Series: Wild Cards #1
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: October 1st 2013
by Walker Books for Young Readers
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?
-A copy was provided by Bloomsbury for review-
A true feel-good book, Wild Cards is the “happily every after” story we all need once in a while. It may have clichés, but you read this book for the sappy, yet edgy romance that it is.
Ashtyn and Derek make up our dual perspective in Wild Cards. I found them both amusing but I connected with Ashtyn the most. Football captain with abandonment issues, she doesn’t make things easy on herself. I didn’t quite understand why she let her ex-boyfriend get the best of her, however. It was obvious he was cheating on her and although she has trust issues she seemed to not really care. That bothered me a bit, but her fierce determination is what made me root for her. She’s set on proving she’s just as worthy a football player as any guy. When she goes to football camp and all the boys sabotage her game, she keeps a strong head and take them head on. I loved this most about her. She’s not perfect – especially in being honest about her feelings – but these flaws are what made her real to me.
Derek has a bad boy facade but really he’s just a big softie. His snark had me snickering a time or two, and his big heart had me grinning from ear to ear. He does come with his own baggage and secrets. His reminiscing about his mother’s cancer especially tugged at my heart. He hasn’t had the easiest childhood. The talents he hides due to this past are not meant to be big twists – I knew exactly how the book would end fairly early on – but the anticipation of waiting for Ashtyn to find out is what keeps that side of the plot engaging.
Ashtyn and Derek both deny they’re into each other at first. This actually works to build a magnetic field between them, one filled with sparks and chemistry. They do drop the “love bombs” kind of quick, but the connection that began to form through hostility and banter actually feels genuine, and thus I wasn’t bothered by the hastiness like some might be. I think I was just in the right mood for this book. It gave me all of the fluttery butterflies!
I’m a huge fan of sports-themed books – which is odd because I suck at all sports and I rather poke my eyeballs out than suffer through watching them, but when it comes to books or movies I simply love the feel of being part of a team. The team dynamic and easy camaraderie between players are the best. Wild Cards may not hold a candle to some of my favourites like Catching Jordan and Ready. Set. Match, but it’s still a diverting read that had me cheering them on and left me with a smile on my face.