The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata

The Best Thing Cover

Wonderful, second-chance, contemporary romance

The Best Thing by Mariana Zapata

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: August 7, 2019
Pages: 480 pages
Source: Library
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

In Paris, 19 months ago, Elena (Lenny) DeMaio fell deeply in love for the first time in her life at age 29, in the midst of what she considered to be a very serious affair with 28-year-old Jonah Collins, a sweet, kind, considerate—and utterly ripped and gorgeous—New Zealand rugby star. Their relationship was like a romantic dream. Until the day that Jonah ghosted her.

Lenny tried desperately for nine months to get hold of him in every way imaginable, first because she was worried about him and, later, because there was something vitally important that had happened to her that he needed to know about. Finally, however, she had had enough. She gave up on ever getting a response from him, and for the past eight months, she has angrily assumed that the jerk who abandoned her is gone from her life forever.

Until the day, out of the blue, that Jonah shows up at her place of work, her grandfather’s mixed-martial-arts gym in Houston, Texas.

I really enjoyed this classic, Zapata, “slow-burn,” contemporary romance. I loved Lenny and Jonah, as individuals and as a couple. They are extremely likeable, sympathetic, romantic protagonists. I was also impressed and very moved by the three main, significant supporting characters in the story, including Lenny’s grandfather, Gus, her surrogate father figure, Peter, and a third character I will leave as a surprise since we don’t officially meet her until just before Jonah shows up.

As is frequently the case with Zapata heroines, Lenny is extremely foul-mouthed. Every other word out of her mouth or thought in her head is an F-bomb. But that is the only part of the book that is at all crude. And, after a while, I kind of got used to it and ignored it since I liked Lenny and Jonah and their relationship.

I found it fascinating that Lenny is a former Olympic-caliber martial arts star, and her grandfather is a former Olympic-caliber boxer, and Peter is a superior athlete and personal trainer as well. That, in combination with running a gym, has given the three of them a focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating a vegan, all-natural diet and avoiding booze.

As is typical of Zapata, there is only one sex scene in the whole book, toward the very end, and it is not at all coarse. It is very loving as well as passionate.

The HEA epilogue in this book is quite unusual in that it is set 22 years in the future, and it is so lovingly poignant, it made me cry.

I experienced this novel as an audiobook, and I absolutely loved how it is handled. As is the case with all of Zapata’s books, the story is told in first person from the point of view of the heroine. Usually, for the audiobook versions for her novels, there is only a female narrator, and for almost all of them, including this book, she is the excellent voice actor, Callie Dalton. But in the case of this particular novel, all of the dialogue for New Zealander Jonah is narrated by an extremely talented, New Zealander actor, Calum Gittins. He does a fabulous job and adds tremendously to the quality of the audiobook.

Overall, this book is a real keeper and is one of my favorite novels by Ms. Zapata. I will definitely revisit it many times in the future.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Hero: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Romance Plot: 5

Setting: 5

Audiobook Narration: 5

Writing: 5

Overall: 5

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