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?
I read the first two books of the Perfect Chemistry series and I thoroughly enjoyed them, but I wasn’t excited about those books the way I was excited about Wild Cards. Football was a big deal in my high school, so my fall Fridays were spent at games home and away – it didn’t matter how far we had to road trip after school – we were there. I never played football – that would have been a disaster – but I just fully appreciate stories that focus on what a role the sport plays in high schools like mine. Football players are kind of awesome, but I think they generally get a bad rep in YA lit. They’re usually portrayed as dumb jocks, bullies, or just mean humans – I can only think of a couple books at the moment that have good, strong football playing characters (maybe I’m reading the wrong books??). Anyways, I love Ashtyn and her team who support her through some crazy times. There’s a lot to be said for a group of dudes who respect a girl enough to choose her as captain and then defend her no matter what.
Ashtyn was a great leading lady. One of my favorite contemporaries is Catching Jordan, and Jordan takes up all the room in my heart designated for girl football players. But Ashtyn was surprisingly sweet and vulnerable under her layers of strength and attitude. She’s also very much a high school girl who makes decisions like a high school girl would and I appreciate that.
Derek was hard not to love. He has the same attitude on the outside and the same vulnerability underneath that Ashtyn has - which just made you wonder who was going to be the first to let down their walls. Derek was actually just fun. He pulled awesome pranks, almost everything that came out of his mouth made me smirk, but you just melt when he takes care of his little step brother or cuddles with Ashtyn’s dog.
I had a couple minor issues, with things like how close to being related Derek and Ashtyn were. They don’t actually share bloodlines, but their families are pretty closely related and that skeeved me out at times. Also, Derek has some definite issues trying to get past his mother’s death and we know that Ashtyn’s mom left her – but that doesn’t seem to be a big issue until it’s pointed out as a big issue at the end. That, and a few other parts of the story I would have liked to be developed more. And Derek’s grandmother? What was happening there?
This book is very much about the developing relationship between Derek and Ashtyn and football is the circumstance which pushes them along. This book was very enjoyable and I read it in a day (this is a good book to see silver-lining in bad subway days – I got stuck on the subway both to and from work, which turned out okay because I didn’t want to put this book down). I think it’s going to be great for fans of the Perfect Chemistry series, because it has the same kind of romance, just with football instead of gangs. It’s a story that completely sucks you in, makes you totally melty, and lets you get lost in someone else’s life for a few hours. And sometimes that’s all you really need in a book.