Cover Design: Ghost Design & Andy Bridge
Content Warnings: Gaslighting; violence; emotional abuse; manipulation
Romance has always been a genre I have given a wide berth, given the stereotype of it being somewhat cheesy and that I haven’t always enjoyed romance elements in other types of literature. However, with the recent influx of romance novels on the market, I thought I would give one or two a go, in the name of science and I’m pleased to report I was pleasantly surprised with this particular choice, and will certainly continue to dip my toes in the genre now and again.
The Flatshare follows an unusual arrangement between Tiffy, fun loving book editor, and Leon, night shift hospice nurse, whereby they share a flat, and more specifically, a bed. However, they are guaranteed to never see each other, because of their respective jobs, and the fact Leon stays at his girlfriend’s house at the weekends. Slowly, the pair accidentally begin to get to know each other through a series of menial, but important post it notes and their lives are changed for the better.
It’s important for me to mention that this book includes quite a great deal of abusive behaviour, including gaslighting, manipulation, stalking and aggression, as Tiffy’s ex boyfriend Justin attempts a forceful reunion between himself and Tiffy, despite her new found happiness without him. This abuse is difficult to read, especially as I have been abused myself, so if you do find reading about this to be triggering, I’d suggest perhaps avoiding this one for now. However, O’Leary creates an excellent support system for our protagonist and shows that it is possible to escape these horrifying situations. Furthermore, Tiffy is never pressurised to be anyone other than who she is, and even when romance begins to ensue between our main characters, Tiffy is always able to progress at her own pace. This is refreshing, especially as many romance novels include problematic situations in terms of consent and I appreciated the wholesome nature of it all.
This book is the epitome of ‘just one more chapter’, as I flew through it whenever I picked it up and desired to get back to it whenever I found myself unable to read it. Despite being on the larger side for a romance novel, being almost four hundred pages, it certainly did not feel its length, and I sped through it within a couple of days. Therefore, if you’re looking for a book to sit and devour over this weekend and the finale of romance week, this might be a perfect option.
My only issue with the book was the inclusion of some decisions made by certain characters that did not seem in line with their personalities and thought processes. For example, there is a scene towards the end when Tiffy is on stage being thanked by one of her authors and the reactions of her closest friend and Leon himself seem to me to be out of character and exist only to further the plot towards its conclusion. However, this is a small complaint when compared to my overall enjoyment of the story, and I would thoroughly recommend it whether you are a beginner to romance books like myself, or even if you are a more seasoned reader of the genre.
If anyone has any recommendations for other romance books that I may enjoy, please let me know. I’m thinking either The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang or Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert will be my next read from the genre. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all, whether you be involved in your own romances, or practicing self love this year, I love you all!