Donna Reads: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Dear Aaron was a typical Mariana Zapata slow burn romance. It was written in a different format, though. I attempted to read it in 2018, and I gave up on it. I was in the mood for one of her books. They are usually long and take time to get into them and through them. I owned this one in electronic and audible format. I’ve been working from home since March so I decided to listen to it instead of reading it. I put it on while I worked.

It is a slow starter. A series of emails between Ruby Santos, a single 24 year old, shy girl from Texas with a quirky sense of humor and a soldier from Louisiana deployed somewhere overseas, 29 year old Aaron Hall. The narration on this one was spot-on. I fell in love with Aaron from the start. Teddy Hamilton nailed that character, and the slight drawl behind his words was charming. Ruby was cute. Given Aaron’s name in a solider, penpal-type program, she was so earnest and determined when he didn’t answer her at first. She doesn’t know that he’d just gotten a Dear John letter from his girl of two years, and he was a bit shaken up.

They start out emailing bits and pieces of their lives, and she even manages to send him care packages. If he could have anything from home, he wants a pizza. She figures out to send him freeze-dried cheese and a pizza kit so he can have a pizza. She was definitely a caring goofball. Sickly as a child and taken advantage of by an older man she thought she loved, she has low self esteem. Aaron is a steadfast and true friend. He encourages her. She makes him laugh and smile. He’s had a bit of a falling out with his family and went into the military because he didn’t know what else to do with his life.

I loved these two, and hearing their voices so charmingly playing out their story and building their solid friendship was a real treat. After emailing for a bit, he finally instant messages her, and they begin to speak in real time with no delay. She quickly forms a bond and a massive crush on him. I knew the exact moment he fell for her, and that was sweet, too. They talk to each other for nine months.

When he gets leave, he asks Ruby to meet him. He wants her to go to Scotland with him and his friends, but she doesn’t have the money or the nerve. After Scotland, he and his friends plan to stay for a week in Florida at a beach house, and he finally talks Ruby into meeting him. He buys her ticket. Her family is against it, but by then they were both in love with each other and don’t know and won’t admit it. She goes anyway. She figures she’s in the friend zone so she’ll meet him once and get it out of her system.

When he finally talked her into actually calling him on the phone so that they can finally hear each others’ voices was really cute. I loved their first actual in-person meeting, too. Aaron was sweet and charming, just as wonderful as his emails and messages. Ruby is a nervous wreck, of course.

Her week’s stay at the beach house isn’t without a few trials and tribulations, not so much on her part, but it takes her longer to break through Aaron’s reserve and hesitance. He’s very secretive. I read so many romances with brash, arrogant, alpha male leads that it was refreshing to read about a hero that loved the heroine but was still shy and blushed when she pushed him for more.

By the ending, I was in tears, and I usually don’t cry over books. After resisting this one for so long, I finally gave in, and I’m very glad I did. If you can’t get past the mundane emails at the beginning, I highly recommend that you listen to it on audio. You won’t regret it.