Plot: Vanessa Mazur has just quit her job after two years of being a personal assistant to famous professional football player Aiden Graves. He didn’t treat her very well, and she wants to start her own graphic design business, so she’s out. But he shows up at her door after she quits, begging her to come back. I won’t say any more of the plot from there.
In this book’s favor, I couldn’t stop listening to it. So addictive. The story pulled me along, even as stuff bugged me about it. Zapata is pretty great at character arcs, and she knows how to structure a slow burn (slooooooow) so that you don’t lose interest. This book also features a stealth trope that nobody talks about so I won’t say what it is, but that trope never fails to win me over.
This is my second Zapata. I read Kulti last year after everyone here started doing it, and while it wasn’t perfect and needed some professional editing, I really enjoyed it. I definitely enjoyed this one less because I read Kulti first. Her flaws as a writer become even more apparent after you’ve read more than one of her books. And I’m not just talking style, although that’s a huuuuuge part of it. She does the same exact things here, the same voice, as she does in Kulti. She seizes on one thing and repeats it until you’re annoyed (here’s it’s Vanessa’s tendency to count in her head so she doesn’t lose her temper, in Kulti it was the “he’s just a man who poops” joke). She uses the same inner monologue style for both characters, to the point where they were almost indistinguishable from each other to me. They both ask rhetorical questions as a way of moving the plot along, frequently, for instance. But mostly it’s that character in first person comes across in the style you use to write it, and sitting here now, I honestly can’t tell you that Vanessa and the heroine from Kulti are any different from each other. They have the same voice.
I will admit that a large part of my thoughts on this come from listening to the audiobooks, which are both narrated by Callie Dalton. She has the same voice and tics that just emphasize all of Zapata’s tics, until you’re like, okay, I like you and everything, but please stop.
So what’s here isn’t bad at all–it needed professional polishing, certainly, and it was about 100 pages too long–but it’s SO similar to what I’ve read from her before that I just couldn’t enjoy it as much. Even as the story for her characters was completely different. Even Vanessa’s backstory is completely different from Sal’s, but still, they felt like the same character to me (Aiden and Kulti felt different from each other, though.) I will continue to read Zapata’s stuff, but I think I’m going to do ebooks from here on out.