WILD CARDS - Simone Elkeles Normally with Ms Elkeles, you know what you're going to get. Nothing too serious, a few touches of cliche, but generally a romance that is sexy, entertaining and filled with hilarious banter. I might not be the ideal reader for this kind of novel, but I confess that I've enjoyed her books in the past and fully expected to find myself a new guilty pleasure with [b:Wild Cards|13065327|Wild Cards (Wild Cards, #1)|Simone Elkeles|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1368194466s/13065327.jpg|18230950]. Well, I'm not sure what happened here but this just doesn't have the compulsive readability of Elkeles' other books. I never expected fine literature, but I'd hoped for more than this.

The writing of this new series takes a huge step back from the style of the other books I've enjoyed ([b:Chain Reaction|8662836|Chain Reaction (Perfect Chemistry, #3)|Simone Elkeles|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327881446s/8662836.jpg|13534308], for one) and is an annoying example of the tells being very different from the shows. We're given the usual tells of bad boy meets good girl. Though, this time the good girl is a football player, which is a bit different. I liked that Ashtyn wasn't your typical heroine and I was intrigued by how the author would handle the storyline of a girl becoming captain of the football team and carrying out a typically male role (plus, the sexism that unfortunately tends to come with something like that). But what we're told - about Derek being a bad boy and Ashtyn being a star footballer - is nothing like the way they act. Derek is referred to as "trouble" and "bad" by the other characters but I can't for one second see why. His most nefarious deeds seem to be the sexy smiles he's always flashing at Ashtyn.

It's the same with how much they supposedly like one another. All tell, no show. In fact, it happens so quickly and unnaturally that I'm not surprised there's no show - because, frankly, what was to show? There's this thing that authors seem to be doing (it happens a lot in NA) that seems to be a way around being slapped with the instalove label, but it actually isn't much better. While they're not exactly instantly in love, they are instantly obsessed, instantly pining, instantly imagining futures together and/or instantly unable to imagine their lives without the other. It's so strange. The characters go so quickly from getting a glimpse of one another for the first time to becoming so obsessed with everything the other person does. Even if this is a realistic depiction of some teen relationships, there's no fun or tension in reading about it.

The characters in this were, for me, particularly bad. Derek is literally described by Ashtyn as being completely free of flaws or blemishes... O_o ??? But... flaws and blemishes are what make characters interesting and well-rounded, they make them human and unique, they're the kind of things that make us care about them and laugh with them and cry for them. Flawless characters are bad characters. One-dimensional paper dolls. I knew fairly early into this book that I hadn't found a new favourite and it was mostly because of that line. I was already finding my interest waning when the cheesy language and cliches started rolling in.

I have to say: pet names just aren't hot. Not for me, anyway. And I think "sugar pie" has to be my least favourite yet. Honestly, I would not find it sexy if a man called me that. At best, I would laugh. Then came Ashtyn's coyness: "I want to look in his eyes... only because the colour is so pretty, of course!" (or something like that). I like romance when it's done well or at least done in an entertaining way but I think I need to decide to make this my last time with this author. The books seem to get worse the more I read. Whatever I'm looking for, it clearly isn't here.