Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
Published: October 1, 2013 by Walker Books
Source: Netgalley via publisher
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? [goodreads]
I first became aware of Simone Elkeles' writing from her Perfect Chemistry series. Her new series Wild Cards falls along similar lines when it comes to formalities, such as the revolving view points from both the male and female lead, along with the setting near Chicago.
In this particular story we meet a girl named Ashtyn who is a rising high school football star. She thinks she's on the path to capturing the eyes of the Big 10 recruiters, but really she's harboring feelings of abandonment from her family. In walks Derek, the bad boy who got a bad wrap and is sent to live with his stepmom after being kicked out of his private school. His stepmom also happens to be Ashtyn's sister. This correlation felt a little odd to me at times, even though they weren't blood related, I had a hard time believing their attraction to one another. But there was an obvious and definite attraction from the beginning.
As the story progresses we start to see the hidden stories that both Ashtyn and Derek aren't quite ready to reveal to the other. Ashtyn tries to act as if she doesn't notice Derek, and that he only gets on her nerves. Derek attempts to come across as unknowing, and fails at keeping his distance. Deep down you know how much they truly like one another, and it's just a matter of time before it all boils to the surface. This format can be fun to read in parts, but other scenes felt a little too over the top for me.
The story has its dramatic moments, which I've come to expect in an Elkeles novel. She knows how to write teenage angst, followed up with steamy tension. Fans of her's will devour this new book and be wanting more from the Wild Cards series. I'm not sure Ashytn and Derek's story completely won me over though, but I'll be curious to know which stories we'll follow in the books to come.