Pepped Up and Wilder by Ali Dean

Pepped Up and Wilder Cover

Fantastic final book in the Pepper Jones six-book series

Pepped Up & Wilder (Pepper Jones #6)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Pages: 203 pages
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

This New Adult novel is the sixth book in a six-book series about Pepper Jones and Jace Wilder, whom we have previously encountered in book 1, PEPPED UP, book 2, ALL PEPPED UP, book 3, PEPPED UP AND READY, book 4, PEP TALKS, and book 5, PEPPED UP FOREVER. The books in this series are not stand-alone, and it is recommended that they be read in order. Note that this review will be a spoiler for the previous 5 books if you have not read them yet.

Pepper and Jace are now in their early 20’s. Jace has recently completed his second season playing professional football as a quarterback for the Browns in Cleveland, Ohio. They have been married almost three years, but most of that time they have spent apart, due to Pepper training and competing all over the world as a potentially Olympic-caliber competitor, and Jace has been both traveling extensively with his team and for paid promotional gigs and public appearances that his control-freak agent swears are increasing his chances to transfer to his team of choice, the Stallions in Denver. Jace and Pepper want to return to their hometown of Brockton, Colorado, very near Denver. Jace’s father and Pepper’s grandmother have homes on the same street in Brockton, where Pepper and Jace were raised as children from the time Jace was four and Pepper three years old.

Pepper and Jace are completely committed to an equal partnership in their marriage, with each living their dream of being a professional athlete. But pursuing their demanding careers is taking a toll on their marriage. They are both sad and lonely at being so frequently apart. In the midst of their distress over the impact of their careers on their marriage, an unexpected, major life event (which it would be a spoiler to reveal) further impacts their marriage in a negative way, and it will take everything they both have to give to pull each other through it.

Fans of this terrific, girl/woman-power, sports-romance series will be delighted with this final Pepper Jones entry. As in the previous books, there is a heavy emphasis on Pepper’s running ambitions, and there are many exciting and inspiring scenes in that regard. As for the romantic relationship between these two attractive, highly sympathetic protagonists, it is great! They meet many difficult challenges as a united front.

Jace has grown hugely across this series, and he really comes into his own in this novel as a truly superior romantic hero. Because of that, their relationship has matured greatly as well.

The ongoing, delightful cast of recurring subcharacters is here again to enjoy, including Pepper’s quirky, loveable grandmother, Jace’s father, Jace’s half-brother, Pepper’s best friend, and a coterie of new and old friends from Pepper’s various running teams and Jace’s new and old friends from football.

As a particular treat, Ms. Dean offers her fans a delightful epilogue set 16 years in the future when Pepper is 40 and Jace is 41, which means this entire series has traversed 24 years. Quite a feat!

As in the previous two books of the series, this book is written from the alternating points of view of Pepper and Jace, which is something I enjoyed very much.

There is very little drinking in this book, and Pepper and Jace are both legally of age now, so it is a non-issue that they drink socially. The few sex scenes are tender and non-graphic and are between the protagonists as a loving, married couple.

I devoured this entire series in less than a week, and I am both happy and sad that I finished the Pepper series today. Happy because I enjoyed it so much, and sad to leave such wonderful characters behind. This is definitely a series I will re-read many times in the future. These books are all “keepers”!

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Romantic Hero: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Setting: 5

Romance Plot: 5

Woman-Power Sports Plot: 5

Writing: 5

Overall: 5