KultiAuthor: Mariana Zapata
Narrator: Callie Dalton
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release date: July 28th 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Length: 16 hours and 13 minutes
Add to TBR: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository | Kobo | Audible
By using some of the above links, you're helping to support the running of LiatoF. Thank you!Star rating:
“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.
The Faerie Queen’s review
Mariana Zapata is one of my few auto-buy authors for a reason.
She is a goddess.
Her books tend to be on the long side, especially for a contemporary, but I am never bored while reading/listening. (To be fair, I’ve only read three of her books so far, but I’ve got all the ones I can get from Audible lined up and ready to go, and I’ve got From Lukov With Love on my Kindle just waiting for me to dive in.) This book is long. 572 pages, or over 16 hours of audio goodness. Prepare yourself, but also realise that I listened to it within 48 hours, it was so good. (I also listen to everything at at least 1.25x speed, if not 1.5x, so that helped.)
One thing I’ve noticed about Mariana’s covers is that they don’t stand out as romance. Instead of going with the usual cover features that would help readers identify a book as some subgenre of romance, she goes for meaningful yet ambiguous covers. Kulti, in both of its cover forms (see right for the audiobook cover), does not look like a romance novel at all. But maybe this is a good thing. Because, while the build up of a relationship is an underlying current of the book, so much more goes on. For example, the dynamics between Sal and her friends and family, all of whom are unique and developed and lovely. (So much love to Sal’s dad. Seriously. I could hug him.)
But being a romance, let’s focus on Sal and Reiner. This is a hate-to-love story with a beautiful begrudging friendship in the middle. But that’s a simplified account, as Sal and Reiner go back long before they actually meet. Sal idolised Reiner as a child, wanted to marry him as a young teenager…and then hated him after he got too aggressive on the field during a game she was watching. Reiner…well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but he eventually finds out, and this scene is Worth The Wait. (And a bit weird funny.) But that scene doesn’t happen until the end, and what’s in the middle is pure character and relationship development from the ground up. Mariana weaves a believable story of two people learn to respect each other, enjoy spending time together, and trust each other. Throw in some hilarious family interactions, and everything is golden.
There’s not a ton of sex in Mariana’s books, but what she lacks in quantity, she makes up in build-up and quality. They’re not overly graphic or gratuitous, but by the time you finally reach them, you’ll burn up like a phoenix and come back to life wanting more. I don’t know how she does it. Mariana, how do you get your sex scenes so hot without overdoing them? I need to know.
Another big aspect of this story is Sal’s career. As a professional footballer – I mean soccer player… – a lot of her life revolves around soccer. But highlighted so well by this book is the added strain of being a female soccer player. She doesn’t earn as much as a man would, she doesn’t draw in the same crowds, she can’t make any wrong move. This is in stark contrast to Reiner’s life, a celebrity top earner even after retirement. Sal does everything for her career and her club, and it’s heartbreaking to read how she is treated when accused of doing something she didn’t do. On the flipside, this gave Reiner the opportunity to prove how much he was willing to do to support Sal, and I cheered.
Ugh. That man. So infuriating, but so loveable.
All in all, another goal for Mariana. (Haha, I’m so funny.)
I would recommend this book to…
Lovers of slowburn romance, gruff men that slowly open up, and badass women who refuse to back down when they’ve done nothing wrong