Audio Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

May Contain Spoilers

I had seen some reviews for Mariana Zapata’s books online, so when it was time to load up another audio book, I borrowed The Wall of Winnipeg and Me using my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I borrowed both the audio and digital versions, and while I read the last three chapters, I listened mostly to the audio book. I loved the narrator and she really made the book come alive for me.

Vanessa works as a personal assistant for The Wall of Winnipeg, AKA Aiden Graves. He’s a defensive linesman for a pro football team, and he’s all business. No play. No meat, vegan diet, my body is a temple. It’s also worth millions, so his dedication to keeping in top form is completely understandable. Aiden is also gorgeous (of course!), and built like a brick shithouse.

Aiden is also a man of few words. During the years that Vanessa has worked for him, he’s never once said Good morning, Hello, What’s up?, or any other kind of polite conversation. His entire focus is on the game, and that often has Vanessa plotting his death. Instead, she saves her money, dreaming of the day she can quit and start her own business, leaving Aiden and his questionable people skills in the the dust.

When she does exactly that, after hearing Aiden’s manager, Trevor, insult her, with no pushback from Aiden, she decides that today is the day and enough is enough. Weeks go by, and Aiden is suddenly on her doorstep. Won’t she please, pretty please fake marry him so he can get permanent residency in the US? He doesn’t want to go back to Canada, and he’ll pay off Vanessa’s exorbitant student loans if she agrees to be his wife for five years. Growing up poor and in foster homes, Vanessa really, really wants the financial security that Aiden is offering her. Despite her fear of being found out and going to jail, she agrees to help him out.

Okay, I wasn’t so fond of the reason for the fake marriage because it didn’t make much sense to me. Aiden is a millionaire, he plays professional football, he is a celebrity, and even if his career ended, I can’t imagine that it would be all that difficult for him to stay in the country, even in this weird new world we live in where certain immigrants are kicked to the curb. Aiden doesn’t fall into any of those categories, so this aspect of the plot didn’t really work for me.

Despite that concern, I did enjoy the book. It is a slow burn romance, and there isn’t even that much sexual tension between Aiden and Vanessa. What there is, though, is a slowly developing friendship, built on trust and mutual respect. Both Vanessa and Aiden have serious trust issues, caused by family betrayals.  Aiden has a lot of work to do to completely gain Vanessa’s trust, because he did let her down and treat her badly in the past. Social graces are not his strong suit. When he finally accepts that he was at fault, he works overtime to earn her forgiveness. After he turned that page, I really liked Aiden and couldn’t wait to see how they would bridge the distance in their relationship.

I also loved how Vanessa’s character matured. She learned to stick up for herself, and while I wish she had given Trevor a harder time, she did make it clear that she wasn’t a woman to mess around with. 

I thought the story was overly long, but overall, I did enjoy this discovery. I’m looking forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Grade: 3.75 – 4 stars

Review copy borrowed from Kindle Unlimited

About the book:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.
But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.
For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.
What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?