Bam! I’m pregnant.
I am warning you now. This review is going to be long!
This book. This book. I have read Winnie (as Mariana Zapata likes to call The Wall of Winnipeg and Me) more times than I’m proud to admit. That is how much I love this book.
Vanessa Mazur has been the assistant of The Three Hundred’s defensive end, Aiden “The Wall of Winnipeg” Graves, for the last two years, and is now ready to open a new chapter in her life—she’s saved up enough for a rainy day (or year) and wants to focus on her passion/career. She finally walks away from Aiden, disillusioned and a little angry after overhearing a disparaging comment from Aiden’s manager about her. Aiden said nothing to defend her. After two long years of working for him and staying loyal to him, he did nothing to defend her. She was done. She didn’t deserve this.
After a whole month of Aiden-free bliss, Vanessa is surprised when she sees the man she walked away from sitting at the steps by her apartment. More shocking is the fact that Aiden wants her back. The most shocking? He doesn’t want her back just as his assistant; he wants her back as his wife.
The first time I read this, it took me a while to get into it, but when I finally did, ahhhh!!!!! I will say this over and over again. I love slow-burning romance. I thrive for that inevitable growth–not just the feelings and affection for each other, but the characters as individuals, as well. They don’t fall in love at first sight; they start with friendship or something close to it, then slowly climb up that slope to the inevitable relationship peak.
Vanessa isn’t a simpering idiot and Aiden is not the type to sleep with anything that moves. It’s quite refreshing to see that in a sports romance, since most male leads tend to be hornier than a pre-pubescent boy. Vanessa wants to jumpstart her career in the digital arts field, and Aiden is 100% focused on his football career.
When Winnie first started, Aiden was such an asshole in the ‘I don’t care about what others think, I only care about football’ kind of way, and although his focus and determination is admirable, it pissed me off that he seemed to be genuinely indifferent when it comes to Vanessa. He never bothered to say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ to her, and he never even greeted her on her birthday. Vanessa wasn’t sure he even knew her birthday or even her last name!
“I wished you had respected me enough to appreciate me back when it would have meant something. I liked you. I admired you, and in the course of a few days, you killed that.”
As the story progressed, you can see Aiden making an effort to be Vanessa’s friend. And if you’ve read the story, you know Aiden would never do something he wouldn’t care to do. And he wouldn’t say something unless he meant it. The words and actions that come from him are 100% genuine, and I just need a moment because I am screaming just thinking about the feels!
“In my life, I only cared what four people thought about me.”
There were a lot of milestones that showed how close they were getting–Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas. FREAKING CHRISTMAS! I think I died a little during that cute Christmas scene.
It was so heartwarming to see them open up to each other. Not only did it help ease their relationship with each other, it showed the readers that Aiden is as human and flawed as Vanessa. To see two people who have been on their own most of their lives find someone to finally depend on and lean on, it was touching.
Apart from these two amazing babies, I loved the side characters. Zac Travis, Aiden’s roommate and the Three Hundred’s second-string quarterback, was also Vanessa’s good friend. Most authors would jump at the opportunity to use Zac as another love interest, but I loved that Mariana didn’t go there. Their friendship is adorable; Zac was there for Vanessa when she was still working for Aiden, and he was still there for her when she was Aiden’s wife. Who says boys and girls can’t be friends?
Diana Casillas was a true friend through and through. She was more Vanessa’s sister than her biological ones, and their banter and conversations were entertaining.
I also found a lot of inspiring phrases about life throughout the book.
“What no one tells you is that the road to accomplishing your goals isn’t a straight line; it looks more like a corn maze. You stopped, you went, you backed up, and took a few wrong turns along the way, but the important thing you had to remember was there was an exit. Somewhere.”
This book has filled me with laughter, heartbreak, joy, and love, and I am so glad I read this. Since reading Winnie, I’ve read Mariana’s other books, all I’ve also enjoyed. The best part is all of her stories are slow-burning romances. I love it!!!
Now, excuse me while I go and read this gem again.
Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Hate to Love, Sports—American Football
POV: First Person, Female POV