The reasons I read romance can be summed up with one word: JOY. I can truthfully say The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary is pure, unadulterated joy for any romantically-inclined reader.
Tiffy is in a bind. Her boyfriend has finished with her and moved on to another woman. This situation is doubly difficult because Tiffy is still living in his flat. She needs a new place to live and fast. Too bad her budget is tiny and the options are dismal. Tiffy has to decide between a microscopic, mold-infested apartment, or a fairly lovely, one-bedroom flat with an unusual roommate situation.
Leon is a night-shift nurse who needs the extra income to help his wrongfully imprisoned brother with legal fees. He doesn’t have a spare room, but he only needs the flat during the day, when most people are at work. He posts an advertisement for a roommate who will share his flat (and bed) on nights and weekends, while Leon is away. Tiffy is desperate enough to say yes to this bizarre arrangement, which hinges on the two never meeting.
Tiffy and Leon live together for months, never seeing one another, but communicating through post-it notes. What begins as a superficial conversation (can I eat these leftovers?) becomes a deep friendship built on piles of post-it notes. It begs the question: Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met?
Beth O’Leary has done a masterful job with this strangers-to-friends-to-lovers story. She manages to build romantic (and even sexual) tension between two characters when they aren’t even in a room together for the first half of the book. I’m not sure I would have believed that to be possible before reading The Flatshare. The main characters are complex and well-developed. Tiffy is quirky, generous, and endearing. Leon is quiet, but profoundly good and loyal. There are some great secondary characters, too.
The conflict in this book is surprisingly deep. O’Leary brings in really dark and difficult topics, namely domestic abuse and manipulation/control from an intimate partner, which Tiffy and Leon have both been part of in one way or another. I appreciated the careful handling of such a sensitive issue, while making sure all the characters we love get their happily ever after.
There is sex in this book, but it’s not graphic, which makes this a great read for those who prefer the sweet romance.
I’m a sucker for British contemporaries, introverted heroes (I even married one IRL), friends-to-lovers, and jealous exes. This books hits a lot of my sweet spots, and I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did!
Favorite Tropes: Only One Bed (taken to a whole new level), Opposites Attract, and Friends to Lovers.
Content Warning: Domestic Abuse/Intimate Partner Violence