Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mariana Zapata - Kulti

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”
When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.
It didn't take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she'd seen in the international soccer icon - why she'd ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.
Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn't known she'd existed. So she isn't prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team's season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he'd once been.

Comment: This author became quite the hype these past years and some friends of mine have enjoyed reading her books so I naturally added one title to see what was about it that caught so many people's attention when it came to the author's voice. This book has been in the pile for about three years but I finally got to it.

In this book we have Sal Casillas' story. She is a 27 year old soccer player in the US and when the story begins, she and her team mates are extremely enthusiastic about the coming of Reiner Kulti, a very famous ex-player from Germany who has been a veritable success until his retirement.
Kulti is now 39 and was invited to coach the woman's team where Sal plays but he doesn't seem very participative at first. This seems like a disappointment to Sal because she started playing in her school team when Kulti was beginning his professional career so throughout her teenage years he was her biggest idol and crush but his attitude now makes her realize he isn't who she thought he was.
However, a speech she says to him after she hears him treating her father with indifference is the staring point to a change in their relationship..suddenly they are friends and confidants... but will Kulti ever be just a coach around sal?

The books by this author are known by it's slow progress on romance development. The characters do get to know one another quite well before any carnal or deep emotional feelings are expressed and put in practice. This can make the story look romantic, special and the pace can be both sweet - we get to fall in love with the characters and frustrating - if their connection is so strong and nothing happens. I think the author has managed to do a great job balancing these things and in my POV, the romance was cute and a delight to observe.

Still, this long paced romance can also look a little too much like a childish situation. Often the characters would interact in scenes I sincerely couldn't envision 27 and 39 year old doing, like when Kulti went on a break with Sal to her parents' house so he wouldn't be alone. The situations they seem themselves in are clearly meant for us to realize how they were in sync and falling in love but sleeping in bunk beds in one room and struggling with sexual tension like that just felt so immature and unlikely to happen to grown ups.

My biggest problem, however wasn't that because I could put it in the main context of the romance plot. What really bothered me the most was the fact we only get Sal's POV in a first person narrative! Why can't authors realize that in romance this is tremendously limitative?!
While Sal is a charismatic narrator, so many situations seem downplayed or not explored to the maximum just because we can't know what the other character was thinking. Yes, inferring, reading between the lines is quite interesting but so many scenes just lose impact. In a romance, having both their POVs just enhances the experience and when they finally admit things we can cherish and not just be happy the other one was in the same mind place.
I felt Kulti was such a captivating character but because he only spoke in dialogue scenes, much of his past was not developed and many things were left to wonder about. Maybe they aren't that important but I would have liked to know about them anyway.

The secondary characters were interesting enough. I think they did their role as necessary.
One comment about the other female characters: Some readers complain the way the heroine sees other women (regarding their views of Kulti as a powerful man whether because of his looks or his money) is depreciative and wrong to women as a rule. I didn't see it that way, having Sal thinking some less positive things about other women isn't different from anyone's inner thoughts about whatever. I often call names to other people in my head while driving lol
As for Sal's friends, they seemed funny and supportive.

Overall, I liked reading this because most of the time we have Sal interacting with Kulti in situations that can be understandable considering their jobs. It could be much better though. Nevertheless, I consider this a positive story for me because I did like reading it, I didn't want to put the book down and the scenes after they admit their love are often sweet and the dialogues very romantic. The epilogue is cute but could also be more detailed (for me).
Grade: 8/10

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