Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
Published by Self-published on June 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon
Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.
Dear Aaron put me into a wholesome world of contemporary romance and I can attest to enjoying my stay! The story revolves around correspondence between pseudo pen pals recently paired up through a specific program for soldiers on deploy. It provides the backdrop for a beautiful caring friends-to-lovers story.
From the conversations she has had with her brother, an ex-marine, Ruby has a keen understanding of the loneliness soldiers experience when away. It’s a duty she is proud to fulfill and happy to make a difference for someone else’s brother. She’s a seasoned participant in the program and is familiar with how to kick off the awkward introductions.
Aaron and Ruby stumble, to begin with, as the timing was not good when he first received her welcoming emails. After a rocky start, a beautiful and fun friendship blossoms where both lean on each other to get through difficult moments. I adored the format of reading emails but they seemed to be going on forever. When it switched over to messenger chat, the change brought an air of freshness. I was ready by about 30% though to get stuck into more than quick messages.
When the writing eased into the traditional story telling format it allowed the development of the characters to flourish. As with chat, it’s not until you hear another’s voice that you truly connect with them. The story then delved deeper into the headspace of both of the characters. Each had monkeys on their backs and appreciated the level of friendship which enabled some of those dreaded worries to be shared.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Zapata at a Sydney book signing briefly and her gentle friendly nature comes out vividly in her writing. Considering my usual preference is for dark suspense, to be drawn so deeply into a slow burn contemporary romance pays homage to such a great storyteller. The knowledge that I was in a starkly different genre was brought home when “are-you-packing” was replaced with “Is that a flashlight?”. Yes, it was metaphorical in so many ways – I saw the potential to enjoy the beacon of light the words ahead promised.
Dear Aaron is much more than a slow burn romance, weaving in fun banter, realistic life struggles, and situations where characters strive to be better people. Get ready for several corny jokes, some OTT personal revelations, and awkwardness between a couple as they get to know each other in a gentle and caring way. Aaron mentions several times how Ruby makes him smile more than anyone else and I want to thank Ms. Zapata for not only making me smile while I was reading but laughing out loud on occasion as well!
Lily’s Rating: 4 Beautiful Stars
Even the action queen needs a nice drive in the slow lane occasionally and when I do, I know it’s going to be a good ride with a Mariana Zapata book. I found myself suffering from a book hangover after reading two dark but awesome books, and her brand of character-driven slow burns sounded like just what the doctor ordered. Dear Aaron did not disappoint, in fact, it took everything in me to shut down my iPad at 1 am last night and I went right back to it when I woke up this morning.
The first 36% of the book is nothing but emails and then later, text messages. This worried me a bit, but it shouldn’t have. As Ruby and Aaron slowly fall in love with each other through their correspondence, I ended up falling in love with them. In fact, I didn’t have any issues with the book until after they met in person.
Ruby is chosen to be “pen pals” with Aaron while he is deployed. Through their correspondence, we learn Ruby is funny, caring, and loyal to a fault even when people don’t deserve it. Aaron is in a war zone and going through what all service members in that situation do. An NCO, he worries over his soldiers and agonizes over losses. Ruby becomes his lifeline at times to get him through.
As Aaron’s tour comes to an end, neither wants to lose the connection they have. When he makes it stateside, he has to traverse re-acclimating to living life not in a war-zone and also making a decision on what he wants to do in the future. Ruby is facing a crossroad herself, and nothing is certain for either of them.
I loved Aaron from start to finish, but found Ruby a bit needy and emotional. As her story is uncovered we learn why her family is so completely overprotective, which helped but her low self-esteem and doormat tendencies drove me bonkers. She was sweet and I liked her, but I didn’t love her.
It wasn’t until the book ended that I decided on 4 stars vs. 5 stars. Although we do get an epilogue, it wasn’t enough to make up for the abrupt ending. I wanted to know how they ended up where the epilogue starts off and felt a bit cheated by not getting that part of the story. Still, I read this book with a smile on my face and laughed out loud more than once. Although there was a pothole or two, my little jaunt to the slow lane was a gentle, easy, entertaining read.
Spice’s Rating: 4 Slow Lane Stars.
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