Oh Mariana Zapata, I have such a love/please for the love of god find an editor relationship with you. She wrote my favorite slow burn romance ever, Kulti, and is back this time with a different set of athletes.
Jasmine Santos is a world class figure skater trying to decide if it’s time to end her career after her pairs partner bailed a year before. Ivan Lukov is the current reigning pairs figure skating champion and all around taunting pain in Jasmine’s backside at their shared training facility. When Ivan offers her the spot of partner for a season Jasmine decides to take a chance to go back into her dream full force and try to win. What starts out as an aggressive, antagonistic relationship evolves first into friendship and then further.
Ms. Zapata writes slow burns, that’s her “thing”. It’s not my thing in particular, but I really loved the effect in Kulti. This is the third book of hers I have read, and it’s starting to just feel a little too repetitive. She literally waits till 90 some percent of the way through the book for the characters to get together, every time. She could mix it up just a little, but has not so far.
That isn’t to say this is a bad story or you shouldn’t read it. First off though, I’m a huge figure skating fan. Have been since I was a little kid. I in no way had an ounce of natural talent for it, but goodness do I love to watch others fly across the ice. So I was totally down for a skating romance. Secondly, Ms. Zapata does the best characterization I’ve found of what it’s like to be a world class athlete. More so than any of the football, hockey, etc books out there she represents how grueling and all consuming it is to be an athlete at the professional level. I really appreciate that about her, because in reality you really do give up your whole life for decades in order to maintain that level of skill. She captures it so well. Third, Ms. Zapata also doesn’t always right the most “likable” heroines. Jasmine is loud, combative, and has zero f*cks to give, and I appreciate the reality of that yes it does take a decently aggressive personality for a person to make it that far in almost any sport. You don’t get there by acquiescing to everyone sweetly, that’s for sure.
My biggest issue overall is that Ms. Zapata desperately needs an editor. She’s not terrible, but an editor just tightens everything up, catches when you characterize someone the same exact way three different times, etc. She’s definitely growing her readership now so I hope an agent takes notice, and helps her out. Please, because it’s starting to throw me out of the stories more and more. I’m sorry, but as an example: there’s a skating event at Lake Placid. Okay, cool, until she tells me it’s in Michigan. I’m sorry, but that just throws me out of the story. First of all as a born and raised Upstate New Yorker, it hurts my soul, but secondly it’s such an easy thing an editor or even Zapata doing a quick google search could have caught. It’s just one of many little things that I feel having a second pair of eyes on it would really help.
This is all to say that if you enjoy really long slow burn romances, romances about legitimate world class athletes, or Zapata in the past, her newest one is right up your alley. Go forth and enjoy. Also, Ms. Zapata, call me if you need an editor. I’m not a professional, but I can help a little!