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 as well. So she pours everything into football and her dreams of winning at state, until her boyfriend (a star quarterback) betrays her by joining a rival football team.
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother for the summer 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…
I was hoping for Miranda Kenneally’s ‘Catching Jordan‘ with a touch of Simone Elkeles’ chemistry, but although we’re told Ashton’s life is all about football we barely even meet her teammates, so the novel’s focus is actually squarely on the romance.
Both characters have major parental issues and chips on their shoulders, neither thinks they have room in their lives for the other. Ashton just wants to play football, Derek just wants to be left alone and ideally, to move back to California. I appreciated the banter, the humorous turns and the cheesy lines. I also liked how loyal and sensible Derek was (when he wasn’t playing the role of prankster at high school graduations) – Ashton may have pegged him as a ‘player’ but he clearly was not.
My feelings towards Ashton are a little more reserved. Her self absorption and need to be loved led her into a bad relationship with a dushy quarterback – who’s clearly not that nice – and she’s quite dismissive of Derek at first. Of course when I discovered her love of candy for breakfast I realised she was more human than she was letting on!
I liked the family drama angle: Brandi’s decision to move home to reconnect with her father and sister; Derek’s grandmother’s ‘dying’ wish; Ashton meeting her nephew for the first time. I would have liked more pages addressing these relationships though, as they were not fully explored. Brandi only has one conversation with her father in the entire novel!
This book falls somewhere between YA and New Adult: there’s no ‘fade to black’ moments as in previous books when intimate scenes crop up, instead these passages exist but read like a blurry video. Truthfully, it was weird. I felt comfortable with the gradual development of the romantic relationship until the very last part of the novel where everything suddenly speeds up and love appears – it didn’t feel genuine, but I guess it gave me my picture perfect ending so I shouldn’t complain.
This book felt ‘awkward’, it didn’t have the polished edges of the ‘Perfect Chemistry’ or ‘How To Ruin’ series, but it was still an entertaining read. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
The two main side effects of reading ‘Wild Cards’ are:
– Obnoxious pet names like ‘sugar pie’ actually sound sexy afterwards.
– You’ll ALWAYS wear a sports bra on first dates.
My Rating: ☼☼☼☼