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Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

My god the book hangover I'm having right now. This book was INCREDIBLE! I can't believe it took me two days to read it, I thought it would take me a while week considering how LONG it is, I was actually SCARED of starting it. I'm usually reluctant to read more 350 pages and those are mostly PNR but this one was simply IMPOSSIBLE to put down. I sat HOURS Saturday reading up until 3 a.m., then woke up cranky and kept the mood the whole day until I was home again and resumed reading maybe 10 minutes after I returned home.  4 hours later - finished the book - and truly I have no words to describe how amazing this book was. It wasn't what I was expecting on SO many levels. Perfection really. I know this book - Van and Aiden - would stay with me for a while keeping me company.


Where to begin really? I'll start by saying I was amazed how well written this book was. I mean, it's not that easy to write this kind of long "slow burn" (as they call it) book and making it so captivating. The whole book is written from Vanessa's POV which made Aiden even more of a mystery. We were getting to see the change forming in him the same way Van did but more over we could see HER and who she is so clearly. Every thought and decision she made felt utterly genuine. It was a JOY reading her POV, It was never boring being inside her head, even when she kept revisited her insecurities and painful past. She is such a strong determined woman, and yet even though she is remarkable, she is also in a way so normal and also flawed with a sad and heart breaking past. Though I don't really have anything I could think of in common with Van, I felt her and connected with her so deeply I couldn't put thinking of her aside the whole day I was at work, wanting to get back to the book, to Van and Aiden, and see the impossible happen between them. Slowly slowly and yet so apparent with every step of the way. 

We start with getting to know Van and her life being the PA of the legendary top defensive end Aiden Graves, also known as "The Wall of Winnipeg". Aiden isn't a "bad guy" he is just focused on Football and NOTHING else. Though she is probably the best PA anyone has ever had, Aiden doesn't even notice her or react to her. Not even "Hello" when she comes into the house. Wanting more from her life than being his PA for the rest of her life, she quits when she believes she can make a decent living from her small business of graphic design. She planned on staying until a replacement was found, but being hurt beyond words by Aiden's behavior she leaves him one night never to return again. 

We don't know what goes on in Aiden's head. Not then and not really any step of the way. He is closed off as sure as you'd expect a wall to be, but truthfully I couldn't hate him, I was always trying to see what he's hiding and through his awkward sentences I could see he was sometimes trying really hard at something he sucked at.. If there is something that could be said about The Wall of Winnipeg is that he is stubborn and persistent. That's what it takes to get to the top and so when he realizes he has lost Van he comes after her, doing his best to convince her to return. Van wasn't going to return no matter what, and yet in the end Aiden "won" when he offered her the one thing that could change her life situation in a way she could have never worked herself off. But in order to do that she needs to be more than his PA, she needs to become his wife. 

Becoming Aiden's wife isn't something Van takes easily which I could really appreciate. She understood how serious what she was doing and the consequences as well. All of them. Yet she finally agrees but not before stating they clearly need to become friends in order for this to work, for them to work as a (fake) couple. For Aiden it's not that easy. He doesn't really have friends. Okay, he has three friends, one he is lives with but doesn't talk to much and two who are VERY far away most of the time, and there is his high school coach - the closest person he has in his life (whom he sees several times a year). But he does his best and he accepts the vows they declare for one another as genuine ones. While they are married he intends to honor those vows even if they are still no more than friends. 

When they say this book is a "slow burn" they mean it. It takes FOREVER for them to even exchange a hug. Though I was craving for it to happen, it all happened just at the right timing. Aiden needed time, and Van needed to forgive Aiden and be able to start trusting him and in him, not something so easy for her. I loved the way their relationship was building, so slow and exactly because of that - so realistically. I have a feeling Aiden cared a lot about Van even when she thought he didn't, or even when it looked like he didn't, but we don't get a time-frame to when he realized the woman in front of him is the one he wants. We just see the little changes he makes in his life, baby steps really, but every one noticeable to anyone who knows him or like us followed him and Van this whole way.

Both Van and Aiden have a sad family story, I think it's one of the things that brought them together without them even realizing it. Though Aiden acts as though he put those things behind, it made him who he is, the closed off cold man who would never let anyone near him. Van changes all that with how much she cares for him. She inserted herself into his life and meant to do her damn best for him and in the end he DID appreciate all of that. I know a lot of people would find it hard to be sympathetic for him in the beginning, but I guess because I knew this is a romance novel I was basically waiting to see the change and I got exactly that in the most realistic way. It's obvious Aiden hasn't been happy for years, but having Van made him at least content, and then she was gone and he had to get her back. That's how I see it, though there is no proof as to what exactly made Aiden chase Van until she accepted his surprising offer.

Though this is Aiden and Van's story, it wouldn't be what it was without Zac and Diana. Daina being Van's best friend from childhood and Zac (Aiden's roommate) her "2nd best friend" after Diana. These two evolved as well throughout the book, while being supportive and caring for her (especially when Aiden wasn't). 

I loved everything about this book. EVERYTHING. The pace was EXCELLENT, though if you're here for the sex, you won't get it till the very end.. Yeah it takes them THAT long. I loved that it wasn't about the sex even though Van was clearly VERY attracted to Aiden (who wouldn't be really???). I loved the baby steps Aiden made and the painful struggle Van was going through to try and trust Aiden and somehow to keep her emotions at check when he kept surprising her. I loved Aiden for being the flawed creature that he was. For doing the best and being his best when it concerned the game and knowing NOTHING of how to make Van stay, to make her WANT to stay, with him, for him. I loved their banter, how stubborn they BOTH are. How strong willed Van is, to make herself succeed no matter what she sets her mind to do even when she has her misgiving and fears she has one hell of a backbone and an iron will. I have more than respect for her, for who she is, for who she made herself to be even with the "bad start" she had in life. 

PERFECTION. Grab it and read it ASAP! 
I'm going to add EVERYTHING Mariana wrote to my list, and make my very best to schedule them the soonest I can. Thank you Marinan for this INCREDIBLE book. 

[Note - I just learned through Mariana's page on Amazon she has two Great Danes. I guess it explains everything now]


Rating:
E-Book
Edition
673
pages
Read on:
11-12 Mar-2017

  

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