The Wall of Winnipeg

and Me

Mariana Zapata

Vanessa Mazur has finally taken the leap and quit her job working for defensive end Aiden Graves. For the past two years, Vanessa has been his errand girl and stood by his side through everything. So when she’s finally had enough of the quiet, non-appreciative grump, she quits to do her graphic design work full time. She’s saved enough money to successfully do this without the stress. But when Aiden comes knocking on her door four weeks later, she’s utterly underprepared. 

Aiden was born in Winnipeg, Canada and has been in the states on a work visa playing football since he graduated college. Well, that visa is expiring soon, and he doesn’t want to renew it again and again. So his brilliant plan is to marry Vanessa. The woman he hasn’t said ‘good morning’ to in the past two years. Yeah, it didn’t go over too well with Vanessa. 

After weeks of Aiden begging, yes, begging, he hits her with a bargain she can’t refuse. He’ll pay off her student loans and buy her a house after they divorce. Pretty snazzy deal if you ask me. And it’s only five years of pretending. It won’t be that hard to not fall for him… right?

This was so intimidating because it was over 600 pages. No contemporary romance novel should be 600+ pages. That’s absurd. How do people even think of that much stuff to put in a book. Mariana Zapata is the queen of long ass books. It was unnecessarily long. She repeats a lot of dialogue and just script in general. We get reminded of stuff we learned from a previous chapter three times in the next chapter. And that’s nothing against her or her writing. I just get easily bored, especially with slow burns. I keep reading them because I know the ending will be worth it, but the middle needs to keep my attention. 

Vanessa Mazur is a very strong woman. And I love that in books. It promotes great messages for the readers. She overcame something from her past that was affecting how she lived her future. Getting hit by a car and messing up your knee terribly, then finishing a marathon less than a decade later is so inspiring. And completely accurate. People bounce back from things traumatic all the time. I think she’s a great book role model to look up to. I like that she was set to live on her own without having to rely on anyone. I think that’s an important message to send to young girls. You can still be with someone and want to spend the rest of your life together, but always be prepared to fend for yourself; never rely on someone else for your well being. 

Aiden Graves gives me a headache sometimes. He was so stubborn and thick headed  at times, and I know that’s his ~charm~ but seriously. His entire group of friends is saying “take care of your girl,” and he’s like “you need to keep moving.” Like yes, dad, I will in a moment. She needs some lovin’ first. In the beginning I was not seeing why everyone loved this man so much, but once he started getting comfortable and flirty, I was a goner. My favorite type of chapter (usually in fake dating tropes) is the “late night talk” chapter. In this case, Vanessa is scared of the dark and Aiden comes in to lay with her and calm her down (!!!). They stay up and just talk. And she slowly inches her way closer to him and he pulls her in closer… I was sold at that point and that exact point. The intimacy in these chapters are always so pure and genuine. There’s nothing holding them back from telling the truth and no one to judge them. And the chapters following that high and filled with confusion as to why they feel so comfortable around the other. It’s where love starts to grow. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true. All of their walls are taken down and they have nothing to hide from. 

I liked Zac more than Aiden. There I said it. He was so fun and just the right amount of flirty. The most relatable part in this book was when Vanessa said “I don’t know why I’m not in love with Zac.” Like, girl! I am! I wanted more of him. I was really mad that he broke his ankle. I think that could’ve been something different. Like a family emergency or he got traded to a new team and needed to start training right away. Having him taken out like that was super disappointing, for me and for Vanessa. She was counting on him to push her and encourage her. And I was also really annoyed that he and Aiden didn’t become friends in the end. They had the foundation for a great friendship and it never blossomed. I needed that more than the boning. 

Diana had a small part in this and that was a bummer. She was funny and cared so deeply for Vanessa. I wish I got to see more of her. Especially after the hospital. All of a sudden, she’s gone and we never see her again. And with the level of friendship the two girls had, I feel like Diana would’ve told Vanessa about the abuse. I don’t think she would have gone into detail, but she would’ve defended him probably and then later confided in Vanessa. Her blatantly lying about the bruises then Van not doing anything irked me. 

And I know MZ had to set up Diana and Zac for their own books, but I still felt like the end of the book was unfinished. The epilogue was cute and I loved seeing them happy and having two healthy babies. I did think it was a little weird that MZ chose a semifinal game as the last game we see. I would’ve liked to have seen Aiden win the championship and be completely, uncharacteristically happy. 

I’ll continue to read Mariana Zapata books. This isn’t my first and not my last. I wish they were a little shorter just so I could get through them faster. This one took me almost a whole month… That’s embarrassing. She is the queen of slow burn romances. I always start her books thinking “what is it about this a-hole that I won’t like, but eventually sell my soul for?” I love the complex intertwinement of her books and I’m starting to see the relationships and connections made between the books. So, my next MZ book will be Zac’s because I already miss Big Texas.