Book Review: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Title: From Lukov with Love
Author: @marianazapata_
Reviewer: Ivy @PoisonIvy70
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 493 pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars


If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

Ivy's review

The Good. The characters above all. Jasmine and Ivan are a memorable couple, and the enemies to lovers who have to come together to win (and yes I am definitely NOT the only person who gets The Cutting Edge happy nostalgia vibes when I read this) trope is in full effect here. The humorous bickering between them is certainly a highlight of the story.

Ms. Zapata’s real strength in her storytelling: she’s great at character development, in particular writing athletes in her stories. She really knows how to deep dive into an athlete’s psyche – the drive, sheer strength of will, the single-mindedness that is needed to succeed at a championship level. The sacrifice, the physical pain, the doubt and confidence that’s often expressed in the same thought, it’s all there for you to immerse yourself in. Jasmine is never as tough on anyone else as she is on herself. Ms. Zapata takes her lead characters and peels them back layer by fascinating layer for the reader, like little onions. And yes, they’ve made me cry on occasion when she’s dicing them up for my reading pleasure. Even while she’s focusing on some really funny and witty banter between Jasmine and Lukov, you get to understand what makes these two tick. By the time the deeper, emotional scenes really start kicking in, you are seriously invested in in both Jasmine and Ivan, and their happiness, and those bits are truly swoonworthy.

The (not necessarily) Bad (just painful). On the other hand, the slow burn isn’t for everyone. Ms. Zapata takes special delight in torturing the reader, waiting to the absolutely last possible moment to give any kind of romantic payoff.


Let me tell you, she can draw out that tension and yearning for any kind of romantic action a damn loooooooooong time. Now with every successive book she writes, I think it’s become a game of how long can she wait to give that romantic payoff. At this point, I’d be happy if there was even a wee bit more sexual tension earlier in the story, because it’s become way too predictable. With other romance novels, I can almost tell you the exact percentages for other books when couples will kiss, have sex, etc. and with an MZ book, I know nothing really romantic will even start until about 80% or later and that’s its own kind of predictable.

It’s hella frustrating, so if that’s not your thing, this is not the book for you. If you’re a Zapata fan, you’ll know what you’re in for and you’ll love it, because y’all are masochists, like me. 🙂

Everything in Between. Like all other MZ books, this is told strictly from the heroine’s POV, and I always wish there’s a bit of time spent in the hero’s headspace. Even a chapter would be greatly appreciated. But that’s not Ms. Zapata’s way, and I do appreciate that she’s more about giving the reader what they need, not necessarily what they want. And finally, while Dear Aaron was not my favorite of MZ’s books, getting to spend time with the Santos family again was a helluva lot of fun and really gave a depth to these characters that I didn’t appreciate from the first book.

I truly enjoyed so much of Jasmine and Ivan’s story, even if I wanted more romantic moments. If you love sports romances with the enemies to lovers trope, and you don’t mind suffering a long while for a romantic payoff, I’d recommend it.

– Ivy

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