Thursday, March 17, 2022

Simona Ahrnstedt - All In

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.

Comment: One more to add to the list of those I can't remember why I added to the TBR. Having now finished, I assume it's because it is a little bit of enemies to lovers but I must have not paid any attention to what was said about it. I look at the cover and, of course, what I pictured was a plot somehow related to swimming or any water related subject but, alas, it was not.

In fact, in this story we meet some of the wealthiest Swedish families and the plot is centered on those who matter in the elite of the financial Swedish society. Among them we have the De La Grip family, whose influence has been notorious for a long time but although their power is established, they aren't immune to possible take overs and that is precisely what the Hammar group wants. More specifically, David Hammer, a self made man who deals with millions but wants to take over all the holding owned by the De La Grip family any way possible, for financial reasons but also something more personal... that is how he makes contact with Natalia De La Grip, thus finding out she isn't as snobbish nor cynical as the other elements of the family. He feels he can't use her to influence any future decision regarding the business in course, but he can't help but liking her and spending time with her...

This is a story about two things, in my opinion: showcasing how misogynist the elites in financial Sweden are and how one idea of revenge can overcome everything else. I mean, it's not a surprise David wants to have revenge on the De La Grip family although we only learn why way into the story. At first this sounds as just any romance between people in opposed sides of a serious issue but it turns out the author had many ideas to develop.

In my opinion, this is an unnecessarily long book. I get the idea that this way one can understand everything a lot better but between the amount of things included and the writing style, I feel it got too tiring to follow the story at times. Obviously, there's a lot of talk about finances and banks and similar subjects which does add veracity to what is happening but it can also be a little boring for those who aren't in the field or that have no interest in it. 

I felt the writing style is a little stilted at times, although I can't say it's because of the author own way or the translation. I think there are too many breaks in the story to give attention to other characters and the attempt to convey the romance development feels unconvincing. Well, mostly in regards to a secondary relationship between the main characters' best friends, they go from not wanting to see each other over some past issue to be in love in a very short period of time, I felt it was so sudden and, besides, their characterization was also too superficial and not always positive enough for me to want to know what happened to them.

The main pairing, Natalia and David, certainly see themselves in a tricky situation, especially professionally. In real life that might have been a lot more difficult to solve, but it's to be expected they would end up together. I kind of liked them together, Natalia is calmer, steadier and romantic but I felt they balance each other well. Due to how the story is written, I didn't always feel I got to know them well or why should I believe they were falling in love, though. Everything was always a little too practical and I wanted more romance. I suppose the cultural aspects have something to with it, but I still wanted to see them more obviously in love than just by the words the author used.

This leads me to one detail of the book I found unappealing. Again, cultural and certainly age gaps related, but some characters were truly misogynists and snobbish in some situations and that colored my interest in reading. Yes, this can be realistic and certainly - sadly, there are people like that everywhere - but it made the story drag down, emotionally, for me. As if this is a status quo issue that won't change and reading about it makes me mad and sad. 

Globally, this isn't a bad story and there were some twists I didn't see coming, while other things did feel predictable. I think that for me the biggest issue is really how the story is written, sometimes I felt I had to put the book down because it was taking too long for the key situations to happen. When the whole of a book captivates, this often is seen by me as a loss, as if "oh no, it's ending" but here it was more like "oh, how much longer until?", so while good enough, it wasn't as great as I wanted.
Grade: 6/10

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