KULTI by Mariana Zapata
Published: February 2015
“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. [goodreads]
A friend recommended this novel to me when I mentioned wanting to read something adult with a good snarky, sexy plot. Everyone's interpretation of this can be different. Sometimes you receive book recs that are a little more sweet than snarky. Other times the novel may be nothing but heavy on the romance, yet lacking on the plot outside the bedroom. I haven't had a lot of experience reading adult books set against a "sports romance" background, and to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect with that scenario. However, what I experienced in return was every bit snark, sexy, and ADDICTING. No complaints from this reader!
Sal is in the prime of her career as a professional women's soccer player. She's come from a strong background in the sport, with a certain admiration for an older, experienced soccer player by the name of Kulti. When she finds out that the now retired German soccer phenomenon is going to be the new assistant coach for her soccer team, she is reminded of all those teenage girly feelings she once had and thought she'd sent packing long ago. What she doesn't realize is that he's the catalyst to send her professional soccer career to the next level, or straight down the toilet.
The tension between Sal and Kulti was insane to witness. It's been awhile since I've read a book that captured just the right amount of give and take, keeping the reader satisfied the whole time. This author crafted such an intense slow burn, allowing the reader to truly understand its characters. Getting to know who Sal was, all while attempting to learn, yet be frustrated with the elusive Kulti, propelled this story forward and kept me reading late into the early morning hours. Considering that Kulti was a man of very few words for the first half of the book, it painted such an elaborate picture that was driven through strong emotion and well paced plotting. I never once found myself urging the story to move forward. There was a purpose in its slow build and I felt it every step of the way.
The attention to detail that was highlighted through out the novel about what it means to be a professional athlete, contrasting between men and women, was done extremely well in my opinion. I was fascinated by the work ethic that goes into such a strenuous and demanding career, yet awed by the passion and dedication it takes to succeed. The triumphs, as well as the down falls, were beautifully characterized, highlighting a sport I don't see too often in adult fiction.
The slow burn culminates to a scorching finale. Sal and Kulti's story comes full circle, allowing this reader to truly appreciate their journey that got them there. Between the snark, unexpected laugh out loud lines, and subtle swoon-worthy moments, this adult contemporary fiction piece is definitely a favorite read for the year. It breathes such a strong heartbeat into what can be such a saturated genre, causing it to stand out on its own.