Wild Cards By Simone Elkeles

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?

After yet another prank, Derek finds himself homeless. Regents Preparatory Academy are refusing to ignore his antics any longer, and Derek has been expelled and send packing back to his step mother Brandi. Derek's father remarried only eight months ago, after Derek lost his mother to cancer. Brandi, although spirited and kind hearted, already had her hands full with four year old Julian, and Derek's father has been deployed for six months. But when Brandi decides to move to Chicago to live with her family, Derek has no choice but to relocate.
Why Brandi wanted to return to a grumpy father who barely acknowledges her and an equally disturbed sister is beyond Derek. Ashtyn is like no one Derek has ever met, tough, low maintenance and stubborn. Ashtyn is breaking the mould and is the only girl at Fremont High School who plays football. But as she's voted captain of the football team ahead of star quarterback and boyfriend Landon, little does she realise that her life is about to self implode.

Her Dad warned her that Brandi would be staying with them, after not hearing from her sister since she was ten years old. Suddenly her sister has a son with a former boyfriend, married a naval seaman, but neglected to share that she would be bringing her seventeen year old step son. There is no doubt that Ashtyn and Derek share an instant attraction, but both agree that in order to survive under the same roof, they are to keep to themselves and not involve one another in their lives. Ashtyn is devoted and determined not to pressure Landon, becoming the smothering girlfriend that he'd experienced in his last relationship. But since Ashtyn was voted as captain by her peers, he's been distant, his former girlfriend is calling him and is determined to assert his dominance towards Derek. 

Being the only female playing a predominately male sport has never been easy, but as the insults fly and Ashtyn's house is vandalised, Derek comes to her rescue, turning the tables on her aggressors, while Landon takes the glory. If only she could see how disconnected Landon has become and it isn't until Derek is provoked into a confrontation with Landon, that Ashtyn realises that not only has he betrayed her, but their friends and team mates at Fremont High. Sadly, Ashtyn knows the feeling well. She's never been able to trust since her mother walked out. But her tough exterior won't let anyone get the better of her and throws herself into her football and training for the upcoming Elite football training camp.

Derek can relate, he once played the game himself, but in the last few years has refused to pick up a ball again. Especially when Ashtyn needs a ride to Texas to attend Elite, with Derek being her last hope. Reluctantly, Derek gives in to the girl that he can't deny his feelings for any longer. As the two are relegated to camping sites along the way, they both realise how dangerous sharing a small enclosed tent will become. Derek won't allow himself to fall for Ashtyn, she deserves more than the one night stands and lack of attachment that a relationship would entail. He doesn't plan on sticking around. 

But Ashtyn has already fallen for the boy that barged his way into her life, but can she let him go before they both hurt one another or is Derek ready to fight for her?

Wild Cards was surprising. I assumed it would have been bad boy with issues, meets innocent girl with even greater issues of her own, but the one asset that sets Wild Cards above the typical young adult contemporary romance? Ashtyn. She's tough, unconventional and although beautiful, she's a tomboy at heart. I'm tired of reading about the flawless young adult characters, intelligent and attractive just doesn't cut it for the mass audience anymore, and creating a footballing playing, junk food eating teen girl with a tough exterior really is a breath of fresh air. Derek isn't a bad boy, he's a normal teen male who is scared of being hurt, so he's built a persona that will protect himself. The two teens are similar and both share feelings of loss and abandonment.

I enjoyed Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, but books two the three in that particular series were almost carbon copies of the first. Wild Cards could be seen as being of the same mould, but it's actually a fun read that held my attention from the first chapter. I felt as though the storyline veered off in order not to address the loose ends, such as Brandi's situation, Ashtyn's father and Derek's grandmother, although she was my favourite character, her snap decision was baffling. The only downside is that when Ashtyn and Derek began becoming physically involved, the storyline loses it's spark, but recovers just in time for a heartwarming ending. Seeing that there is set to be a second book in the Wild Cards series, hopefully it may address the forgotten about issues. A nice little read though, fans of Perfect Chemistry will enjoy Wild Cards even more. 

Wild Cards
(Wild Cards: Book One)
Written By Simone Elkeles
Published 01 / 10 /2013
342 Pages

Thank you to the lovely people at Bloomsbury Australia for allowing me to read and review. 


  1. Oooh I have a secret fetish for boarding school books, they always seemed like such fun. I blame Harry Potter and Enid Blyton.

    I like the idea of the girl being on the football team, I thought it was an impressive concept when everyone was reading and reviewing Shut Out. But I always think it's great to put characters in situations that most people would not consider normal - girls playing such aggressive football, straight guys doing ballet - that kind of thing. I think it's great to push people out of their comfort zones and accepting people doing completely different things.

    1. Hey Lauren and thanks for popping by. I totally agree, I like books and characters that are quirky and non conforming. This one loses it's way a little with the attraction between the main characters, but it's a far better read than Perfect Chemistry.

  2. I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and you are right, Ashtyn was really refreshing as she assumed a sort of tomboy persona. I enjoyed their banter but their relationship was very on and off, they kept on pushing each other away which was annoying. Glad you enjoyed it Kelly, great review as always.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

  3. Thanks for the great review. I've had this for a while. I just need to make time to read it.


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