Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Reviewed by Joanna

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, the master of slow burn romance, and she’s introduced me to another heroine I want to hug – and hero I want to throttle (before I kidnap him and run away with him forever). Vanessa is the personal assistant to the Wall of Winnipeg – aka Aiden, a huge quarterback for the Three Hundreds. She’s worked for him for 2 years and this big-hearted woman has had it. Aiden isn’t a bad boss, but he’s as warm as an ice block and barely grunts his replies when she asks him a question. Vanessa manages his social media, cooks his 7-10,000 calorie vegan meal plans, cleans, travels with him, and she’s the caring type, so she can’t get by on grunts alone.

Her college degree burning a hole in her back pocket, Van saves her pennies and decides to set out on her own. She’s a graphic designer by trade and wants to be her own boss. So she quits. But being lovely, she gives Aiden and his manager as much time as they want to find her replacement. Aiden tells her (in grunts) that he doesn’t want her to go, the manager offers her more cash, but it’s not what she needs. She doesn’t change her mind. Then two weeks later Van overhears something which has her flipping them off and marching out the door. To hell with notice, and good riddance to them.

So where’s the romance? I hear you ask. Well this is so super duper slow; it’s hidden in tiny gestures and actions and in the creeping plot.

Aiden is a total emotional brick wall, an asshole too, but he doesn’t mean to be – he just doesn’t know any other way. Having pathetically tried to look after himself, he pursues Vanessa and makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Then follows the slowest possible romance you would believe. When he first places his hand on hers I wanted to die. Their first kiss nearly blew my mind. But even these things didn’t have them rushing to the finish line.

Aiden’s American football career is his sole focus. He thinks of nothing else, so his changing perspective is such a big shift the story had to be slow. It just wouldn’t be believable otherwise.

But the tale isn’t dull. Vanessa is full of snarky asides and has a joy of life. Aiden’s flatmate Zac (Zac Attack, Van calls him) is a huge sexy Texan who I want as my very best friend as he’s a barrel of monkey fun.

The first story I read by this author – Wait For It – actually comes after this book (about a different couple, so it doesn’t really matter about reading in order, though the stories overlap a little), and I remember being so frustrated at the molasses rate of the love development that I had to stop half way through and go read an instalove. But reading this I was better armed, and I enjoyed it so much more.

If you need your couple to have heart eyes and be shouting their love from the rooftops after knowing each other a week, don’t read this. If you love the changing of long-held opinions, the emergence of essential friendship and kindness required to make the other half indispensable, and the irreparable shift told in an understated way, this is for you.

Aiden is all mine though, grumpy big lug that he is.

Rating: A-

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
by Mariana Zapata
Release Date: February 28, 2016

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