Anya Balanchine comes into her own in business and in matters of the heart while circumventing the chocolate prohibition with her medicinal cacao nightclub in the multiple-year–spanning conclusion to the Birthright trilogy.
While her professional life is coming together as she and former enemy Charles Delacroix prepare for the grand opening of their cacao nightclub, the Dark Room, Anya’s personal relationships suffer. Win Delacroix can’t forgive her for working with his father, and he leaves New York to attend college away from Anya. Anya tries to do right by her sister, Natty, who’s going through a rough patch. Her cousin Mickey returns, looking for his missing wife, treacherous Sophia Bitter. And Anya’s mafiya Family actively disapproves of her attempts at legitimacy. A near-disaster on the eve of opening brings Anya’s cacao-supplying friend Theo from Mexico to the city, where he decides to stay on to help. There is less mob intrigue than in previous installments, as the primary focus is Anya’s coming-of-age. Her self-aware narrative, full of asides, foreshadows heavily, neutering some of the tension. Multiple suitors court Anya, and her responses demonstrate how she grapples with discovering what and who she wants in this most romance-focused book in the series. The sweet ending is tempered by Anya’s prickly personality, which stays true through all of her growth.
As rich as quality chocolate. (Thriller. 12 & up)