Hands Down by Mariana Zapata ~ Review & Teaser (@marianazapata_)

Mariana Zapata is my go to author when I want a well fleshed out story, with intense characters who build a slow romance. This one was a good read, but certainly not my favourite Zapata book.
Hands Down
Title: Hands Down
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Sports Contemporary Romance
Published: July 2nd 2020

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Before he was Big Texas, he was Zac the Snack Pack.

Bianca Brannen knows time—mostly—heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.)

She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold.

Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.

I’ve read a few books by Mariana Zapata, and after reading The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, I was genuinely excited for Hands Down. I’m usually swept away with Zapata’s world building and character development. However, I was a little let down by this particular read, as both characters seemed clueless, there were many repetitive phrases, and the realisation for the characters came very late in the book.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a horrible read. I liked that Bianca and Zac had such a long friendship and that Biancas cousin Boogie that brought them back together. There were so many good elements. I just thought that the story was so drawn out in places, where other moments were skipped. They were oblivious to the change in their relationship, and if I had to hear “my old friend” one more time, I was going to throw the book.

It was obvious that Bianca and Zac belonged together, they enjoyed each other’s company and would do anything for one another. It was a shame they lost touch with one another, and they didn’t reach out to one another earlier. I liked seeing Vanessa and Aiden make an appearance in this read too. It’s just disappointing that I couldn’t get right into this read.

I have a sweet moment between Zac and Bianca, and one where Zac is putting his feelings out there, that made me giggle.

I took the step into them. As an adult, as grown-up Bianca.
He drew me into him, into his chest, into his life, I guess.
Zac Travis hugged me and said, “I sure did miss you, Little Texas.”
Something in me unraveled at the name he hadn’t used in so long.
In so, so long.
With my cheek against his chest, I told him the truth. “I really missed you too, Big Texas.”

Kindle Page 202

He made a soft sound in through his nose. “Did you steal my damn heart, run off with it, and say I’ll see ya later? ’Cause the answer to that is yes.”
I really was on the verge of passing out, and it took everything in me to whisper, “No, for real.”
“I’m bein’ for real,” he replied easily, one corner of his mouth curled up into a lazy smile. “I’ve thought about it. I’m thinkin’ it happened sometime between you givin’ me that awful pep talk about old Zac kickin’ this Zac’s ass and you throwin’ bombs at me, I’d say.”

Kindle Page 494

Mariana Zapata began writing love stories soon after she learned how to spell. She probably shouldn’t admit that she started sneaking romance novels from her aunt’s bookshelves way before she was old enough to even understand what it meant when a man flipped up a woman’s skirt… don’t tell her mom. Luckily, she stuck to stories about princesses and princes for a while. In her teens, she wrote boy band fanfiction (there’s still a website up somewhere on the internet with those masterpieces), and in her early twenties, she picked it back up again with Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight. Eventually, her significant other finally told her to do what she wanted to do and she began working on her original work. Her novels tend to include potty humor, bodily functions, and bad words. Mariana lives in a small town called Pagosa Springs, Colorado with her husband/best friend, Chris Letchford, and their two well-beloved (and emotionally manipulative) Great Dane children, Dorian and Kaiser. When she’s not pretending to write, she’s reading sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk or historical romance novels. You can usually find her harassing her dogs, being a hermit at home or cracking jokes at the expense of her family members.

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