ARC Review: Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

Title: Wild Cards
Series: Wild Cards #1
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: October 1st 2013
Age Group: Young Adult (Mature)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: eARC provided via Netgalley for honest review
Rating: 4/5

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?

The story:
After one too many pranks Derek Fitzpatrick gets expelled from his boarding school and finds himself moving across the country to Chicago, with his young ditzy step-mum Brandi. They move into Brandi's old family home with her sister Ashtyn, which creates all sorts of tension. 

Ashtyn has just been elected captain of her football team, and unfortunately her boyfriend Landon doesn't take it well and eventually leaves to play for their rival team. I have to say I found it odd that this plot point was revealed in the blurb, because it doesn't actually happen until well into the book, and I found myself just waiting for it to actually happen. I think it would have been much more effective had it been left out of the blurb, and allowed readers to be shocked like Ashtyn was.

Once Landon does leave the story starts to really pick up pace as Ashtyn tries to find a solution to pissing one of their key players. All the while trying to deny her growing attraction to Derek.

The characters:
Ashtyn is a fiery no nonsense character. Her mum left when she was young, and soon after her sister left too. Her father may still be around, but emotionally he left a long time ago. Ashtyn doesn't trust easily and certainly doesn't rely on others for help. She's seen as one of the boys by her team mates and likes it that way - she wants to be seen as tough and not a weak little girl.

Derek is a bit of a closed off character at first. He's carefree and laid back attitude portray him as a confident guy, but it's clear there is much more going on with him. Slowly he starts to open up and we see how much the loss of his mother has effected him and his decisions. It was nice to see how Ashtyn pushed past what he wanted people to see and helped him open up.

There were also some interesting secondary characters too, including Derek's grandmother. She comes across as a rich snob at first and I really didn't like her. However she does change her attitude very quickly, which I was happy about but did find it was a little too quick & easy, and I found her relationship with Ashtyn to be a bit unrealistic.

The romance:
The romance between Ashtyn and Derek starts out slow. They are clearly attracted to one another, but neither is will to admit it to the other - or to themselves. I liked that nothing happened between them while Ashtyn was still dating Landon - even though I hated him I really hate when a romance begins with cheating, so I was very happy that didn't happen here. Once they do start to see each other differently, think do start to heat up and get very steamy between them!

The Writing:
For the most part I really enjoyed the writing style in this book. However I felt the pacing was slightly off towards the end. The climax of the story doesn't happen until 90% into the book, and this causes the ending to feel very rushed. When I got to the last page, I kept turning thinking there would be another chapter or at least an epilogue but there wasn't.

Despite the rushed ending and a couple of unrealistic secondary characters I still really enjoyed this story. The main characters where engaging and it was nice to have a sporty heroine for a change. If you enjoyed Out Of Play by Jolene Perry & Nyrae Dawn, a book which I loved, your sure to love this one too!

Sexuality: medium-strong / heavy kissing & touching, a sex scene (not overly descriptive)
Violence: mild-medium / punch up between several characters
Language: medium / several f**k
Drugs & alcohol: medium / some underage drinking


  1. I really loved this one, especially Derek. I loved his attitude even though he was so NOT this tough boy he liked to play.

  2. Totally agree! Derek liked to think he was a bad boy, but really he's such a good guy and I LOVED that about him!


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