The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton (Tantor Audio)

Babs Ballentyne, heiress to the Ballentyne Chocolate fortune, lives a life of decadence and dissipation in Chicago. Norton’s debut is narrated by Babs’s daughter, Bettina, who lives in her mother’s shadow. Babs shares almost everything with Bettina, including explicit descriptions of her sexual exploits and escapades. Bettina craves her mother’s approval but rarely gets it and eventually finds she lacks the skills to cope in a more “normal” environment with children her own age. When she inherits the family fortune, she must decide how to become her own person. Audie Award finalist Tavia Gilbert nails the mean-girl cadences and inflections of female adults and teens in the story. Verdict: The plot of this story is almost nonexistent; the characters are insipid and flat. Unless the story is supposed to be a diatribe against the wealthy or a morality tale about the evils of excess, it serves only as a vehicle to put space among the graphic sexual encounters. Library Journal