Review: ‘Must Like Spinach’ by Con Riley

32712654Published October 19th 2016
245 pages

Jon’s future in New York should be bright. He’s on the corporate fast track as an executive problem solver, yet he can’t help feeling hollow. Yearning for a life spent outdoors makes no sense if he wants to flourish in this city, nor does losing his cool with clients when they make bad decisions. Only leaving the East Coast behind for three months can save his business reputation.

His exile in Seattle has unexpected upsides. Jon’s rented home has a garden where his true passions blossom. It’s overgrown yet idyllic—perfect if he didn’t have to share it with another tenant. Tyler might be as cute as hell, and their landlady adores him, but Jon can’t let himself fall for someone who seems lazy.

Three months could be enough time to see Tyler clearly, but choosing which to nurture long-term—love or a business career—might take Jon longer than one summer.

When I first started reading this book, I really wasn’t sure about it. It seemed to drag a little and be a touch heavy on the business side of things. Nothing too difficult to understand, but not something that captivated me. It does start to pick up once it gets going, the business side of things blending into Jon’s personal story and the surrounding plot.

I stopped questioning whether I would like this book as soon as we got a real look at Tyler. Jon makes a lot of assumptions in the beginning, but as we see those assumptions get proved wrong one by one, I got sucked right in to the beginnings of a budding romance.

There are a lot of gardening references and metaphors going on, which I thought might get a little distracting, especially for someone like me who has no green thumb at all, but they fit so well with the style of writing. They create such a relaxing aura, soothing in the same way Jon finds peace out in his garden.

Pretty much every character in this book is really endearing. Things are set up in a way that makes you feel like you should be choosing between them, but in the end I found myself with soft spots for everyone. Peggy (what an angel!), Eric, Carl, Anthony; even Stan in the end. The romantic relationship between the MCs doesn’t dominate, it shares its page space with so many different friendships and work dynamics that are growing or healing, and I really enjoyed getting to explore all of that with the characters.

The only thing I felt was perhaps missing was a further insight into Tyler’s past. We get to know a bit more about where Jon came from, but we only get snippets of the things Tyler has gone through, and I’d like to have felt more connected to Tyler and what happened to him before the events in the book.

Overall, this is a relatively low-angst read, with just enough drama keep the pages turning at the end. The epilogue was really wonderful, and I was sad to finish and leave Jon and Tyler’s little corner of the world behind.

4/5 stars

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