Review: The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata

Posted November 27, 2021 by Kate

Review: The Best Thing by Mariana ZapataCheck out on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: Dear Aaron,
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Source: Kindle Unlimited

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.

I’ve been on a Mariana Zapata kick all summer, have been alternating between wanting to consume her books as fast as possible, and spread them out to savor them more thoroughly. Every Zapata book I’ve read to this point has been hallmarks of the year, ones I have an all-consuming love for. The Best Thing breaks that streak for me. Even as I did enjoy it, it didn’t measure up to the Zapata books I’m used to, but I’ll get into why a little bit more later.

The Best Thing follows Lenny about six months after she had her daughter Mo, the product of a romance from her temporary job in France, where her boyfriend (Jonah) completely cut her out of his life after getting seriously injured. She hadn’t even known she was pregnant at the time. But she’d moved back home to manage her grandfather’s MMA gym and have Mo, and that’s where Jonah finds her when he finally realizes the huge mistake he made – not even knowing about the adorable Mo.

“She’s ours, dumbass. Who else would she be?”

Our heroine, Lenny, was a badass!! I loved her style, a lot. She’s blunt and harsh and frequently name-calls, even when she’s saying something complimentary. She had an amazing fighting career but gave it up to be a mom and truly loved Mo so much. She’s grown up and made a career of managing men, and I freaking loved her style. 

Conversely, Jonah, the love interest, was adorable! He’s a large brute of a rugby player, but he is shy and absolutely the cutest. (But this doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a Possessive Streak) He was truly wanting to do anything to make things right for Lenny and Mo, and was completely devastated in the best way when he found out he had a daughter, and that he’d already missed so much. I’m flashing back to when he was taking notes on how to prep her food!? I said he was the cutest! But he was also… kinda boring? There were certainly adorable nuances that made me like him overall, but I don’t really feel like I got to know his personality at all. He was a massive blank canvas that was quite cute at times but others… nothing at all. 

But I mentioned that this wasn’t my favorite Zapata book, and maybe that’s because the plot devices are a bit off-the-grid from what I’ve come to expect from this Slow Burn Queen. For Jonah and Lenny, they’d already had an established romance, and this was their second chance. He screwed up (huge!) and had a lot to make up for and prove, but for the most part, they stepped right back into the swing of things, excluding the romance. I just didn’t feel the actual simmer of tension/possibility/angst about something happening between the two of them. It was totally an inevitability, something that was just ignored for most of the book, which did make this one lag just a bit. It was far more light-hearted than I’m used to from Zapata, and it felt just plain slow, instead of a slow-burn. 

When my dad would have been twenty-five, I had been born, and the rest was the story of Lenny and Grandpa Gus. The greatest story of all time.

But BY FAR the best part of this book were the side characters. Namely: Grandpa Gus. He was the one who raised Lenny since birth, and they were soulmates, best friends, family, and EVERYTHING to each other. Their relationship was absolutely hilarious and incredibly tender, even as they mostly just razzed-on each other. But their relationship 👏🏻 just 👏🏻 gave 👏🏻  me 👏🏻  life 👏🏻  because they truly were each other’s end-all, be-all. And let’s just say: my number one ship in this book? Was a secret, but I guessed it 😁

This is an earlier Zapata book than others I’ve read, so it’s very possible that this just highlights a bit of a style change for her, although there were a few obvious editing mishaps (like when Jonah’s dad was casually mentioned as standing behind his mom but he was literally never talked about or present?) And while it didn’t live up to the standard the others have set at all (i.e., I didn’t feel the urge to read this in one sitting and stay up until 4-6 am, but was actually able to set this one down several times). It was a pleasant read, but one that should have been cut in half. 

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Have you read a Mariana Zapata book? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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