Review of Elite by Rachel Van Dyken four-stars
Elite by Rachel Van Dyken
ISBN: 9781455554171
Series: Eagle Elite #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 14th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Coming of Age, General
Pages: 288
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For Tracey Rooks, life with her grandparents on a Wyoming farm has always been simple. But after her grandmother's death, Tracey is all her grandfather has. So when Eagle Elite University announces its annual scholarship lottery, Tracey jumps at the opportunity to secure their future and enters. She isn't expecting much-but then she wins. And life as she knows it will never be same . . .

The students at Eagle Elite are unlike any she's ever met . . . and they refuse to make things easy for her. There's Nixon, gorgeous, irresistible, and leader of a group that everyone fears: The Elect. Their rules are simple. 1. Do not touch The Elect. 2. Do not look at The Elect. 3. Do not speak to The Elect. No matter how hard she tries to stay away, The Elect are always around her and it isn't long until she finds out the reason why they keep their friends close and their enemies even closer. She just didn't realize she was the enemy -- until it was too late.

Elite by Rachel Van Dyken

Elite by Rachel Van Dyken

Eagle Elite 1 of 8

Elite is the first novel in the Eagle Elite Series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken, published by Forever Publishing on July 9, 2013. This also happens to be the first book that I have read by this author. I found this novel during one of my frequent, and numerous, visits to my local book store (see Trip to Portland). As I usually do, I first scour the bargain section looking to score a deal on a variety of titles and authors. It was during one of my bargain section walkabouts that I first noticed this novel. I can’t exactly pinpoint what drew me to first pick this book up- as you can see, there is a lot of intensity between both the characters on the cover, and the color scheme hints at mystery, passion, and intrigue. After reviewing the synopsis of the novel , which basically touches upon my initial first opinion of the book, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. After all, I am all for discovering new authors.

The book starts off strong with the protagonist, Tracey Rooks, arriving at Eagle Elite University and meeting the university’s “Elect” members. The Elect, consisting of four predictably good-lucking guys, are apparently running the University and have a strange affinity for rules. In fact, you will hear these rules mentioned repeatedly throughout the book. I will admit to being intrigued by the Elect and their strange dynamic. Their parents are all in a position of power, which results in the University being watched by armed security guards. They are also, apparently, able to take control of when you’re allowed to eat lunch, what you’re able to eat for lunch, and limit the number of times you use an elevator. These bizarre actions are explained later in the book, by Nixon the protagonist’s love interest and leader of the Elect, as a way to “keep the peace” around campus. He continues to demonstrate unusual ways to respond to safety and peace by bullying Tracey throughout the novel. His constant barrage of personal attacks on her person results in Tracey being on the receiving end of peer brutality and humiliation. Nixon later explains that he humiliates her in an effort to “protect” her. Unfortunately, he does a rather poor job explaining the vagueness behind this reasoning. But, I kept on reading. As Polonius once stated in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “there’s a method to his madness”. Considering this a possibility, I kept reading.

We later learn that Tracey Rooks is the only heir to one of three different mafia families. I imagine this accounts for the armed guards at Eagle Elite University and the domineering and superior attitude of the Elect, as they also happen to be embroiled in the three families. So, you would think that this discovery would push Nixon and Tracey closer together and thus end the bullying, right? Nope. Nixon continues being an ass to Tracey, despite the confessed feelings between the two. Tracey once again begins to feel sorry for herself rather than rallying and fighting back. It is a little frustrating, but I suppose as the series unravels, Tracey will begin to grow stronger as a character. There is a lot of promise between Nixon and Tracey, and their families provide constant mystery and contribute to the fast-paced plot. The promise of more danger and intrigue at the end of the novel did incite me to purchase the next two books in the series.

I would say that despite the constant mention of rules (which I think are my least favorite part of the book) and the irrational bullying on Nixon’s part in an effort to “protect” Tracey, the novel itself was well-written, the characters were strong, and the plot moved along nicely. I find myself intrigued to discover what the Alfero, Abandonato, and De Lange mafia families will find themselves embroiled in next. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced romance that includes suspense and intrigue. For another review on a novel that is less romance and more suspense check out my review of Uninvited by Sophie Jordan!

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four-stars