Monday, July 13, 2020

Book Review: Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

Author: Mariana Zapata
Series: N/A
Audience: +18
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports romance
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date:  July 2nd 2020
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: My copy
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Before he was Big Texas, he was Zac the Snack Pack.

Bianca Brannen knows time—mostly—heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.)

She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold.

Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.
Whenever Mariana Zapata comes out with a new book, my heart does a weird thing. That's because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's going to be a fantastic story. Whether she writes about sports, adult entertainers, or tattoo shop owners, this woman can make a story seem like the best love story in the world. So when I heard that she had a new book coming out I knew I had to grab it as soon as possible. And when I got it, I started reading it as fast as I could.

I want to start by saying that I tried as hard as I could to pace myself. I managed to read this book over the span of 3 days, and you have no idea how much I struggled with myself to do that. The first day actually I stayed up until 5 am reading. I also kept flooding Sam @ Fictionally Sam and MJ on Instagram with my reactions. I'm tempted to make this review with only my reactions, but then you'd mostly have a ton of  "oh my gods" and "yes, girl!" which... doesn't really tell you much. And the rest of my reactions would make this review super spoilery. We don't want that.

I adored Bianca. She is very funny, very sarcastic, and her family history resonated with me more than I imagined possible. She has an older sister, that at times was more of a mother figure for Bianca. She and her sister were raised by their grandma, because their parents were busy working all over the world. I loved seeing her struggle with overcoming the fear of being left behind, and how ultimately she was able to realize her worth and that she was worthy of love. I think that was her biggest fear. I loved seeing her grow in this book. She is also a successful business owner, having her own cooking channel online, and honestly I'd love some of her recipes *looks hopefully at MZ*

Zac is my baby and my newest book boyfriend. I adored him from The Wall of Winnipeg but now I am completely in love with him. He needs all the best things in the world to happen to him, okay? Okay. So. Zac is a cinnamon roll. He is one of those too nice guys that seem to have a permanent smile on their face. So when Zac is sad, everyone is sad. No, really, I wanted to cry every time he went through a bad career moment. He's also an adorable giant, and so utterly in love with Bianca, that I was aww-ing and ooh-ing for the majority of this book. Like Bianca though, he is insanely funny and sarcastic, and I love their banter a lot. On a more serious note, I love how Mariana Zapata tackled the notion of age and professional sports. I loved seeing Zac struggle with the idea that at his age he may get passed over for a younger guy, even though Zac is 34 I believe. I loved that aspect of the book so, so much.

Bianca's boss was a jackass and I kept hoping he'd fall in a whole full of fire ants, completely naked. I hated Gunner with the passion of a thousand suns and fifty erupting volcanoes. Basically I hated him just as much as I hated Trevor, Zac's manager, in The Wall of Winnipeg. Which brings me to my next point. Trevor was the surprise of the year for me. I expected to hate him so, so much, but something happened with him in this book and I can't explain what exactly. I didn't hate him. At all. I'm not saying I loved him, but I didn't hate him.

There were a ton of funny moments in this book. At some point Bianca, Zac, and some of Zac's team mates go to a haunted house and I've never felt more seen than in that moment. Also I experienced second hand fear and my palms got sweaty, even though I laughed like a maniac. Also, because Zac was part of an annual calendar, Bianca kept asking him these very uncomfortable but funny questions, that ultimately, now that I think about it, he never actually answered. Hmmm....

Add to the slow burn the cameo of Jasmine and Lukoc, Vanessa and Aiden, and you have the best book that one can possibly ask for. And the slow burn is SO WORTH IT. Mariana Zapata truly is the queen of the slow burn romance, and even though I had so many moments in which I was reduced to silently begging for them to kiss their faces off, I enjoyed every moment of it.

If you haven't read any of Maria Zapata's books before, do yourselves a favor and go grab her backlist books. Honestly, you won't regret it. Until the next Mariana Zapata book though... I think a reread of this book is in order.

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