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4.0 out of 5 stars Wild Cards book 1
I love Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry trilogy so anything else she writes is automatically on my radar and I was very excited to get my hands on her latest novel Better than Perfect. Finding out that the main character Ashtyn is the only girl on her school football team just made me even more interested in the story. I have to confess I don't know a great deal about...
Published 6 months ago by Sarah (Feeling Fictional)

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
I was very excited about this book when I heard about it because I love Simone's Perfect Chemistry trilogy. But this book wasn't as good as her other work. It was cute, quick read. If you like her other books you should give this a try.
Published 15 months ago by Miles


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4.0 out of 5 stars Wild Cards book 1, 14 Aug. 2014
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I love Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry trilogy so anything else she writes is automatically on my radar and I was very excited to get my hands on her latest novel Better than Perfect. Finding out that the main character Ashtyn is the only girl on her school football team just made me even more interested in the story. I have to confess I don't know a great deal about American football (I don't know much about the English version either but at least I have watched the occasional game of soccer LOL) but I was surprised (and thrilled!) to discover that girls can and do join the boys teams and couldn't wait to see Ashtyn in action.

I absolutely loved the fact that Ashtyn wasn't just a token player on the team, she has proved her abilities and is respected and liked by the rest of the team. Something that is proved very quickly when they vote to make her the new captain! Ashtyn is treated like one of the guys, they all have fun together but at the same time the boys are all very protective of her and she knows that they'll always have her back. I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics between Ashtyn and the rest of the guys, the banter amongst the group was fun but I liked the supportive friendships she has with some of the players too. I have to admit that I would actually have liked a little more of the football side of the story though, I just wanted to see more of Ashtyn in action, especially at the summer camp she goes to.

That didn't stop me enjoying the story though and I loved seeing the relationship develop between Ashtyn and Derek. They don't exactly get off to the best of starts (I'm not going to spoil you on their first meeting but trust me it was hilarious!) and their relationship is rocky to say the least. It's obvious from early on that they're attracted to each other but neither of them is willing to admit it or act on their growing feelings. Derek is a great character, one with lots of layers and quite a complex history that has made him wary of letting anyone get close to him again. He is new to town and has developed a bad boy persona to help keep people at a distance but in reality he's a really sweet and caring guy - you just have to get close enough to see it. I loved that he never treats Ashtyn badly, they bicker and fight but he always looks out for her and never tries to put her down.

I don't want to say too much more about the story but I will say that I'm very happy this is the start of a new a series and I can't wait to spend time getting to know the other players on the team. I already have a soft spot for both Victor and Jet but I also have a feeling that there is a story in Monica and Trey's relationship too and I'd love to get the full low down. If you've enjoyed Simone Elkele's other stories or if you're a fan of authors like Abbi Glines then I'm sure you'll love Better than Perfect too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Cards - Simone Elkeles, 19 Jan. 2014
By 
This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
Originally posted at Miss Inga Page.

Wild Cards was my very first Simone Elkeles novel. I had heard of her Perfect Chemistry trilogy, but never been too bothered to read them... and then Wild Cards was available to request on Netgalley. Wild Cards follows two teenagers: Derek and Ashtyn. When Derek is expelled from his latest boarding school, he has to live with his stepmother... and her family. However, things don't get off to a fantastic start, and Derek is forced to try and win over the one girl who just will not fall for his charms.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought that Derek was really charming, and I loved the way that his Southern accent was portrayed through his dialogue. He had a self-confident air that I really enjoyed, yet he came across as a nice guy from the very beginning - proved as the novel progressed. He is definitely one of my favourite love-interests from a book that I read in 2013. His back-story definitely helped me to warm to him, and also to form a cohesive conclusion as Elkeles successfully tied all of her loose ends together.

I loved the interaction between Derek and Ashtyn, as well as the family dynamics which were portrayed... Derek's grandmother reminded me of Grandmère from the Princess Diaries books - so it was great to have that reminder of a series that I haven't read in over ten years. My favourite scene, which involved all three of these fantastic characters, came towards the end. As someone who suffers from a million allergies, it really made me smile - especially given Ashtyn's refusal to accept that anything is wrong, because she is too determined to maintain her Derek-oriented cold-front.

I must admit that I both really loved, and really disliked, the love triangle in this story. I thought that Ashtyn protested her feelings a little bit TOO much... and thought that she just needed to break up with her boyfriend. It really irritated me that she was so stubborn and defiant! The lust between the pair was, however, palpable - perhaps edging the text more towards the New, rather than the Young, Adult market? There was an evident didacticism there, however, with the reminder that sex will not make somebody love you, no matter how much you might want it to - and the hurt that then comes with this realisation. I thought that this was a welcome relief from the insta-love that is so prevalent in fiction today! Despite the more carnal aspects of the novel, the relationship had a really pure feel, accentuated by Derek's desire to help Ashtyn, even though she was adamant that she did not need anyone's help. Towards the end of the novel, when Ashtyn begins to accept her feelings, it does get a bit... soppy. After she had been so independent in the first half of the novel, I was a bit disappointed when she said: `I never believed in love at first sight, until I met Derek. It's all consuming and delicious and wonderful and exciting. At the same time, it makes me nervous and self-conscious and emotional. Love exists. I know it does, because I'm madly, deeply, hopelessly in love.'

Either way, that's only a minor complaint. I really did love this novel. The dual narrative style really helped me to understand both of the protagonists, and their motives... and the novel, as a whole, really made me smile. It was a welcome relief from my academic studies, and I will definitely be looking into some more of Elkeles' novels when I get a bit more free time!

P.S. I received an e-Galley of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Neither my rating, nor my evaluation, have been affected by this agreement!
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5.0 out of 5 stars wild cards....wild hearts, 11 Jan. 2015
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as a major fan of Simone Elkeles' perfect series i was eager to read another of her books and this one doesn't disappoint.
i first borrowed it from the library but not long after starting to read it i knew i was going to add it to my ever growing collection; i so hope she continues this series and at least make it a trilogy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Challenges Stereotypes, 14 April 2014
By 
Emma @ Book Angel Booktopia (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
I love how Wild Cards challenges gender stereotypes with Ashtyn being the talented kicker on a football team; more than that she is a born leader, she is non-judgemental that is to everyone apart from Derek :)

Derek is certainly what I would class as deep, he cultivates a certain image to act as a barrier. Deterring people from getting to close. Following his mother’s death, Derek has been effectively punishing himself, stepping away from the things he loves and not allowing anyone close enough to form attachments. The grief Derek feels over losing his mother is poignantly portrayed within the narrative.

Ashtyn has deep-seated abandonment issues due to her mother’s exit from her life and her father’s subsequent withdrawal. You can appear needy under the surface as she has lacked that emotional connection all her life. She is in fact one of the strongest characters I have encountered.

Both Ashtyn and Derek’s perception, especially regarding each other, is clouded by their personal issues. No matter how deep the connection and attraction they feel for each other. Tragedy has shaped them, however they are letting it define them. It’s more like fate/destiny that Ashtyn and Derek’s lives collide due to the fact that Derek’s stepmom is non other than Ashtyn’s older sister. Can they get past their issues and take a chance?

While the romance is an integral part of the plot, Wild Cards is more focused on the individual character development rather than the romance. The peripheral characters are exceptionally quirky and add a touch of humour to the overall story.

I did feel as if the resolution of certain aspects was a little rushed but no-the-less swoony ;) I can’t say I ever thought I’d enjoy ready about football, lol, but I guarantee you Wild Cards changed my mind ;) Issues, romance and football – who could ask for more ;)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 24 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
I love Simone Elkeles books, she's a talented writer. If you haven't read any of her other books well go buy them now. This book is written in both Ashtyn and Derek's POV, so you feel their emotions and understand the issues they are facing. Ashtyn is the newly appointed girl captain of a male dominated football team. It was a nice change from the norm if I'm honest as it dealt with issues around equality and holding on to your dreams when the odds are against you. Her ex quarterback boyfriend I really didn't like, and was so glad when Derek punched him. Derek's one liner jokes made me chuckle throughout the book. He is such a lovable character yet I did get really frustrated by his constant refusals to get involved or closer to Ashtyn. The story was about these two characters slowly and unknowingly falling in love whilst dealing with their own issues. Read it you will enjoy it xxx
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4.0 out of 5 stars would recommend, 7 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
I actually pretty much enjoyed this book, Ashtyn is one tough little female, making her way in the male world of football, Derek is thrown into her life, when he comes to live with her and her father due to Dereks stepmother being her sister. Right away they are attracted to each other but also irritate each other trying to hide their feelings.
I loved the banter and chemistry between the two, and even though each were dealing with their own issues, Derek was just adorable. Only problem i really had with the book was that i didn't feel ready for it to end. I have read the Fuentes brothers series by this author and i felt they concluded much better with feeling content where they ended, so i'm really hoping there is goin to me more of the Ashtyn and Derek story, it just ended too soon and i felt there was so much more to come for them, it wasn't a cliffhanger but it kinda left me hanging, more please??
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5.0 out of 5 stars loved it, 17 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book.. read it all within a day. I recommend this book ;) especially if you like the bad boys. They both have some serious emotional baggage and help eachother through it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 3 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved this book. The characters where amazing and believable. I will definitely look out for this author again
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heart wrenching, 31 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
Bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick loves a good prank, which unfortunately for him is his downfall, as he gets kicked out of his boarding school for a pig related prank. With his father deployed in a submarine, he has no choice but to live with his ditzy but kind hearted step mother Brandi. Except Brandi's pregnant, so instead of going back to California...Derek's stuck moving in with Brandi's father in Illinois. Things go from bad to worse when a crazy girl stabs his foot with a pitchfork and locks him in the shed...turns out she's Brandi's sister Ashtyn. Derek's counting the days until he can leave, and he doesn't need the family drama or Ashtyn getting in his business.

Ashtyn Parker has lived her whole life with people leaving her, everyone she's cared about has left, and her emotional walls are thicker than mud. Ashtyn happens to be the only girl on her school's football time, and the one thing she needs to escape is a football scholarship. When Ashtyn gets voted team Captain, her boyfriend not only cheats on her but betrays her and her team by joining their rivals team, leaving them with no star quarterback. She needs a new plan but she'll have to trust Derek, and with the attraction growing between them making Derek attempt to push her away, getting his help won't be easy. Derek's got tonnes of secrets, but he just might surprise her.

Okay so my initial impression this was going to be a sappy romance novel with fluff everywhere was wrong. Waaaaaaay wrong.

Ashtyn and Derek are well written with lots of depth, they have loads of emotional scars, and they've been through a lot that's changed them and made them who they are, there's loads of layers to them and the story being told from the alternating points of view of the two of them, allows you to see why each of them did or said something and how it was interpreted by the other. More than once I felt that "I wanna bang their heads together" feeling.

The prose was good, it was very atmospheric, the book had good pace and flow from each view point and chapter, and the information you needed was given concisely. Now to me personally, the plot line was very basic. Bad boy, good girl, thrown together, slow burn attraction, plenty of obstacles and then the big romantic moment. However it's the unique element of having Ashtyn being a girl footballer, seeing her struggle to be accepted, that added the unique and interesting element to this story making it stand out.

I'm sure what Ashtyn experienced in the book, is true to real life. And her courage in the book was truly inspiring. Wild Cards had plenty of romance and cute fluffy moments don't get me wrong, but it has so much substance compared to other romance books. There's pain, there's scars, there's issues, and they're all dealt with respectfully, true to real life and fantastically written.

Wild Cards is at it's core, a romance novel following a basic formula and plot line. But it's so much more. Wild Cards is full of slow burn romance, struggles, pain, football, and it's an incredibly emotional read. Each new horror from Derek's or Ashtyn's past claws at your heart, and it's beautifully written. It was also very sweet and very funny, full of atmospheric prose and a girl kicking ass.

If you like your romance to have some grit and substance, this is the book for you!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 29 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Wild Cards (Kindle Edition)
This is yet another great book from Simone Elkeles I really enjoyed it and I couldn't put the book down. It was a shame that unlike the other books that Simone Elkeles has wrote there wasn't a Epilogue at the end which I expected there would be one so I was disappointed when there wasn't one as I wanted to know what happened and I felt the book was unfinished because of it.
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Better Than Perfect: A Wild Cards Novel
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