Audio Review: Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Title: Kulti
Author: Mariana Zapata @marianazapata_
Narrator: Callie Dalton
Genre: Sports Romance
Length: 16 hours and 13 mins, 495 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars


“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to.

It didn’t take a week for twenty-seven-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon—why she’d ever had his posters on her wall, or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man that hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive, shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.

Nothing could have prepared her for the man she got to know.

Or the murderous urges he brought out in her.

“Sal, please don’t make me visit you in jail. Orange isn’t your color.”

This was going to be the longest season of her life.

Grace Review

Story – 4 stars
Patience.  That word perfectly sums up this book.

There’s the patience Sal ask of herself whenever she is stressed and trying to calm herself.

“Patience Sal.”

And there’s the patience the reader will need for this romance to develop.  As our fellow reviewer, Ivy, said to me, this book has a slow burn.  A very very slow burn.  I think at 50% I still was beyond frustrated by Kulti.

But before I get ahead of myself, let me set the story.

Sal is one of the star players of the Pipers women’s soccer team.  All she cares about is winning.  She doesn’t care for drama, both from fellow players and from the media.  I loved how she took everything in stride in this story, whether it be false rumors or personal attacks from a former teammate.  And then there is how she handles Kulti.

Sal first meets Kulti, the German world phenom of men’s soccer, when he joins her team as the new Assistant Coach.  As a die-hard soccer fan and player, she is very aware of who Kulti is, because she used to have a huge crush on him, with posters gracing her teenage walls.  AWKWARD.  So this is just like Scoring Wilder, right?  WRONG!   While Sal has the same likable qualities as that book heroine, the hero in this book?  Not so much.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, he is a HUGE ASS to everyone, and on many occasions, to Sal directly.

I never understood why Kulti would single Sal out in practices, but maybe he was like that school yard bully, picking on the girl he liked the most.  Because slowly, he begins to open up to Sal, off the field.  They build a friendship, sort of.  Kulti is very closed off with her, and it truly isn’t clear what he thinks of her until he declares publicly that she is his BFF.  I was totally scratching my head on this, but it wasn’t a false statement.  He cares for Sal in every way, but keeps most of those feelings to himself for many reasons, several of those being the Coach/player situation. Throughout the book, Sal’s commentary on the German was thoroughly entertaining, at one time calling him “German chocolate cake” . . . as an insult.

“I was in love with this pumpernickel.  God help me, I think I wanted to cry.”

It’s when Sal’s security on the team is questioned, that Kulti really steps up.  Kulti and his feelings for Sal were a total revelation.  His respect and attraction to her runs deep.  And he does everything right for the last 10% of this book.

“My schnecke.  My little snail, do you know that’s what it means?  It’s a term of affection in my country.  My love.”

Other than Sal, she had a great group of friends/family to help her during the tough times:
Jenny and Harlow – two of Sal’s teammates who always had her back.
Mark – Sal’s co-worker, who supported her on and off the field.
Sal’s Dad – this guy was a riot.  I loved how he would ask Kulti questions via Sal, too intimidated by the legend.  And he had great enthusiasm for the sport and his daughter’s role in it.

Performance – 5 stars
This is exactly the kind of audio book I look for.  Not only was the narrator entertaining, but actually made the story better, in my opinion.  I personally would have thrown my kindle if I had to read about Kulti’s obnoxious attitude for more than 50% of the story.

The narrator keeps her energy throughout the whole story.  I was never bored in the story, and with the slow burn, that is a major plus.

Overall – 4.5 stars
The slow pace of this story may not be for everyone, but this is a well written and unexpected sports romance.  The narrator adds energy to the story improving the overall experience for me. And the epilogue – AWESOME!

– Grace




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