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Publisher's Summary

Some things are easily forgiven. Other things...not so much.

Lenny DeMaio made herself a promise: She was done.

Done thinking about him.

Done worrying about him.

Done reaching out to a man who clearly didn’t want to be found.

Too bad no one gave Jonah Collins the memo.

©2019 Mariana Zapata (P)2020 Mariana Zapata
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Romance

What listeners say about The Best Thing

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Enough with the introspective man hating already!

I have a one hour commute twice a day and usually enjoy a light romance to pass the time. Each chapter of this story seemed a rehashing of the EXACT SAME INNER DIALOGUE of the female protagonist.

I absolutely detested her whiney, expletive rich inner dialogue and diatribe against the male character. It is a lazy cop out authors use as shorthand for "see...my heroin is an independent, empowered woman"! I didn't buy her as a loving mother. I didn't buy her as having any maturity whatsoever. And ultimately, I did not give a flip whether she had any kind of happy ending.

I endured seven chapters of nothingness thinking that surely SOMETHING...anything...would happen. It didn't. I am sorry for the performers, who gamely tried to bring the story to life. But even quality verbal performances cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear (as my Great Grandmother, who really was a quintessential strong woman, would have said).

The best gift to myself? Deleting this book from my device unfinished...a first.

26 people found this helpful

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An outstanding read AND listen.

The best audiobooks are ones where the book itself is excellent and with that in hand voice talent is engaged that not only sounds like the characters but reads with perfect pacing, inflection, and clear diction. The Best Thing has it all. The story is a beautiful slow-burn that puts us inside the head of Lenny as she makes a difficult emotional journey from justifiable anger, mistrust and resentment to fully realized love. And the reader is given the chance to see that the love surrounding Lenny supports her journey in very real ways. It’s so refreshing to experience characters whose trials and uncertainty are completely realistic and have them respond with logic, maturity and strength rather than flailing drama. As for the narration, this is one of the best I have encountered and I’ve listened to hundreds of books. The male voices are spot on including the true male voice of “Jonah”. And the timing was superb. Good job all. Enjoy!

26 people found this helpful

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So boring I couldn’t finish

This is a very long story about basically nothing and nothing happens. The entire story is pretty much internal dialogue of the heroine. You don’t get to know the hero at all. It’s only from the POV of the heroine. No character development of the hero what so ever. The story is sooo slow. I couldn’t finish so maybe it gets better but I doubt it.

14 people found this helpful

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Where Has Calum Been all my Life!

The phrase "all the feels" is tossed around a lot when reviewing the romance genre, but I honestly had NEVER used it until I read my first Mariana Zapata novel. MZ is the queen of the feels. It takes a very talented author to be able to write characters that will have you so vested in their story, that you will laugh, ugly cry, get angry, and then laugh some more all in the same book. Without a doubt - "The Best Thing" which is her best thing she has written to date.

Lenny and Jonah's story was SO incredibly sweet. I had liked Lenny in MZ's previous release, "Luna and the Lie" - but getting a chance to really get to explore her background and that of her inner circle was an absolute joy. I went from despising Jonah to being 110% on team Jonah (big and little "J"). As I am not the talented Ms. Zapata, I don't have the literary prose to express how thoroughly I enjoyed the experience of reading this book. Don't even get me started on how amazing the narration was on the audio version - which I waited with baited breath for before I allowed myself to read it. My only criticism for this book, was that it had to end... which is always the saddest part of an amazing read. 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ or rugby balls, whichever you like - it was totally #SweetAs

14 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

No tension, no character development

I spent a credit on this title after seeing all the great reviews and because I loved Kulti. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed in this one. Here's why:

1. NOTHING happens. There's no tension to speak of. No significant obstacles to overcome. The lives of the characters just move forward (slowly) in a completely unrealistically perfect way. And not in that "it's unrealistic but hey it's interesting and exciting and it is a romance after all" way. Just in a mundane way. Nearly all the tension in the book is manufactured in the main character's mind, which actually seemed out of character for her, somehow. And then when there was something I might have actually sympathized with her about, I just didn't care anymore.
2. The characters are not likable (except perhaps Grandpa Gus). The female lead is annoyingly negative, and seems to be strong, except when she's totally ridiculously unrealistically insecure. The male lead is just... bleh. Dull. Except when he becomes completely uncharacteristically gripped with jealousy which is just strange. Aside from the accent, he's not interesting at all.
3. Totally unrealistic relationships. They are all just WAY too easy. Again, not in an exciting interesting way. In a "there's no way life happens like this even in a fantasy so that makes me not want to read about it" kind of way.
4. No suspense of any kind. Even the plot twists (if you can even call them that) were non-events and predictable.

I got to the end (barely, largely because of Grandpa Gus) which is why I gave it two stars instead of 1, but I would not recommend this book, and it's made me less interested in trying any of MZ's other books.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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CINNAMON BUN ALERT - with a Kiwi accent!

Wow I loved this book. This is still all MZ, slow burn and all. But it felt a little different. Some of her slow burns can be really frustrating and by the end you don’t feel like the couple got any time actually BEING a couple. Not so here for some reason... sure the book starts with Lenny thoroughly pissed off at Jonah (for a really good reason) but the man is just such a sweetheart cinnamon bun of a man that she had absolutely no chance standing against him. And it is his steadfastness and no BS or games that makes this feel even better than the usual MZ (sometimes I just want to yell: TELL EACHOTHER HOW YOU FEEL FFS!!!). I loved it and I think you will too!
Some spoilers to follow:
I don’t think there is anything more ovary exploding than a hot dad doting on his baby and that’s what we get here. Jonah is thrown to find out that he is a new dad considering he hadn’t heard from Lenny for months. Except... she had tried to contact him constantly and he had written her often... but somehow they missed each other and Jonah did ignore her calls and remain willfully ignorant of her wellbeing. That is a hard thing to come back from or forgive. I know a lot of people don’t like the surprise pregnancy/baby plot as it takes away from the romance and feels like obligation if he sticks around. I occasionally agree with this but if the writing is good enough and there is more between the couple as in this case I’m ok with it.
I loved grandpa Gus and his Peter. The side characters were as full bodied and well developed as Lenny and Jonah. And uuuhhhhhhgggg that accent! Swoon!
Worth a credit for sure!

7 people found this helpful

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Lenny ❤ Dimples

I'm not crying. You're crying. This is my third time through-2x reading, 1st time listening-and crying through the heartfelt epilogue. I thought Kulti was my favorite Mariana Zapata book (I love them all) but this might take over the top spot.
Mariana's female characters are always strong, witty and sassy. Lenny doesn't disappoint. Some of the comments, especially the vampire references, had me LOLing! I loved Jonah's earnest pursuit to win Lenny back. And his connection to Mo will "slip under your ribs" Also, Calum Gittins narration brings Jonah to life! I wish I could give this more than 5 stars🤩

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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She did it again (like I knew she would)

Mariana Zapata never has disappointed me with a book! I have been waiting to read this one on audiobook for a few months and let me tell you it was worth the wait! Callie (and now Calum) brought this book to life in an amazing way!! This book had such a great storyline and even better characters!! If I could give it more than 5 stars I would have! READ THIS BOOK! You won’t be disappointed!

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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MZ With Respect. This is a Home Run!

Mariana Zapata is one of the few writers that I eagerly await her next book. I know there are women who are fanatical fans of MZ. I come to MZ with respect. WOW, this woman has done it again. This book The Best Thing was an absolute great gut wrenching wild ride. Just when I was in such despair with her main character, MZ turns the direction of the roller coaster and here we go flying high again. MZ knows the art of making me feel despair and anger then on the next page forgiveness and fortitude. I just finished the last page. The tears are still flowing, I can’t seem to get my crying under control. This is an absolutely beautiful story from beginning to end. The tears only flow at the end so don’t let me turn you off of this journey. Don’t be afraid. Hop on the MZ roller coaster and enjoy the journey. There is one Hysterical scene that you don’t want to miss. You will know it when you find it. Picture this, I’m driving my 18 wheeler on I-65S in Indiana at 4am. This scene starts with just a little preamble. Now, I’m laughing so hard I’m trying desperately to catch my breath. I’m trying with all of my might not to pee in my seat. I can’t breath. I might pee myself. And I’m trying diligently to not crash off the Interstate. That is the sign that this is a GREAT Mariana Zapata book. I am giving MZ a standing ovation. I am grateful that MZ uses her superpower for good. I am so proud for YOU Mariana Zapata. You hit it out of the ballpark. Thank You!

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

Phenomenal narration & beautiful story! Unique plot and some of the best characters
Callie Dalton does most of MZ’s audiobooks and seriously slays them all!
Calum Gittins was new to me and did an excellent job as Jonah! Bravo!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Chrissy’s Book Shelf
  • 09-27-21

Superb Story With Excellent Narration

This standalone book, has ties to other books by Mariana Zapata, but you’ll only notice if you’ve read them. Perfect all by itself, it has no cliffhanger.

Lenny DeMaio is a world champion, a national champion and an a pan-American champion Judoka. She never actually got as far as the opening ceremony for the Olympics because of injuries, but she’s beaten everyone that won that’s still fighting. But she gave it all up in a heartbeat for the love of her daughter, Mo. Now managing her family’s martial arts gym, whilst her grandfather, the man who raised her, looks after Mo, she’s finally on an even keel again after 8 months of being a single mother.

The last thing she expects is the father of her daughter to turn up after dropping all contact for 17 months. Jonah Collins is huge, not to mention gorgeous. He’s a world famous rugby player from New Zealand, who turns heads wherever he goes. He and Lenny met in Paris where he was playing rugby and Lenny was teaching judo after an injury. They bonded over a museum tour and soon became inseparable. Then Jonah was injured and disappeared. Now he’s back and Lenny has no idea what he wants.

This, like all Marian Zapata books is a wonderful romance story. The characters are rich, deep and complex. The plot is straightforward but compelling but above all it’s the story telling that wraps itself around you. Lenny is a great character. She’s blunt, forceful and determined. She’s honest and sarcastic and loyal above all else. She adores her grandfather with everything in her and they are partners in crime, along with Peter, the other man who helped raise her. She and her grandfather Gus are two peas in a pod and love how she refers to him as a vampire. In some ways this is a love letter to Gus. He’s almost as important as the two main characters. He’s funny, sarcastic, loyal and loving. He’s a world champion boxer who owns a martial arts gym, who raised a son and then a granddaughter on his own. He plays pick up games of basketball and poker with his friends. He makes puréed baby food for his great granddaughter and reads romance novels. He’s a man’s man, with a soft buttery centre and I adored him. Without Grandpa Gus there would be so much less heart to this story, not to mention less wit.

Jonah is a really sweet and flawed hero. He made some massive mistakes but as we get to know him through the story we can begin to understand why he made the mistakes because of who is. He also owns up to those mistakes and vows never to repeat them. He’s shy and funny in an understated way and falls head over heels in love with his daughter. He’s calm and accepting, but he’s not a pushover when it comes to the people he cares about.

This author is fantastic at creating back stories for her characters. They have complex histories that are mentioned in passing that have an impact on who they are today. They don’t necessarily dwell on the past but they are fully developed and I think this is one of the reasons why this author’s characters are so complex and feel so real. There are so many layers to who they are before we reach the end of the first chapter.

The two narrators do a wonderful job of conveying the characters. I really like that Calum Gittins read all of Jonah’s speech. Actually from New Zealand he was convincing in the role and his light and musical voice was perfect for the part of Jonah. All narration and other characters were read by Callie Dalton. Callie Dalton’s effort at the New Zealand accent wasn’t great when she read the parts of Jonah’s mother and sister and I’m really glad they decided that Jonah should be read by someone with the right accent. There is nothing more distracting than a narrator reading a main character’s speech poorly. Other than her New Zealand accents, Callie Dalton did a great job with the narration and was convincing as Lenny. Between them, these two narrators sucked me in and the book disappeared in no time at all.

This book made me laugh, smile with heart warming moments and sob out loud. It’s a fantastic book about a really difficult situation where two great people work their way through it with the help of good friends and wonderful family. I love this author and I’ve yet to be disappointed by her. I can’t wait to see what comes from her next.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Micky - bookphenomena
  • 04-14-21

Zapata goodness all round

I devoured this book in the best way I know how, on holiday, with my full and undivided attention, just what any Zapata book deserves. THE BEST THING gave me all the things I love from my favourite Zapatas – family and friends, the slow burn build and all of the stomach-crunching feelings. What was special about this book was that it went a direction that Mariana hasn’t gone before and it worked so darn well.

This story has a split sport context of MMA and rubgy…hello…this is fine by me. What a picture was painted, I loved the home of Maio House. This book delivered on some of the best characters I’ve read from a MZ book, Lenny (Elena), Jonah, Grandpa Gus, Mo (special squidge to the stomach here) and Peter. Each of these characters had my heart and all equally, I cannot favour one over the other.

Lenny was a woman let down, let down in the biggest way. Each chapter start gave a very brief past context to the ways in which Lenny had been let down and the more that the book progressed, the more those chapters starts kicked me in the gut. Jonah was the guy, THE GUY and it’s amazing how my heart, mind and affections moved towards understanding him. This big, bumbling, shy and gorgeous creature was swoon-heaven but guess what, Lenny was a champion MMA fighter, she could totally kick his ass with a foot swipe and her mouth.

<i>There was nothing he could do that I couldn’t fight. There was nothing he could say that would possibly hurt me. I had prepared for this.

What was it that he wanted to explain? Why had he disappeared? Why hadn’t he called me back? What hadn’t he wanted to be part of…my life? Why he’d decided to come back now?</i>

The unexpected element of this book was thrilling to me and this aspect was written so well, my heart was warm and cozy, wrapped up in the family-ness of this book. Sorry for the vagueness but it is necessary.

This second chance story with a deep connection at the heart, was fantastic. It was written with a style that just seemed to appeal to my mind and heart. I saved the last 6% for my flight home and what an idiot I am because that epilogue had my eyes sweating on take off. That said, that epilogue was just right for me.

Go read, go love, go savour.

Re-read by audio and it gave all the feels again. The narration was excellent and the dual dialogue was great.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cassltbookaholic
  • 01-18-22

Another great read from the queen of slow burn romance!

As always the queen of slow burn romance does it again! Yet another bunch of characters that I have fallen in love with and dang it did she catch me in the feels with this one! I loved every second of it.

As for the narration of the book, Callie and Calum did an amazing job bringing these characters to life!

5 Stars ⭐️

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  • Geoli8907
  • 09-05-21

Crying!

Oh god, I put off reading this for ages, from the blurb I just wasn’t overly interested, but I’m so glad I read (listened to) it! Jonah was great, but by far my fave was Grandpa Gus!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bianca Vieira
  • 08-24-21

Romantic & Wholesome Second Second Chance Romance

The Best Thing - 3.5/5

What I Liked:
- The slow burn romance was so good! I really did fall in love with Jonah.
- The way in which information was revealed (since the synopsis was very vague) was quite satisfying and I could almost see the little movie playing in my mind.
- Having a male narrator do all of Jonah's dialogue. His voice was just perfect!
- The de Maio family: from their interesting history to their wholesome love for each other.

What I didn't like:
- The female narrator has very little range when it comes to doing different voices, even female voices. But overall her voice was pleasant enough to get through the story.
- I hate that that the first 80% was slow burn and the last 20% was rushed through to reach a conclusion (especially the epilogue, it felt unnecessary). For this reason alone I'm downgrading to 3.5 stars, because up until 80% the story felt well-crafted and the remainder felt like it was thrown together in 5 minutes.

Overall I do recommend this book because it gave me all the feelings.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-23-20

Great book

This is a pleasant read. Calm and enjoyable and the ending so good and tears aplenty. The narrators very good and don't we all want a granddad gus

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Olive oil
  • 09-19-20

Not the best

A bit of a non book, with a weak story line, a shame because I usually love her books the best bit was the beautifully written ending

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  • FriesB4Guys
  • 02-13-20

Another must-listen from Mariana Zapata

I was waiting impatiently for this audio book, as I do with all this author’s books. As a New Zealander I was also nervous to see how the kiwi accent of the male protagonist would be handled. Delighted to find that narrator Calum Gittins is a talented NZ actor and his performance worked splendidly with Callie Dalton’s usual high standard of narration.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kelly
  • 02-18-20

so enjoyable to listen to

I've been looking forward to the audio of The Best Thing releasing since I finished reading the ebook, and it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed the performances of both narrators, Calum Gittins especially - I love listening to characters that have accents, I only wish Jonah had more lines so there was more of him to listen to!

Lenny's relationship with Grandpa Gus was the best. They have such an amazing bond, and the way they bantered with each other had me smiling constantly. It was sweet and funny, and Grandpa Gus held awesome grudges when it was required.

I'm not going to say much on Lenny and Jonah, as the way the story unfolds should be read without spoilers. I just REALLY REALLY hope that at some stage the author releases a few bonus scenes from Jonah's POV because that would be so amazing.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Beezie Reads Romance
  • 04-19-22

excellent narration

I already loved the story, but as a half Kiwi, half Aussie, it was so excellent to hear and actual Kiwi narrating Jonah's part.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sonsta
  • 04-17-22

Excellent duet narration

Lovely story of family and love. All MZ’s stories are wonderful. All a very slow burn (which can be a bit frustrating during the set up) but worth the wait. Awesome characters, and the duet narrations, particularly with an authentic kiwi accent and phrasing was terrific.
Epilogue was everything…

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  • Petrina Brooks
  • 03-14-22

Fabulous Feels

I absolutely loved this book, great characters, displaying strength, grit & determination about a variety of issues, which were believably bought to life by the narrators. It was lovely to hear a genuine New Zealand accent not a butchered one. This gave me a fabulous emotional ride & beautifully represented the best of “family” however that comes to be. It’s my favourite by this author so far.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jade B
  • 01-27-22

The Best Thing

This book is emotional, and sweet and all the things a good romance book should be. I really enjoyed it!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-09-21

The Mediocre Thing

This was a really hard book to finish.

I'm normally a huge MZ fan, but for some reason I couldn't connect with any of the characters in this book.

Lenny was the most frustrating personality I've dealt with and didn't show the normal maturity of someone that age, who has periods of living along in her life and to 'get off' men getting jealous of her was really disturbing.

CD and CG did exceptional performances and were the only reason I could finish the book in the book.

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  • Carcoura
  • 05-25-20

An awesome book, a sensational audiobook

Mariana Zapata just gets better and better with every book she delivers, but hats off to Calum Gittins and Callie Dalton for giving 2 of my all time favorite characters an extra dimension through their fabulous narration. Sweet (8-and-a- half-pound) baby Jesus... Grandpa the vampire... so much to laugh about, so much to squeeze tears straight from the heart. 8 stars out of 5. Easy.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-05-20

She is back!!!

Another amazing title from MZ. I was laughing and crying all while falling in love with these characters.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-15-20

Always a hit, this one is a miss for me.

Let me start off by saying I am a huge Mariana Zapata fan and anxiously await her new releases on audio. She's one of the few romance authors that do a slow burn right. Unfortunately, this book couple I couldn't feel much of a connection between them at all. I normally devour a Mariana Zapata book in a day, but I found myself bored without the desire to keep listening. Though this one didn't do it for me, I will definitely continue to purchase every future release.