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Lauren Barnholdt

Photo of Lauren Barnholdt

Photo: © Aaron Gorvine

About the Author

I used to date a guy who played poker. Okay, so that’s not exactly true. He didn’t just play poker. Playing poker—to me, anyway—means you go to the casino once in a while, or you get your friends together to play at your apartment, using some plastic chips and a deck of cards you picked up for ninety-nine cents at the grocery store.
My ex-boyfriend played poker. Every night in his dorm room with friends. And almost every weekend at the casino. So I ended up I spending a lot of time there, sitting with him in the poker room while he played, reading magazines and enjoying the game. I even learned to play myself, and played in a lot of my boyfriend’s home games, where I got so good that, most of the time, I ended up beating him and his friends.
That’s where the idea for Aces Up came from. I wanted to show how easy it would be for a normal girl to get caught up in gambling, and I wanted to show how even though casinos show glitz and glamour on the outside, once you’re exposed to that world, it’s actually not all that fun. (Seriously, you spend enough time in a casino, and you see that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. One time I saw a guy who had been there for three days. And not, like, staying in a hotel room—he’d been sleeping on benches!)
Of course, since it’s one of my books, Aces Up had to have some romance in it. The sexy, dangerous guy, Cole, who seems alluring to my main character, Shannon, because he’s into poker and winning, and who Shannon doesn’t realize isn’t exactly what he seems until she’s in over her head. And then there’s Max, Shannon’s ex-BFF who she hasn’t talked to since their near-miss kiss a few months ago.
I really loved the idea of Shannon getting caught up in this crazy world, even though it’s not what she intended. That kind-of-sort-of-maybe happened to my ex, although definitely not to the extent it happened to Shannon. (Although some of the casino stuff is based on real things I saw when I was there—but I’m not going to tell you what, la la la.)
I hope you enjoy Shannon’s foray into the glamorous (or not-so-glamorous) world of casinos, all while she’s juggling her high school math grade and a scandalous love triangle.
I had the best time writing Aces Up, and I hope you have the best time reading it!

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