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by Beth O’Leary
Category: Contemporary Romance
Tags: Slow Burn, Opposites Attract, Favorite
Kindle | Paperback | Audible | Apple Books
One of the greatest slow burn romances I’ve ever read. This debut novel captured my heart and will stay with me for some time.
The Flatshare is my first, 5 star read of 2020 and one of my new all-time favorite romance book reads (and it take a LOT to make that list!). I loved so many things about this book but will pick a few to highlight in this review.
The Original & Intriguing Plot Line
Do you believe you could fall in love with someone without even meeting them?
I kind of wonder what that would be like (especially in this era of catfishing and what not) but I was instantly captured by the set up of this novel: Two people become flatmates – sharing the same 1 bedroom flat where one gets it by day and the other by night.
Tiffy, a DIY book editor with her own unique style, accepts this offer for a flatshare posted by Leon, a quiet hospice nurse who works the night shift.
Despite this unique living situation, she moves in without either of them meeting the other.
Since they never cross paths, Tiffy and Leon’s main form of communication is through notes that they begin leaving for one another around the flat.
What I Loved About This Book
Now, for an age where we all have our heads glued to cell phones and other devices, I love that they “passed notes” to one another. They didn’t call and they didn’t text. They used good ole pen and paper.
And it’s through these notes that they start to get to know each other and become friends.
It’s also refreshing to see that “looks” really didn’t factor into the start of this relationship, given that they never met before and false presumptions were made by both.
Even their first impressions of one another didn’t scream “instant attraction” which is what made their growing connection all the sweeter.
The Perfect Slow Burn
As soon as I read the first page, I was just along for the ride with this story. I just let it take me on this slow, slow burn between the two leads, happy to just see where it was taking me.
This was such a different experience from other romance books that follow a predictable plot line, where you’re not really surprised by events that happen and can already see where its going and what the characters are going to do.
That type of book can still be good and entertaining, but you’re not really surprised or wowed by anything.
This book however enthralled me and made me invested in the story just to see what these characters would do, say and write next.
That is an incredible gift from an author and so skillful on O’Leary’s part to make that happen. This was not a formulaic romance novel!
Two Amazing Lead Characters
Leon broke the mold for me with what I look for in a book boyfriend and in a man.
He’s a man who’s soft, yet not. He’s aloof and yet so aware of what others around him are feeling and needing. He’s an introvert and yet others flock to him.
What I love most is that there’s something so SAFE about him.
How that feeling can be conveyed by words and his actions, I can’t put into words myself, but it was the overwhelming feeling I got from his character and is just one example of how I was floored by O’Leary’s writing talent.
At first Leon’s words (literally) were so very stunted at the beginning of the book. I didn’t understand it at first when the book turned to his POV because it was just so jarring.
Yet this was such a unique, literal way to show how limited and empty his current life was, especially with girlfriend Kay.
O’Leary’s writing from his POV however gradually changes as the book goes on to reflect Tiffy’s influence in his life and I think it’s genius.
My favorite scene with him is when he pokes Tiffy in the cheek, checking to see if she’s a real woman because he finds her so unbelievably wonderful. I LOVED this part because it seems like something a woman would do and say to a man in any other romance book.
Tiffy is such a fun, free spirit and a remarkable woman.
Again, I was just in awe of O’Leary’s character development because you start off with one way of thinking about her (or at least I did) but then as the story continues, O’Leary weaves in more nuances so you learn a completely different part of what makes Tiffy, Tiffy.
Without giving away any spoilers, you come to learn about an underlying issue at play with Tiffy’s past relationship which I thought was so artfully well done in its depiction and portrayal.
You’re not bashed over the head with its serious topic but really see how she absorbs and moves on from it, with Leon’s help.
Awesome Secondary Characters
I always have a soft spot for secondary characters that are just phenomenal in their own right and who can capture my attention and heart with their limited words and/or appearances.
Mo and Gerty were fantastic friends to Tiffy and sort of have reverse stereotypical gender roles when it comes to their personalities.
Mo is the empathetic friend, always one to listen before sharing any suggestions. He’s so thoughtful in his approach to Tiffy and her feelings and really helps her sort out what she’s going through.
Gerty loves Tiffy just as much but is a more in your face, speak before listening type of woman. She really comes through with a favor for Tiffy, but is almost a complete opposite to Mo.
Ricky, Leon’s brother, gives us another intriguing aspect to the overall story in the book. And I’m already begging O’Leary to bring us another book so we can see more to his story. And Leon’s patients, Holly and Mr. Prior, are amazing additions to the story as well.
A 5 star romance book for me is one where I get swept up in the story, fall in love with some amazing characters and am left in awe by an author’s craft and writing ability. This one knocked it out of the park and showed me why it was deserving of its nomination as a 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Best Romance Book nominee.
A definite must read for anyone who loves a beautifully, well-written love story that is the sweetest slow burn romance.
Did you read this book? Tell me what struck you most about it in the comments below.
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