A Grumpy Sunshine, Small Town, Slow Burn Romance
“The truth was, I liked him even more for saying those words. For thinking that deeply, I liked him so much in so many ways.”
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata is another stellar story from an author who keeps hitting home runs every time she releases one of her books into the world. I always know what to expect in a Mariana Zapata story— a romance which is told solely from the heroine’s point of view and ends happily. Mariana Zapata writes what I would consider literary hugs.
If you’re not familiar with Mariana Zapata, then you should know that she is known for her slow burn and the highly addictive grumpy sunshine romance between her main characters. All Rhodes Lead Here combines all the classic elements fans of Mariana Zapata (MZ for short) have come to love. Aurora De La Torre is a heroine whom we meet upon the completion of what seems to be a year and a half of vagabond living. In the hopes of connecting to her mother’s memory, Aurora decided to return to her hometown—the last place she lived while her mother was alive. Aurora just so happens to rent out an apartment from Tobias Rhodes, a local game warden.
“Sometimes I think I know exactly what you’re going to say…and then the exact opposite comes out of your mouth…”
The character interactions in Mariana Zapata’s books are what keep me glued to the pages. Aurora is the epitome of the sunshine personality type. She’s outgoing and talkative. She’s kind to a fault and has a heart of gold. Aurora is also the kind of character that is easy to forgive, but not quick to forget. Rhodes is Aurora’s opposite in almost every way. Even though he reluctantly agrees to letting Aurora stay in the apartment above his garage, he is taciturn, brusque but respectful and kind as well as loving single father. Essentially, Rhodes is catnip to Aurora and it doesn’t hurt that his son is a bit more friendly and acts as a buffer between the two of them.
What’s the best part about a grumpy sunshine romance? There’s always something about each of them that the other needs. When Aurora swoops in and saves the day for Rhodes’ son, it becomes the icebreaker that starts to mesh the lives of Aurora and Rhodes together. Aurora is wanting to start a new chapter of her life in Colorado, but her ex and his hag of a mother have a way of rearing their ugly heads in Aurora’s life. While Aurora begins to settle in, befriend Rhodes and Amos, come to the conclusion that hiking can be an extreme sport, she finally begins to understand that grief—in any form—will always be a part of her life, and Rhodes is there for her every step of the way. The way their relationship evolves over the course of the story is something that keeps me utterly addicted to MZ’s books.
“Nobody in their right mind would let you walk away from them. Not once, and no way in hell twice, angel.”
I knew this would be an emotional book to read. Aurora is grappling with the loss of her mother, the loss of a long-term relationship, and all the emotions that come with moving back to a town where you last saw your mother. It’s a lot to handle. All the emotions that are described were so honest and earnest, and I truly admire the way MZ handles the heavy topics within each of her books. What I loved the most is that with all the emotional baggage that Aurora is working through Rhodes doesn’t wade in and take over, he allows Aurora to work through each of her emotions and situations by providing her a safe space to do so. He’s a true friend and partner to her.
I could wax poetically about all of MZ’s books. All Rhodes Lead Here is the latest in a string of phenomenal standalones that —honestly—never disappoint me. Even as an avid steamy romance reader, I get so lost in the story and the development of the relationship between the main characters that I don’t miss the sex at all. I know that it will eventually culminate in sex, but part of the awesomeness of Mariana Zapata is how easily I get lost within the story so all of the steamy parts just enhance the natural progression of the relationship on the page. I highly recommend reading All Rhodes Lead Here, or literally any other title by Mariana Zapata. All Rhodes Lead Here is currently available in e-book and paperback!
Jes is a self-proclaimed bookworm, who recently moved from the PNW back to the Midwest. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s spending time with her husband, two kids, and her three fur babies, or exploring the globe. She also firmly believes that you should start the day with coffee, and end the day in bed with a good book.