Book Review

When Gracie Met The Grump & The Wall of Winnipeg and Me {Combi Mini Book Reviews: The Mariana Zapata Edition}

When Gracie Met The Grump & The Wall of Winnipeg and Me {Combi Mini Book Reviews: The Mariana Zapata Edition}

Hi everyone! Today I’m once again combining mini reviews for two Mariana Zapata books I recently read: one recent new release and one older backlist book. Two very different books but with the same Mariana Zapata slow burn!

When Gracie Met The Grump by Mariana Zapata

Title: When Gracie Met The Grump
Author: Mariana Zapata
Mariana Zapata
Release Date: September 16th, 2022
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult – Romance – Fantasy

My rating in stars: 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My rating in words: 
I really liked it

Check it out on Goodreads


Of all the things that could have landed in her yard… it had to be him.

For most people, finding a half-naked superbeing in their yard might be a dream come true.

Unfortunately for Gracie Castro, it’s the exact opposite.

Especially when he’s grouchy, rude, and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon.

But when a hero of mankind needs you, you do what you have to.

Even if it compromises everything you know.

And totally changes your life.

MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):

“You helped me when you didn’t want to, when it put you at risk. I know what it’s like to do shit you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway because it’s the right thing.” The Defender tilted his head and looked at me so, so seriously. “People think doing the right thing is easy, but it’s not. The right thing is hardly ever convenient.”

I was surprised when I first heard about the new Mariana Zapata book. I’ve been equating her writing with contemporary romance so much that it was a bit of a shock to find out that her newest book had superheroes in them. But I was also very quickly curious and intrigued to see what she would do with it. And though the start of the story was a bit slow and didn’t have me hooked right away, once I hit the 30% or so mark I was addicted. Though there were a few pacing issues, I still really enjoyed it overall and it got me out of a slump so my rating may also be a bit based on that.

The story is told from the POV of Gracie Castro. Gracie lives a lonely, isolated life as she’s on the run from something and does whatever is necessary to stay off the radar and not be found. But one day, a superhero (one of the three famous superheroes in her world known as The Trinity) falls from the sky into her front yard, hurt and in dire need of help. So she takes him in and takes care of him, even if she knows she really shouldn’t stay in one place for too long. But she does stay and help, even when the superhero is actually quite rude to her and a major grump.

Though I loved the book overall, I thought the pacing was a bit off. The first half of the story is a lot slower than the second half. But most of the worldbuilding and explanations of the fantasy elements of the story happened in the second half, as well as introductions of a ton of secondary characters, which made it feel a bit rushed and underdeveloped.

That said, I still think this was a fun read, especially if you go into it expecting a romance and not a super intricate fantasy world. Read this book if you love:

  • Slow burn romance. Like, really, REALLY slow burn. Like, get excited over hand holding and hugs and grudging admiration and deep conversations because you’ll be waiting for a while before you’ll ever get anything more. But the build-up is absolutely genius as always.
  • Superheroes! We get to know a superhero (The Defender) through the eyes of a normal person (Gracie) and discover all their flaws and insecurities because we meet him at his lowest but also learn all of his powers and background and it is just SO MUCH FUN.
  • Fated mates. This trope is not usually my favorite, but I have to say I liked the execution of it in this story. It never felt like too much or never took away the element of choice.
  • The sunshine/grump dynamic. The Defender is a huge grump, but I loved the way Gracie handled him and went up against him. And secretly, The Defender did too, of course 😉 The banter was pretty amazing.
  • The secondary characters. Though we only get secondary characters in the second half of the book and I wish we had had more of them, it was fun to get to know them all.

Overall, I loved this story. It was a surprise for a Mariana Zapata book to feature superheroes, but it was a nice surprise in the end and I’m kind of hoping she will write more in this world. Read this for the romance and the banter and be prepared for the slow burn.

Four Stars
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Title: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
Author: Mariana Zapata
Mariana Zapata
Release Date: February 28th, 2016
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult – Contemporary – Romance

My rating in stars: 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My rating in words: 
I really liked it.

Check it out on Goodreads


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?

MY THOUGHTS (spoiler-free):

“I’m starting to understand that you can always make time for the things that matter.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is one of Mariana Zapata’s most loved older releases, so I felt it was one of the best places for me to start my journey through her backlist. And while it wasn’t my favorite of hers (I have a special place in my heart for Dear Aaron), I could definitely see the hype about it!

This story is about Vanessa, who’s a personal assistant to Aiden Graves, a super famous professional football player. But Aiden is distant and cold to everyone, including her, and once Vanessa has saved up enough money to start her own graphic design business, she quits. Until Aiden is on her doorstep one day, begging for her help. Except, not in the way she ever expected. He needs to get married to be able to stay in the country and he couldn’t imagine doing that with anyone but her. Can they make it work?

As usual, here are my bullet points of everything I loved:

  • Slow burn romance. It’s a given for any Mariana Zapata book but this felt like the perfect example of what a slow burn should be. The build-up for the romance between Vanessa and Aiden is exquisite. How they go from boss/employee who don’t seem to like each other that much to allies to genuine friends to so much more is just *chef’s kiss*.
  • The marriage of convenience trope. I’m a sucker for this trope, and that’s no lie. The awkward ceremony, the living together, the first time he tells someone “Don’t touch my wife”… Swoons. All the swoons.
  • Vanessa. I LOVED Vanessa so much. She’s such a strong person who’s had to deal with a lot of issues in her family but she grew beyond it all and she did it all herself. She may have a temper, but she’s brave and loyal and funny and determined. Yep, I could totally see why Aiden fell for her.
  • Intriguing secondary characters. I quickly fell for Zak and Diana and I’m so happy they get the spotlight in their own books, so I can devour those next.

If I’d had to give one downside to this story it would be: tooo much talk about Aiden’s muscles and size. We get it, he’s big and has a lot of muscles EVERYWHERE. No need to tell me every two sentences.

Overall, the Wall of Winnipeg and Me was another great Mariana Zapata read and I’m happy I finally read it. It was a fun sports romance read that wasn’t too heavy on the sports but was full of emotional relationship development and character growth and I’m all for that!

Four Stars

Tell Me:
Have you read When Gracie Met The Grump or The Wall of Winnipeg and Me? What did you think about them?

Lindsey xoxo

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  1. Hm… You’re making me think I should just skip ahead and finish Gracie. Great reviews!

    1. I hope you’ll end up loving Gracie if you decide to finish it, but I also completely understand that the first half was too slow…

      1. So. Slow.

  2. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader says:

    I am so happy you loved them Lindsey! If I adored The Wall, I didn’t like The Grump as much because of the first very very slow half!

    1. I completely understand about the first slow half of The Grump, Sophie! Glad to hear you adored The Wall though.

  3. At first I thought the first title was When Gracie met Grumpie 😂 But I do love a slow burn with the sunshine/grump dynamic. It sounds like a great read! The Wall of Winnipeg and Me sounds like a good one too. The marriage of convenience trope is one of my all time favorites!

    1. Haha When Gracie Met Grumpie would be an amazing title 😀

  4. Superheroes? How fun!

    1. It was indeed a fun story 🙂

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