Ranked: Mariana Zapata Books
It’s no secret that Mariana Zapata is my favourite romance author. After years of avoiding the genre (for what reason, I do not exactly know) I have become a huge fan but I’m still quite picky about the authors I will read from.
I love slow-burn (and hate insta-love with a blinding passion) so Marana Zapata was a great fit for me. The queen of the slow-burn romance, her books just tick all of my boxes and I pretty much love everything that she has written.
Like everyone, I do have my favourites, and I thought it would be fun to do a post ranking them. I am going by my own personal opinions – I’m not in any way saying that some are better written than others or judging them critically; I am strictly listing them by how much each have spoken to me (and what ones I tend to gravitate to re-reading more often though I have revisited each of them several times over the last couple of years).
From Lukov With Love was my very first Zapata book, so for that reason alone it holds a special place in my heart. However, there are a few I do enjoy more so it isn’t my number one choice (though it’s up there, for sure!) My top pick fluctuates between two books (and usually depends on which one I’ve read most recently).
13. Under Locke
I do like this book a lot, but it loses points with me for how many times the word ‘friggin’ is uttered by the main character Iris (according to my Kindle, a whopping 127 times!) I get it, she’s a good girl who doesn’t like to swear, but I felt like I could make a drinking game out of this (and would be sozzled in no time). I realise that this is a bit petty, but it did get annoying after a while and it’s something I pick up even more on re-reads. I’m also only about 80% sold on Dex – I like him but I don’t love him.
This was Zapata’s debut book and I really like it but feel it pales in comparison to her later works. I like the characters a lot (and I’m not squicked out by the whole porn star element, even though I’m not a huge lover of smut) but I don’t relate to them as much as the characters in her newer stuff. Compared to other romance books I’ve read it definitely rates higher but when looking at Zapata’s full output I enjoy other stories better.
11. Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin
I think this is a really sweet romance (and I love the fact that it is a musicians book – they are my personal weakness!) Gabby and Sacha are really lovely together and it definitely puts a smile on my face every time I read it. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that I tend to like angst in my romances and there is very little in this book. Just a personal preference, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of this book…
10. The Best Thing
I like The Best Thing just fine but I’m always a little more wary about books with kids as a focus. This is a great second chance love story and I really do like Lenny and Jonah and all of the supporting characters, but I did tend to feel that Grandpa Gus took away some of the focus (he is quite the character but he runs away with the scenes he appears in).
9. When Gracie Met the Grump
This is Zapata’s most recent book and it veers away from her usual genre – it’s about superheroes – but it is very much still a love story at its core. Probably the only reason this one isn’t higher on my list is because I’ve only read it twice (it came out near the end of last year). I did very much enjoy it and it was interesting to see the author jump out of her comfort zone (while still very much being a typical Zapata book).
I know, I know, don’t throw stones at me! Kulti is generally considered one of her best books by Zapata’s fans and I do love it a fair bit but there are others I love more so… It is a great book with a very engaging romance and story. It is one of Zapata’s earliest books and it is impressive as has all the earmarks of classic Zapata fare and you can definitely see her style really shaping up with this one. It’s a goodie.
7. Dear Aaron
I love this book! I really like the pen-pal element, so much so that it is almost jarring when it falls back into the normal narrative (the first half is letters, emails, and skype messages between the main character Ruby and Aaron – a soldier who is currently deployed). It is a sweet book and I really relate to Ruby a lot. Aaron is also wonderful.
6. Hands Down
I was desperate for a Zac book (he first appears in a book higher up this list) and I really enjoyed Bianca and their relationship. It does have one of my least favourite tropes (the huge misunderstanding) which is probably the only reason it doesn’t fall into my top 5 (although a couple of years ago this one actually would have been nearer the top so go figure…) I still really love it.
5. From Lukov With Love
I’m actually re-reading this one at the moment! As I mentioned earlier, this was my first Mariana Zapata read and it is still a comfort read for me. I love Jasmine and Ivan (I think Ivan is in my top 3 of favourite Zapata love interests!) I’ve always loved figure skating so the story shouted out to me right from the start. It’s just such a warm, fuzzy love story and I definitely consider it a firm favourite.
4. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
I think this might actually be the highest rated of all of Zapata books, and one that tops the list for most of her fans. I really like Vanessa and Aiden – I’m a huge fan of the sham marriage leads to love type of trope so this one was always going to work for me. I think that this one also is a lot more polished than some of her earlier books. The writing is tight and the story is given room to breathe without veering off into tangents (I happen to like the tangents but I get why they can sometimes irk readers).
3. All Rhodes Lead Here
This book… it gutted me, I’m not afraid to admit it. It has the most realistic depiction of grief that I have ever read. The characters are amazing (and Rhodes is super-dreamy). I adore Aurora and her relationship with Rhodes and his son Amos. It’s just such a powerhouse of a book and I cannot say enough good things.
2. Luna and the Lie
I really hate putting this one in second place (I almost chickened out and made it a joint first place with my top choice!) This book just speaks to me on a level I don’t quite understand. Luna and Rip are just such a complimentary pair (sunshine and grump respectively) and I adore them more than I can say in words. I re-read Luna and the Lie recently and it never fails to move me. I’m tempted to move it to first place but I can’t dammit!!
1. Wait for It
Gah, this book! I am completely and utterly head over heels for it! I adore Diana and Dallas (and Josh and little Louie) so bloody much! It is always Luna and the Lie and Wait for It vying for first place as my absolute favourite Mariana Zapata novel. Sometimes Luna wins, other times Diana is my queen. I honestly teeter between the two of them but Wait for It wins out by a fraction. It hurts to choose one over the other but Diana’s story just calls to me slightly more. I am more like Luna than Diana (though I wish to be as kickass as Diana is!) but it’s not necessarily about relatability – both of their stories break my damn heart – there’s just something about Diana and Dallas and those two little boys that resonate with me.