(Actual Rating: 2.5 stars)
As the saying (kind of) goes, this ain’t my first Simone Elkeles rodeo. I’ve read her work before, so when I picked Wild Cards up at the library I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. I knew, for example, that the cast list would likely include a Cocky Dream Boy; a Feisty Hot Girl resistant to Cocky Dream Boy’s advances; and Feisty Hot Girl’s Jerk Boyfriend, whose primary purpose is to serve as a foil to Cocky Dream Boy.
I knew that Cocky Dream Boy and Feisty Hot Girl would initially butt heads yet feel an undeniable attraction to one another. I knew there would be a surplus of flirtation, daring banter, and attempts to one-up each other. I knew there would be cheesy monologues and steamy love scenes. I knew, too, that in the end the characters would have a Huge Epiphany resulting in Grand Declarations of the Transforming Power of Love.
Because I did know what I was signing up for, I enjoyed the book more than I otherwise would have. If I’d been expecting a fresh new take on relationships or a subtle and sophisticated romance, I would have been disappointed. As it was, I knew going into it that a lot of the dialogue would be ridiculous and that the intimate scenes would be hot but not exactly realistic. I was able to appreciate the book as it was and not hope for it to be something more.
Therefore, it wasn’t a problem for me to sit back and allow myself to be entertained by the plot and the banter, only occasionally cringing at lines like, “I can’t promise you everythin’ you want,” followed by, “Just promise me tonight, Derek.” I was able to ignore the weak areas and focus instead on the appealing parts. Ashtyn’s friends, for example, though given limited page time, have a ton of personality. I also liked the fact that Ashtyn is a nicely balanced character – she’s a strong, tough football player, but she also has a softer, more vulnerable side, getting freaked out by spiders and letting herself cry over a boy. Derek, too, is a likable character, quick-witted, sexy, and with a soft spot for his five-year-old stepbrother.
So, bottom line: if you’re expecting the next great American novel, this probably isn’t for you. If you’re ok with a book that has some flaws but will keep you interested and add some spice to your Friday night, then Wild Cards isn’t a bad choice.