Aw, Mariana Zapata can just do no wrong, and her books are definitely one of my best finds of the year!
“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”
When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.
It didn’t take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon – why she’d ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.
Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.
Diving into the world of professional women’s soccer, Kulti features a sport that I’m not that familiar with. However, with Zapata’s detailed descriptions along with the characters’ love and passion for the game, she brought me right onto the soccer field. Also combined with its funny, sweet, and heartfelt moments to boot, this was a really inspiring story, and I can totally see how so many people love to re-read her books time and time again!
Salomé and Reiner Kulti’s complex characters felt so realistic and relatable! I couldn’t help but admire Sal’s dedication to soccer and loved her competitive spirit. She was feisty and hot-headed at times, but she also wasn’t afraid to admit her imperfections and worked even harder to overcome them. I also loved that through all of Sal’s success, she still remained humble and true to herself in being selfless, supportive, and loyal.
Like Sal, Kulti shared similar determination and temperament with his sport, but he reached his stardom by relying only on himself. He was arrogant with a rude and gruff demeanor and genuinely did not care at all what anyone else thought. Although this worked while gaining his success, once Kulti retired, it left him a bit lost and alone.
The last place on earth that Kulti wanted to be? Coaching a women’s professional soccer team! I loved that Sal couldn’t resist calling him out on his rude and pompous behavior, and true to their nature, ‘Bratwurst’ and ‘Taco’ bickered and fought to stand their ground with each other relentlessly. However, I really enjoyed that it was backed with such care and respect for each other as they began to understand each other better.
Known for her slow-burning romances, Zapata played this romance out until the very end! The pacing throughout Sal and Kulti’s relationship felt natural, as they transitioned from not liking each other and eventually leading to sparks and fireworks. This was such a well-developed story and written seamlessly to keep me on my toes, turning page after page.
Since I’m also a huge sports fan, I really enjoyed learning the details and emotions relative to the world of soccer. I loved the individual relationships Sal shared with her teammates and adorable family – her father was hilarious! I also discovered that there are several other books with interconnected characters to this as well. Sal’s cousin Diana is the heroine in Wait for It, and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is Diana’s best friend Vanessa’s story. Have I missed any?
‘Destiny is a ladder, a series of steps that takes you where you’re supposed to go. I am the man that I am, and I have done the things that I’ve done, to get me to you.’
I didn’t want this fun and sweet romance to end, and although the epilogue was the perfect happily ever after, I would have liked to know more about the future details regarding Sal and Kulti’s adventures in Europe. Sometimes I can be a little greedy like that when I love a book so much!
Grab Kulti on Amazon Today!
Mariana Zapata began writing love stories soon after she learned how to spell. She probably shouldn’t admit that she started sneaking romance novels from her aunt’s bookshelves way before she was old enough to even understand what it meant when a man flipped up a woman’s skirt. (Don’t tell her mom.)
She is a New York Times and USA Today Best Seller, and reached #7 on Amazon’s Author Ranking in 2016. Her book The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was a #1 Amazon Overall Best Seller, and was chosen as a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award nominee and also included on Amazon’s Best Books of 2016 for Romance. Wait for It reached #2 on the Amazon Overall Best Seller list and stayed in the top 100 for six weeks; it was chosen as a 2017 Goodreads Choice Award nominee in the Romance category. Dear Aaron was a top 10 Amazon Overall Best Seller and stayed in the top 100 for six weeks.
Mariana is a native Texan living in a small town in Colorado with her husband and two beloved (and emotionally manipulative) Great Danes, Dorian and Kaiser. When she’s not pretending to write, she’s reading. You can usually find her burning somewhat edible experiments in the kitchen or cracking jokes at the expense of her family members.
She also loves to hear from her readers!
If you made it to the end of this long-winded review, thank you so much for reading!
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