Title: Must Like Spinach
Author: Con Riley
Publisher: Figment Ink
Length: 320 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: Must Like Spinach is a book I wholeheartedly recommend when you’re in the mood for a feel-good read with a cast of thoroughly charming characters.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Jon’s future in New York seems bright. He’s on the corporate fast track as an executive problem solver, but somehow 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.
Review: Con Riley’s Must Like Spinach reads like a guide on how to live your best life. It’s a precious gem of a story, not flashy or pretentious but gentle and unassuming, about a man who’s going through the motions of a fast-track corporate program, only to learn that the most important strategy on the road to success is to first let go of expectations and then to embrace what makes you happy.
Jonathan’s arrival in Seattle is a rather inauspicious one. He’s attempting to paint a silver lining around the cloud that caused his exile from New York to the PNW, though in his most private thoughts, he knows it’s a stay of execution–more ostracizing than opportunity. On the hunt for a place to live for the three months he’ll be in Seattle to help streamline Hallquist Holdings and put them back on track, he answers an ad that’s piqued his curiosity: “2br—Central Seattle Apt—Cheap, but must like spinach!” Though the ad includes few pictures of the apartment in question, one of the photos is of a backyard garden, complete with a man whose beautiful smile captures Jon’s attention. It’s not the smile or the man, though, that compels Jon to have a look at the place, but the pull of childhood memories.
What he finds there will change the course of his life forever.
The property is in shambles, the apartment a filthy dung heap, but Peggy… How does one resist an adorable garden sprite of a woman who radiates cheer and loves her home so much that she’ll do anything to stay there, even if that includes lowering the already dirt-cheap rent if Jon will take the apartment? His agreeing to live there, in the end, has a lot to do with the things his mother had instilled in him—the love of growing and nurturing a garden, the peace found in working the soil, and the satisfaction of watching things grow from little more than seeds, dirt, water, sunshine and tender loving care. It’s a love that begins to paint a clear picture of who Jon is and how unsuited he is for a cut-throat corporate career path, but like fostering those plants from seedlings, it takes time and care and attention for him to realize it.
Apart from the garden and the elderly woman who steals hearts so effortlessly, Jon’s decision to take the apartment also has a little something to do with a protective sort of disgust he develops for Peggy’s “boy”, Tyler, and the assumption that this Tyler person is not only a lazy pig but must also be out to swindle the dear woman six ways to Sunday. Even if Tyler pretends like he cares and is one of the most gorgeous men Jon has ever seen.
Jumping to conclusions… Well, sometimes that can lead to taking a leap of faith.
Con Riley’s writing style is such a complement to this story. The prose itself is sweet and gentle and nurtures readers along, planting the seeds of romance and tending to it with warmth and TLC, and then, we get to watch it all blossom into something beautiful. Tyler is nothing like Jon had assumed, and their mutual love of Peggy and the protectiveness they feel for her is a true prize, one Jon can’t put a price on: a home and family. Though, it is nearly all forfeited when Jon’s professional and personal life collide.
Must Like Spinach is about building and repairing important life foundations. And, of course, those foundations are set on a solid bedrock of love, friendship and family. Jon begins his journey leading with his head and ends it by listening to his heart, gifting readers with a warm and wonderful story, one I wholeheartedly recommend when you’re in the mood for a feel-good read with a cast of thoroughly charming characters.
You can buy Must Like Spinach here:
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About the Author
Con Riley lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds, and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean.
Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that makes them live and breathe.
When not people watching, or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb herósheís probably thinking up new plots.
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