The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (Mariana Zapata)

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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?


“Maybe that was the thing about love I never understood before Aiden. Like football and art, like anything that anyone in the world has ever wanted, love was a dream. And just like a dream, there were no assurances behind it. It didn’t grow on its own. It didn’t blossom without food to feed it.
It was the greatest in its subtleties.
It was the strongest in its selflessness.
And it could be forever with someone who wasn’t afraid to never give up on the possibilities it presents.”

The word perfect will be used a lot in this review. A L O T. Fair warning.

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I don’t know where to even start. I honestly don’t. But I do know this. I know that I have found a new author to binge read. HARD. (Thanks, Stephanie!) I get so excited thinking about all of the Mariana Zapata books I get to read next. But for now, I think I’m just going to start this review with what I noticed right off the bat.

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The pacing of this story. It’s slow. Hence the word “slow burn” and when you read that I am not even exaggerating. BUT, it’s not a bad type of slow. If you know me, as a reader I am not a fan of the insta-love. I enjoy feeling the way the characters are feeling and falling right in that exact moment that they do and Mariana does a wonderful job of that by utilizing the tool of slow burn romance. She done did it, and she did it right. And when you have a slow burn romance something else fits so perfectly hand in hand with it…

CHARACTER GROWTH IS A REAL THING, Y’ALL. AND MARIANA ZAPATA DOMINATED IT WITH THIS STORY. 

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The way they change and adjust to each other was awkward, imperfect, and it was a lengthy process but it was perfect, for me anyways. That is the only word I know to use to describe it all. Actually, the perfect words to described it all is direct from Vanessa herself: “Ovaries. Where were my ovaries?” Because the attraction you will develop towards Aiden is so overwhelming you hardly even see it coming. Blind-sided at its finest as each chapter goes by.

I’m just going to put it like this…I don’t even like onions. But if I had to pick a favorite, Aiden Graves is my favorite kind. The kind you keep peeling the layers back on and seeing more and more of who he really is. He melted me. And then his layers made my eyes get heavy and my heart swoon more than a few times. He probably didn’t even mean to do it. That’s how good and kind he is.

“In that moment, I don’t think I had ever loved anything half as much as I loved Aiden.”

Watching Vanessa’s growth and her back bone really transform was incredible. From the first page she had a spunk about her that just drew me in but the further you read on, the more she grows and its fantastic. Given the cards she was dealt with, she is so head strong on becoming the person that she ends up being. Not to mention her internal dialogue was what dreams are made of. She had me laughing SO MANY TIMES I lost count within the first quarter of the book.

“Home is where you are. I would go anywhere for you if you wanted me to be there.”

I think the review says enough about Mariana’s writing too. I mean, you can’t have all of these fantastic qualities without having good writing, right? I shouldn’t have to touch on that too much to make you realize that it was JUST PERFECT OK.

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Mark me down for a Team Graves t-shirt, coffee cup, stickers. You know what…mark me down for everything Aiden and Vanessa and my new-found love of Mariana. Just, mark me down.

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