Review: Must Like Spinach by Con Riley

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.

After he messes up with a client in New York, Jon is sent on a consulting gig to Seattle. Looking for a place to rent, Jon comes across a tiny apartment only has one thing going for it - the large garden. He decides to take the apartment, convinced by the garden, but also because he worries that the elderly landlady is being taken advantage of by another tenant - Tyler.

Jon and Tyler start off on the wrong foot. But as Jon learns more about Tyler, he finds that his early impressions were wrong. Tyler has a love for life that Jon hasn’t felt in years, and slowly Jon realizes that his life, both professional and personal, is less than perfect. But he’ll have to convince Tyler, who hasn’t had the best luck in love, to take a chance on him.

Early on, I had mixed opinions of both Jon and Tyler. Tyler was a bit of a mystery, because we only see him through the negative impressions that Jon has, from whose POV the book is told. But Jon wasn’t winning any points either, with his taciturn attitude.

It isn’t until Jon began spending time in the garden that I got to see what was behind the public corporate persona. As much as I dislike gardening in real life, I ended up enjoying when Jon was in his element, because he was able to let his guard down and let his worries fade away.


I’m a sucker for an opposites-attract romance, and Tyler and Jon are certainly two very different men. Jon is well-polished, career-driven, and pretty uptight at the beginning of the book. Tyler is more care-free, taking life as it comes, and chose his career because he loves what does, even if it doesn’t pay much.

The one thing that unites them is their care for Peggy, their elderly landlady. Jon and Tyler can put aside their mutual distrust for Peggy, and that’s the beginning of their relationship. I really liked seeing how their attitudes towards each other slowly changed, and how they revealed more of themselves to one another bit by bit.

Also, I was a big fan of Peggy and her not-so-subtle maneuvering after she decided that Jon and Tyler would be perfect for each other. She’s a sweet old lady who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but looks out for her boys.

This is a slow-burn romance, one that only builds in small increments as the book moves along. It was very sweet seeing Jon fall for Tyler little by little, and how his hope that Tyler would reciprocate grew. Tyler does eventually come around and give in to his heart’s desire, but it takes a while for him to get there.

By the end, there’s no question that Tyler and Jon are deeply in love, and are more than ready to build their future together.

While the romance was slow-paced, what really bogged the book down at times was the focus on Jon’s work. I just wasn’t a fan of all of the business planning and company politics, particularly because it was given so much page time. It distracted from Tyler and Jon’s relationship, so I could have done with much less of it.

Overall, ‘Must Like Spinach’ is an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a slow-burn and low-drama romance, and don’t mind following an MC around in his place of work, I’d give this book a try.

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