This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
“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 27-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 who 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.
Every single thing that has ever happened in my life has led me here, Sal. Destiny is a ladder, a series of steps that takes you where you’re supposed to go. I am the man that I am, and I have done the things that I’ve done, to get me to you.
Kulti is a story that I have been meaning to read for ages and I am so glad that I finally took a chance on this one and picked it up because it was so worth the read. I was nervous because this book is probably the most hyped out of all of Zapata’s books and I was so curious to see why it was so well-loved and I can definitely understand now why it is so loved and why people rated this book so highly. It makes perfect sense now and is at the top of my list of favorites from this author. I really enjoyed the elements that she brought to the surface, the interracial romance, the slow burn frenemies and the soccer theme to it (which are very rare in romance). I really love the way that this author writes slow burn but if you struggle with it, I recommend her audiobooks, they are narrated so well!!
You are the most honest, warm, loving person I know. Your loyalty and friendship amazes me every day. I have never wanted anything more in my life than I want your love, and I don’t want to share that with anyone. I haven’t done a single thing in my life to deserve you, schnecke, but I will never give up on you, and I won’t let you give up on me.
Our story begins with our heroine, Sal Casillas, who has always dreamed of playing soccer and has been in love with the most famous soccer player in the world “Kulti” who is a German player. But now Kulti is retired, and Sal is playing on a team after getting kicked off the national team due to a misunderstanding. But now she is determined to play the best that she can and enjoys being close to her family in Texas. Her new assistant coach is none other than the infamous Kulti and Sal has to remind herself to not let her attraction to the stubborn, strict coach get to her head. But there is a friendship that starts to form between Kulti and Sal slowly which turns into something deeper than friendship, and Sal is also having to face some tough decisions due to her friendship and Kulti being in the public eye. But as Sal and Kulti build on their relationship, they will also discover the truths behind their passion for the sport and what their future will bring…
my oversized bratwurst took a step forward and he did it… He was hugging me. Dear God, Reiner Kulti was hugging the shit out of me.
What I Loved
Kulti was such a refreshing story and one that I gobbled up like crazy. I will admit that it starts off slow, and I had to remind myself that this is a Mariana Zapata novel, and so it’s going to be a slow book but once I got to about 20-25% then it really started to kick in gear for me and I couldn’t put this audiobook down at all. There were so many aspects of the story that ended up working out for me so well. I got a kick out of this romace and saw how these two connect in such an unexpected way. I especially loved Sal’s infatuation with Kulti. And all the “poop” references were so funny, she had to remind herself he was a human being all the time when she is around him and when things start to get more romantic with them, she really has to adjust how she views him and I enjoyed seeing her growth of character in this. It was really heartfelt and my heart broke for her in some moments because Kulti sees her ability and how the team she is currently on is burying her talent and not using it as it should be. Seeing some truths revealed about Kulti and his connection to Sal was so beautiful in these small moments that really delivered on the heart of the story. The ending was pure perfection and bumped the book up from a 4-star read to a 4.5. If you love a slow-burn romance with a mix of frenemies to lovers then you definitely need to pick this one up. It also has a fun dynamic with the hero being German and the heroine having Hispanic descent and how well they blend together.
You’re one of the best I’ve ever seen, period, man or woman. What kills me is that you are a complete fucking pushover who’s hung up on worthless words in front of a person who doesn’t matter. Grow some balls, Casillas. Fight me for this. Fight anyone that tries to take this away from you.
What I Struggled With
The story has a very slow start and so that was a struggle, especially in the first 15% of the book, but once we get to 20% it really picked up. I also would have loved to see more couple page time as they don’t get romantically involved until later and would have loved to see more focus on their romantic relationship.
This narrator was BRILLIANT! She handled the accents so well on this one and I was so impressed because sometimes accents will turn me off or be too distracting, but nope these were done just right!
Kulti is a beautiful slow-building romance that takes the passion of the sport and blends it into a captivating friend to lovers romance that will touch the heart of every reader! This is a story that any romance reader can depend on delivering in all the feels and heart that just touched me deeply!
You are my gift, my second chance, and I will cherish you and your dream. I will protect both of you.
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 16 Hours & 13 Minutes
About the Narrators
Callie Dalton is an actor and voice artist who loves feisty heroines and brooding boyfriends. She lives in Los Angeles with her own brooding (but not always) boyfriend and her schnauzer, Ella.
Storytelling Quality: 4.5
Story Itself: 4.5
Character Development: 5
Writing Style: 4.5
World Building 5
Feels + The Romantic Heart 4
Cover Art= 4
Rating of the Book
Simmering cup of tea—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warmin’ by the fire- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
About The Author
Mariana Zapata began writing love stories soon after she learned how to spell. She probably shouldn’t admit that she started sneaking romance novels from her aunt’s bookshelves way before she was old enough to even understand what it meant when a man flipped up a woman’s skirt… don’t tell her mom. Luckily, she stuck to stories about princesses and princes for a while. In her teens, she wrote boy band fanfiction (there’s still a website up somewhere on the internet with those masterpieces), and in her early twenties, she picked it back up again with Sookie Stackhouse and Twilight. Eventually, her significant other finally told her to do what she wanted to do and she began working on her original work. Her novels tend to include potty humor, bodily functions, and bad words. Mariana lives in a small town called Pagosa Springs, Colorado with her husband/best friend, Chris Letchford, and their two well-beloved (and emotionally manipulative) Great Dane children, Dorian and Kaiser. When she’s not pretending to write, she’s reading sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk or historical romance novels. You can usually find her harassing her dogs, being a hermit at home or cracking jokes at the expense of her family members.