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Wild Cards #1

Wild Cards

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A fresh and fun repackage of Wild Cards, Better Than Perfect launches a romantic new series from NY Times bestselling author 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. So when her older sister comes home after abandoning her ten years earlier, with her hot new stepson in tow, Ashtyn wants nothing to do with either of them. Then she comes up with a plan that would finally give her the chance to leave, 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 get the future she wants?

352 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2013

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About the author

Simone Elkeles

37 books13.5k followers
Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists, and added to the Illinois “Read for a Lifetime” Reading List. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book Perfect Chemistry. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.

Simone was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, where she still lives today. Simone went to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received her Bachelor’s of Science there in Psychology in 1992. She continued her education at Loyola University-Chicago where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees.

She loves animals (she has two dogs – a labradoodle and a German Shepherd), kids (she also has two of those) and her family. In her spare time she’s the Hockey Mom for her kids hockey teams and is an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors. (She also loves sushi, which you can probably tell by reading her books.) Simone writes about teens because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,644 reviews
Shelved as 'excited-for'
April 17, 2012

Dear Grilled Cheesus,

First of all, you're super delicious.
And second thank you so much for answering my prayer for this new series.
Please, Grilled Chessus, please let this new book by Miss Simone be as amazing as the Perfect Chemistry. There should be smokin' hot guys like the Fuentes brothers and utterly sizzling romance scene. Oh and please let me be the girl next to the hot guy on the soon-to-be-cover.

And in return, Mighty Cheesus, I'll make sure I'll honor you by not eating you till I have the book myself.

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
September 5, 2013
Normally with Ms Elkeles, you know what you're going to get. Nothing too serious, a few touches of cliche, but generally a romance that is sexy, entertaining and filled with hilarious banter. I might not be the ideal reader for this kind of novel, but I confess that I've enjoyed her books in the past and fully expected to find myself a new guilty pleasure with Wild Cards. Well, I'm not sure what happened here but this just doesn't have the compulsive readability of Elkeles' other books. I never expected fine literature, but I'd hoped for more than this.

The writing of this new series takes a huge step back from the style of the other books I've enjoyed (Chain Reaction, for one) and is an annoying example of the tells being very different from the shows. We're given the usual tells of bad boy meets good girl. Though, this time the good girl is a football player, which is a bit different. I liked that Ashtyn wasn't your typical heroine and I was intrigued by how the author would handle the storyline of a girl becoming captain of the football team and carrying out a typically male role (plus, the sexism that unfortunately tends to come with something like that). But what we're told - about Derek being a bad boy and Ashtyn being a star footballer - is nothing like the way they act. Derek is referred to as "trouble" and "bad" by the other characters but I can't for one second see why. His most nefarious deeds seem to be the sexy smiles he's always flashing at Ashtyn.

It's the same with how much they supposedly like one another. All tell, no show. In fact, it happens so quickly and unnaturally that I'm not surprised there's no show - because, frankly, what was to show? There's this thing that authors seem to be doing (it happens a lot in NA) that seems to be a way around being slapped with the instalove label, but it actually isn't much better. While they're not exactly instantly in love, they are instantly obsessed, instantly pining, instantly imagining futures together and/or instantly unable to imagine their lives without the other. It's so strange. The characters go so quickly from getting a glimpse of one another for the first time to becoming so obsessed with everything the other person does. Even if this is a realistic depiction of some teen relationships, there's no fun or tension in reading about it.

The characters in this were, for me, particularly bad. Derek is literally described by Ashtyn as being completely free of flaws or blemishes... O_o ??? But... flaws and blemishes are what make characters interesting and well-rounded, they make them human and unique, they're the kind of things that make us care about them and laugh with them and cry for them. Flawless characters are bad characters. One-dimensional paper dolls. I knew fairly early into this book that I hadn't found a new favourite and it was mostly because of that line. I was already finding my interest waning when the cheesy language and cliches started rolling in.

I have to say: pet names just aren't hot. Not for me, anyway. And I think "sugar pie" has to be my least favourite yet. Honestly, I would not find it sexy if a man called me that. At best, I would laugh. Then came Ashtyn's coyness: "I want to look in his eyes... only because the colour is so pretty, of course!" (or something like that). I like romance when it's done well or at least done in an entertaining way but I think I need to decide to make this my last time with this author. The books seem to get worse the more I read. Whatever I'm looking for, it clearly isn't here.
Profile Image for Sandra .
160 reviews372 followers
October 30, 2013


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“You own a piece of me," he murmurs as he holds me (...).
"Good," I tell him. "And just so you know… I'm never giving it back.”

Wow! Guys, what a book! WHAT a book.
It's so good it actually went to my 'favorites shelf', and that in its self is a miracle because there are no books that are flawless, but those on that 'favorites' shelf are freaking damn close.

This was such an emotional read!

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I've been waiting to get my hands on Wild Cards ever since i heard about it's existence. Not to mention the amazing Simone Elkeles has written it (the best selling author of the Perfect Chemistry trilogy)! There was no doubt in my mind it would reach my expectations.

It turned out to be everything i wanted and then so much more.

It was:

- Beautiful
- Heart wrenching
- Brilliant
- Sweet
- Funny

And everything else. For that, Mrs Elkeles you deserve some round of applause.

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Derek Fitzpatrick loves pulling on pranks. He loves being the bad boy in general and has already transferred because of it so many times he lost count. It is no surprise that he gets called into the headmasters office, but what is a shock is not having detention, but being EXPELLED. Add to that, Derek will have to move with his stepmother and little stepbrother back to her hometown, as his military dad is deployed at the moment. So back to Illinois they go.

Derek's life turns from really, really bad to disastorous when he meets his stepmothers family. Her farther is as good as dead and couldn't give a care in the world about anything to safe his life. That he can relate to and deal with, but what he can't deal with is the girl who takes his breath away. His stepmother's younger sister...

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Ashty has learned an important lesson in life and knows its true for certain - people whom you care about will leave sooner or later, without a backward glance your way.
So when her older sister shows up, after 6 years of running away, she is a little bit more than shocked to see her back.
Whom she is even more shocked to see is her stepson, Derek.
She did not see that one coming at all, and let's say her...protective instincts kick in when she first sees him.

She doesn't want to have anything to do with him. He is arrogant, cocky, nerve racking, crazy, and she does not like him, like, at all...right?
All she wants is to leave. And the only way she can accomplish that is by a football shoolarship. So she gives everything she has in herself to win the state championship, until someone she cares about betrays her and her team. Now they need a new player. A back-up plan that involves Derek. But to do that she has to trust him.

Will she? Is Ashtyn willing to put her heart on the line to win it all? Is Derek ready to face his past? Will they risk playing the Wild Cards?

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When i finished reading this book i hugged it tight and just sat in my chair, feeling like i just lost a best friend.

wiaw feel sad 2

I haven't felt like that since god knows how long. And that is how, my dear friends, i know i read a special book.

It made me so emotional i actually cried towards the near end - I, like, rarely shed a tear. So this is something...extraordinary. Haha.

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I think the best thing about this book are perhaps the characters. I don't think i have ever felt connected to any like those from Wild Cards.

I could extremely easily, and i think particulary, connect with Ashtyn . I've been in her shoes more than serval times and therefore i know exactly how she feels. At the end it seemed like i've known her forever.
She was brave, strong and never gave up. Her love for football and the way she always stood up and proved herself to be worthy, earned my respect and overwhelmed me.
Though, i do wish she would let loose more, relax and just have some fun.


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“Because I'm tryin' to push you away when all I want to do is hold you. I know you say you don't want a hero, but damn I'd like to be that guy who'll save you from spiders and whatever and whoever else hurts you.”

He loves getting into trouble and just adores challenges. But don't let that confuse you, because in reality he feels lonely and is filled with guilt.
He reminded me of myself sometimes, we are both strong believers of the saying 'the less you care, the happier you will be'.
Though i wished he would be more nicer to Ashtyn and stop pretending he doesn't care about her, because as a result he pushed her away when she needed him close.

I ADORED Derek's little stepbrother, Julian. He was so damn adorable!

The characters were exceptionally and shockingly realistic. The problems they faced in their lives as individuals and the issues they had made me believe at times they are really real.
They are both fucked up a bit because of their past, but they overcome that to have a future together.

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“Let’s just get one thing straight, Cowboy.” She eyes my collection of boots lined up in the corner. “You might be used to getting girls to rub your feet or do whatever you want by flashing that smile or showing your six-pack, but it’s not gonna work with me.”

The relationship between Ashtyn and Derek was very..intriguing.
At first they kind of hated each other, and their first encounter was rather...unique. Haha.
They constantly fought, argued and annoyed each other to no limits, but we all know there is a thin line between love and hate.
I personally loved their fights, they were very entertaining and amusing, but i especially loved the development in their relationship - how Ashtyn's and Derek's feelings started growing and their walls crumbling.
There relationship was sweet and at times anything but. It was raw.


I LOVED Wild Cards. It has 350 pages and i read it in 6 hrs as it was so un-put-downable!
Wild Cards was like a fun roller coaster i didn't want to end. Reading this book felt like i was on an amazing adventure i would never completely forget.
Definitely recommend this to everyone, especially if you're looking for complex and amazing characters that will find their way into you heart before you realize. Beautiful story.

Here's a song i thought suited Wild Cards perfectly - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoWSf_...

Sincerely - The Critic

Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,570 followers
June 24, 2015
Yes it was essentially a folly to believe Simone Elkeles could at least provide me with a feel good romance to curl up with during this holiday season when I didn't feel like picking up anything serious.

The writing is so bad that it seems like she made a list of every single horrid stereotype found in YA literature - reformed 'bad boy', good girl, jerk boyfriend, dysfunctional family, instalove/lust - and put them all into a blender. The end product was this.

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,856 reviews846 followers
August 31, 2013
I’ve been a huge fan of Simone Elkeles since reading Perfect Chemistry, so I was excited (and a little nervous) when I heard she would be coming out with a book! Turns out I didn’t need to be nervous, because Wild Cards ended up being a sweet romance filled with simmering attraction.

Ashtyn is a girl with a plan and the motivation to carry it out. She’s all about football and she’s good enough to be captain of her high school team. A guys team (mostly), mind you. She hopes to be good enough to catch the attention of college recruiters and get a scholarship. It’s admirable that she’s so driven because she basically has no parental guidance with her mother abandoning them and her father heartbroken and checked out.

Derek is exactly the opposite. With no parental supervision, he’s free to do what he wants. Like most teenage boys left to their own devices, he gets into trouble by pulling a school prank that gets him expelled. With nowhere else to go, he’s forced to pick up and move to Chicago into the childhood home of his stepmom, Brandi. Brandi is also the older sister of Ashtyn so this is where these two meet and collide!

Ashtyn takes one look at Derek, gorgeous with his cocky attitude and an abundant ego, and wants nothing to do with him. Derek knows Ashtyn’s type, too. He’s only looking for a good time and she’s a “forever” type of girl. Yet, they can’t help the attraction and chemistry that overrides their minds. Derek and Ashtyn exchange snarky, fun, and flirtatious banter that expose hints of their true feelings.

“Thanks, Ashtyn.”
“I’m not done. Take your shirt off and I’ll check your ribs.”
“If I get undressed, you’re gonna want to do more than check my ribs.” ……
“Want me to take my pants off, too?” he jokes as he wags his brows suggestively. “I might have some swelling down there.”*


I loved every time Derek called Ashtyn “Sugar Pie” and could clearly hear his southern drawl in my head (so sexy!). I love Simone’s slow-build romances, and that’s exactly what we get in Wild Cards. The relationship between Ashtyn and Derek begins antagonistically (one of my favorite types of romances!) but turns into something more.

I did really like both characters, Ashtyn for her drive and sincerity, and Derek for his big heart and protective tendencies, but I did have some issues with both of them. Ashtyn drove me a little nuts for the first half of the book for being so clueless over her crap boyfriend, and by constantly pushing Derek away, denying her feelings for him. The roles reversed by the second half of the book, and then Derek was ticking me off for pushing Ashtyn away when he clearly had strong feelings for her.

With all that said, I think Wild Cards will appeal to any Simone Elkeles fan, really any contemporary romance fan. Her tone and brand of writing is evident and addictive.

Come visit The Readers Den for a chance to win my ARC copy of Wild Cards!

A copy was provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

*Quote taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.

Profile Image for Leah.
1,052 reviews58 followers
December 4, 2013
This review will go live on the blog 09/19

Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern boy Derek has found himself in the headmaster's office after a prank-gone-wrong. The prestigious school have given him numerous chances and this is the last straw. After fessing up and taking all of the blame, Derek's told he has 48 hours to gather his things and leave. With his dad stationed overseas and a spacey 25-year old stepmother, Derek isn't exactly looking forward to heading home. Things go from bad to worse when Brandi announces she's pregnant and until Derek's father returns, they'll all be heading to Chicago to move in with Brandi's estranged family.

As the only girl on the high school football team, Ashtyn has developed a tough skin. She had to earn the respect of the guys and now she's considered one of them. Her boyfriend is the star Quarterback and it's all but guaranteed he'll be elected Captain come their senior year. Ashtyn's sights are set a little further in the future: she's aiming for a football scholarship and the chance to play on a college team.

While things have never looked better on the field, Ashtyn's home life has seriously declined. Her mother abandoned the family years ago, her sister vanished as well, and her dad just doesn't seem to care anymore. Now her sister has returned, bun in the over, and with her son and stepson in tow. They simply arrive at the door and announce they're moving in.

Wild Cards had two things going for it: its BLINDINGLY fast pace and football. The football plot especially interested me, even moreso that it was a girl who played. YES PLEASE! Sadly, that's where the good ends. This is a book that suffers from an extreme case of telling rather than showing. We're told Derek is a bad boy, we're told Ashtyn is some super awesome fantastic football player/tough chick. I never got a feel for just who these characters really were and their relationship was downright confusing.

It seems all Derek does is paint the shed and cut the grass. I wouldn't have batted an eye if he helped a little old lady cross the street or rescue a kitten in a tree. Yep. Real troublemaker there. As far as Ashtyn's football prowess goes, she never actually plays. Or, sure, she practices, but that's it. There aren't any games - the novel takes places during summer vacation - so that angle was a complete letdown. At one point Ashtyn goes to a week-long football clinic where only the best high school players from around the country go, but even there we only read about a handful of drills (of course each one is sabotaged by boys who aren't interested in having a girl play).

I read a lot of YA and am getting into New Adult. I know how it goes and I've come to expect quick romances if not flat out instalove. What baffled me about Wild Cards is that, while the character are in love (in a weird quasi-incestuous way - she's his stepmother's sister after all), they refused to voice their feelings for nearly the entire book and they aren't in a relationship at all. The dual narrative allows the reader to know exactly how Ashtyn and Derek feel and it's very love/hate. Ashtyn thinks Derek's hot. Derek thinks Ashtyn has a great body. Ashtyn wants Derek to hold her. Derek wants Ashtyn period. Ashtyn hates how Derek is flirting with her friends and thinks he's a jerk. Derek hates how guys look at Ashtyn. This went on and on the entire book and their only interactions were arguments. Somehow this was supposed to be romantic? I just couldn't get into it.

The ending really took the cake though.

Wild Cards was such a disappointment. I went in fully prepared to love every moment, but nothing worked for me. The characters were flat, the football plot just wasn't there, and the romance was borderline aggravating. This is the first in a series, but I'm tapping out of this one. I have no interest in seeing what's in store for these characters. If it wasn't for the easy-to-read pace, I doubt I would have finished.
Profile Image for ✝✝ Ⓓaisy ❣ ✝✝ .
493 reviews272 followers
November 8, 2013

This book is so sweet, heartwarming and simply brilliant!!!!!! A must-read

Derek Fitzpatrick

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And adorable football player girl, Ashtyn

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It is interesting to see how these two have to meet, Derek is Ashytn sister's step-son! Period!
They start off with a fight and hiding each other feelings! As they get to know each other, something between them becomes closer.

" I want to kiss ou so bad right now"
"Do you usually ask a girl, or do you just do it?"
"Usually I just do it"
So what you are waiting for?"

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"Because I was too tempted to break our no-touching-or-kissing rule"

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Lindsey needs a quarter-back as now she is the appointed the captain of her football team. What is she gonna do?
How far will Derek and Ashytn push their relationship further or will they let it go?


Hence, am keeping my fingers crossed for Book 2 :)

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***ARC provided by publisher***
Profile Image for littlebookbosomed bookreview.
209 reviews45 followers
February 10, 2017
All of your books that i've read i gave them 5 stars. And i expect this one wont disappointment me as you never did :) SIMONEELKELES FAN STRIKES! I know you wont disappoint me I meant US.

HAHAH! I'm SO HAPPY! Another book from my FAVORITE AUTHOR



Expected publication 2013?!! FOR REAL?!!! I think im going to cry


Seriously people? This book hasn't published yet. And you already gave 1-2 stars? Come on people. Have some mercy

*Reading the reviews



30th October

ARGH! I'm waiting this book for like AHHHHH!!!!! 2013?! SUCKS TO BE ME!! AHHH!!


March 19 2013

What the hell is going on here? It clearly stated there "Published 2013 The key word "Published"

Is the book had already been published? What am i missing?

May 12 2013

Holy Water! The cover is REVEALED! The cover has :-
- Sexy male and female
- The male held her neck, it shows love and control
- The cover tells everything. It has the 'couple' and football. This is what the story will mostly be about <3



Simone Elkeles, why?


I have always been your number 1 fan! I have always loved your books! I truly believe you will never disappoint me. Good lord only God knows how much I'm in love with Perfect Chemistry because of you I'm addicted to reading books and I believe every authors out there as great as you. I'm hooked! To me you will always be the best b-... b-ut...


Perhaps maybe I have high expectation on you. OF COURSE! Because you are my favorite author! I've been debating myself "How should I rate this book? High or low? But I love Simone Elkeles but this book didn't live up to my expectation and I'm hurt...

When I first knew she was about to publish another book I was excited! Damn could even say I felt like I just got a plan ticket to heaven. I have been waiting and waiting and I finally got this book. And I was "What happened?"

Honestly, the characters are not bad, I still love how Simone Elkeles knows how to be frank, sarcastic, witty and all those positive elements. However, what made this book *Cries* due to I cannot feel the spark, the love between Derek and Ashtyn. Something was lacking definitely and the pace of their love was sort of slow and abrupt. But on the bright side I'm definitely in love with Derek Fitzpatrick, he sure knows what to say and I love his witty/sarcastic comments.

It was an okay book nevertheless. BUT! if there were to be a continuation of Ashtyn and Derek I would love to read it! Because I need to more, something is left hanging!!

More reviews here:
littlebookbosomed bookreview
Profile Image for Christy.
3,818 reviews32.4k followers
December 4, 2013
4 Stars!!!!

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Wild Cards was a sweet, fun, light and enjoyable read!

Derek Fitzpatrick and Ashtyn Parker couldn’t be more different if they tried. Derek goes to a private school, well he did... until he got expelled for pulling one too many pranks. His dad is in the Military and his step mom is young. He doesn’t have much supervision, he pretty much does what he pleases. Ashtyn is one of the few female football players out there. She lives with her father, and dates the school’s quarterback. Now that she’s captain of her high school team, everything is changing for her.

Since Derek is out of private school and his dad is over sea’s, he has no choice but to move in with his step mom, Brandi. Who happens to be Ashtyn’s older sister. Brandi recently moved back home. With her father and Ashtyn. Derek and Ashtyn’s first meeting was pretty comical. They started to get to know each other, and they mostly just annoyed and pestered each other. For some unknown reason, they are both drawn to one another. Even though they have these feelings, neither one is willing to act on it. They both have their reasons.

Derek doesn’t want to care about anything or anyone. That hasn’t been a problem, but now it is.
I figured if I stopped caring about anything and everyone, I’d eventually stop feeling anything at all. It worked. Until I met Ashtyn Parker.

There is something about this spunky, beautiful football player that makes him want to be there for her, be with her.

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Ashtyn has spent so much of her time denying her feelings for Derek, but there comes a point where she can’t pretend she doesn’t feel anything.
“I don’t want to pretend I don’t want this, Derek. Not tonight.”

I loved Derek and Ashtyn. Loved the ‘Sugar Pie’ and ‘Cowboy’ nicknames. They were just too sweet together. And the two of them definitely had me laughing out loud a few times. I love the type of relationship that starts with the two mc’s not getting along, then falling for each other! This ya romance was right up my alley. The two of them had a great connection and some nice chemistry.

And my favorite line of the book...
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Overall, I really did enjoy this one. Personally, I enjoyed this author’s Chemistry series more, but this was still a solid 4 star read for me. I felt the ending was a little rushed , but both of the main characters were very lovable and the story was sweet, heartwarming, and also funny! If you’re looking for a ya/na feel good romance, I would recommend picking it up!

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Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,366 followers
October 3, 2013
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.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews748 followers
September 2, 2016
Had you given me this book three years ago, I would have devoured it right up. It was about three years ago that I first read Perfect Chemistry. I thought it was an amazing read, the chemistry that Elkeles had created between Alex and Brittany was tense and smouldering, and I remember staying up until the wee hours finishing it off. Since then I’ve become a real fussy reader and from the first few chapters I’m able to tell whether a book will hit the right spots or not. Wild Cards actually started off with a lot of potential; prankster Derek had finally run out on his luck at his school in California, with the principal finally expelling him. Derek thought that he would have an easy ride with his dad serving in the navy, but his step mother Brandi had other plans and decided to uproot Derek with no prior warning back to her home state of California. And that’s where he meets Ashtyn, Brandi’s sister.

The chemistry between Derek and Ashtyn is instantly apparent, but of course our two characters decide to deny the obvious. Ashtyn has a boyfriend whose jerk tendencies are apparent to everyone except Ashtyn, and Derek is not interested in anything long term. I actually liked both Derek and Ashtyn at the beginning, the constant clowning and around bordering on flirting was interesting watching develop, but by 27% the feelings they developed for one another developed way too quickly for my liking, that it didn’t make it feel as if their feelings for each other were that real. I love a well developed romance in any story; I like being able to swoon over characters, have butterflies in my stomach and be in a dreamy daze whenever my crush pops up, but this was not the case with these two characters. It was obvious from the beginning how things would end, so I just wish that things could have been wrapped up a lot sooner.

The relationship really lacked depth for me, and the constant yo-yoing back and forth didn’t sit too well with me either. Then there was Derek’s name of endearment for Ashtyn; sugar pie, I know some readers may have found this totally adorable, but I have a certain list of endearments that I never want to be called, they just make me cringe, babes and sugar pies would be high up on that list. Then we had this huge secret that Derek was keeping from Ashtyn and his reason he couldn’t be with her, the way he was going on I was expecting him to be some drug dealer or something, so when the truth came out I was kind of gutted to find out what it was Anyway Wild Cards had been a book which I had been extremely looking forward to, however it just riled me up in so many places instead. There were also aspects which were a bit de-ja vu-ish with Perfect Chemistry that made me think that if I was to re-read Perfect Chemisty again today would I give the same five star rating? I highly doubt this would be the case. I’m bitterly disappointed Wild Cards didn’t turn out the way I was expecting.
589 reviews1,031 followers
January 4, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Thank you Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.
“I'm tryin' to push you away when all I want to do is hold you. I know you say you don't want a hero, but damn I'd like to be that guy who'll save you from spiders and whatever and whoever else hurts you.”

Despite the glaringly large number of flaws Wild Cards held, I still couldn’t bear to give this anything under 3 stars. Why? Because there's this thing called: I-couldn't-stop-grinning-like-a-fool-the-whole-time so it's definitely saying I enjoyed this book to some extent.

The premise of Wild Cards is really straight-forward. Told in two perspectives, we have tom-boy Ashtyn who is the only girl on her football team that she loves dearly- she also happens to be the captain. After losing everything she loves, Ashtyn brings the walls up around her and doesn't believe that she can trust anyone again, everyone she cared about walked out of her life. Then we have Derek, arrogant, cocky and is scared of falling in love so he only does one night stands. He's hidden his past, which hurts him and is the reason why he no longer plays football. This extremely familiar premise came into play with two characters that seemingly don't work out, end up working out. I wasn't the greatest fan of Ashtyn or Derek. Ashtyn who was meant to be a tom-boy and mentally strong was easily jealous, sensitive and self-conscious. Derek was pretty much a boy replica with the along with the humour and brashness. And they both were 'hot'. Ugh. I swam in the land of clichés.

The romance was instant love, angsty and on and off. Still, there were sweet moments however they were quickly ended with Derek or Ashtyn's ego getting the better of them. The romance definitely weaker than the character arcs. The pacing also did not fair to well in Wild Cards. The problem with telling a contemporary story with the two love interests is that we pretty much know what's going to happen and all us readers want to do is grab their faces and smash them together. While some YA contemporary authors like Katie McGarry can conjure a magnificent story with that formula, what Simone Elkeles lacked her in the pacing was some depth and subplot. Something. Other than the upfront drama of Derek and Ashtyn's relationship, we don't really touch on the football aspect (such as Ashtyn actually playing a game) or more family drama. It's like nothing is more important than romance.

Since I am mood rater, I rated this 3 stars despite my practically completely negative review because like I mentioned earlier, this book kept me smiling. I did like the characters at some points, mainly just Derek even though he was infuriating at times. Nevertheless, I will be reading book 2!
Profile Image for Ariana.
938 reviews1,303 followers
August 5, 2016
So, Elkeles is back and so is my enjoinment for her books.
I had this fear for a second, that I was becoming a bit too old for her stories, but on a second thought: how can one be too old to have fun, right? That’s impossible! Or so I hope.

I assume that many of you are familiar with Simone’s style – I can’t say that her books are emotionally intense or that one might learn something from them.. It is really not the case. In fact, her books can be a hit or a miss, because they are meant for one’s amusement and entertainment, but we don’t have all the same sense of humour and we don’t like the same kind of books.

On the other hand, from time to time I do enjoy a no-brainer that can sweep me off my feet. a cute story, a sweet story, one that can make me curl up in bed and giggle between sheets like silly. And this pretty one did just that and even more..

When it comes to Simone’s books there is always some sort of insta-atraction. Still, things grow slowly through the book, as the situation is a bit complicated (I am not even sure how things might work in real life as Derek is sort of Ash’s grown up nephew). The characters have also to fix some of their own problems in order to be together


3.5 full stars – I did have a bit of troubles with the beginning and the ending, but the cuteness of this story won me over. I kept laughing and overall having a great time reading this story and I can’t wait to see what comes next in the series.

Happy midnight reading!

The full review and more at: ReadingAfterMidnight.com
Profile Image for Seena Seena .
663 reviews212 followers
November 17, 2013
Wayyyyyyy to excitable about this new series from Elkeles!!! She is one of my most cherished authors and really looking forward to stepping into this new world she will deliver us.
Profile Image for Luzie.
793 reviews75 followers
May 16, 2016
I definitly liked this book better than the "Perfect Chemistry"-series by her. Derek was bae, his sarcasm and humor made this book soo much more funnier and easier to read. The bad boy was so cute, and well bad ... obviously! Ashtyn was the norm, but also had a strong and independent side. She was kinda cool, but towards the end she got clingy, in my opinion. Also i wanted to say that Landon is the biggest a-hole on the planet. The storyline was sexy and addictive and had an amazing voice. The idea of having two point-of-view's which differ from chapter to chapter from Ashtyn to Derek, was refreshing. The cuteness of this book was exhilarating, WOW!
Humor and sarcasm, as said, were alot in this book, i likey! And OMG the hotness, Derek and Ashtyn together were the death of me!
4,5/5 stars
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
July 8, 2013
Nose Graze — Young Adult book reviews

Wild Cards was very... meh.

I started the book on good terms. Derek seemed like a troublemaker, but a decent enough guy, and Ashtyn was a cool, tough, tomboy-ish girl. She was apparently really good at football, laid back, and kind of one of the guys. But then this happened:

* Derek wasn't a bad boy at all. He constantly thought he was, but there was no evidence to support that whatsoever.
* Ashtyn became clingy, needy, annoying, and a little pathetic.
* The football plot was very lacking.
* Insta-love....

There was so much telling when it came to all of the characters. We're told that Derek is a bad boy, Ashtyn decides that he only likes one night stands, and Derek tells us that he's not good enough for Ashtyn. But... All Derek does throughout the entire book is be courteous to Ashtyn (except for one occasion), mow the lawn, and completely rebuild Ashtyn's broken down shed (without her even asking him to). That's really.... nice of him.

Then we're told that Ashtyn is a great football player, that she gets along well with the guys, and that she's really laid back. She isn't the clingy, needy girlfriend type. But, we never actually see her play football well. All she does is run a few drills. Even at the end when she had a chance to kick ass, she didn't.. at all. It was a HUGE letdown. And her crush on Derek was honestly a little pathetic. Ashtyn became everything she said she wasn't (clingy, needy, and annoying). She constantly gave Derek hell whenever a girl flirted with him (as if she owned him), she wasn't even dating Derek and yet she burned with jealousy when her friend flirted with him a little, and she couldn't be away from him for even a few days.

But what drove me the craziest and gave me whiplash, was their constant fighting and bickering. It was exhausting. Derek and Ashtyn fight the ENTIRE book. All they do is insult each other and bicker over such stupid things. But the worst part about that, was the dual point of view. We'd read Ashtyn's chapter and it would go like this:

OMG I HATE DEREK! ...But actually, he's so hot... I'm so attracted to him. I totally love him. But OMG wait, I can't tell Derek that. I can't possibly ever tell him, because he'd never feel the same way. He only likes one night stands. But gosh.. I love him so much.

Then we'd read Derek's chapter:

Ugh, that Sweetie Pie Ashtyn gives me hell all the time. Her lips are so damn kissable though. Why can't I stop thinking about her? I have to get these thoughts out of my head because I'm not good enough for her. I can't be the man she wants me to be. She'd never like me anyway, she hates me. But wow, she's amazing. She's so gorgeous. I want to pummel that guy just for checking her out.

And it was like that OVER and OVER again. It was so frustrating to read how they were both crazy about each other, but both assumed the other one wasn't so they refused to say anything about it. For the ENTIRE book. But since I was privy to both their thoughts, it was just frustrating for me! I wanted to tell them to shut up and get together already.

And the fact that they spent the whole book fighting and bickering means there was insta-love. Ashtyn and Derek don't date. Ever. They don't talk; they only fight. They never sit down and have a real genuine conversation. They do actually go out together once, but it's not a real date because it was to settle a bet. And yet, at one point, Ashtyn goes on about how she's in love with Derek. IN LOVE?? Seriously? She's never even had a real conversation with the guy! They just fight all the freaking time because when they first met Ashtyn decided that Derek was an asshole (even though he's really not...).

The end of the book just got even worse. I wasn't hating the book until the end, when things went downhill. So many weird things happened that I thought were unrealistic. And I didn't like how In general, the ending just felt kind of lame and cheesy, but also unsatisfying.

The only reason I'm giving Wild Cards 2 stars instead of 1 is because I didn't hate the beginning and there were a few lines that made me laugh.
Profile Image for Stormy.
485 reviews70 followers
November 4, 2013

Simone Elkeles won my heart over long before Jennifer L. Armentrout.
And I know I get a lot excited and super crazy when JLA's books come out. But Simone's? God. It's 100 x WORSE!
I'm salivating for this shit!
Read all her books and LOVED them!
Nobody pulls my heart strings and makes me all giddy like Mrs. Elkeles can.
*freaks out*


*tries to catch breath*

Ahhh! I'm a little disappointed. I was expecting MAJOR sexual tention, BIG TIME humor, and a HUGE lovey dovey sexy sexy (you know what I'm talking about) moment. There was that all, but I wasn't swooning with it. I still love Simone though.
Profile Image for R.J. Gonzales.
Author 3 books101 followers
May 31, 2015
Simone has knocked it out of the park again and has a really great start to a new series!

(Full review to come closer to release date)
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
July 19, 2013
When Derek is expelled from Regents Preparatory Academy in California after pulling a prank during the senior’s graduation ceremony, he’s forced to move with his stepmother to Chicago until his father returns from his tour in the service. The summer ahead of him is sure to be filled with huge adjustments, which he’s prepared to face; that is until he meets his stepmother’s younger sister Ashtyn and the heat is suddenly turned up on his summer plans.

Ashtyn Parker has no idea how drastically her life is about to change when Derek and her older sister move into their small farm-style home. As it is, she’s already feeling the repercussions from being voted Captain of the football team, which is not all positive. After being abandoned by her mom and living with a checked-out father, football is all she has; and she puts her whole heart into the game. After three years of proving herself on the field, everyone (except for her QB boyfriend Landon) comes to see her as the leader of the team.

When trouble begins to brew between Derek and Ashtyn, they make a pact to stay out of each other’s business and simply try to get through the summer, but the more they interact - the more the attraction grows between these two.

It feels like too much time had passed since I’ve had the pleasure of reading one of Simone Elkeles’s books. I’ve read absolutely everything she’s put out there and her storytelling is always a sure hit with me. I love her humor, characters and plotlines. I can read her books in one sitting because she has a way of quickly capturing my attention and keeping it with her unique sense of humor.

Wild Cards was no exception! I really came to like both Derek and Ashtyn quite a bit. There growing relationship had a ton of starts and stops, but it never lacked chemistry and power. I loved their dialog and Derek’s Southern drawl added a nice little flair to the mix. I admired Ashtyn and how she faced the obstacles that came her way, especially when it came to her passion for the game and her emotionally absent father. A small part of me wished she would have shown the same tenacity and care with Derek at times, but overall I feel she handled herself well.

Derek had his moments. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I loved the prank he “almost” pulled off at Regents. That had me laughing from the start. I also appreciated his retaliation prank he anonomsouly executed on Ashtyn’s rival team after what they did to her house. The fact that he didn’t gloat or take credit for it, when clearly he would have benefited from the notoriety made me like him even more. I knew Landon was no good from the start, and I was pleased with how Ashtyn ended things with him.

Now, one thing that I’m a huge sucker for is good art cover on books. I feel the cover of this book is a perfect fit for the storyline, but the title has me confused. Wild Cards doesn’t quite seem to go with the story, and I believe it was only used once to describe Derek, so that threw me off a bit. I guess I was prepared to read a story about poker and football... clearly I was wrong. Another item that caught me off guard was the ending of this story. Elkeles has a knack for ending her stories with a strong punch that ties everything together, but for some reason the last 15% of this book sort of lost its focus. However, that didn’t’ stop me from falling for her newest release, and I just hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next book. Really enjoyed this one!
Profile Image for Danny.
597 reviews159 followers
September 1, 2013
Read Review at Bewitched Bookworms

Simone Elkeles is just an amazing Author and her books just belong to my must-buy-must-read list. I love her contemporary stories and I lover her happy ends. When I found out about her new series about Football players I was barely able to hold back from jumping up and down. Ever since watching Friday Night Lights I am a HUGE fan of American Football!!

Characters made of Awesome!
The story is actually told from two POV, one is Ashlyn and one is Derek…. And .. I couldn’t love those two any more! No, I can’t!!! (Yep, we need a lot of exclamation marks!) But were impressive characters that totally and fully and completely made their way into my heart.

Lets first talk about Ashlyn!
Ash is one of the few girls who play football together with the boys, and…. She’s good! She’s really good and all her Teammates loves and support her! But Ash is definitely not a Tomboy – she can also be super sexy and girly. I loved that about her. She has as many girl friends as she has boy friends and she easily got along with all of them! On top of this she has spunk! Yes, this girl doesn’t take crap from anyone and is strong, focused and determined!

Now… let’s take a moment to swoon over Derek.

I cannot love Derek anymore and I want him to be my Book Boyfriend! Now, girls – see? I called totally dips here!

Derek was rebellious, but not too much to be annoying. But. After the death of his mother he lost his focus and rather played pranks than taking anything seriously. But, there is so much more about him. The way he interacted with his stepmother and especially his little kid brother was breaking my heart it was so damn sweet!

But, I mostly enjoyed Derek’s attitude! The way he constantly teased Ash and constantly challenged her and it drove her nuts! He’s a little arrogant but since we also get glimpses of his thoughts we know that he just likes to put this wall of arrogance around himself.

Sizzling hot romance and heartbreaking vulnerability
Both Ash and Derek do not have an easy life and in turn they are both looking for something different in a relationship. Both think they just don’t match even though they are obviously attracted to each other. The chemistry was sizzling and they got under each others skin like no one before, yet they are both afraid about the deeper feelings they develop.

Gosh I loved their love story.So.Freaking.Much! It was beautiful, hot and also sometimes heartbreaking. Both are so vulnerable especially when it comes to admitting real feelings and I found it to be raw but it was never overdone and never over the top!

Now, I can’t finish without talking about the overall storyline and the football themed plot. The story was just great, it showed the wonderful friendship between the teammates and their admiration for Ash. But also Derek’s part of the story was just wonderful.

Now – please bring on the next book.Now!
Profile Image for Rain.
697 reviews116 followers
August 13, 2016
1,5 Sterne
Okay, Simone Elkeles schreibt einfach nicht meine Art von Büchern >.< Das halte ich jetzt zumindest mal so fest
Profile Image for Chris-Wait-For-It-Awesome.
351 reviews36 followers
June 5, 2015
It would have been a 4 star review if the book had a more fluid feel to it. It was too slow, and then right up to 67% where she decided it was too slow she started running with until my head hurt.
It needed an peilogue (badly) BUT. I liked it a lot. I didn't love it, but I saw the potential.
All in all, a good ya read.
Profile Image for Nikolina.
207 reviews24 followers
October 4, 2013
So...no emotions, no connection... I had high expectations for this book because I loved previous books, but...this was a big disappointment for me.
It felt rushed, no character development...I just didn't feel it. Sorry. :/
Profile Image for Shannon.
386 reviews142 followers
July 24, 2016
3.5 Stars. I love YA, so maybe I'm just in a mood but this didn't really do it for me. At times it was cute, others it was just sort of meh.
Profile Image for zahraa.
353 reviews
March 2, 2022
the plot itself was good, but ashtyn’s character really rubbed me the wrong way, the internalized misogyny?? unnecessary.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,618 followers
October 22, 2013
This review also appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Derek is a bad boy who has been unwillingly relocated to Chicago by his ditzy stepmother. He meets his new stepsister, a gorgeous tomboy who is the captain of her football team. Instantly attracted to each other, but not seeming to get along, the two undergo a love/hate relationship throughout the course of the book.

Wild Cards is filled with romance cliches, instant love, to an extremely good looking boy and girl, to an obstacle of them not being able to be together for various reasons. The incredible overuse of synonyms was scattered throughout - Derek is described with shaggy brown hair, totally ripped, mesmerizing clear blue eyes, a deep masculine voice, a bronzed chest and perfect physique. Ashtyn on the other hand, "talks like a jock but has a body like an angel". It's over-exaggerated and totally hilarious.

I really enjoyed the snarky, sarcastic dialogue and Derek and Ashtyn's antagonistic relationship. Derek's playful, carefree and confident attitude was the perfect balance to Ashtyn's stubborn, spunky and headstrong personality and it was fun seeing the two tease each other with witty comments. The two are obviously attracted to each other, and didn't admit their feelings until they'd wound each other up. It was frustrating seeing them get close and then pull away, retreating into their shells because they don't think they are each other's type.

I'm supposed to keep my emotions in check and only hook up with girls who want a good time, not girls who are desperate to make this something more than it could ever be. - Derek

It was refreshing to have a female in a traditionally male dominated role, and you could see what part of Ashtyn's personality made her perfect for being the football captain. Unfortunately her inner dialogue began to grate after a while, showing off how insecure she really was.

I don't want a guy who cringes at the thought of having a real relationship instead of a one-night stand. - Ashtyn

Wild Cards started out really strong but began to fizzle towards the end, when it became melodramatic and angsty as the two tried to stay away from each other. The last quarter of had a heavy football focus and I began to tune out. Despite its flaws, Wild Cards took me by surprise, it was the light fluffy read I was looking for after some heavy dystopians. That's probably why some of the cliches didn't bother me much, I just laughed at them and continued to enjoy the book.

I received this book for review from Bloomsbury Australia and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Series: Wild Cards #1

Rating: 3 out of 5
Profile Image for Gertiebee * the little book bee *.
23 reviews49 followers
August 14, 2016

3 Girl-kicking-ass-in-a-boy-dominated-sport Stars

When I was younger, I played a sport called "Aussie rules/ footy" (aka Australian football).




I played for fun ( I wasn't good at it ) and dropped out to focus on my passions.

So what am I rambling about this for? Well, this story brought up a memory of a girl I played the game with. She was fantastic at Woman's Aussie football. She was magic on the field, it was her passion and it showed.

But, she faced the same problem as the main character in this story. Apart from the team she played with- no one supported her. So, that girl gave up on football and pursued what was expected of her.

How many girls do not pursue sports they are good at, because:

They have no support

“If your mother were here, she’d never allow you to be on the football team. She’d sign you up for cooking classes or dance classes or something like that.”
Ashtyn looks like his words are a slap in the face. “I like football, Dad. I’m good at it. If you’d come to a game or practice and just watch me . . .” Her voice trails to a whisper as Gus dismisses her words and walks to his car."

It's male dominated AND they are not taken seriously

“We won’t tolerate sexual harassment of any kind. If you feel harassed at any time, inform me or anyone else on staff. That being said, I hope you have a thick skin. Boys will be boys. Don’t jump the gun, if you know what I mean.”

"I straighten my shoulders and move to the end of the check-in line. I’m aware of a couple of stares from players and some parents. I’m a girl playing a boy’s sport, and while my team has gotten used to having a female teammate, some guys don’t believe girls should play football. They think we’re too fragile. I just have to keep my head held high and act like I belong here as much as they do. Derek’s words echo in my head: You can do this. A couple of guys in front of me nudge each other, urging their friends to gawk at the lone girl in line.”

Why three stars?

1) The Football- I liked that Ash didn't have a typical dream. A girl becoming captain of the football team is unheard of. That said, there wasn't even one football game!!!

2) Insta-love- There are rare occasions when insta-love works and this wasn't one of them.

Overall, a quick read that has a great premise BUT is executed dismally.
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