Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Mariana Zapata - The Best Thing

Some things are easily forgiven. Other things… not so much.
Lenny DeMaio made herself a promise: she was done.
Done thinking about him.
Done worrying about him.
Done reaching out to a man who clearly didn’t want to be found.
Too bad no one gave Jonah Collins the memo.

Comment: Another book by this author I finally read. I realized that, now, I only have two of her books to read and I do hope she will publish something in 2021 as well. Her style is pretty constant (first person female narrator with a slow burn relationship) but I keep reading to see the little things, the small details that make each story special.

In this book we meet Elena "Lenny" DeMaio, who recently took over the management of Maio Gym, specialized in MMA athletes as she goes on her daily life but that is quickly turned upside down with the appearance of rugby player Jonah Collins, someone she met in Paris and where they got to be really close. However, Jonah had an injury and disappeared and Lenny wasn't able to contact him to know what happened and for them to talk. Now he is in her office and she believes he finally got the several messages he left him all those months ago but it turns out, he didn't. Although she can't understand how someone just ignored communication for so long, she goes with it but after all that time is it still possible for their relationship to work out?

As expected, this is a story told by Lenny and we only get to know other character's opinions/motivations through her eyes. I find this tactic a good one to prolong the doubts of how the couple will be together in the end but sometimes, things seem to just be chewed and chewed and feel repetitive. I also think that the hero's POV would be welcome because there are things just just feel too partial if shared only in a conversation the heroine has with the hero. Sure, they can say what they feel but it's not the same as having access to more of the guy's thoughts.

This story also follows the pattern of the other plots: heroine has an opinion/impression of the hero and throughout the book, their relationship changes and she gets to think of him differently. It takes quite a while for that to happen and we often get many scenes with the characters' interactions and where they re together somehow. This obviously helps in creating the notion they are becoming closer but things usually get to a certain point where it feels like they walking around in circles. In what I think this book is slightly different is in how Lenny and Jonah get together again. I won't spoiler it but it was a nice diversion from the usual and it woked as distraction from the fact the heroine, again, had family issues.

Another interesting change from other books was how friendly, shy and reserved the hero was. He was not an arrogant alpha whose attitude would only be obvious after he got together with the heroine. Jonah has reasons to be quieter and I liked how he believed the heroine instead of just wanting to confront her, especially when he was away for so long. His reasons for this were also understandable but at the same time, in this modern age of easy communications, it felt a little forced, just so the plot could keep the secrets until the heroine made them possible to be told. 

Since we only see things from Lenny's perspective, it's also true that no matter how many qualities Jonah has, he still reads as very under developed. Some things are said and taken from granted but we don't really spend enough time with Jonah to see those things confirmed. Unlike other books, I also don't think the tension was done as well as it could to indicate Lenny and Jonah were reaching that unbearable point where they just couldn't help but be together. Their journey was more on the sweet side and although I don't mind it, I still think it could have had a few more sensual scenes before intimacy. 

I should say that the secondary characters who support Lenny (namely her grandfather) were very well done. I think the author does unity quite well but the antagonists are always too... distant emotionally, which means all the "villains" are guilty of not caring enough about the main female protagonist. This tactic can feel rather repetitive too...

Although this story isn't perfect, I still liked to spend time reading and turning the pages. For those who like slow pace, this works well but if you don't, this will feel a bit boring. I think it's very readable but yes, it could use a bit more sparkle...

Grade: 7/10

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