Wild Cards (Wild Cards #1)
by Simone Elkeles
Hardcover, 342 pages
Expected publication: January 2nd 2014 by Walker UK (first published October 1st 2013)
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?
I should hate this book. I have already established a long time ago that I dislike books that are romance-centered. I like subtlety in my romance and I tend to dislike those books with romance and sexual tension in every page, just like what happened in all the books in the Perfect Chemistry series. But unlike Perfect Chemistry, I actually liked Wild Cards a lot.
Wild Cards has about the same elements as Perfect Chemistry, but thank goodness it's only in the milder sense. I don't think I can handle anymore of those "mamacita's" and "chica's" and unnecessary gangster dramas. Like in PC, Wild Cards is told in alternating POV's of the main characters, Ashtyn and Derek. Ashtyn is the only female member of her school's football team and is also the captain. She's quite snarky and very motivated. She knows what she wants and she works hard to get it. Derek, on the other hand, is the prankster from the South who got kicked out of school and transferred to Ashtyn's school. His snark rivals that of Ashtyn's which made all their banters so amusing and enjoyable to read. But unlike the bad boy facade that he usually wears, there is more to Derek than meets the eye. He has his own secrets that's keeping him from moving forward.
There is an insta-attraction between our two protagonists here but if you're used to Simone's writing, you'll find this hardly surprising. From the moment they met until about the end of the book, Ashtyn and Derek kept on ignoring their feelings toward each other. This leaves the readers to deal with the overwhelming sexual tension. Like I said, I'm not used to sexual tension in every page, but what made this tolerable is that our protagonists started off as real enemies. Their first meeting is one that I truly enjoyed reading.
Apart from our main characters, the side characters are also very enjoyable to read about. The readers will get to know a bit about Derek's past in the beginning; like what happened to his mother and what his grandmother did to them. We only get to meet Derek's grandmother about 3/4 through the book but oh, she is such an entertaining character. She is a snob in the most hilarious way possible. Derek's stepmom and stepbrother are both an enjoyable characters also. His stepmom is described as clueless and who probably hadn't finished highschool but regardless, my heart tugged for both of them multiple times.
Although I liked the plot, there are some loose ends that need to be tied together. The ending is my least favorite. It was Simone's last attempt at a cringe-worthy romance and she succeeded at that. It was also abrupt. I was looking forward to Ashtyn and Derek's senior football, but Simone didn't deliver that. But nonetheless, those negative aspects didn't really shake my love for this book. In fact, I'm already looking forward to the next book in this series.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Disclosure: This ARC was received from the publisher (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.