Sweet magnetic something on the dashboard! This novel is one fantastic read; and that without using loud tones or an aggressive language. And after I´ve read some pages, I understood completely, why it was the most stolen item on the book fair 2015 here in Germany. Yep, you´ve read that right. Fame with two sides – so to speak. Big emotions, a magnificent plot and characters so phenomenal and convincing - that is All In.  At first, I wasn´t that convinced that this book would be really something for me, ´cause I am usually not that much of a fan when it comes to Scandinavian writers and novels. A thriller from one or the other is something else, but novels? Not if I can avoid it. But this one here; is fabulous, just soooooo fabulous. As I call it: this is the big picture - like sitting in a cinema and watching the movie on the big screen – know what I mean?

All In*
by Simona Ahrnstedt
High Stakes #1
Publisher Kensington on June 28, 2016
Genre Love-Women-Erotica
Pages 336
Format Softcover
Source Purchased

Trust is the most precious commodity of all. In the cutthroat world of Sweden´s financial elite, no one knows that better than corporate raider David Hammar. Ruthless, Notorious, Unstoppable. He´s out to hijack the ultimate prize, Investum. After years of planning, all the players are in place; he needs just one member of the aristocratic owning family on his side – Natalia De la Grip. Elegant, brilliant, driven to succeed in a man´s world, Natalia is curious about David´s unexpected invitation to lunch. Everyone knows that he is rich, dangerous, unethical; she soon discovers he is also deeply scarred. The attraction between these two is impossible, but the long Swedish nights unfold an affair that will bring to light shocking secrets, forever alter a family, and force both Natalia and David to confront their innermost fears and desires.
The plot is about a young woman called Natalia De la Grip and her struggle, or better-said fight, with her family in general and her father in particular. Women are not very highly valued in the Scandinavian society; at least not in this novel. They have to look pretty, to smile, to stand by their husband’s side and to take care of things like organizing a garden party, keeping the household alright and give birth to male heirs. Yes, life is pretty much straightforward and boring like hell for a woman like Natalia. She wants to prove that she is much more than only a beautiful looking shell. And that she´s smart as hell. And she IS smart.

Simona Ahrnstedt´s writing style is perfect, to the point and there isn´t one page where you think: well I already expected that to happen. All In is full of unexpected twists and turns shows figures that are able to grow and a part of society is shown, wow! Which brought me to the question: is the Swedish society really that old-fashioned? Are women seriously that worthless to a certain kind of class? Or was it only a writing element that Simona Ahrnstedt needed to give her protagonist Natalia, as kind of a reason for what she did and was about to do?

Anyway, what I loved about this novel was the fact, that the author has a huge and diversified treasury of words. Okay towards the end I was wincing a little bit over two lines, which were a bit kitschy, but otherwise, this was the perfect novel for me. And those hot and steamy scenes: delicious. David seems to be the kind of man who likes to have sex in a bit different way without being too … well, let´s leave it there. Read the book and you know what I mean. Anyways a balcony is from now on a different thing for me.

Simona Ahrnstedt created opposed characters in this plot, brings with their different character traits and the way how they act a fire into the game between them, that couldn´t have been any more compelling. At some point you think, Natalia is a “but” women. Whenever she is in a conversation with her family, no matter if that´s her mother, father or her eldest brother, her sentences start with a “but” and then she stops and gives up. After I´ve read that for the umpteenth time I started to wonder. She is such a strong female when it comes to her job, she knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it, but when it comes to her family? She literally gives up. On the other hand, she can´t stop starting a discussion or at least a conversation whenever the topic is something she´s interested in.

All In shows the world of the rich and goes behind the façade. You see the glittering sparkle cruelty, tragedy, hate and lurking revenge. Told in an impressive and absolutely entertaining way where it becomes soon quite clear to the reader that the author is about to unfold things that you wouldn´t even dare to dream about. There is an undertone, not much, but enough to make it totally clear that not everything, that people do, is ok and that revenge is one thing, but forgiveness another.

David is one picture of a man – oh yes Ladies, believe me, you don´t want to kick him off of your bed. And usually, you don´t get to see that many male protagonists who are able to change and to re-think their life or why they do what they do. David does. And how he does it, is remarkable, beautiful and great at the same time. He learns to see things from a different angle, starts to scrutinize his plans without appearing week. Yes, he is ruthless, and yes, he ruins other men´s lives and marriages, but not without a damn good reason. Yes, he has some moral principles, but when it comes to the point to get what he wants, they are nonexistent.

Natalia seems to be fragile, delicate and determined to do everything to get her father´s pride, respect, and recognition. And her father?; he is an old patriarch who really believes that only his wisdom and what he knows about the world and his business is right and good. So for him, Natalia can do whatever she wants – it is never good enough nor does it change his picture of women. They have to look beautiful, stand by their men and otherwise do some charity or talk about whatever woman talk. But in the financial world? No space for them. Point. When Natalia has to learn that her place in the De la Grip family, her role in it is not what she always thought, things start to make sense all of a sudden.

The only thing that bothered me a bit, besides the two kitschy lines I mentioned earlier, was, that every woman in this novel seemed to be a blond one. Blonde with curls, blonde with plain hair, blondes with long hair, and blondes with short hair … I guess you get the picture, don´t you? Don´t get me wrong, I´ve got nothing to say against the blonde, a nice hair color, but every female character a blonde one? Seriously? But ok, I can live with that, as long as I get another great story about the De la Grip siblings in the second book of this trilogy - which will hopefully be in April 2016.

Happy reading

*I read the German edition Die Erbin published October 1st, 2015 by LYX Egmont 

Simona Ahrnstedt
©Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin
Simona Ahrnstedt was born in Prague and is a licensed psychologist, a cognitive behavioral therapist, and most importantly, a bestselling author. As her novels have swept bestseller lists in her native Sweden, she has become a spokesperson for books by women, for women, and about women. Her provocative women´s fiction has been sold in multiple languages as well as audio format. She lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her two teenagers.



  1. It sounds pretty strange to me that a Scandinavian author would write a novel where women aren't really valued in society... I think that would bother me more than everyone being blonde - lots of native Scandinavians are blonde after all - because that's so far from the real world as it could be.
    I think I'd really enjoy the beautiful language and prose, though, and the character development sounds really good, too.
    Great review, Vi!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Lexxie!
      Yes, you are right, and I really hope I didn´t insult anybody with my line. It just seemed so strange to me, that an author creates almost all of the figures as blonde - not that I believe blonde = stupid (as a common saying says). I know a lot of blonde women and men who are smart as hell. But besides that in the moment when I read this novel, I wondered ´cause somehow I am used to characters who are created differently. Not only in their character but in their looks as well :-)


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