The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Self Published/ February 2016
Audio Narrator/Callie Dalton(this book is part of Audible Romance Package)
I needed a sports romance for the Summer Romance Bingo I’m participating in and honestly was a little hesitant to tackle this prompt altogether. Left and right though, I kept being recommended The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. It’s funny how after I read a book by an author I start hearing their name all the time! That’s been the case with Mariana Zapata during and since I finished The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. Luckily, I really loved this book. So I will gladly be continuing to make my way through her other novels.
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.
But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.
For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.
What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?
First and foremost, I was already nervous going into this book–sports romances weren’t something I had considered reading. After deciding to go ahead and give it a try after numerous friends recommending it to me, I saw that it was over 600 pages. All I kept thinking was, “Not another long book!” Then I saw that not only was it a long book but the general consensus is that it is a slow burn romance and I didn’t know if I was in the mood for slow.
This book follows Vanessa who starts off as the assistant to this big time football player named Aidan. Vanessa has been working for Aidan for a couple of years and feels pretty unappreciated. Aidan has never went out of his way to try and get to know her. It frustrates her that here she is basically taking care of his life and he doesn’t even know her birthday. She overhears a conversation between Aidan and his manager, Trevor, that really disappoints her and decides to quit. She is gone for a few days before Aidan starts showing up at her door step begging her to come back and eventually has a proposition for her.
Okay, so yes, this book is super slow burn. If you want that instant, steamy romance, you’re not going to find that in this book. What you will find though is a really well written, gradual, love story.
I think Zapata did a great job of instantly making Aidan unlikeable. I couldn’t stand him at first, but as I look back on it, I realize, we were only seeing the situation through Vanessa’s perspective. Zapata in the end made me feel so wrong for judging Aidan a certain way in the beginning. Things take time, and people love you in their own ways. As we grow to learn more about Aidan and see his interactions with Vanessa, you slowly start picking up on the different ways he shows her that he cares about her. There is this whole fake situation going on between them (part of the proposition) but I got the sense pretty early on that after a while, it stopped being fake for Aidan.
There were times that Vanessa annoyed me, just a little. I listened to this on audio and there were times the narrator was reading Vanessa’s thoughts in her head that I just wanted to shout, Shut Up! The thing that makes or breaks a main character for me though is how realistic they seem and Vanessa met the mark for me. Vanessa and Aidan both come from troubled pasts. Both of their childhoods down right sucked, and Vanessa was periodically face to face with those who hurt her the most. Because of her past though, she not only worked her butt off to be where she is now stability wise, but she knows the time and place for things. When there were situations I felt like she should snap, she would count to ten and be the bigger person. She was good to Aidan. She made him a promise and stuck to it. And she didn’t make Aidan and their situation the center of her life. She started pursuing her own business ventures and training for a marathon she really wanted to do. But you begin to see how well the two know each other and have each other’s backs.
I’m always a sucker for a good friendship in a romance. Vanessa and Zak’s friendship in this one is now a favorite. Zak is Aidan’s roommate/teammate. He and Vanessa are there for each other a lot and it was a lot of the interactions with Zak that had me laughing out loud.
The romance in this book isn’t rushed at all but it is so worth it. Sit back and allow the layers of this relationship to unfold for you. I enjoyed it so much. I honestly haven’t been able to get it off my mind since I finished it!