The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Published March 1, 2016
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?
How goes it?
Ahhh Mariana Zapata. If there were an author I’d say was an auto-buy for me, it would be Mariana Zapata. Her books are always neatly wrapped up, the characters are always easy to root for, and the romances are believable and solid. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is no different, and is an addition to my favorites of the year. And Aiden is basically bae.
Part of the reason why I love Mariana Zapata’s books so much is that the ladies are always so full of character, and Vanessa is no different. From her rainbow selection of hair colors (I would also like teal hair, please, thanks), to her loyalty to the people she cares about, Vanessa is probably one of my favorite Mariana Zapata heroines. Actually I like Mariana Zapata’s heroines, period. Another part is that she manages to tell the stories in a straightforward manner that doesn’t lack details, or heart.
When Vanessa is finally, finally done with being Aiden Graves’ assistant extraordinaire, she quits once and for all. She doesn’t need this. She has enough in the bank to carry her through while she’s settling into being a full-time graphic designer, she has her own place (not the best, but her neighbors are ok), and she’ll finally have her own schedule that doesn’t revolve around Aiden’s. While she does have those school loans, she’ll get them paid. Somehow. She’ll find a way.
What she doesn’t expect is to find Aiden sitting on her front steps a month after she has quit, asking her to come back. And when Aiden says that his visa is expiring, she throws out possible solutions, and he picks out the most insane one of all: get married to a US citizen. Seriously. The one time Aiden listens to her.
Their subsequent marriage is basically a business arrangement, and surprisingly (or not), getting married to acquire citizenship is quite common in real life. At least they get along fine, and in Aiden’s words, he likes Vanessa just as much as he likes anyone else.
Confession: I love the cohabitation and fake marriage trope. If you’ve watched enough k-dramas and read enough fanfiction, this is a surefire way to make people have feelings for one another. I think in the course of reading this book I fell for Aiden right alongside Vanessa, and it takes skill to make this trope believable and not forced. It can easily go by the way of cheesy, but Mariana Zapata manages to make it look natural. They still act like they always have, only this time, Vanessa is back in Aiden’s life as his legal wife, not his assistant.
Seeing Aiden and Van’s relationship progress was so satisfying. Starting from an employer-employee relationship, they progress steadily from awkward housemates to tentative friends to being each other’s support system. PLEASE OK, I can only have so many feelings for a fictional couple and Aiden and Van made me feel all the things! Aiden’s development is particularly so satisfying to read because he is detached at first, and it’s one of the reasons Vanessa quits from his employ. He just doesn’t notice anything else around him until it’s too late.
They have similar backgrounds but it’s Aiden who help Vanessa move past her feelings about her family and her disappointment in them by just basically being Aiden. Many fluffy feelings were had in reading this.
There’s also mentions of previous characters and figures, if you’ve read Mariana Zapata’s books before, so if you read this, keep your eyes out for that!
5 paper planes for Team Graves! I am also here for the extremely satisfying epilogue.