What can I say about Simone Elkeles? She is a master of the dual viewpoint. Ever since I read LEAVING PARADISE I knew her books would fill my TBR shelves. And yes, I’ve read every single title she’s published.
Because, as I have previously mentioned, I’m a sucker for series books.
I had the great pleasure to meet Simone at ALA last week and only needed to find a free day to inhale my advanced reader copy of her latest YA offering.
WILD CARDS begins a new series for Elkeles, one that centers on a high school football team struggling to reach the ‘next level’ and is sure to delight her legion of fans. As with the PERFECT CHEMISTRY series, the love story here is gritty and complicated, yet compelling enough to make the pages fly by.
Derek ‘The Fitz’ Fitzpatrick is a phenom quarterback with Division I scholarships whose military father is in a nuclear sub on the bottom of the ocean. His mother died of cancer two years prior–alone, because Derek didn’t leave practice to be at her side when she breathed her last; his guilt drove him to quit football forever. He’s just been expelled from prep school in California and his pregnant stepmother is moving him to suburban Chicago so she can be closer to her estranged family while Derek’s dad is deployed.
Arriving in Fremont, Derek meets Ashtyn, his stepmother’s younger sister–she’s a senior in high school, too. Oh, and captain of the Fremont football team.
You read that right. Ashtyn’s been the kicker on Varsity since her freshman year and just got voted captain–ahead of her star-quarterback boyfriend, Landon.
Derek and Ashtyn have both suffered abandonment, and neither is eager to experience it again. Derek’s ‘love-’em-and-leave-em’ attitude doesn’t mesh with Ashtyn’s need to be loved, so immediately they are at odds despite an overwhelming attraction. The stakes raise when Landon leaves both Ashtyn and Fremont High to transfer to their rival school, crushing Ashtyn’s dreams of a state championship.
Determined to carry the team forward, Ashtyn begs Derek to drive her to Texas for the Elite football camp she has been invited to attend. He reluctantly agrees, mostly because he can’t imagine keeping his hands off of her on the trip–and he knows he’ll only end up breaking her heart like everyone else in her life.
Excerpt from the book: “I wake up with a hard-on. And my arm around Ashtyn. We’re spooning like and old married couple and her long hair is in my face. The flowery smell of her perfume reminds me that while Ashtyn talks tough and is a football player, she’s one hundred percent female. I did my best to stay on my side of the bed, but she kept moving closer. And closer. Then she told me she was cold and asked me to hold her, so I did.
That was my first mistake.
I quickly take my arm off her and manage to get some space between us. I need to cool off. She was half-asleep when she asked me to hold her, so hopefully she won’t remember. I’m not about to play her temporary boyfriend until we get to Texas.”
While at the football camp, Landon makes Ashtyn’s life hell–and her discovery that Derek is a renown quarterback turns her world upside down. Ashtyn will do anything to get Derek onto Fremont’s team–even if it means trusting him with her heart.
As with PERFECT CHEMISTRY there is some heat to this YA romance. It doesn’t get all smexy, but it doesn’t exactly fade-to-black; it’s recommended for readers at the 9th grade and above. Personally, I loved it and look forward to the next Fremont title–because now I NEED to know how the team fares in the season.
WILD CARDS is due for release in late September/early October–just in time for the high school football playoffs, I guess. You can pre-order it now.