Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christie's Review: High Stakes by Nikki Groom


Title:High Stakes
Series: The Kingdom #2
Author: Nikki Groom
Release Date: October 24, 2014
Rating:4 stars
Cliffhanger: No

High Stakes is the conclusion to The Kingdom Series. It is not a stand alone. Holding Aces is book 1 and should be read first. “Stupid. Beautiful. Girl. How did you ever think you could be free?”

The last words I heard before the darkness took me and my dreams were shattered.

I was on my way to having it all.
Friends, family and a future.
Everything I had wished for but never thought possible.

Denham King showed me just how good life could be. A life where love and happiness were within reach.


I should have known it would never last.
My past is a dark, damp cloud, that has seeped into my skin and left a cold promise.
A promise of hurt and pain.
A promise of a long, hard fight, where the stakes are high and the risks threaten lives.

When your world gets thrown in all directions, and your dreams for the future are torn from your grasp; how do you go on?

Can I fight the demons that haunt me?
Can love save me from fate’s cruel path?

“Stupid. Beautiful. Girl. How did you ever think you could be free?”

Ari's past has come back to haunt her. Holding Aces left off in a chilling cliffhanger and right away, we started off in the middle of the action. I was looking forward to finding out Ari's fate and I wasn't disappointed.

I can honestly say that this is one of those rare second books that surpasses the first. I had some misgivings about certain factors in Holding Aces, the first in the series, but I think the author addressed those issues realistically and was able to bring this couple's HEA to us in a more natural way. My main issue? I felt that the heroine, who was abused in both relationships that she had before meeting the Hero jumped into their attraction too quickly and wasn't showing enough caution. As perfect and intense as the attraction was, she was burned too badly to trust so easily I thought. In High Stakes, we see Arianna sorting through her past emotionally and her growing confidence and strength with Denham's help was lovely to see.

High Stakes takes us back to The Kingdom, and the King himself: Denham King. He the ruler over his high class casino and hotel and most recently, Arianna's heart. I loved this man, completely, and totally loved him. He's pretty much all the best of everything you could dream up in a fictional hero. Strong. Passionate. Protective. Confident. Supportive and sexy as hell. He takes care of Arianna but at the same time lets her spread her wings and become confident in herself after her past abusive relationships.

I feel stronger. Having someone genuinely willing to fight in my corner makes me feel like I can move on from that time in my life.

One complaint I have is that Ari should have been more upfront with Denham when she realized that her past had caught up with her and she was in danger. She kept the information to herself in order to not "cause him more stress" and I admit, that annoyed me some. But I can't complain too much because she showed a lot of strength in how she dealt with Denham's control issues. He's pretty dominant and she didn't let him push her around; when he was in protective mode he tended to want to wrap her up and keep her from the world, but she was done running from her demons. She was ready to not only stand in front of them, but conquer them.

Another thing liked was that a lot of times, in second books, they tend to be bursting with sex and lacking in story and that wasn't the case here. There was a believable conflict, several in fact; it kept me totally engrossed in the outcome of this story. But in no way am I saying that this book lacked steam. This couple had some incredible chemistry. I was loving the heat they sparked off each other.

This is what I want. I want him undone. I want uninhibited, carnal, explosive exchanges. I want us to explore each other's bodies as if it were the first time and neither of us have fear nor false expectations.

Overall, this was a really great conclusion to The Kingdom series. It was fast paced, sexy, and I enjoyed seeing Arianna's growth and the progression of their relationship blossom. I will definitely be watching for more from Nikki Groom.


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