Historical Romance Review: Virginia Vixen by Kay McMahon

Virginia Vixen, Kay McMahon, Zebra, 1986, John Ennis cover art


2 1/2 Stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Virgina Vixen by Kay McMahon

This review is of Virginia Vixen by Kay McMahon. Published in May 1989, this book is part of a series connected to four other books by Ms. McMahon.

The Plot

The book begins in Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1774. Rebecca Wilde, a reporter for the Virginia Gazette and the heroine of the book, is investigating the murder of a slave who was a childhood friend of hers. Arriving at the same time is Alec Stone, the hero of the book, who has come to Virginia from England for two purposes; to find his father’s identity and to investigate the disappearance of one of his employees.

Rebecca and Alec meet for the first time when they end up in the same bed together and they have sex. Soon after this encounter, Rebecca writes an article all but calling Alec a murderer (based on flimsy, circumstantial evidence). This leads to several angry interactions between her and others, and other forms of trouble.

Despite their tempestuous relationship, Rebecca and Alec call a truce and decide to work together. They also have a few more intimate encounters before Alec makes plans to leave Williamsburg, unhappy that he didn’t find what he was looking for.

Soon after Alec’s departure, Rebecca discovers she’s pregnant with his child, and Alec finds out his father’s identity and gains a family. Upon discovering that Rebecca is pregnant with his child, Alec forces her to marry him. They then leave Williamsburg and sail to Alec’s home in Jamaica. There, they will face more problems, some personal, others potentially fatal.

In the end, Rebecca and Alec come to discover that their two investigations are connected to each other, they discover they love each other and find their Happily Ever After.


The best part of Virginia Vixen comes in the last 3rd of the book. It is here that Alec learns the identity of his father, gains a family, and realizes that he loves Rebecca, and she him. It is also where the book takes a turn toward achieving emotional depth. The mystery running through the book is fairly well-plotted.


One long-standing issue I’ve had with Ms. McMahon’s writing is her tendency to have her “heroes” rape the heroines, and that is the case here as well, although some readers might disagree with my characterization.

On a less controversial note, Virginia Vixen’ has other issues. While I sort of liked her and understood her anger at being condescended to, Rebecca is an “act first, think 100th” character, and her reckless nature finds her in many forms of trouble. I liked Alec-except for the part about his being a rapist-and understood his desire to find out about his parentage. However, Ms. McMahon never really made me care about neither Rebecca nor Alec in a way that I want to when I read a book. There is very little to no actual romance in the book, as Rebecca and Alec are apart more than they are together, and Rebecca and Alec have very little chemistry. Memo to authors: arguing and fighting is NOT chemistry.


Three love scenes between Rebecca and Alec, none of which are graphic nor generate a lot of heat.


Off-screen killings. Assault and battery, attempted murder, and a shooting. The violence is not graphic.

Bottom Line

Virginia Vixen is probably one of Kay McMahon’s best books. That’s not necessarily a compliment, as I haven’t liked most of her books. 2.53 stars

Reviewed by Blue Falcon

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