Narrated by Callie Dalton
One of my favourite audiobooks of last year was Kulti by Mariana Zapata. It wasn’t released last year so it didn’t make my best of list, but after listening I was a bona fide Zapata fangirl. She is the queen of the slow burn romance. Wait for It is her latest release.
Ms. Zapata’s books stand alone well but they are also loosely connected by way of family or location. In Wait for It, those who have read or listened to previous books will see cameos from the main characters in Under Locke, Kulti and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. However, the cameos are not intrusive and wouldn’t interfere with a newbie’s understanding of the plot.
Diana Casillas has recently moved to Austin, with her two nephews, Josh (11) and Louie (5). It’s clear from the start that Diana is their guardian and something happened to her brother and his wife to bring this about, but the detail is doled out slowly over the course of the book.
Diana is a 29-year-old hair stylist who works hard but makes reasonable money. She is also fortunate to have the support of her parents and the boys’ grandparents in looking after her charges. Josh has been a member of a “select” baseball team – which I gather is a big step up from Little League and now that they’ve settled into their new house, Diana has promised to find him a new team.
Diana meets her neighbour, Dallas Walker, right at the start: Louie wakes her up because there is fighting outside in the street and she sees a guy getting beaten up by three dudes. Because reasons, she feels she has to intervene if ever she possibly can and so she takes Josh’s baseball bat and heads out. It turns out that the man getting beaten is Jackson, Dallas’s brother. Jackson has been staying with Dallas and when Diana assists Jackson home, the disturbance wakes Dallas who stumbles out in his boxer briefs to find out what’s going on. It is fair to say that Diana is impressed by what she sees.
However, Diana also notices a wedding ring on Dallas’s finger and that makes him off limits.
Diana and Dallas have a bit of a rough start. Dallas misinterprets Diana’s natural friendliness and neighbourliness as her coming on to him. He is separated and in the midst of a divorce but he takes his vows seriously and rebuffs any advances. He won’t date until he’s officially single.
The pair sort out the miscommunication fairly quickly and agree to be friends. It turns out that Dallas is the cousin of Ginny, Diana’s friend and boss at the hair salon. It also turns out that Dallas coaches a select baseball team. After seeing Josh hitting the baseball Diana is throwing in their front yard, he invites Josh to try out for the team.
What follows is a very slow burn romance, as Diana and Dallas get to know each other, become friends and start to entwine their lives. Diana is not stupid at all and she picks up on cues Dallas sends. It’s a romance novel so we know what’s coming and I think that makes it easier for the listener to interpret his actions than Diana earlier on.
Diana’s parenting of the boys, her sometimes fraught relationship with her mother, a couple of people from her past and a housefire in the neighbourhood all add to the story. As the romance develops, Diana settles into her new house and starts to gain confidence in her place in the boys’ lives. They love her dearly but the book starts off with her feeling like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. It is pointed out to her that most actual parents feel that way, at least from time to time. After a while she starts to believe it.
There were a couple things which just dropped off at the end and I had questions about but they weren’t big deals.
It’s not a book filled with a lot of action. It’s very character-driven and everything takes time to develop. Eventually Dallas and Diana begin a physical relationship but their intimacy comes right near the end of the book. Ms. Zapata writes books which need to be discovered and savoured. There is a big payoff but you have to wait for it (See what I did there?). I love it but I suppose it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Callie Dalton narrates all of Mariana Zapata’s audiobooks. She’s very good. She has a young (but not childish) voice which fits the age of the heroine. She can also indicate age from the very young – in this case Louie – and the very old (Miss Pearl). What impresses me most about her is the easy way she delivers affectionate lines. I noticed here when Diana was talking to Louie, she would often call him “Goo” or “Boo” and when she did, Ms. Dalton sounded exactly like she was naturally talking to a little boy and using a familiar loving nickname.
Ms. Dalton is also good with any Spanish words – Diana is a Mexican-American and her family speaks Spanish as well as English – and her accent is fantastic.
My only real “complaint” with Callie Dalton’s narration is that all her adult male voices sound pretty much the same. At least in Kulti, Reyner was German and so had a slight accent and that made him easily distinguishable. But Aidan from The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and Dallas from Wait for It sound extremely similar. Also, in this book alone, Jackson (apart from his sullenness) and Dallas’s and Ginny’s other cousin, Trip, were pretty much identical.
After listening to four Zapata audiobooks, I can see there is a pattern. They’re always a slow burn romance, they’re always told solely from the heroine’s POV and the hero is, for much of the book (if not all of it), not very talkative. Combine that with such similar voices and one could be forgiven for thinking there isn’t much difference between the characters. That’s not the case, but the differences can be subtle. It would help if their voices were better differentiated.
That said, I loved listening to Wait for It and I’ll be all over any future Zapata releases because they’re just that good.
Book Content: B+
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Minimal
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mariana Zapata
Wait for It was provided to AudioGals for a review.