Lingus by Mariana Zapata, narrated by Callie Dalton

close up of a blue plaid shirt and a laminated all access pass with the name "Robby" written on it in SharpieWhy I read it:  This is one from my own TBL.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Most people would describe Katherine Berger as a responsible girl with a big heart, a loyal friend who takes care of those close to her, and the possessor of a wicked sense of humor. There was something about her that most people didn’t know. “My name is Kat Berger, and I love porn.” 

When twenty-five-year-old Kat is dragged to a porn convention by her best friend, she’s both embarrassed and nervous. The last thing she ever expected was to meet someone who makes her laugh like no other. This is a story about acceptance and friendship, and a love born out of the most unexpected of places.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Via some Goodreads friends, I saw that this one is apparently pulled to publish (P2P) fan fiction – apparently it was Twilight fan fiction. I don’t get bent out of shape about this kind of thing, particularly when the the story really bears little or no resemblance to the original story the author was riffing on. And apart from that Kat at one stage mentions she’s name a character in one of her books (she’s a teacher but writes murder-mysteries in her spare time) “Christian” which might have been a nod to Fifty Shades of Grey, I really couldn’t see any resemblance to Twilight in this story.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata, narrated by Callie Dalton

picture of a black football helmet against the hip of a guy in white football pants, on a football fieldWhy I read it:  I really enjoyed Kulti so I queued this one up hoping for another winner. I got it – but I liked Kulti better.

What it’s about: (from 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?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I was expecting this to be a workplace romance. But, you guys! It was a marriage of convenience story (which is even better in my book). Vanessa Mazur has worked for Aiden Graves as his personal assistant for two years. Her job includes answering his emails, posting on his social media, cooking his vegan meals. He’s terse, uncommunicative and opaque. She’s been saving so that she can pursue her work as a graphic designer. She has been doing graphic design after hours and has finally saved up a year’s salary so that she can launch her own business full time. She’s planning on leaving and even gives notice, but when she overhears Aiden’s shitty manager, Trevor, talking about her and notes that Aiden’s response to Trevor’s words are a big fat zilch, she throws in the towel and leaves immediately.

Kulti by Mariana Zapata, narrated by Callie Dalton

female soccer player in mid kick against dark backgroundWhy I read it:  Lots of my friends enjoyed this one so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  “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.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Kulti is a slow burn, enemies to friends (well, at least one enemy anyway), then friends to lovers story and it is fabulous. Sal Casillas is a professional soccer player. She’s a woman so of course, she doesn’t get paid as much money as her male counterparts and her team doesn’t draw huge crowds but she’s as talented and skilled and dedicated to her sport as any man. Sal has a job doing gardening and landscaping work as well as playing soccer.

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