Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embroiled in the criminal world, she is determined to keep her brother and sister out of the mafia family, but her father’s relatives aren’t so keen to let them go. When Anya’s violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate – chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya’s mafia family – she is arrested for attempted murder and sent to the notorious jail on Manhattan Island.
Eventually she is freed by the new D.A. in town, who believes she has been framed. But this D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn, and her freedom comes with conditions. Win’s father wants to be mayor, and he can’t risk having his ambition jeopardized by rumours spreading that his son is seeing a member of a notorious crime family. Anya knows she risks the safety of her family by seeing Win again, but the feeling between them may be too strong to resist...
I cannot believe it took me so long to pick up this book, it was so good! Maybe not as dramatic as I was led to believe, definitely more contemporary than dystopian but I still loved it. Anya was a very strong and strangely likeable character; getting past the fact she had my name didn't take very long, although she did have some uncanny similarities with me! She's the glue in her family, taking on all the responsibility and looking after her Nan, brother and sister after her mother then father were killed. This is because the family business is technically illegal. And while her father might have trained her to the ways of that world, Anya has no interest in joining it, which I thought showed real strength when she could have let her mafia family deal with everything.
Speaking of her family, her brother and sister were adorable. Natty was a little flirt, so sweet and the typical little sister. Leo is the oldest but after an accident that left their mother dead, he has trouble concentrating and dealing with stress (don't we all?). Anyway, he is apparently "simple minded" but I saw little evidence of that, which made me think that Anya's treatment of him was a little condescending. As for the love interest Win, he was the complete opposite to Anya, funny and just fun, and I think she needed that.
I also really loved the parallel's with Prohibition New York, and the setting of New York full stop - I would love to visit New York! The whole story was well written and engaging, plus the characters were amazing. Anya was a great protagonist in her strong beliefs and it was really interesting to read about a mafia family from both the inside and not, as Anya had no interest in running the family business. And, how could I forget, Anya's style of addressing the reader was unique and pretty entertaining, with her N.B's and asides. I cannot wait to read more from her and her... let's say interesting life!
Published by Macmillan on 29th March 2012.