Title: “Holding Aces” (The Kingdom #1)
Author: Nikki Groom
Release Date: May 29th 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
They say that time heals all wounds.
But mine are set in so deeply, they’ve taken on a life of their own, lurking in the shadows at every turn and haunting my thoughts.
The girl I once was has been replaced by a stranger.
I don’t even know who I am anymore.
And I hide.
Pretending to be someone I’m not…
Until I meet Denham King.
My burst of color in an otherwise grey world.
And for the first time in my life, I find myself running towards someone instead of running away.
But fate can be cruel,
and I can’t escape my past.
**Holding Aces is part one of a two part Adult Contemporary Romance series that contains mature sexual content and language and is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**
Complimentary copy given by the author in exchange for an honest review
As I sit here writing my review of this really good debut novel by Miss Groom, I cannot help but keep thinking about the ending – that, to me, means that I have read a book that gripped me, moved me, yet a book that also, from time to time, made me a tad frustrated. But the latter in no way means that I did not enjoy Arianna’s story, I really did. And Denham made me sigh happily all…the…time. Allow me to apologise for getting a bit ahead of myself here, everyone, and I will start again. *wink*
“Holding Aces” is a story about one woman’s struggle to finding her way back to herself. It is a story about the ugliness of life, and that meeting ones fears and troubles head-on can be extremely hard and frightening. Arianna has not exactly had the best of luck in hers so far – at least when it concerns the opposite sex – but she finally takes charge of it, refusing to become a victim (again) and trying to come to terms with her past. And in doing so also means that she has to learn to move forward in order to become the woman she wants to be.
On her way back to it – both literally and figuratively – she runs into Denham King; he is the hotel owner of “The Kingdom”, a fabulous and luxurious hotel in Las Vegas, where her friend Lottie has booked a room for her, and from the moment they meet, Arianna finds herself intrigued by him. He is, without a doubt, a man who knows his own mind, but he is far from arrogant about his status in society. His honest and genuine demeanor slowly crash down the high walls Arianna has built around her heart, and she comes to realize that not all mean simply take what they want – no, some men know how to ask for it instead. And Denham is a man who falls into the latter category. The question is, though, if Arianna can allow herself to trust her own judgments when she has been so wrong in the past?
In many ways, I found Arianna to be a very genuine character: her thoughts and feelings about her past – especially her fears and doubts about herself – seem very realistic when I think about other abused women and how they perceive themselves. Furthermore, I do like how she finally realizes that in order to move forward, she has to acknowledge her past – burying her head in the sand does not help. Even her doubts about whether or not she should trust Denham with her secrets seem realistic, and I really enjoyed getting to know her, especially when she starts gaining more self-confidence as her relationship with Denham progresses.
As for Denham…well, he is really the perfect match to Arianna: strong, self-assured, and sweet. I like how he is different from other book boyfriends, meaning that he is not such a complicated man. He goes after what he wants, and his patience with Arianna makes him a very believable character. Oh, and let me not forget to add that he is most definitely sexy! We do like that about our heroes, do we not? *wink* The fact that he holds back, that he instinctively knows not to rush Arianna in any way – even when she herself protests about it – makes him, again, feel very realistic, and my romantic heart could not help but swoon over him on more than one occasion.
Although this is the debut novel of Miss Groom, her writing seems to be that of a more experienced author. It is engaging, sassy, and you can really feel that she cares deeply for her characters. Further, she has also created some very likeable secondary characters, such as Lottie and Spike, who both play a very significant part in the book, yet do not take the focus away from Arianna and Denham’s love story. I take my hat off to this author and say: Well done!
The only reason I am not giving “Holding Aces” a higher rating is the fact that I feel that the book is just a bit too short. It may seem inconsequential to other readers – naturally, this is just my personal opinion – but I admit that I like my romances to be longer; I would have liked to see some scenes played out in more detail, and even though I do not mind fast-paced books, I just feel that the story was a bit too rushed at times. Also, despite all the reasons I fell for Denham, I still feel as if I do not know him that well, but I hope that my questions about him will come to light in the future. Having said that, however, I truly enjoyed getting to know Arianna and Denham, and the way this book ends – with a bit of a bang – almost made me tear my hair out, BUT I actually like that the author manages to evoke such strong feelings in me.
All in all, I believe that this really is a very enjoyable read: there is great romance, some funny banter between Arianna and Denham, lots of steam, and I highly recommend that you read it for yourself. Yes, you will be left with a lot of questions, and a bit of a mystery as well, but that only makes me so more curious about the the second installment in The Kingdom Series, which, hopefully, will become available later this year.
Enjoy the excerpt!
“Don’t run,” he says before releasing my hands slowly, and I instinctively move to tangle my fingers in his thick dark hair. Both his hands move to my ass, squeezing and pulling me closer as he kisses me with a fierce tenderness I can’t explain. I vaguely register him flicking the lock on the door as he walks us backwards, never breaking contact.
He turns me as we reach his desk, and I hear paperwork flutter to the floor and glass smash as he sends everything on the desk flying before lying me down on the cold, hard surface, his body pressed tightly against mine. I have a desperate need to touch him, to taste him, to feel every inch of this man. I slide my hands in the waistband of his trousers and pull out his shirt. I let my hands roam freely over his torso, realizing I’ve wanted to do this since the very first time I saw him at the elevator.
He runs his hands down the length of my body and pushes them back up again, skimming my thighs and taking my skirt with them, exposing my lace underwear. “Stunning,” he says before bringing his mouth to mine.
Our teeth crash together as the desire grows, and we both know it’s impossible to stop this now. “Arianna,” he says breathlessly. His chest is heaving and there are little beads of sweat gathering on his brow.
“Yes…” I can barely form the word. I haven’t answered to my real name for a very long time, but it feels natural coming from him.
“Tell me you want this…”
It’s a command, but I don’t feel threatened. I want this as much as he does.I nod my answer.
“Tell me, Ari. I won’t touch you until you tell me.”
“Yes, yes I want you…”
About the Author
Nikki Groom is a hopeless romantic, lover of all things happily ever after and firm believer that love makes the world go around.
In her spare time, you will find Nikki laughing with her very treasured family, walking with her beloved dog in the hundred acre wood or curled up in a cosy corner with words and wine.
She lives in East Sussex with her husband and two children. Having turned her hand to many things over the years, Nikki is now proud to add ‘author’ to that list.
Having always been a dreamer, Nikki’s imagination stretches far and wide, which enables her to get lost in faraway places and imaginary people.
Nikki loves to chat, especially about books! You can find her here…