Paperback Launch Day Blitz, Reviews, & Giveaway: Elite: Rachel Van Dyken

Elite (Eagle Elite #1)
by Rachel Van Dyken
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When I won the annual Eagle Elite College Scholarship lottery, I was thrilled. After all, my grandma had just died and I wanted to take care of my aging grandpa -- he couldn't be a farmer in Wyoming forever. And graduating from Eagle Elite meant opportunity.

But I wasn't counting on meeting Nixon.

Nor was I counting on the rules of the Elect.

1. Do not touch The Elect.

2. Do not look at The Elect.

3. Do not speak to The Elect.
And worst of all? Don't discover the secret they hide, because in the end, you may just realize... it's about you.

*This is a New Adult Book, blood, violence, cursing, sexual references, and drug use. Not recommended for those under 17.*

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“Are you lost?” a deep voice asked from behind me. I turned around and quickly came face to face with the same guy I’d seen before. Only this time he had three friends with him, not one. Lucky me.

“Nope. Apparently I live in the United States.” I gave him my best smile and tried to lift my heavy suitcase with my free hand. It didn’t budge and I almost fell over. Awesome.

“I’m Nixon.” He moved to stand in front of me. His icy stare did weird things to my body. I’m pretty sure what I was experiencing was called a panic attack. Every part of my body felt hot and then cold, as if I was going to explode any minute.

“Tracey, but everyone calls me Trace.” I held out my hand.

He stared at it like I was diseased.

I quickly pulled it back and wiped it on my jeans.


“What?” I took a step back.

The guy from before named Chase left the waiting group and approached us. “He’s right. As cute as you are, Farm Girl, someone needs to tell you the rules.”

“Can it be fast?” I asked with an overwhelming sense of irritation. I was tired, jet-lagged, and about five seconds away from crying again. I’d never done public school, let alone a private Elite school where the guys were tattooed, pierced, and better looking than Abercrombie models.

“You hear that, Chase?” Nixon laughed. “She likes it fast.”

“Pity.” Chase winked. “I’d love to give it to her slow.”

I gulped. The two guys behind them laughed hysterically and high-fived each other.

“The rules.” Chase began circling me slowly, making me feel like one of those carcasses vultures feed on. Fantastic.

“No speaking to the Elect, unless you’ve been asked to speak to them.”

“Who are the—”

“Nope. You’ve already broken a rule. I’m speaking, New Girl.” Chase smirked. “Geez, Nixon, this one’s going to be hard to break in.”

“They always are,” Nixon replied, lifting my chin with his hand. “But I think I’ll enjoy this one.”

Okay. It was clear someone had just dropped me into a horror movie where I was going to be offed at any minute.

“If an Elect talks to you, never make eye contact. Because, technically, you don’t exist. You’re just a pathetic excuse for a human being, and at this school, you’re a real tragedy. You see, while one of the Elect is out running for president and basically ruling the free world, you’ll be lucky to be working for one of our companies. You follow the rules, and maybe we’ll throw you a bone.”

Furious, I glared at him, ignoring their second rule. “Is that all?”

“No,” Nixon answered for Chase. This time his touch was smooth as he caressed my arm. I tried to jerk away. His face lit up with a smile, and honestly, it was like staring at a fallen angel. Nixon was gorgeous. He was an ass, but he was a gorgeous ass. “You feel this?” His hand continued moving up my arm until he reached my shoulder, and then his hand moved to my neck and his thumb grazed my trembling lips. “Memorize it now, because as of this moment, you can’t touch us. We are untouchable. If you as much as sneeze in our direction, if you as much as breathe the same air in my atmosphere, I will make your life hell. This touch, what you feel against your skin, will be the only time you feel another human being as powerful as me near you. So like I said, feel it, remember it, and maybe one day, your brain will do you the supreme favor of forgetting what it felt like to have someone like me touching you. Then, and only then, will you be able to be happy with some mediocre boyfriend and pathetic life.”

A few tears slipped down my cheek before I could stop them. I knew I needed to appear strong in front of Nixon and Chase. I just . . . I didn’t have it in me, not when he would say such cruel things. I choked back a sob and stared them down, willing the rest of the tears to stay in. I didn’t care who these guys were. They had no right to treat me like this, though it still stung. I so desperately wanted to fit in.

He jerked his hand away from my face. “Pathetic. Are you going to cry? Really?” Nixon scowled and held out his hand to Chase. Chase handed him some Purell.

“Don’t want to get farm on my hands, you understand.” Nixon smiled such a mean smile that I literally had to clench my hands at my sides to keep from punching him in the face and getting expelled.

“Don’t even think about it, New Girl. You touch me, I tell the dean, who just so happens to be Phoenix’s dad. We control the teachers because, guess what? My dad pays for everything. Now, if you have any questions about what we talked about here, please direct them to Tex and Phoenix, ’kay?”

The two guys who had been standing back from us waved and then flipped me off.

“That’s how they say hello,” Nixon explained. “All right, Chase, it seems our job here is done. Oh, and Farm Girl, don’t forget. Classes start tomorrow. Welcome to Hell.”

(Elite from Nixon/Chase’s POV) 
Coming Spring 2015

Chapter One 

I watched as the parade of cars made their way through the black iron gates, as if somehow those gates would protect them if the country went to war. Funny, they had no clue that the war—Lucifer himself, was already parading around inside, safe from the police- the feds- anyone who would be a threat. 

Safe from everyone but me. 

My eyes flickered to Phoenix on my right, he grinned as a new girl walked up to him and gave him a flirty wave. 

I elbowed him hard in the ribs. 

His grin turned sour as he glared at the girl and flipped her off. 

Remember your place. 

I’d said it once, twice, a million times to the guys, and they were still struggling with the idea that they weren’t here to go to school, they weren’t here to make friends. We weren’t at peace. We were in a freaking war zone. 

And Phoenix’s family was our only key to redemption. 

“That seems to be the last of them.” Chase’s cool gaze surveyed the main road that led into campus. It was easier on security to have one road in and one road out. Too bad life wasn’t that convenient. 

If someone didn’t belong—it would take us minutes, scratch that, seconds to eliminate them, their family, all while making it look like a very unfortunate accident. 

“Wait,” Tex squinted towards the iron gates, “I think there’s one more car.” 

“The hell there is.” I muttered, “I counted the cars, I’ve looked at the lists, we aren’t missing anyone.” 

Chase yanked the list out of my hand and started reading through the names of all the freshman enrollees. His grin made me about lose my shit as he lifted his head and handed back the paper. 

“I hear Wyoming’s beautiful this time of year.” 

“What?” I jerked the list away and started greedily reading through the names. 

One stood out. 

Trace Rooks, Female, 18, Casper, Wyoming. 

“Great.” I dropped the list onto the ground and smirked, “A girl who probably smells like cow shit. What’s her background?” 

Nobody answered. 

I said it louder, this time grinding my teeth together. 

Tex was the first to answer, “We couldn’t really find any.” 

“Couldn’t. Really. Find. Any.” I repeated. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” 

“Look,” Tex shook his head, “We have Sergio on it, but the girl doesn’t really have a lot of information about her. Parents dead, Grandma dead, Grandpa her only living relative and somehow her social as well as her birth certificate were both lost.” 

“Lost.” I licked my lips. I told my head not to go there, told my heart to stay in my damn chest and stop hoping as images flooded my mind. Dark hair, dark eyes, “Nixon, I’ll save you.” 

“Dude, you okay?” Chase elbowed me. 

“Let’s go welcome her to Eagle Elite.” 

Nobody moved. 

“I said,” I started marching towards the girls’ dorms, “Let’s go welcome her.” 

“Why do I have a feeling this is a really bad idea?” Tex said under his breath. 

“For once, Tex, keep your mouth shut and stay in the background, paste a shit eating grin on your face and let me and Chase deal with this. Do you think you can do that? Hmm?” 

“Take a Xanax.” Phoenix grumbled. 

I sent a seething glare in his direction. 

He mumbled a curse and walked off with Tex to wait by the tree while we continued the next few feet to the girls’ dorms. 

The car was a rental. 

The grandpa was ancient. 

The girl was…young. 

And she had shit as belongings. Her suitcase was covered with stickers, her grandpa handed her a small box, and I could have sworn I saw a tear escape her eye and roll down her smooth cheek. 

“Hell no.” I grumbled, “She’ll be destroyed here.” 

“Won’t last five minutes.” Chase agreed. 

“Tears.” I wiped my face with my hands, “Tell me I’m not seeing tears.” 

“Girls don’t cry here.” 

“They don’t.” I agreed. 

“She isn’t like them.” 


“We need Mo.” 

I laughed at that, “We need a miracle.” With a curse, I quickly dialed the number for orientation and made arrangements for the New Girl to be moved to the United States room. Mo was supposed to be on that same floor. I figured she needed all the help she could get. No way would little Wyoming survive the year with anyone else, not that I was happy about it. I mean in hindsight that was probably my first mistake. 

I’d officially invited her into my life—by way of my sister. 

“New girl’s here.” I said loud enough for Tracey to turn around and gape. “So squeaky clean and innocent. Like a little lamb, right, Chase?” I tilted my head and offered her a smirk. 

The old man reached in his jacket. It was a move I knew well. Another clue. He wasn’t what he said he was. He wasn’t who he said he was. As if noticing my calculating glare, he removed his hand and offered a forced smile, “A welcoming committee? This place sure is nice.” 

I had to respect his control. The way he protectively stood in front of Tracey as if he was the only thing standing in the way of my devouring her. 

“Is there a problem?” He scratched his head, causing his shirt sleeve to fall, revealing a small tattoo. One I’d seen as a child but couldn’t place. 

“Do I know you?” I blurted. 

He laughed, “Know any farmers out in Wyoming?” 

It was his tone that convinced me, the way his shook his head slightly, waiting for my challenge. It was the same look my Uncle gave me when he wanted me to stop pushing. 

It was the look that my dad taught me when I was ten and witnessed my first torture. 

The girl was still staring at us. Easy target. I’d leave the old man alone, he reminded me too much of mine. And I didn’t need that reminder, not now. 

I lifted my arms and stretched lazily. 

The girls eyes went wide as she stared at my body. 

Chase hit me in the stomach. 

I sauntered forward and tilted her chin towards me, closing her mouth in the process. “Much better,” I licked my lips and fought the urge to kiss her. Yeah, I was losing my shit. “We’d hate for our charity case to choke on an insect on her first day.” Her lips trembled as she looked from me to her Grandpa. I released her before she could do anything, and walked past, with Chase in tow. 

I needed to talk to the girl at registration anyways. We disappeared behind the building, but I’d be back. I just needed the Grandpa to leave. 

Within seconds the rental car was driving away. And the girl as all mine. My heart thudded against my chest, and for a second, I regretted what I was about to do. 

But every possible outcome ended with either her death, or her in danger. And for some reason, I didn’t want someone like her at Eagle Elite. She didn’t belong in my world. 

She deserved a picket fence. 

A husband. 

A good college experience without classmates who’d rather see her commit suicide than survive the next four years. 

They would destroy her. 

And she would make it so damn easy to do so. 

The only way—was to beat them to it. To be the first, marking her as our target, our play-thing. 

Nobody messed with what was mine. 

And in the end, nobody would mess with her. They’d allow me to entertain them with her innocence. I’d dangle her in front of them like a carrot, and at the end of the day, she’d be untouchable. 

I sighed as she looked up at the building gaping like someone who’d been homeschooled and never seen a sky scraper before. 

She was too skinny. 

I made a mental note to get her one of my access cards—she didn’t need to know how much they cost—or that every single student at EE would kill to have one. Mo would take care of the rest. 

She’d eat with us. 

She’d want for nothing. 

It was the least I could do after what I was about to make her endure. 

Licking my lips I approached her again, this time, damning myself to hell with each step I took. “Are you lost?” 

“Nope.” She grinned, damn it made her prettier. “Apparently I live in the United States.” With a shrug she tried and failed to lift her heavy suitcase and nearly toppled over onto her cute ass. 

I muffled a laugh, knowing that Chase was doing the exact same thing. Being mean to her would be like kicking a puppy. But the world was ugly. I just hated that I would be her tutor in the ways of reality—her prince of darkness. 

Damn, I would have done anything to be the hero. 

“I’m Nixon.” I stood directly in front of her, shifting my eyes from her poorly fitting clothes to her ugly shoes. 

“Tracey, but everyone calls me Trace.” She held out her hand. 

I itched to touch it. 

To touch her skin. 

Instead, I scowled, shook her hand, then wiped that same hand on my jeans as if she was diseased. 


“What?” She took a step back. 

Chase moved past me, “He’s right. As cute as you are, Farm Girl, someone needs to tell you the rules.” 

Her gaze narrowed, “Can it be fast?” 

Yeah, again, I almost lost my mind. Chase was probably ready to shit his pants. The last person that talked back to him was Phoenix and that ended with a few broken bones and a trip to the dentist. 

“You hear that Chase?” I said amused, “She likes it fast.” 

“Pity,” Chase took a step closer, nearly touching her with his body, “I’d love to give it to her slow.” His eyes raked her in, as if she was the first girl he’d ever seen in his entire existence. Jealousy surged through me. What he hell? She wasn’t his. Not that she was mine, but still. He was standing too close, too close. 

“The rules.” He stepped back. My heart beat returned to normal, “No speaking to the Elect, unless you’ve been asked to speak to them.” He circled around her, staring a little long at her ass before he continued. 

“Who are the— “ 

“Nope. You’ve already broken a rule. I’m speaking, New Girl.” Chase smirked. “Geez, Nixon, this one’s going to be hard to break in.” 

“They always are.” I said without taking my eyes from her, “But I think I’ll enjoy this one.” The first true thing I’d said. I would enjoy it too much. I’d enjoy her too much, because she reminded me of someone I used to know. Someone who offered to save me, when I was already past saving, someone who wiped my tears, and cried as if they were her own. 

Chase continued with the rules. Making me sicker as her face continued to fall. 

Finally she asked, “Is that all?”

“No.” Raw desire pulsed through me as I approached her, needing to touch her, needing to make sure she was real even though I knew I was acting like a complete and utter lunatic. Chase and I would have words later. He knew me better than I knew myself sometimes. I was going too far, pushing myself, pushing him. 

My hand caressed her face, then moved down her smooth neck to her shoulder. I wanted to claim her, to possess her, to make her scream—but not with fear, with utter ecstasy. I had no idea who she was, but she made me want. And that was the problem. 

For the first time in years. I wanted. 

I wasn’t allowed to want. 

I had to die to myself. 

Because in the grand scheme of things? It wasn’t about me. It was about blood, family, protection. Blood in, blood out. 

Her eyes dilated. Furious that she’d reacted so easily, upset with myself for making my own body suffer, I snapped. 

“You feel this? Memorize it now, because as of this moment, you can’t touch us. We are untouchable. If you as much as sneeze in our direction, if you as much breathe the same air in my atmosphere. I will make your life hell. This touch, what you feel against your skin, will be the only time you feel another human being as powerful as me near you. So like I said, feel it, remember it, and maybe one day, your brain will do you the supreme favor of forgetting what it felt like to have someone like me touching you. Then, and only then, will you be able to be happy with some mediocre boyfriend and pathetic life.” Away from me. Away from it all. Safe. 

A few more tears escaped down her cheek. 

And I knew in that moment. It was the beginning of the end. 

My end. 

My downfall. 

My demise. 
One of the things I love about Rachel’s writing is that each series is so different from the others. They are not versions of the same formula, nor are they predictable. I’ve heard a lot of hype about this series and was excited to finally start reading it. 

Eagle Elite is no normal college, though it is hard to get into and the student body is made up of some very prestigious names. When Tracey Rooks wins a scholarship to the secretive institution, she leaves everything she knows in Wyoming to move to campus in Chicago. 

Campus is run by Nixon and his group of friends, known as the Elect. They rule with a series of regulations and a healthy dose of intimidation. Nixon himself writes the rules, stands as judge, and commands respect from everyone around him. 

As Trace attempts to adjust to life on campus and away from her grandfather’s ranch, the ridicule, hazing and bullying on campus is volatile -- when she was around Nixon and his friends she was ignored, but when she is outside their protection she finds herself targeted by the general population. 

Nixon is so hot and cold with Trace. One day he’s joining in on the ridicule pointed at Trace, and the next he is stepping in as her protector. The back and forth, especially in the beginning, was hard to read and a couple times had me wondering if Nixon would be able to change my negative opinion on him. 

Trace has a propensity to burst into tears when under stress or upset. Understandable with as out of her element as she finds herself in those first few weeks at Eagle Elite. But after a while, I found myself hoping that she would grow a backbone and drop some of the naivete about what was going on around her. Because it was clear to me what was going on LONG before it was disclosed to her.

But beyond the Romeo/Juliet type romance that bursts into flame, there is so much family drama going on that the character traits that initially rubbed me the wrong way were forgotten in the drama. And as we get further into the action, I forgot that there were character traits that rubbed me the wrong way. The chain of events facing all the characters not only explained some of the motivation behind their actions, but also explained what exactly was going on at Eagle Elite. 

The only other thing I can say about this book is that if you read Elite, be prepared to read Elect and Entice as soon as possible because the story continues in each. The cliffhanger ending had me reaching for Elect almost as soon as I read the final words of Elite. And as I have since finished reading Elect (between finishing Elite and writing this review) I can say that most of the questions I had lingering at the end of Elite ARE answered in Elect, as well as a whole new set of issues with the Families. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a series that you really want to go in blindly. I remember when it first came out and I read the synopsis, I was clueless. As word of mouth spread and I later read Bang Bang that which is a mid series stand alone to allow people to jump into the series, I now know what it is really all about. But it is still fun watching all the secrets, lies and hidden elements of their world slowly be exposed.

When farm girl Trace Rooks wins the annual Eagle Elite college scholarship she has no idea what she is really getting into. She is thrust into a world with a class system, rules, and many people with cruel intentions. From the minute she arrives she is on the radar of the group that runs the school...Nixon and his cohort, Chase, Tex and Phoenix. And she also ends up rooming with Nixon's sister, Monroe.

Poor Trace has a difficult transition into this world and nothing is really what it seems. Nixon and his group alternates between tormenting her and protecting her. But something keeps drawing Nixon to her, and Chase as well.  Nixon ran extremely hot and cold, but had underlying reasons and obligations. He was handsome, powerful, controlling, and could alternate quickly between cruel, closed off, and protective. Trace was pretty naive, emotional, and impulsive. She was lost for much of the story as she had no idea what she was really involved in and all of the players kept her off balance. And there were inconsistencies in her past that she is slowly becoming aware of.

Together they were a mess. It was hard to keep up with if they were ignoring, fighting or just hurting the other at any given point and it could change rapidly. There was a lot of push and pull and since many reasons were hidden, it was hard for Trace (and us) to figure out what was really going on under the surface. I was equally drawn to the characters and annoyed by them at the same time. Their behavior gave me whiplash.

This whole story is full of secrets, drama, hidden agendas, and danger. The depth of the situation slowly unravels as the story goes on and Trace is gradually brought into the loop.

This is the type of book you pick up to just escape into another world. It pulls you in and is fast paced and has many twists. The external drama regarding the social system at the school and family drama often took over the romantic aspect of the story. But there were relationships forming: Trace and Nixon in their on again/off again situation. Trace and Chase is a more friendly platonic, but still close bond with potential for more. Monroe and Tex were circling around each other.  I felt like the relationships were not really fully developed and some of it seemed to happen too fast or changed too rapidly. It seemed like the relationships were more one dimensional, while the family ties were quite layered and at times almost overwhelming to keep straight. But with that being said, this is just book one and I know it will all firm up in future books. Since I read Bang Bang already, I have already seen a bit into the future with these characters. And I knew that after reading Elite it was going to be necessary to go right into Elect to continue Nixon, Trace, and Chase's story and also look forward to more of  Tex, Monroe, and Phoenix in the future.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Series on GoodreadsAmazon, and B&N

Bang Bang can be considered a stand alone novella

Enforce (#1.5) Elite inNixon/Chase's POV
Ember(#5) Phoenix
Elude(#6) Sergio
Rachel Van Dyken

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at 

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