Friday, October 04, 2013

Review: WILD CARDS -- Simone Elkeles


WILD CARDS – Simone Elkeles
Wild Cards Series, Book 1
Walker Books
ISBN: 978-0-8027-3437-2
October 2013
New Adult Contemporary Romance

Illinois and Texas - Present Day

WILD CARDS immerses us in the teenage angst, drama, and romance between Ashtyn Parker and Derek Fitzpatrick. Ashtyn is a beautiful high school senior and captain of the football team who is shocked to realize one day that her older sister has moved back into the family home – with her young son and seventeen-year-old stepson, Derek. From the first day that Ashtyn and Derek meet, and learn they will be living under the same roof, their relationship is intense.

Not only are Ashtyn and Derek instantly attracted to each other, and trying to navigate cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex, but both are fighting their own battles and demons. Newly elected the captain of the football team and reeling from a break-up, Ashtyn is also struggling to learn how to fully trust others, given her turbulent family history. Derek, who was recently expelled from his boarding school, is alone in the world. He is forced to live with his 25-year-old stepmother while his father is overseas serving in the Navy. On top of that, Derek has lingering guilt about his mother’s death and missing her final moments because he was at football practice.

Although Ashtyn was initially resistant to the thought of a romance with Derek, the duo put their friendship – and their potential romance – to the test when they embarked on a road trip together to Texas, departing from their home in the Chicago suburbs. Ashtyn needed Derek’s car to drive to Texas to attend a prestigious football camp, and Derek needed to go to Texas to visit his aging grandmother, so they decided to make the journey together. As the two make the long drive, they explore their feelings for each other. However, when they reach their destination, they part ways without knowing the status of their relationship.

While Ashtyn is struggling at the all-male football camp, she learns of a meaningful secret from Derek’s past. This new knowledge gives Ashtyn clarity, and she makes the impulsive decision to leave the football camp to join Derek at his grandmother’s home. At this point, the teenagers are finally able to articulate their feelings for each other, and why they are nervous to engage in a meaningful, adult, romantic relationship. On top of all of that, they must figure out how to make their relationship work on and off the football field, after Derek decides to return to the sport after retiring as a result of his mother’s death.

For younger readers – and those who are just young at heart – this book emphasizes that love isn’t influenced by age, and all couples have their own journeys and roadblocks to experience on their way to blissful relationships. The love story of Ashtyn and Derek will no doubt give readers nostalgic memories of their first love and high school melodrama. It’s easy and so enjoyable to breeze through this novel to discover if Ashtyn and Derek find their happily ever after. Be sure to pick up this book for your next beach day, or whenever you need a lighthearted reminder what young love is like!

Jennifer Harrington

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