rogers, Hollywood’s newest sensation. If, like me, you start with American Blonde, you can always go back to what you missed as she comes of age in Velva Jean Learns to Drive, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine – the “Velva Jean Series.” This novel can stand alone, as it fills you in on the earlier trio: Married at 16, divorced by 20 (DRIVE); Velva Jean heads to Nashville pursuing her passion, singing. When that doesn’t work out, her brother, Johnny Clay Hart, inspires her to pursue flying, as a WASP or Women’s Airforce Service Pilot (FLY), which leads to her becoming a spy and a WWII heroine (CLEMENTINE).Returning to America, “Miss Red, White, and Blue,” poses for a newsreel featuring the “second girl in history to fly a bobber across the ocean.” A blonde, green-eyed “natural beauty,” Velva Jean catches the cinematic eyes behind Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, like its legendary head, Louis B. Mayer, who at 60, “didn’t look at all like the most powerful man in Hollywood.” Now Kit Rogers, her transformation feels as glamorous as the novel’s alluring cover but Velva Jean confides she “had her own scars but I wasn’t wearing them on the outside.”At 24, Kit Rogers still dreams of Nashville. She reasons that coming to Hollywood she’ll “train with the finest music teachers in the world,” so when she returns to her southern roots she’ll take them by storm. She’s right: she’s seriously trained in singing, and so much more.Kit’s first film role is a revolutionary war hit, “Home of the Brave,” on Stage 15, “the largest in the world.” She plays Betsy Ross, a “patriotic Cinderella,” a role created just for her. Here we meet a full cast of Hollywood characters – actors, actresses, producer, director, agent, photographer, publicists, gossip columnist, costume designer, drama teacher, voice teacher, general manager – so many as you’d expect for the mighty studio. A couple of characters besides Kit loom large: The screenwriter, Sam Weldon, one of two men who sweeten the novel’s romantic tension; and Barbara Jenning, formerly Eloise Mudge, one of Velva Jean’s closest friends going back to their flying days, now an actress in the picture too, whose having an affair with the film’s hottest star, handsome Nigel Gray, a married man.Since Velva Jean tells us she’s spent her life fighting, Niven plots another cause for her to fight, turning her charming historical novel into a mystery. Like her honorable character, she’s not afraid to shine a light on an all-powerful studio system that didn’t just make stars, but could break them.What I especially relished about the novel is the tender prose. The author stays true to the integrity of her Velva Jean character even in Hollywood. Romance and mystery can still be delivered up in the juicy, wholesome spirit of the golden era of Hollywood. So, the mystery feels like you’re watching Perry Mason sleuthing and the romance is sweet and sexy but left to your imagination. Take this witty, suggestive banter between Sam and Kit, whom he affectionately calls “Pipes”:Sam: “You’re not the kind men mess with.”Sam: “For you, Pipes, I’d steal the moon.”Sam: “I like holding hands with you Pipes. I don’t know when holding hands has ever excited me more. Or at all.”Kit: “I can’t imagine you do a lot of hand holding.”Sam: “No, but I can imagine doing a lot of it with you.”Sam, like Kit’s adoring fans, is dazzled by her. So is Butch Dawkins. Not to the new Kit Rogers, but to the old Velva Jean he met five years ago when they trained at Camp Davis. (Here, for instance, I wanted the backdrop.) Butch, part Creole, part Choctaw, plays the guitar in a band with Kit’s brother Johnny Clay. They’ve come to LA to record soulful songs. Velva Jean may be flirtatious around polished Sam, but it’s the virile, non-polished Butch who “didn’t smile a lot but when he did he was the best-looking man I’d ever seen,” that Velva Jean/Kit Rogers can’t seem to forget. Butch remembers too, but he’s a serious, compassionate, patient, no-nonsense guy. Yes, you really can feel the electricity between these two. MGM may have succeeded in training Kit to sing pop, jazz, and vocal without her southern cadence, but it’s Butch who warns her “they’re going to rub the shine right out of you.”His words are prophetic. When Kit first breathes in California, she tells herself “all the world was right here at Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer.” But then a tragedy unfolds. If you read the back cover, you’ll know that Kit’s best friend Mudge has suddenly died at a party for the cast and crew of “Home on the Brave” at the Santa Monica estate of the film’s producer, Billy Taub, and his brought-out-of-retirement for this film, celebrity wife, Ophelia Lloyd. Now Kit Rogers finds herself in a “world where nothing was what it seemed.”Yet Kit Rogers is still that brave girl who escaped a concentration camp and rescued her brother, Johnny. (Another instance when I missed the earlier novels.) For American Blonde is filled with suspense, pressures, and threats but our heroine is undaunted, determined to solve what’s really happened to her friend – which she does.When Kit sings the apt-titled song “Facing the World Alone” in her next “Flyin’ Jenny” film, you can envision sitting in the audience clapping your hands. For you too are won over by this principled, old-fashioned character who sends us a big-hearted, modern-day message about hope and love and friendship and truth.My hope is that the film rights to American Blonde are bought by MGM, so that fiction and truth merge when I’m really in the audience clapping. Lorraine (

  • Julia
    2019-06-19 08:37

    This is the fourth book in a series, and the only one I’ve read, but I’ve also read enough. Before this, Velva Jean was a singer in North Carolina, a WASP pilot/ spy/ heroine in England and Europe, and here she’s a movie star. ‘American Blonde’ is the color MGM dyes her hair. Did I mention she solves her friend’s, who was also a movie star and was a WASP, too, murder, to MGM’s fixers’ frustration? “Culver City was a mix of farmland and dime stores, bars and diners, small houses and ugly apartment buildings. Depending on the breeze, one minute the air smelled like cow manure and the next like fresh baked bread, which Mudge said came from Helms Bakery. Metro- Goldwyn- Mayer set grandly in the middle of this, a sprawling, white columned fortress.” (18) (In 1946-7 Culver City was undergoing a building boom and there were many GI Bill small houses going up, probably where the farms were.) Bought at B & N 5.13.17 for $4.48.

  • Sammy
    2019-05-29 14:45

    This book really bugged me. The first few chapters were a start to a decent story, but as more and more events and characters were introduced, it lost its intrigue and believability. Not to mention the writing itself was subpar. I wondered if I was reading a students work with the unimaginative "he said this, then she said that", and unnecessary, redundant paragraphs. Regardless, I was able to finish the book and still picked it back up after countless times of throwing it aside out of annoyance. Probably wouldn't recommended it to anyone.

  • Dana Jennings
    2019-06-17 15:33

    The cover of this book called out to me and is the sole reason I bought it in a used book store. Little did I know what fun I was in for! Jennifer Niven is new to me but not to many others. She is an accomplished writer of both nonfiction and fiction works. My only regret is that this is the fourth in the series of her protagonist, Velva Jean, and knowing what I know now, I might not be motivated to read about her earlier escapades. Hollywood after World War II is the setting. Love the love interests Niven gives her. Velva Jean makes the right choice in the end.

  • Phyllis Fredericksen
    2019-05-30 11:48

    I love Velva Jean, but felt that this one was not as good as the others. The first book, Velva Jean Learns to Drive was beautifully written and a delight to read. This one was good, just not as good. The main character does stay true to herself and solves a murder, but I felt the beautiful descriptive language was missing.

  • Robert Enzenauer
    2019-06-03 16:25

    Excellebnt historical fiction. Wonderful characterization of post-World War II Hollywood. Velvagene, the heroine from her adventures as a World War II WASP pilot, continues to be fearless, loyal, tough, and rugged. I will share with my daughter.

  • Donna Tremblay
    2019-06-11 14:28

    I had a hard time finding a copy of this from the library which is surprising as I found it very enjoyable. I loved reading about the movie studios and the power they held over their employees, etc. A lot of research obviously went into writing this book. Who knew about the woman pilots WASP.

  • Mich
    2019-06-16 15:19

    Just love reading about velva Jean and her antics. Yep. Fun entertaining

  • Danny Reid
    2019-06-07 16:38

    Loved the writing, the research not so much.

  • Tamara
    2019-06-16 12:36

    Review Originally Posted:Traveling With TThis book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.American BlondeVelva Jean Hart- free-spirited war heroine. When returning for war in 1945, she is filmed reuniting with her brother, Johnny Clay, and soon after returning to her family home….. Hollywood comes a-knocking…. literally. The Hollywood folks saw the news reel footage and realized that Velva Jean has the charisma, the charm, and the looks to be someone in Hollywood. Velva Jean has dreamed of being a singer, not a movie star- but after finding out that she can take singing lessons- she decides to head to Hollywood to see all that glitter herself.Arriving in Hollywood, Velva Jean is reunited with her friend, Mudge, who is known in Hollywood as Barbara. Barbara takes her under her wing and guides her through the maze of Hollywood- the ins and outs. Shortly after arriving in town, Velva Jean is re-named as Kit Rogers. As close as Kit and Barbara were- Kit soon realizes that there are many things about Barbara that she does not know.When Barbara dies at a Hollywood party- a party where there are many suspects- and Kit finds out the lengths that MGM will go to keep the details of Barbara’s death under wraps. Kit knows that it’s up to her to find out who hurt Barbara- even as the Hollywood bigwigs attempt to force Kit from digging deeper.Will Kit find out what happened to Barbara? Or will that be a Hollywood mystery that goes unsolved?Traveling With T’s ThoughtsFirst things first- when I was contacted about AMERICAN BLONDE, I didn’t realize that it was part of a series. So, when my copy arrived- and I saw blurbs from previous books- I wasn’t sure if not reading the other books would affect my enjoyment of AMERICAN BLONDE or not. Jennifer Niven started off AMERICAN BLONDE slowly- catching the reader up on previous works in the Velva Jean series.For the first 100 or so pages- things are slightly interesting. The story is a bit slow and I’m really wanting to get to the meat and the potatoes of the story- the friend dying! And that, my friends, is when the book changes. I’d been kind of ho-hum about the book before then- wavering between taking a break from it or continuing- when the mysterious death and the coverup happened- well…… I was curious. I wanted to know what happened to Barbara. I wanted to know if our Velva Jean could solve the mystery or if it would remain a Hollywood mystery. I do wish that it hadn’t taken a 100+ pages for me to start to feel this way, though, because I wonder if other readers will continue reading or give up before the books gets to that good point of the story.So.. do you need to read the other Velva Jean books to enjoy AMERICAN BLONDE? No, not really. Although, I am curious about some of the other Velva Jean stories.Looking for stories about Hollywood’s Golden Age? Like a free-spirited heroine? Try AMERICAN BLONDE.Final thoughts: Overall, it’s got enough good about the storyline to make it an enjoyable read, even though it did have a slow start. I liked Velva Jean’s spunk- she could have taken the easy road and just not tried to find out what happened to Barbara. But her spunk, her free-spirit, her character would not let her take the easy way out. Based on AMERICAN BLONDE, I am curious enough about the Velva Jean character to potentially read the backlist and future Velva Jean stories.*Thanks to Plume Books for sending Traveling With T a copy of AMERICAN BLONDE for review consideration. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,T @ Traveling With T

  • Louise
    2019-05-22 12:37

    AMERICAN BLONDE (JENNIFER NIVEN)Plume/July 30, 2014/Trade Paperback|ISBN # 978-0-452-29821-7Story Description:A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom? In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As "Kit Rogers," she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth - risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process. Set during Hollywood's Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series. My Review:Velva Jean Hart was considered a war hero in 1945 when she returned to American and was caught on the newsreels that very day. Once home in her mountain cabin, a man from MGM shows up asking her if she'd like to enter into a movie contract. Velva Jean has always been a singer and nothing pleased her more than belting out a song. One of the big draws at MGM was singing lessons so Velva Jean jubilantly takes up his offer and off she goes to Hollywood. Hollywood didn't think Velva Jean Hart was a very fitting actresses name and thus changed it to Kit Rogers. When Hollywood gets wind of the fact that Velva Jean was a WASP and war heroine who saved her own brother from the enemies and that she herself had suffered harsh treatment, the newsreels never stopped rolling which catapulted her to stardom in the eys of the American people. Kit's first role as an actress is portraying a woman named Betsy Ross in a war movie that MGM hopes will become a box office hit slamming their profit up into the millions. As part of her contract with MGM, Kit receives singing lessons and acting lessons and meets everyone from stage hands to script writers to directors to fellow actors and actresses. One actress she becomes deeply friendly with is Mudge, a.k.a. Barbara Fanning. One night at party her best friend, Barbara turns up dead! Although MGM doesn't want their name tarnished and try to clear up some details about the death they don't want the police to know, Kit is not going to allow that to happen. Kit knows she will lose everything she has worked for if she continues snooping around trying to get to the truth but she doesn't care. Barbara was too good a friend to have died in a supposed lie and Kit is just not going to allow that to happen. Although she is trhreatned, underwent suspicious accidents and other dangerous things, her own honesty and commitment to her friend, Velva Jean is stronger. She will soon find out just how tough she really is when she is pushed too far. American Blonde was fast-paced and one of those books where you keep telling yourself "just one more chapter" before stopping for the day. I couldn't put the book down and one night I even got back out of bed to return to my reading room as I had been at an integral part of the story when I stopped for the night that I couldn't sleep for thinking about it. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that American Blonde is yet another hit and bestseller for Ms. Niven. Way to go!

  • Julie
    2019-06-07 10:46

    ARC kindly provided by Plume. Review published on Reading Lark: Jean Hart is a true war hero; a WASP pilot who rescued her brother from certain death at the hands of the enemy during World War II. Velva Jean is a spunky, modern heroine with a knock-out voice. She dreams of performing on the Grand Old Opry, until MGM offers her a screen test and, with it, a chance to train with the best vocal coaches in California. She takes the chance and becomes Kit Rogers, but instead of being entranced by the luxuries of the studio system, Kit/Velva Jean feels stifled. When a former WASP friend who happens to also be MGM's biggest star, dies under questionable circumstances -- Velva Jean turns amateur private eye and fights for truth within, and against, the studio system that created her.This was a good read, but at times I felt like the book suffered from an identity crisis. Niven writes well about the studio system, how MGM took Velva Jean/Kit and polished and polished her to the point she started losing herself. And she also writes the mystery aspect of the story well, I just wish she'd chosen one to focus on because I think I would have enjoyed the book more. I loved the old Hollywood section at the beginning, but the build up to the mysterious death/catalyst for the plot was slow. Once Velva Jean/Kit started her investigation, the story took off...I just wish more had been done with the first third of the book.The first third of the book is all studio system -- Velva Jean leaves her backwoods home (but not life, the girl has lived a ton!) for the bright lights of Hollywood. They color her hair a new shade, dubbed "American Blonde" and work on her vocals, acting, poise, etc. until from sun up to sun down. She reunites with an old WASP friend, Eloise Mudge (who MGM has dubbed Barbara Fanning) who happens to be one of MGM's biggest stars and is wrapping up a leading performance in Home of the Brave, a Gone with the Wind scale picture. Velva Jean/Kit falls into a flirtation with an author and script writer, while she struggles against the attraction she has to her brother's gritty bandmate.The second two-thirds of the book has aspects of the Golden Age of Hollywood in it, but it is ultimately a mystery novel. Velva Jean/Kit turns investigator after Mudge/Barbara dies under questionable and suspicious circumstances. She enlists the help of a few friends, goes on clandestine flights to research and dig up information, and ultimately things fall into place...but not before more deaths within the Hollywood family, and a few attempts on Velva Jean's life.My favorite scene of this novel was when Velva Jean and Mudge flew the bomber, Niven writes them with joy and complete abandon, exactly what I imagine it feels like to fly. I also thought the fact that Velva Jean/Kit wasn't a big fan of her MGM name was a nice touch, because I wasn't a fan either. I also enjoyed the "Endings" section at the close of the book -- Niven includes historical information and context, along with her own story of falling in love with Hollywood and meeting Gene Kelly.

  • Viviane Crystal
    2019-05-26 16:48

    Velva Jean Hart returns to America as a WASP war heroine, having rescued her own brother from the enemy and having endured that same enemy’s brutal treatment. But now all is glory and as the world celebrates the end of the war, she and her brother are caught up in the newsreels, making her famously beloved in the eyes of America! Her return home is brief as she receives a phenomenal offer of an actress job with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films. There it seems like a fairy tale as she is trained in acting, voice, etc and remade in the image of “Kit Rogers.” She is about to be casted as Betsy Ross in a war picture that the company hopes will become famous as well as a box favorite in sales. Meanwhile, while this whirlwind of a change begins to develop, Velva Jean gets to know her fellow actors, actresses, directors, stage hands, a novelist and script writer, as well as a former boyfriend and her brother who has begun what seems to be a successful singing career. Velva Jean’s best friend, also a former WASP, is Mudge, also a hugely popular actress who has several secret lovers and seems to love the booze a bit too much. However, she is a loyal and fervent friend to Velva Jean, giving her a home and important tips about their profession. She’s also quite frank about how Metro owns them and runs their lives, but she finds ways around their machinations, all of which proves to be mysterious to Velva Jean. All seems like a fairy tale world to Velva Jean, but she’s also a smart character who is always observing and assessing the obvious facts and circumstances, as well as the double standard of lies, secrets and deceptions all too real in this Golden Hollywood Age. Stardom is costly it seems in more ways than one!The bubble crashes one night at a party when Velva Jean finds her best friend dead. The remainder of the novel is about her efforts to find out who killed her, even though MGM does everything in their immense power to cover up the murder and couch it as an accident. Velva Jean knows she will lose everything she has worked so hard to obtain if she continues seeking the truth but her integrity is far stronger than her fear of the stooges following and threatening her. In the course of this exploration, she will find out what kind of person she really is, the tough stuff she’s made of, and discover a world of possibility that she had never dreamed of previously.American Blonde: A Novel is wonderfully constructed, with an amazingly shocking end showing the story to be a great thriller as well as a work of romance and historical fiction. Highly recommended – loved this story!!! Watch for more from this writer – someone who hopefully will go far!

  • kim
    2019-05-26 11:26

    I have to start this review with the cover and how much I love it! The vintage look drew me right in, and the blonde on the front made me feel the Hollywood glamor of the 1940s! When I learned the main character, named Velva Jean, is ‘discovered’ by MGM and embarks on a career as a glamorous actress, I immediately made a connection to Norma Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe. A wrong connection, as it turns out. This led me to believe the book was something that it was not; a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe’s story.Now for the book itself. The book got off to a very slow start for me. Part of this was my fault, of course, because I kept waiting for the Marilyn Monroe connection that never came. But the other part was that this is the fourth book in a series about Velva Jean. I did not know this when I requested the book. The book brought in many names events from Velva Jean’s past, but never in much detail so that I was at times confused and lost. I think if I’d read the previous books, I would have appreciated this one much more.Even though the book started slowly, and was not what I expected, it did develop into a good storyline. When Velva Jean’s best friend dies unexpectedly, this book evolves into a murder mystery with Velva Jean doing the investigating. There are many twists and turns, and the murderer is not obvious. In addition, we get a peek into the machinations of the studio politics of the 1940s and how the studios controlled and manipulated their stars. Very interesting!One thing that I felt that I really missed out on by not reading the previous books was Velva Jean’s experience with the WASP; Women’s Air Service Pilots. I’ve read a few other books about the WASP, including Flygirl and The All-Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion, and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to Velva Jean’s experience. I will probably go back at some point and read at least that part of Velva Jean’s story, told in the second book of the series, Velva Jean Learns To Fly.If you have read and enjoyed previous books in the Velva Jean series, you will love this one! For everyone else, if you enjoy historical fiction and/or murder mysteries, you will enjoy this one, but probably not so much as if you have read the other Velva Jean books first. And if you are interested in the Hollywood of the 1940s, Jennifer Niven has some great links on her American Blonde page! And for a look at some past Hollywood scandals, visit this page.My Rating: ★★★1/2 3-1/2 StarsI received a review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers.

  • Eric
    2019-06-09 14:47

    Probably more like 2.5-2.75. I loved the old Hollywood and the contract players and film history. I didn't love the actual plot or the character development. More gay Hal!

  • Caitlin Bauer
    2019-05-22 14:18

    Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.I have to preface this by saying that Penguin First Reads does this author and this book a MAJOR disservice by not disclosing that "American Blonde" is actually the 4th book in the Velva Jean series. I went into this feeling a bit cheated and frustrated. NOT the way to form good relationships with blogger/reviewers, Penguin...That being said, I ended up really enjoying this book. Velva Jean is full of sass, smarts, and heart. I loved the rags to riches story of a woman returning from war, only to be swept up in the crazy of Hollywood. The story was incredibly well researched and the writing was flawless. She mastered the era and the different voices of each person in a compelling and believable manner. I don't normally like picking up in the middle of a series, but I think it made for a more enjoyable read. Ms. Nevin gave you just enough info so you wouldn't feel lost. On the plus side--there wasn't a whole lot of exposition. So we got to dig into the plot right away. As an Angeleno I also loved the descriptions of 1940's LA. Was fun to envision what my city was like back in the day! There was romance and a great murder mystery. But I thoroughly appreciate that the romance was not the be all and end all for this woman. Velva Jean was on her own journey. The men were not the focus and I always have to give credit to authors who can write strong and realistic female characters who don't rely on a man to get by. She is a woman who is full of integrity and refuses to give up on her dreams or lose herself. Major bonus points to Ms. Nevin for reaching out on Twitter. She was so sweet when she saw my tweet about starting in the middle of the series. She actually offered to send me a signed copy of the first book so I could get caught up. Way to go, Jennifer! You really know how to engaged and foster relationships with new readers. You've officially got a fan!All in all a fun read--especially if you're a fan of the golden age of Hollywood. I kept having fun flashes to scenes from "Singing in the Rain" while reading this.

  • Donna
    2019-06-20 08:35

    Loved the Velva Jean series! I was sad to finish the last one. I hope she writes more of them!

  • Laurie
    2019-06-14 12:25

    Velva Jean Hart has just returned from overseas duty as a pilot and a spy at the end of World War 2 when a representative of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer shows up at the door of her family’s Appalachian home. Offered a screen test, she figures she’s got nothing to lose. When her train reaches Los Angeles, to her surprise, she is met by Hollywood star Barbara Fanning AKA Eloise Mudge- who happens to be a fellow pilot from the WASP who trained with Hart. Hired immediately after her brief screen test, Hart has her name changed, her hair color changed, her whole persona changed. Hart has never backed down from a challenge and she finds herself costarring in the biggest movie being made, one which seems poised to be bigger than Gone With the Wind. She’s happy with this new life, but when Mudgie dies at a house party on the beach and the death is not investigated as the studio brushes it under the rug, Hart has to go into action to investigate on her own, even though it means risking her own life. It’s an exciting book that paints a vivid picture of the movie industry of the time. I loved the descriptions of Los Angeles before it got built up and gigantic. I didn’t realize this book was the fourth in a series until I got it. It stands very well on its own, but it reading it would have been a richer experience if I’d read the earlier books. Velva Jean is a brave, smart and loyal woman with enough depth of character to hold a reader’s interest. She’s got her eyes on the prize of becoming a country singer, so she’s sure to be back in more books.