Book Review – The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

by Maryse on March 6, 2016 · 30 comments

in My Book Reviews

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
I know… at first the title totally threw me off. When it comes to this author, I’m always a little perplexed (yet intrigued) by her title choices, and they end up making plenty of sense. But this one makes ALL the sense in the world when you realize “The Wall of Winnipeg” is the nickname of a HUGE 6’4″ 250lb+ football hero (who’s actual name is Aiden). So yes, my friends, we get to fall in love with a sports star, and BOY DO WE EVER!!!!

Maryse:  I’ve been hooked from the very start. I LOVE how she writes, I love how her heroine thinks, I LOVE that it’s only from her POV, and I LOVE that he’s true to his grumpiness, and I LOVE that it’s yet another super-slow burn, ’cause it makes it SO MUCH FUN!!!! …I think I like WoW and Me even more than Kulti… BUT!! I’m only half way through so we’ll see. But YEAH I LOVE it!

Lisa: 50% into WoW……perfection. This is my 2016 Hollywood Dirt. Love, love, love.

Cheryl: I finished WoW and loved it. Talk about a slow-burn, and love to hate story. Gave me all the “feels.” Just would have liked a little “more” towards the end.

Robyn: The Wall of Winnepeg and Me was so good! I was reading it so slowly because I didn’t want it to end. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

LisaM: I finished The Wall of Winnipeg & Me. It was so good!!! I stayed up reading late & slacked at work yesterday to finish it. I always feel so sad when I finish a good book as I never want it to end!!!! Aiden Aiden Aiden!!! Hot hot hot & a bit of an beep beep beep!! But You can’t help but swoon over him!!! …Love books about athletes!!

Jillian: I finished The Wall of Winnipeg and Me today and it was friggin’ fantastic. I can’t even take it with her books. THEY BURN SO GOOD! I hope Zac gets a story. I’m so lost now that it’s over. Curse you, Ms. Zapata, curse you for writing such wonderfully tortuous books *shakes fist*

And OMG I absolutely LOVED it!! I want MORE like this! Not by way of “story imitation” but because of the realistic feel of a true connection gradually being built between two people. We LIVE it, with them. Through big events, and small, yet momentous, personal ones.

And don’t mistake “gradually” as boring. There’s still plenty of butterfly in the stomach, and the OH NO HE DIDN’T thrill moments throughout the whole journey. A delicious slow burn, and a good dose of unrequited pining where we get to be HER, and go through all of her emotions with her as she struggles with her love/hate relationship with her boss.

Not just a fleeting moment, or the promise of tension and butterflies via one or two chapters of personal angst, and then suddenly all the tension is gone ’cause they’re together. Nope. Nuh uh. Not Mariana Zapata. She’s the queen of slow-burn, it takes awhile getting there, but it’s so tingly the whole way!

So what’s it about?

Vanessa has some serious student debts to pay off, and ends up selling her soul… er… I mean, becoming the personal assistant to one of the biggest Football stars around. Not just his assistant, though. She’s pretty much his “keeper”. Takes care of his social media, his email, his schedule, his calls, cooks and cleans for him (and no – she’s not even live-in!!) but most of all, deals with all of his constant orneriness. He’s a big hulk of brooding, untouchable, un-cuddly man.

It’s not that he’s mean, per se.

I knew what it was like to be bullied, and Aiden never crossed the line into being unnecessarily mean. He was just a jackass sometimes.

He was lucky I had a tiny, itty, bitty crush on him; otherwise, he would have gotten the shank years ago.

He’s just… indifferent. Aloof. Distant. No holds barred, and if he doesn’t like something, has no qualms in making it known. He doesn’t realize he should feel sorry, because he’s just not sensitive.

For the last two years, my smiles were never returned, my every single “How are you?” went unanswered, and other than that infamous look that made my imaginary hackles rise, there was that tone, that almost smug tone, he took sometimes that just asked for an ass whooping… from someone much bigger than me.

Our boss and employee roles became more and more pronounced each day. I cared about him as much as I could care for someone who I saw a minimum of five days a week, who I basically took care of for a living, but who treated me like the friend of a pesky little sister he would rather not have.

Oh and… there’s not an ounce of “bad-boy” in him. Because there doesn’t have to be. He’s got nothing to prove, because he couldn’t care less. ;) He’s not into proving his manliness. He doesn’t have to flaunt a thing. He’s not into justifying how tough he is. Oh boy, he doesn’t have to do that either. He EXUDES it.

I didn’t feel guilty at all about getting caught flipping him off. The first time it had happened, I thought I was going to die of embarrassment and then get fired, but now I knew Aiden. He didn’t care if I did it, or at least that was the impression I got since I still had a job. I’d seen people come up to him and try goading him, calling him all sorts of names and insults that made me reel back. But what did he do when people did that kind of stuff? He didn’t even twitch; he just pretended not to hear them.

Honestly, it was a little impressive to have that kind of backbone.

He’s not into endless player-ing. Women want him, but he’s much too focused, for that.

Vacations? He didn’t take them. I didn’t even think he knew what they were. He didn’t have pictures of family or friends anywhere in the house. His entire life revolved around football. It was the center of his universe.

In the grand scheme of Aiden Graves’s life, I was no one really. We just sort of put up with each other.

He’s the ultimate in no-nonsense, alpha-male heroes, and just one look says it all. YUMMY!! That’s so much more fun than “bad-boy” and you KNOW I love me a proper bad-boy hero.

So anyway, after a few years of working with him, and building up her savings enough that she can start her own graphic-design business, she quits. She’s had enough of this thankless job, and his ‘tude is wearing thin. Let alone, his buttonhole of an agent (who’s rude comment about her sends her over the edge), she walks out and flips them both off. LOL!!!!

…before I could talk myself out of it, I mouthed, “I deserve better, a$$hole,” making sure he read my lips as I did it. Then I raised my middle finger up at him and waved good-bye with it.

I hope they both got syphilis.

*snort* This girl. I LOVED her!!! She’s sensitive, and fun, and happy, and hardworking, but when she’s had enough, she goes out in a blaze of glory.

Yet, after a few weeks, Aiden shows up at her door. He needs her back. She is SO uninterested. No more. She’s had enough.

We were as even as we possibly could be. I didn’t feel anything except the barest hum of recognition for someone I’d seen hundreds of times. This guy who I had admired, that I had once respected, who had slightly broken my heart and disillusioned me.

But he’s persistent, ’cause she’s the only one that he can tolerate in his personal space.

The chair Aiden was sitting on creaked with his weight. I didn’t want to look at him. “You don’t get on my nerves,” he noted almost as if I’d cured cancer.

I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t even look at him. You don’t get on my nerves. I had to set the jug on the counter, and grip the sharp edge of the countertop with my free hand. How did he expect me to respond? Did he want me to thank him for such a heartfelt compliment?

And then he changes up her “job description” with one more thing (it’s HUGE!! eek *gasp* Not that you guys!! lol *snort*), but offers her a payment that makes it hard to refuse.

WOW!!!! From start to finish, I loved every single part of this story and not once did I roll my eyes, or get bored, or wonder when it would happen. I was having too much fun getting there, experiencing flutters in my tummy and mini heartaches, and all of the things I read for. ;)

“I don’t have time to bother trying to have a relationship, and I don’t like most people. Women included. ”

I wrung my hands, which were still between our two bodies. “You like me a little.”

“A little,” he repeated with only a small curve to the corners of his mouth.


And I can say that I did love it more than Kulti and you know so  many of us here LOVED Kulti. Now THIS is the kind of love story/romance book I want to read. One that takes it’s time, but not unnecessarily, ya know?

Her “realistic character” writing is top notch. The things they say, think, and do, are detailed just right, and her characters are authentic. Their quirks, their fears, their backgrounds. The things that make them smile, and those that make them cry. Just like watching a movie. Or like living real life. Living true love, exploring the dynamic between two people, growing them slowly… together until it becomes something BIG.

If you’re in the mood for romantic tension, frustration (and occasional infuriation), unrequited love, and a potential true closeness to rival all others, then this love story is for you, pacing and all!! It’s not about the steam and sex. It’s about the building friendship, and budding relationship. It’s pure romance-reader indulgence.

5 stars!

I want more please!!!!!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon March 6, 2016 at 11:37 AM

Yes!!!!! I want to read Wall of Winnipeg so badly! I just started reading Kulti (I know, I am late to the game), and this will be perfect to read when I am done!!!!

Maryse March 6, 2016 at 11:41 AM

And I’m SO in the mood for more like this, by HER, right now. You are a lucky girl, Sharon!!!

Carol M March 6, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Totally agree Maryse! I never got bored and loved that it was longer than the average book. I can me see wanting to reread this one in the future. Definitely agree with the 5 stars!

Cheryl March 6, 2016 at 1:34 PM

Exactly Maryse. A realistic, slow-burn, love-to-hate story. I loved it too!!

Robyn March 6, 2016 at 2:25 PM

I want more too Maryse!! Have you read all of her books yet? You should, you will not be disappointed at all! You need to make a sloooowwww burn/ hate to love book list! Everyone of This authors books would be on it!

Lauren March 6, 2016 at 2:48 PM

I finished this the other day and I’m in a little bit of a slump bc I really liked it and Loved the characters. I read Kulti and Under Locke too!

Kathy P March 6, 2016 at 3:13 PM

I am reading Hustle right now. Early stages but it has made me smile to myself a few times. Just downloaded Kulti and WoW. Those are next. Just can’t decide which one to read first!

Celeste March 6, 2016 at 3:32 PM

I don’t think I ‘got’ this book, because I didn’t love it like I did Kulti or Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin which were both five star reads for me. Aiden was just too… ambivalent for me. Like, I didn’t see what was so appealing about him or why she was so loyal to him or attracted to him beyond his physical appearance. I also didn’t think there was enough actual romance once they got together. Maybe I was just having an off day when I read this though. But I find that Mariana Zapata’s books are hit or miss for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of Lingus, either.

cicely March 6, 2016 at 4:04 PM

Oh Maryse! You wrote the perfect review for the perfect book! I love Aiden and Van!!!! AHHH <3

bev March 6, 2016 at 4:09 PM

Around 60% and it’s great. I think Kulti has a slight edge though. I’m a bit worried about the ending. I love a slow burn and when authors take their time with the beginning and middle. But then sometimes the end loses out. I need a bit of Shangri-la after the journey, lol.
She is hit and miss for me too. Lingus will probably stay a DNF, too much gross humor. Under Locke was just ok. But this and Kulti just work for me.

Audrey Rodriguez March 6, 2016 at 4:32 PM

THIS BOOK WAS SOOOO GOOD! I just started Kulti now

Ashley March 6, 2016 at 7:47 PM

I was in quite a slump before picking this up. I agree completely on the 5 stars. I think it also bears mentioning Zapata’s ability to make us laugh in the first 30% especially. It takes a really good author to build the slow burn she can, with the character development AND the humor. I’m not a lol person, but some of her writing had me in stiches.

Jennifer March 6, 2016 at 9:03 PM

5* read for me too. I really liked this book, although I must say Kulti is still my favorite book of hers. Love the slow burn, loved the steam in this one when it finally went there. And loved the humor, you picked the perfect quote of her quitting her job…loved it!

T. Hosler March 6, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Maryse, why do you always have to mess up my TBR list?!?! Lol. Now I’m going to have to put my current read on hold to download and read this one. Good thing I’m only 4% into my current book. I still haven’t read Kulti, so I guess I’ll read that one after this.

Kristen O. March 7, 2016 at 12:04 AM

Just had to join in on the gush-fest about this book, lol! THIS. This is the feeling I constantly chase in a romance read – not just the occasional flutter but a flippin’ swarm of bionic butterflies in the best way. Gah, so good! This author is a word wizard.

Lisa March 7, 2016 at 4:23 AM

5 big brooding jerk-faced stars for me. I loved it just as much as Kulti. Ms Zapata does perfect silent alpha beast types with nothing to prove. And her femme fatales are wonderful….no door mats here….but smart mouthed sassy heroines you can’t help but love.

Julie o March 7, 2016 at 4:49 AM

I loved WoW but would have given it a 4.5. I think she brought it to a close too soon. I would have liked a little more something? It kind of left me wanting. All I can say is Zac and his Mama better have their own book soon.

Teri March 7, 2016 at 6:14 AM

Celeste I agree with you. . I did 5 star this read but only because of the fabulousness of being in Vanessa’s mind. I loved her character. Aiden was like a big, stoic, rock with zero personality or social skills. While I did fall in love with him along with Van ,due to Mariana Zapatas superb writing skills, I felt that he could take or leave the romance/sex with Van and while I got the love at the end I could have done without the obligatory sex scenes (2) because they felt really weird and awkward. Contrasting Kulti- same slow burn romance but super explosive at the end.

MichelleS March 7, 2016 at 11:24 AM

Just finished WoW. I give it 5 stars too – for getting me absorbed and making me read until midnight. I did have a few problems with it – just that she added so much “stuff” that really didn’t need to be there, to create tension – when the tension they had between them was enough. Her mom, sister, sister’s husband, the agent, the guy from college, etc. None of them ever went anywhere, so why add all that? Anyway, the parts that did work made up for that. Her inner monologue was worth it alone… like this line…

“Small talk. heaven help us, he was trying to make small talk.”

Great recommendation. Got me out of my little slump.

MichelleS March 7, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Teri – have to agree with you on the sex scenes. They were awkward. **** SPOLIER **** if you haven’t had sex since high school, and it’s probably been a while for her too, then I don’t want that first time together to be a morning wake-up call / nudge from behind – you know what I mean? I couldn’t believe it happened that way! GASP! Why? Still loved the book, but questioned a few choices she made as an author.

Maryse March 7, 2016 at 12:40 PM

*hug* I love all of the differing opinions. I was just so hooked on how strong and protective he was, in the sweetest unexpected ways, considering how he was so distant to everyone in general. Just endearing, for me. Like… she can REALLY trust him forever, you know? I just felt that, in him. A man of worth.

Stephanie March 7, 2016 at 12:52 PM

This one wasn’t a great one for me. I enjoyed the story idea and there was something about Aiden that I LOVED! I couldn’t get into Vanessa very well. As much as I like the story, I thought it was just too slow for me. Just when I thought, Oh good, something’s finally happening, it backed off and slowed back down again. Also, I didn’t get why Zac was there. How did he get to be Aiden’s roommate? Did I miss something? I also thought there would be more trying to learn about each other, you know, in case INS calls. I adored Kulti but this one not so much.

jackie March 7, 2016 at 2:22 PM

I just finished this one and I mean JUST….as in sitting in my car like a loon because I could not put it down at the gym parking lot. Maryse you really should create a new category-books you’ve completed neglected your home and family while reading. Raising hand because this book was completely un-put-downable (I’m sure that’s a real word, I’ve read that here). So yes, I’m writing this while still completely in my book fog. My next selection has no freaking chance as I’m sure I’ll still be in Vanessa and Aiden’s world and the world that Mariana Zappata creates-one that is full flawed characters who grow and morph in what can only be described as a slow progression of time and circumstance. 5 stars for sure.

And I agree with your comment above regarding Aiden. He was definitely an onion where the layers very slowly and subtly began to get peeled away to what could only be described as a deeply devoted, loyal and fiercely protective man. While I wished we could have lingered in their happily ever after a little longer, there’s no doubt that they formed a a deep and forever bond.

bev March 7, 2016 at 3:08 PM

Not done yet. Lost a bit of steam for me. I like it but something is not gelling. I love that Aiden is such a true introvert. And socially awkward with it. But it kind of felt like the author didn’t know where she was going with the story and all her threads.
I think in Kulti Sal was just such a great pov to be in. Like MichelleS said, the soccer part felt more authentic than the football.

marina March 7, 2016 at 8:04 PM

Just finished. This is the first of her books I’ve read. That was quite the slow burn. Maybe the slowest burn ever? From all of the comments, I am very intrigued to read Kulti! Nothing else is really pulling at me to read right now?

Lisa March 7, 2016 at 8:31 PM

Jackie I’m with you…a new category IS needed….. in honor of our neglected families who we ignore when completely absorbed in our book worlds.
Mine get a grumpy huff in reply when they interupt me when I’m in a book fog…….how dare they!! And usually for something unimportant….i.e. Ive forgotten to feed them for a day or two! :)

Michelle March 8, 2016 at 2:57 PM

I had to come over here and read the comments because as I already posted this one was fabulous for me! Yes, the realistic growth of a relationship and the characters was excellent. I liked how closed off Aiden was because it just made all those little moments and reveals all the more powerful. I also thought there was a lot of secondary characters that maybe didn’t develop as much but I see what she was doing as far as using them as a mirror and driver for Van and Aiden’s relationship. I love when a book focuses on the one relationship and doesn’t go off on too many tangents. The sex scene was impulsive, organic, refreshing. I do not need the stage to be set and for it to read like a scene from a book, all the better if it’s not. I want more too and will be anxiously waiting her next book :D

Stella March 8, 2016 at 3:58 PM

I just finished WoW & I agree with Maryse!
5 stars & I loved it even more than Kulti!
Van’s inner dialogue had me laughing out loud.
Ms. Zapata really is the queen of slow burn, & I LOVE IT! I was never bored and so sad when it was over!
More Pleeeeeaaaassssseeee!!!!

Sadie Grubor March 8, 2016 at 6:16 PM

I’m reading this right now! About half way in and am enjoying it. The heroine has/is a bit of an unknown for me – at the moment. Can’t decide if I like her or she annoys me. I just hope I get the ‘flip off girl’ from the beginning back.

Jet August 9, 2017 at 7:27 PM

I really really hope Aiden will get his book! I NEED IT

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