Friday, July 15, 2016

ARC Review: All In by Simona Ahrnstedt

Pub. Date:June 28, 2016
Length:336 pages

I was quite interested in this book when it was presented to us by Kensington reps at RT16. Simona Ahrnstedt is Sweden's first romance author. Crazy, right?!?! I couldn't believe it when I heard that romance, as a genre, was virtually unheard of in Sweden. I don't know how to feel about that! But kudos to Ahrnstedt for not being afraid to take that first step.

David Hammar, venture capitalist and corporate pirate, is one of my favorite kinds of heroines. A little bit broken, a lot broody, powerful and filthy stinkin' rich. Looked down on the upper echelons of society for being noveau riche, having had the audacity to raise himself from the slums of Sweden to rub elbows at their corporate conference tables, David was an inspiration to the little guy. A sort of David v. Goliath story. David has a long history with the society snots, having received a scholarship to the same hoity toity boarding school where he was made to endure horrendous hazing. Now David's corporate piracy is largely driven by his need for vengeance against those who wronged him. He was a dynamic hero with depth and strength of purpose. I thought Ahrnstedt developed his character well and I liked him even though his behavior was, at times, less than desirable.

Natalia de la Grip was born to privilege, a middle sibling in the financial dynasty which David hates the most. Natalia is a corporate mogul in her own right, one of the up and coming names in corporate finance. Not having the support of her very traditional family who believe a woman's place is to serve her husband, Natalia is trying very hard to do everything on her own, only relying on her famous last name when she has to. I enjoyed having a smart and capable heroine for once instead of the naive virginal assistant or intern that seem so prevalent in the billionaire trope.  Natalia was strong-willed and determined, yet she was still vulnerable to her misogynistic family and David's machinations. It was easy to get drawn into her plight and form an emotional connection to her character.

I really enjoyed all the corporate dynamics and scheming in this story, and Ahrnstedt did a good job at detailing this aspect. I actually enjoyed that part more than the romance and the individual character development. I found myself skimming the story quite a bit to get back to the scheme b/c all those other parts seemed to drag.

I had a love-hate relationship with another aspect of this book, and that was all the chauvinism. I hated that the heroine (and all women) were subject to the ridiculous male sentiments, but I loved that those parts were so well-written and detailed. It really highlighted the issue with women in business and gender inequality in the workplace. The Swedish politics and setting was definitely unique and interesting, and I enjoyed that aspect of the story as well. I have read other books where characters passed through Stockholm or somewhere similar, but this is the first that actually got into the nitty gritty of Swedish society and custom. I liked seeing the similarities and differences between American and Swedish corporate politics.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars / 3 flames.