Monday, October 31, 2016

Review Tour: Must Like Spinach by Con Riley

Please welcome 

Con Riley with 

Must Like Spinach

Release Date: October 21 2016

Length: 84,200 words

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


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.

Sandra's review:

This book is a bit enemies-to-lovers, though the main lesson here is "don't make assumptions", which is a lesson both MCs and some of the supporting characters have to learn.

There's little angst inside, except for that one nail-biting scene at the end, where Tyler thinks... well, you read this for yourself.

Con Riley's characters aren't handed their happy ending on a silver platter - no, they have to fight for it, grow for it, and stop making assumptions based on outward appearances.

The plot points are well made here, and each word, each sentence, is carefully chosen for full impact. There is no fluff here, no filler. Each scene has a purpose, to further the plot, to explain the characters' actions and mindset.

Jon is focused on his career as a management consultant, working for a high-powered firm in NYC. What Jon struggles with however is when the companies for whom he's doing the analysis, the consulting, don't take his suggestions to make changes. After the last job gone sour, he's being sent to Seattle to do an analysis on a company which invests and makes money in real estate. Needing a place to stay, he stumbles upon a rental ad where one of the requirements reads "Must Like Spinach". Intrigued, he overlooks the rundown exterior of the house, and the filth of the studio apartment above the garage, because the house has something he's been missing - a garden to grow things, vegetables, flowers. See, Jon remembers a time where he wasn't so career-driven by guilt, when things were easier, when he grew things in a garden much like this one, with his mom.

Tyler is barely hanging on, working multiple jobs and looking after the owner of the home, who is a very nice lady with a bit of a memory issue. Having put his trust in the wrong person, Tyler is now paying the price. However, pride keeps him from letting anyone, including Jon, know the strain he's under.

I really liked how the author made her characters alike in some aspects, and so very different in others. They fit well together, even if both of them initially think that their fling will be just that - a fling, since Jon is supposed to return to the east coast after the job is done.

There are complex relationships in this book, not just between the MCs, but also with the people who work for the company where Jon is consulting. The author cleverly explores what someone might do out of fear of losing someone they care about, and how someone gets stuck in an office, again out of fear, instead of doing something they love most.

And it's about second chances, too, of regretting the past and finding the strength to fix it.

I sniffled on occasion, and I was emotionally attached to the MCs, rooting for them to get what they wanted most.

Which, this being a romance novel, they do. But their happy ending doesn't come easy, and they have to time and again reassess their first impressions, and fight for each other.

Well done, Con Riley. I loved this.

** I received a free copy of this book from its author as part of a review tour. A positive review was not promised in return. ** 

Additional tour stops:

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 her - she's probably thinking up new plots.


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