Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Birthright Trilogy, books 1 and 2 by Gabrielle Gavin

All These Things I’ve Done – book one

In 2082, New York City is almost unrecognizable. Water is scarce, crime is rampant and coffee and chocolate are illegal. Central Park is an arid wasteland and city leaders are ineffective. Museums now house nightclubs and speakeasies serve coffee. Alcohol is available to all. Those under eighteen are bound by midnight to 6am curfews. City services are almost nonexistent.

Anya Balanchine is the daughter of the former head of Balanchine Crime Family which produces chocolate. Both of her parents are dead due to hits. Her grandmother is her legal guardian even though she is in failing health. Anya is the true head of her immediate family. Besides being a normal sixteen-year-old, she must not only care for her Nana but her younger sister Natty and her brain damaged older brother Leo. No longer has a part of the crime family, the family is trying to find a way back into Anya’s life.

The night before the first day of her junior year at Holy Trinity School, Anya and her boyfriend Gable Arsley spent the evening at a speakeasy drinking espressos. For once, Gable walks her home but with ulterior motives. Begging for some chocolate, Anya relents and gets some from the safe in the closet. Gable is asleep on her bed when she returns and will not wake up. She breaks him off a piece, hides the rest and decides to take a shower. Wrapped in a towel, Anya goes back into her room to find Gable awakens and he has eaten the entire chocolate bar. Not sorry in the least, he then begs her to finally sleep with him she refuses but Gable isn’t about to take no for an answer. Anya yells at him and Leo comes to her aid, gable is escorted to the door.

Even without email (too costly) or cell phones (illegal for those under eighteen), the rumors of Gable dumping Anya are rampant before the school day can start. Even about a visit to the confessional booth with Mother Piousina in which she has sinned for wishing harm to come to Gable, Anya becomes enraged when he sneers at her in the cafeteria. She throws her plate of lasagna at him. Her day will end with a visit to the Headmaster’s office.

While waiting to see the Headmaster, Anya meets the new boy in school that her best friend Scarlet was mooning over earlier. Anya realizes right away that the cute boy in front of her is not her usual type. He introduces himself as Win Delacroix and asks her what she is looking at. His calloused hands, Anya says. Win tells her that he is from upstate where they grew their own food and he plays the guitar. Before she can introduce herself, Win states that he already knows who she is since she has been the topic of conversation all day. Well then, he must also know that she is a crazy, addicted, slutty mafia princess. Win lets her know that where he comes from people come to their own conclusions about others.

Gable was the person who was in the Headmaster’s office. She asks Win if she can meet with Anya first. He consents. Anya is placed on probation and assigned lunch duty for the rest of the week. The Headmaster doesn’t want to call and upset her grandmother but she is concerned what kind of reputation Anya’s behavior is earning her. When she leaves, Win has been entertaining Natty while she waits. The girls leave to go home and Natty comments on how cute and nice Win is.

It turns out that Win Delacroix in the son of the new assistant DA or the unofficial top cop in NYC. Scarlet is crushing on Win. Wanting to ask Win out, she gets Anya to agree to a plan to get him to go out with the two of them. Later, Natty tells her sister that she should let Scarlet know that she is interested in Winn. Anya denies it but Natty says she knows just by looking at Win that he is interested in her. Win agrees to go with them to a legal nightclub.

On their group outing, the nightclub is raided and shut down. Leo has shown up with Jacks, a cousin, who is trying to make a name for himself in the family. Outside, Leo suffers a seizure and Jacks is nowhere to be seen. Scarlet locates Anya and they find Win taking care of Leo. He is alright but the time the four of them make it back to that Balanchine apartment but it is past curfew. Win must stay the night. Staying over anyway, Scarlet tells Anya that Win is not the boy for her and that it is okay if Anya wants to pursue him, Anya goes to get Win settled for the night and thanks him for taking care of Leo he that his sister suffered from seizures before she died. Anya notices that his cheek is bruised and goes to get a bag of frozen peas. Anya says good night but Win asks her to stay. She apologizes for the night but Win says that interesting things happen around her. Anya says that she is trouble but he says that she just has a lot of responsibilities.

Cousin Jacks delivers a case of chocolate bars the following night for the family. Before Anya can put them away, Gable is knocking on the door. High on caffeine, he begs Anya for chocolate. They have words and she ends up giving him two bars just to get him to leave. When Gable doesn’t show up at school for several days, it is rumored that he is dying in the hospital. Before Anya can even wrap her mind around the situation, the Headmaster tells her that the police would like to talk with her.

Turns out that Gable ate some poisoned chocolate that was traced back to the Balanchine company. Anya is arrested and before she knows it, she finds herself in a juvenile detention facility.

Just who poisoned the chocolate and who was it meant for? Does Gable survive? Can Anya find a way to clear her name? is Win interested in Anya? What happens when Win’s father warns her to stay away from his son? Can a mafia princess find love with the DA’s son? Who can Anya trust and who is just out to use her? And will Anya be able to leave the stigma surrounding her family name?

Because It Is My Blood – book two
SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you haven’t read All These Things I’ve Done in its entirety. 

Anya Balanchine is trying to get her life back on track after the deal she made with Charles Delacroix. Picking up the pieces of her life, all she wants to do is finish high school. But with Mickey Balanchine and Yuji Ono wanting her to get into the chocolate business and Delacroix willing to punish Anya to win the election, Anya is once again a pawn. When she finds herself back at Liberty, it isn’t long before she is in the hospital. Someone has poisoned her. Anya decides to leave New York for her own safety. Yuri makes arrangements for Anya to stay at a cacao farm in Mexico in order to learn more about her birthright.

Who poisoned Anya and why? What does she learn about the chocolate business in Mexico? Why is Charles Delacroix so intent on destroying Anya? Are Yuji Ono’s motives strictly professional or does he hope something more will develop between himself and Anya? Can Anya get Win Delacroix out of her system? Will she ever be able to return to New York? Who is she able to trust? And will Anya finally claim what is her birthright?

Anya Balanchine’s story will conclude on October 29, 2013 with In the Age of Love and Chocolate. Observant readers will note that the three titles in the Birthright series make up a sentence beginning with the first title (All these things I've done/ because it is my blood/ in the age of love and chocolate) that tell a synopsis of the trilogy.

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