Author: Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: December 7, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Sports
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 twenty-seven-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 that 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.
Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know.
Or the murderous urges he brought out in her.
“Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.”
This was going to be the longest season of her life.
Kulti is one of the best sports romances I’ve ever read. Why? For oh so many reason.
First, Sal is a professional soccer player. She’s at the top of her game. Sal’s both physically and emotionally strong. She knows she has flaws, but she accepts them and is proud of them. Sal works hard and is dedicated. These are all things I want my own daughter to be. They qualities I want to have myself. I love that Mariana Zapata created such an outstanding female character. Bravo for that!
Second, I was amazed at the amount of attention and detail that went to the sport of soccer. There weren’t just fly by moments on the field. There were moments at practice, during conditioning, the politics of it, and pieces of the games. I couldn’t believe how much time was given to the actual sport and what it takes to be a professional female athlete. It was amazing.
Third, the family relationships. I loved how supportive Sal’s family was of her on and off the field. I especially enjoyed her relationship with her father. The closeness they shared was special. I could see how Sal became who she was based on her relationship with him, as well as the rest of her family.
Fourth, there were great friendships in this story, too. Sal ran into some cattiness with other players, but she had two really outstanding female friends/teammates. They stood by and supported her in everything. Sal also had some male friends who had her back. I loved all of these relationships!
Fifth, I said relationships twice now, so I can’t leave out Coach Kulti. The guy wasn’t always my favorite, but he was exactly who and what Sal needed. He pushed her to be her best. He might not always have been a stand up guy, but everything he did for Sal was in her best interest. I loved how their relationship developed and changed over time. It was the perfect slow burn enemies to friends to lovers story.
Honestly, I could go on and on with reasons why this is one of my most favorite sports romances of all time. It was just that good. You should go read it now.