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Book Review of Mariana Zapata's Super-Slow Burn Romances

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)


So, I know that typically, we choose a single book to review on Fridays, but instead, I want to share FOUR books by one of my favorite new-to-me authors. Mariana Zapata writes super-slow burn romances. These are long books—the shortest here is just under 500 pages—which makes for plenty of space to develop characters and relationships. While I'm working on Zapata's backlist, here are the four I've read so far:


Book cover of Mariana Zapata's The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) and Hands Down (Bookshop.org)


I read Mariana Zapata's The Wall of Winnipeg and Me with @steamroomgals. This novel is about a professional football player and a fake marriage. Aiden Graves, a Canadian citizen, asks his former assistant Vanessa Mazur to marry him so he can keep his residency in the U.S. regardless of his employment by his professional football team. After two years of indifferent treatment by Aiden, Vanessa is at first reluctant, but he offers to pay off her college loans, and she's in. This one is a slow, slow burn, told completely from Vanessa's point of view. Aiden is not a big talker, but that makes their slowly-built relationship even more satisfying.


Then, I read Hands Down, which is about Aiden and Vanessa's roommate Zac, who started on Aiden's team. As the book begins, Bianca, who grew up with Zac, hasn't seen him for years and basically considers their friendship over. But her beloved cousin asks her to reach out to Zac, and their friendship starts to grow again. While this one didn't capture me quite as much as the other three, it was so much fun to see the continuation of Winnipeg.


Book cover of Mariana Zapata's From Lukov with Love

From Lukov with Love (Bookshop.org)


From Lukov with Love? Perfection. This one focuses on the enemies-to-lovers story of Jasmine Santos and Ivan Lukov, two figure skaters who shift from competitors to partners. Jasmine seems to be at the tail-end of a promising-but-never-successful career, while Ivan is riding high on a seemingly never-ending series of gold medals. Jasmine is contemplating whether she should call it quits when she receives a strange offer: skate with Ivan for one year; then, he'll help her find a new partner.


She takes the offer, despite their mutual enmity, and then finds herself coming to understand Ivan as quite different from the man she thought she knew.


Figure skating + enemies to lovers romance? Yes, please.


Book cover of Mariana Zapata's Wait for It

Wait for It (Bookshop.org)


This is my latest Zapata read, and I absolutely loved it. Diana Casillas is raising her nephews as a single mom. After the death of her brother and his wife, she couldn't imagine anyone else taking care of them. So, as a single parent with help from both sets of grandparents, Diana moves to a new neighborhood where she works to live up to her brother's example.


She meets her neighbor Dallas under poor circumstances: she had just stopped three men from beating up his brother in the road between their houses. At first, he seems completely unfriendly, but as she gets to know him, she discovers how giving he can be.


Here, Zapata does such a great job conveying the joys and difficulties of being a parent and of trying to do what's best even when that's not clear. There are some complicated family dynamics and some appearances from characters from Zapata's books, which I love.

 

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