Better Than Perfect (Wild Cards #1)

Better Than Perfect (Wild Cards #1)

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Better Than Perfect (Wild Cards #1)
Age Range
13+
Release Date
October 01, 2013
ISBN
9781408852996
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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?

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Not Quite What I'd Hoped For

What I Loved:

The premise is unique--a girl who plays football and gets voted as the team captain instead of her star quarterback boyfriend? Sign me up! I'm also a sucker for a bad boy who really isn't a bad boy at heart. Add in some nuanced family dynamic and some romantic tension, and you have a story that should keep readers turning the pages.

I enjoyed Ashtyn's and Derek's characters when they were apart from each other. Each had goals and struggles that will resonate with readers. I also enjoyed the interactions between Derek and his little stepbrother Julian. Those were some of the most authentic, charming moments in the entire book, and went a long way toward helping the reader connect more with Derek.

What Left Me Wanting More:

Unfortunately, the spark that is usually present in Ms. Elkeles books just wasn't there for me on this one. The dialogue often felt forced, the romance moved so fast that I didn't have time to feel any romantic tension, and the football scene, supposedly the center of both Ashtyn's and Derek's lives, was barely addressed. Overall, the pacing felt off, and I couldn't connect with the romance or the characters the way I'd hoped to.

Final Verdict:

Fans of insta-love and redemptive bad boys will enjoy this book.

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Wild Cards

Derek Fitzpatrick’s world turns upside down after he finds out a so-called harmless prank leads to his expulsion from an exclusive Prep School. He ends up finding himself moving with his dad’s younger new wife to a suburb of Chicago where he meets Ashtyn Parker.

Ashtyn Parker just happens to be Captain of her HS football team. Announcement of her becoming Captain upsets her boyfriend QB Landon who ends up betraying her by switching to the other HS football team.

In the meantime sparks fly between Derek and Ashtyn. She thinks he’s full of himself while he thinks she’s too full of herself. Little do they know how much differences do attract with chemistry that lights up the pages.

What worked: What can I say? I love Simone Elkeles’s writing. She nails the teen boy’s voice with his struggles/conflicts. The dialogue feels real and not forced either which is a huge plus.

Derek struggles with his mother’s death and his father’s leaving him half of the year with his military service. He doesn’t want to be dragged away from Cali and doesn’t care for Ashtyn at first. It doesn’t help that their first encounter ends with her stabbing him with an unlikely object. Elkeles could just show readers two bickering characters but no she digs deep within Derek and shows us what’s really going on inside.

Ashtyn’s struggles to be taken seriously with being on her high school’s football team are very gripping. The one scene where the rival team t-pees her house with female sanitary items reminded me of a similar thing that happened to a neighbor girl. I still remember the embarrassment and outrage from the teen. While reading this scene I felt the outrage from Ashtyn.

One thing that really worked for me is the banter between Ashtyn and Derek. It goes back and forth and is loaded with tension. I personally didn’t see what Ashtyn show in Landon who was a total jerk in more ways than one. But even then this shows her conflict between showing she’s one of the ‘guys’ and a vulnerability of wanting to have a relationship.

There’s other reveals too about both characters that only cement an already engaging storyline.

Hot chemistry with characters that not only are engaging but very real. This is sure to be another hit for Elkeles, who is the queen of teen romance novels. Elkeles is able to peel back the tough exteriors of her male characters to reveal vulnerabilities that make them very endearing. I’d follow any of her characters anywhere. The only disappointment had to be when I finished this story. I want more!!!!

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
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Wildcards by Simone Elkeles

After reading her Perfect Chemistry series, I was smitten with Elkeles' work. I've had her on my auto buy list for as long as I could remember, so when I heard about another contemporary romance coming out by her I knew I HAD to have it. I have been waiting on pins and needles for this book and I'm happy I finally got my hands on it.
As long as I waited for this, this book actually had the perfect release date. A book about football released during football season. It helped to make it feel a little more realistic for me. Plus, it helped to make the boyfriend happy lol I "watched" football for a little research while reading it and he was so happy that a tv outside the man cave could stay on ESPN.
As for the story, I LOVE that it featured a girl who played and was also voted captain. It was empowering to have a character like Ashtyn in a male dominated sport. I know so many females who love the game of football and people act like they can't don't know what they're watching. It really annoys me.
As for the characters, I really loved Derrick. In the synopsis, it makes him sound like a total bad boy who gets in trouble all the time, but once the story starts its obvious to see he's reforming himself. He and Ashytn argued the entire time but it was obvious it was one of those "I'm only messing with you because I like you" kind of things.As for Ashtyn, I felt so bad for her. She kept losing everyone that she loved. I felt her pain just from reading it, so I can only image actually going through it. I also loved that the book was dual POV's because it was so much easier for me to see where the other stands. Because throughout the entire book they were arguing and it just seemed as if they hated each other.
But once their romance got started, it was very hot indeed. Each time they were alone and reacting towards each other, it released all the feels. Derrick is a very swoon worthy boy and Ashtyn was very deserving for all his swoons. I was very happy that they found each other in the end. They both needed each other and I'm happy they got the chance to be together.
Overall, this book wasn't as great as Elkeles' very famous previous series, but at the same time, it was very intriguing. The romance kept me hanging on and I can't wait to see what else will happen in the rest of this series.

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