Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Wild Cards

Wild Cards
By Simone Elkeles
Published: October 1, 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?

My review:

At the beginning of the book we are introduced to Ashtyn as a girl who loves football and really cares about her team. When she is voted as their captain, it proves that she has earned their respect though it also pisses off her boyfriend and QB, Landon. Ashtyn has had to work hard to get where she is and it is difficult for her because she lacks support from her family. Her dad does not want her to play football though he is the reason she started playing. 

Ashtyn has been hurt badly by her family. Her mom left when she was young, her older sister Brandi also leaves Ashtyn behind and her dad has shut down emotionally. She definitely has trust and abandonment issues. Still she has friends, teammates, and a boyfriend and life seems to be good until her sister moves back to town with her little boy and teenage stepson, Derek. Ashtyn and Derek butt heads from the beginning but it is obvious that they are attracted to each other instantly. 

While Ashtyn and Derek had chemistry, it didn't completely win me over. I found Derek to be annoying at times and Ashtyn was naive where Landon was concerned. I was also bothered by the fact that their relationship began to overshadow everything else about the story to the detriment of character development. What about Ashtyn finally seeing her sister after all these years? What about Derek's own issues with his distant grandmother? These topics are explored on the surface but not to the reader's satisfaction. Derek's grandmother comes into the story like a fairy godmother waving her wand to solve all problems. To my further disappointment we don't even get to see a final football showdown between Ashtyn's team and Landon's. It would have been wonderful to see Ashtyn and Derek have that moment of triumph on the football field.

I have enjoyed Simone Elkeles's books in the past, particularly Perfect Chemistry. I wanted to read this one because I was intrigued by the idea of a female football player. The description of the book makes it sound like the focus is on romance as well as football and Ashtyn leading a winning team to earn a scholarship. Unfortunately, while I liked this book for its entertainment value, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I thought Ashtyn was a promising character and I liked her drive and determination. I think if the book devoted a little more time to developing the characters and having them deal with their issues or at least make progress then it would have been a stronger story. In the end, none of the characters were fully developed and I found the romance to be lackluster compared to Perfect Chemistry.

Perhaps after reading Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch or Pushing the Limits and Dare You To by Katie McGarry I just expected too much from this book. Wild Cards has flaws but I did find it to be an entertaining contemporary romance anyway.

Other reviews of Wild Cards

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher


  1. Since there are supposed to be more books in the series, I wonder if Ashtyn and Landon will face off then as a nice callback for long-time readers of the series. As you know, I really quite liked this but I'm wondering how it will compare to Perfect Chemistry et al as I know fans of that series are finding this book lackluster.

  2. I agree about being disappointed with the lack of actual football scenes in this book. I'm hoping that since it is a series, we will get to see more in the next book. I'd really like to see Landon's team get their butts kicked. Landon was such a jerk!

  3. Great review, Christina. I had heard that this book wasn't as good as her other novels and I find that disappointing, because I love her opposites-attract story lines as well as football, so I was hoping for a great read. I haven't read Dairy Queen, but it sounds like something I would love. Perhaps I will check out that one instead.

  4. Darn, too bad!! I have Dairy Queen somewhere I still need to read it. Also need to read perfect chemistry!!


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