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?
Three Stars: An entertaining antagonistic romance.
Derek quickly fesses up and takes full responsibility for the wild pigs running through his prep school's graduation. He hopes to spare his other friends a harsh punishment, figuring he can handle it. He is shocked to find that his altruistic confession is rewarded with expulsion. His father is in the military, stationed on a submarine for the next five months. That leaves his new and much younger stepmother Brandi to bail him out. He quickly learns that he will be leaving California to move in with Brandi and her family in Chicago. What he doesn't expect is to find his match in a girl football player. Will Derek lose his heart in Chicago?
What I Liked:
- Wild Cards is pleasant, quick, pick me up read that features a fun, antagonistic romance. I liked that this book was an easy read, and that it lacked the heavy drama and angst that is so prevalent today in YA Contemporary books. If you are looking for a lighter read, this is a sure bet.
- I am always a fan of antagonistic romances and that is what you get here. Derek and Ashtyn don't exactly hit it off at their first meeting. She stabs him with a pitchfork, calls him a thug and locks him in a shed. Derek is convinced she is a bit crazy. Things progress from there, and despite the fact that the two are constantly at odds, neither can deny the simmering sparks of attraction. Finally, it explodes after plenty of bumps and bruises into something that will leave you smiling. I loved all the sarcastic banter and hidden feelings between the two.
- I enjoyed both Derek's and Ashtyn's voices, and I especially appreciated that this book is told with the dual narratives. I love getting into each character's head and seeing how they feel about the other. Derek, at first, comes across as a privileged boy who is confident and doesn't seem to care about much of anything. Despite his cocky outward appearance, there is of course, much more to Derek. He is actually kind, considerate, and he is hiding a big heartache. Once I scratched away his exterior and got to his soft center, I loved him. Ashtyn, on the other hand, is more of the what you see you get type character. She is focused and determined to see her dream of becoming a star football come true. She doesn't have time for silly games and romances. She is a no nonsense guy's girl and she desperately wants to gain the attention and approval of her parents. When Derek and Ashtyn collide it is indeed a case of opposites attract. Fans of Elkes other books will likely enjoy this new addition. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions between the two and liked watching them go from pretend frenemies to something more.
- I was surprised and charmed by the chance interaction with an older couple who had been married for sixty years. Irving and Sylvia were adorable and I loved meeting them and hearing their romantic story, it was truly one of the highlights of the book.
And The Not So Much:
- While I appreciated that this was a short read, I think the brevity of the story held it back. There were so many aspects that could have and should have been expanded upon. The quick pace caused the story to move quickly and gloss over important parts. For instance, I thought that Derek and Ashtyn's romance almost moved too fast. They are at odds and he his hiding is secrets from her, and I was expecting a powerful scene where they completely come clean and share their pasts, but what I got was nothing like what I built up in my mind. There were also many other things that moved way to quickly. The situation with the Grandmother. She is cold, haughty and a bit stuck up and then after spending one short weekend with Ashtyn's family (what transpires during her stay is skipped over) she is ready to move? I felt like the story could have benefitted by slowing down.
- I enjoyed the secondary characters like Brandi, Julian, Gus and the Grandmother, but I felt they were all a bit underdeveloped. I wanted to know more about Brandi and her marriage to Derek's father. How did it all come to pass? What happened between Brandi and her dad? Why exactly does Brandi want to pack up and move back in with her father? Why was there no signs of reconciliation between them? Gus is an absolute mystery. I didn't understand why he checked out of his daughters' lives. Was it due to the divorce? What happened to him? Why won't he watch Ashtyn play football? Where was Ashtyn's mother? Why did she leave her daughter behind? Finally, what happened between Derek's mom and his grandmother? Was the grandmother angry all those years because her daughter ran off with Derek's father? Why didn't she come to her daughter's side when she was ill? There were so many details left out regarding the secondary characters and I found I had more questions than answers.
- The end moves to a sweet happily ever after but once again I felt that it moved too quickly. I wanted a bit more, and I thought it advanced too fast for the pair to all of a sudden be exchanging I love yous.
- I was hoping for more football. Ashtyn is a star, female football kicker so I was expecting much of the focus of the book to be on football. There isn't much as far as the whole football angle goes, and in fact, Ashtyn never plays in a full football game. I was also disappointed that Derek's involvement with football was hurried. It just felt thrown in, and I would have loved to see him play a game and interact with Ashtyn on the football field.
Wild Cards is a good, quick romance that I am certain fans of Elkes' books will love. For me considering this is my first time out with this author, I was expecting so much more. I wanted to be swept off my feet and blown away by a charming romance and what I got was a hurried antagonistic attraction that moves too quickly. This book would benefit greatly by slowing down and fleshing out story lines and characters. I enjoyed this book, but I was hoping for so much more.
"The greatest part about having close friends is that they know everything about your life. The worst part about having close friends is that they know everything about your life."
"Every worthwhile girl drives a man nuts, Derek. Just think what a boring world it would be without girls who keep us on our toes."
"Why hire someone when I can do it myself?"
"She holds up a powerful finger. "Because it helps the economy."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.