Book Review: Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

Hi Blisses,

TITLE: Hands Down
BY: Mariana Zapata
GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Sports
PUBLICATION: July 2nd 2020


Before he was Big Texas, he was Zac the Snack Pack.

Bianca Brannen knows time–mostly–heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.)

She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold.

Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.


Anyone who has read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me knows who Zac, the hero in Hands Down, is. I am pretty sure we all wished for Zac’s own book after finishing TWoWaM. And Mariana Zapata, the queen of Slow Burn Romance, thankfully loves her readers and we got Hands Down. Another thing about Mariana Zapata is most of her books are in one universe. There are quite a few that are related to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and I will share my review of all of them at the end of this post.

Hands Down features Zac Travis, the starting quarterback in NFO, though in both TWoWaM and in this book, he got problems with his career. But no worries, it’s one that’s been resolved in this book so spoiler alert, happy ending in that aspect. 🙂 Bianca Brannen is an old friend of his and a little sister to him, even before his NFO days. But for some reason, they’d grown apart and lost contact even though Zac is a best friend to Bianca’s favorite cousin. First of all, I’m a sucker for second chances and for romances between childhood friends who’ve grown apart and meet again I don’t even care if miscommunication is one of the reasons for the growing apart, which is the case with Bianca and Zac. Sure, the main reason why they lost contact is not their fault, Bianca and Zac could’ve just gone to each other and you know, reconnect at some point. But anyway, I love their first meeting after so many years. I love Zac’s reaction when he recognized, or rather, remembered, who the woman in front of him is.

Individually, I love Bianca and Zac. Zac is a real sweetheart. He’s always been since TWoWaM. He will always be a favorite character of mine among MZ books. Zac isn’t perfect though. He is so flawed and messes up most of the time. He’s not like most of the sports characters in MZ books who are really focused and excel in the sports they’re playing. Zac needs to work harder to get back on his feet, and I’m glad that that’s exactly what he did. Having Bianca in his life again helps too. But still, I think Zac’s character is not really fleshed out, but whatever, I love him. I love Bianca’s career. She’s a vlogger and all her videomaking scenes are amazing. I’m just disappointed that there are so few of them. Aside from vlogging, she has another job at the gym and the fact that stays there even though she doesn’t enjoy being there anymore says a lot about her character. She was concerned about her friend and I love her for that.

The romance was not the best aspect of the book. Don’t get me wrong I love Bianca and Zac for each other but in the huge part of the book, Bianca kept doubting herself and it became repetitive at some point. Like, girl, Zac is there and he clearly likes you to be a part of his life again. Not again actually, Zac never really wanted her out of his life. She matters to Zac and it was so obvious throughout the book but Bianca’s insecurity is too much sometimes. Her inner monologue became tiring at some point. But on the other hand, I understand her a bit. Zac became such a big name and they lost contact for a reason and so it’s understandable that she might feel insecure and really believes that Zac doesn’t want her in his fancy life anymore. She was just a kid for Zac anyway. Speaking of kid, Zac kept calling her kiddo even after it’s apparent that he’s in love with her, and that’s kind of meh for me. Like, kiddo has no other meaning but kid. So I can’t help but think that he still sees her as a kid.

But aside from those issues, I love the friendship between Zac and Bianca. It’s the best. Bianca is always there for Zac, giving him a boost. If Bianca has insecurities regarding her stand in Zac’s life, Zac has doubts in his career. It really helped that Bianca is back in his life. I also love their banters.

I also love the side characters, CJ, Boogie and Connie. CJ is my favorite and I really, REALLY, hope MZ write a book about him.

The reveal about the reason why they lost contact is okay for me. It wasn’t that shocking or anything but is enough to make the conflict believable. Speaking of conflict, Bianca had some conflict with her career and I just hope I get to see more about that. It was like it was resolved in the background.

There was a glimpse of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and From Lukov, with Love in this book and my heart was so happy. Those two books happened to be two of my most favorite MZ books.

RATING: 3.5 blissful pages with lilies

Obviously this isn’t Mariana Zapata’s best book but Hands Down still has all the ingredients that all MZ fans love – slow burn romance, amazing friendship and great characters. So if you love all those stuff, give this book a chance.

Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Mariana Zapata but I miss the queen of slow burns’ romance and this makes me want to pick up one of her books again soon. Too bad the romance wasn’t so great in this one—and the fact he calls her kiddo after feelings are acknowledged is… Very eh 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

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