Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
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? (courtesy of Goodreads.)
Did you like Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles? Or anything else Simone has written? Did you like Katie McGarry's books? If so, you will love Wild Cards.
Wild Cards is a hot, edgy romance between two hard edged characters. It's a light book. I don't mean light as in cute or funny, rather that it's like candy. It's a great read on a surface level, but I got frustrated if I went deeper. That's how I generally react to edgy romances of this kind.
Derek wants us to think that he's a bad boy. He puts up a snarky, tough front, he got kicked out of his boarding school. But really he's a sweet softie. He got kicked out of his school for a hilarious prank that the jerk principal overreacted to. He has a strong sense of justice, he's devastated by the death of his mother. Plus, he's adorable with his little 5 year old brother (step-brother or half-brother, I can't remember). Derek is immediately likable and he was the highlight of this book for me.
I wasn't as much a fan of Ashtyn. I felt bad for her. She's desperate for attention from her neglectful father, so she went out for football to gain his respect. And even that backfired. She's a talented and ambitious football player. But I had trouble reconciling her supposed toughness as a football player with how weak she often seemed. Especially around her awful ex-boyfriend. It's like she's going out of her way to be the stereotypical female and the football player at the same time. Maybe I've been influenced too much by Catching Jordan and Dairy Queen, but she didn't seem believable to me as a girl tough enough to play football in a male-dominant world. As awful as this sounds, I thought she was too much of a "girl."
That said, it's hard not to be sucked in by Ashtyn and Derek's immediate connection. Not insta-love - chemistry. Their conscious dislike for each other masked their subconscious attraction. The hard-edged banter was hilarious. Especially on Derek's end.
And of course the romance is steamy, much like I remember Perfect Chemistry being. Simone excels in getting her characters almost there and then stopping. Nothing like ratcheting up the tension and the uncontrollable urge to flip pages. The breaks felt realistic though. The characters - mostly Derek - purposely did or said something outrageous to stop themselves from doing what they really wanted to do. Their baggage and fears got in the way.
Wild Cards is a good book. It fulfills every spot on the edgy romance checklist. I like edgy romance, but it's not my favorite genre. So I liked this well enough, but not as much as many other readers. But knowing enough about the genre on an objective level, I think it's a great read.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
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