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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Love Can Move Mountains

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Ratings 4.5 out of 5

Spice: 3; one descriptive scene

Sexy Times: 4.5; Zapata does slow burn so well, so much longing, so many stolen glances

When I first read this book in 2018, it was the end of the year and the NFL regular season was coming to a close. I was reading it while watching some games over the holidays and when I saw J.J. Watt, the defensive end for the Texans, I was like, he has to be the physical model for Aiden Graves. Definitely not the emotional model because, at least from social media and sports reports, Watt seems like a very lovely, caring gentleman (and if you don’t follow him on Insta you should because his baby and dogs are the cutest things).

They are reissuing The Wall of Winnipeg and Me next month with the most adorable cover and I signed up to get a NetGalley copy so I could reread it. It was such a joy, I had forgotten how much I loved Vanessa: she has spirit, she has spunk, she works so hard, and she just tries to do right by the people in her life. After two years of working for Aiden, barely being acknowledged by him, she has saved enough and is going to strike out and be her own boss.

Aiden, on the other hand, is not very lovable at the beginning of the book, in fact, I kind of hate him. This is true for a lot of Zapata heros. Aiden isn’t exactly Vanessa’s enemy, but he isn’t her friend, and the reader isn’t sure why she likes him really, aside from his fabulous trapezius muscles. But Zapata's Strength as a writer is how she makes the hero grow and change. Not because they are forced to, but because they want to. They begin to see the world through the other person’s eyes and they want that person to like them. And a lot of the conflict that happens in this book I think will be familiar to a lot of people in relationships, any relationship. In the end, not really a spoiler since this is a romance, the hero reveals all to the heroine and they ride off into the sunset.

Zapata manages to mix the high fantasy of romance, hello falling in love with a football player who needs a marriage of convenience, with almost an everyday story of marriage. I feel like I am seeing a lot more of that in the books I am reading and I don’t know if that is the way the romance world is going or if that is just what I am searching out. Regardless, I love it. We want fantasy, but we also want there to be something we can identify with in these books.

If you have read any other books by Zapata you will know that they are not fast and they are not super heavy on dialogue. A lot of what happens is internal to Vanessa; these are single POV books. And they are also very slooooow burn. Your patience is rewarded, but if you are looking for hot and heavy right away, Zapata is not the author for you. Ever. Also, if you are in the process of training for a marathon, you might skip it. I can't decide if the running storyline would be a good motivator or not.

In terms of Zapata’s books, Winnipeg is probably my 2nd favorite. I am a bit of an outliner I think, but Luna and the Lie is my favorite (hello Charlie Hunnam clone) and then Kulti after Winnipeg. So if you are looking to dip your toe in the Zapata water, I suggest you start with this book or Kulti. After that, put this book, Luna, and Under Locke on your list.

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