Tuesday, October 18, 2016

ARC Review: Must Like Spinach by Con Riley

Must Like Spinach
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.

Todd's rating:

While I liked this story quite a bit, I never quite fell completely in love with it.

Jon works as a consultant for a high-profile NYC firm whose clients hire them to come in and perform an in-depth investigation into problems that are causing the loss of revenue or productivity, then make a recommendation as to how best to rectify the issue.

While that's all fine and good, the book read almost like a forensic financial accounting mystery to me, with lots of talk about the Seattle company where Jon is sent, with its two misfiring property acquisitions teams. And lots of page time devoted to Jon at work, Jon dealing with office drama or Jon simply thinking about work.

What I truly wanted was a romance, not a mystery (of sorts,) but the entire first 40% of the story wasn't about Jon dancing around his attraction to Tyler. There was little desire to get to know more about one another, to spend time together, even as budding friends. Both MC's had their own almost entirely separate lives, which would occasionally overlap, but not really ever intersect.

Please don't get me wrong, though. The characters were fun and likeable; I'm just not one for a mystery. They really aren't my thing at all.

By around the 50% mark, Jon and Tyler do begin officially dating, much to my liking; however, we still don't see them spending tons of time together on-page. The dates they have are nice and romantic, but I continued to want more actual bonding time, getting to know one another on a deeper level, which wasn't happening due to Tyler's many work commitments.

I did love Peggy, their elderly landlord. The way that she would brag about 'her boys' was very sweet and believable. She was sort of the mother figure that neither MC had in their lives at that point. It was great to feel that she needed them in her life as much as they needed her.

Regarding the big 'mystery' at Jon's work, I sort of felt that the big build-up, after that many pages devoted to it, fell a bit flat and was actually resolved off-page, between two other side characters, so I was a bit disappointed with that.

Overall, if you enjoy a good mystery (and office politics) and want 'some' romance, without the MC's being the laser focus of the plot, this would definitely be a good one, which I'd recommend.

However, due to my own lack of interest in mysteries, I felt that the "who's the weak link at work?" aspect of the story only distracted from the full court press of a romance that I was hoping for.

3 1/2 stars.

** NOTE: If you do happen to be a hardcore romance fan, you should read Con Riley's "After Ben," which is insanely good. And sad. And wildly romantic. Recommended without an ounce hesitation.

My ARC copy of the story was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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