I guess you could say love comes in all different shapes and sizes.
I’m not one for cheesy romance novels; characters falling in love within five minutes of knowing each other, the will-they-won’t-they tension and superficial relationships. Alternatively, the premises of both ‘The Flatshare’ and ‘My Lovely Wife’ are (wonderfully) ludicrous. The chances of the scenarios occurring in real life are slim. However, the relationships felt real. The former is a sweet slow-burner which made me laugh out loud. On the other hand, the latter features your every day married couple who share one gruesome secret.
From tugging on your heartstrings to making your heart stop, here are two books you need to read this year.
Author: Beth O’Leary Published: April 2019 Rating: 5 stars
This was a charming love story about two 20-somethings strapped for cash in London, navigating the demands of a job, rent and relationships, who meet under the most peculiar of arrangements. The Flatshare features likeable characters, publishing industry jokes, and a touching exploration of the impact of emotionally abusive relationships. O’Leary’s writing was so charismatic and readable that I risked a car nearly knocking me over when attempting the art of reading-while-walking. It was worth it.
“Tiffy & Leon share a flat. Tiffy & Leon share a bed. Tiffy & Leon have never met.”
This premise! It shouldn’t work, yet it works so well. The story unfolds over duelling-narrative chapters and for the first few months of their living arrangement, Tiffy and Leon communicate via Post-It notes that they leave around the flat. Think sticky notes left besides left-over mushroom stroganoff or a batch of stress-baked flapjacks. Over time, they begin to pick up on each other’s moods and quirks solely through the cues they leave around the flat: the unwashed dish left on the counter, the half-drunk cup of tea.
Besides the quirky setup, the protagonists are overcoming their own personal obstacles. Tiffy is trying to move on from her recently disintegrated long-term relationship and is coming to realise how emotionally abusive her ex, Justin, truly was. Leon, on the other hand, is campaigning for the appeal of his wrongly convicted younger brother while simultaneously working night-shifts as a palliative nurse. These anxieties and life-events slowly reveal themselves in the Post-It notes. I too was falling for each of them as the notes excessively piled up. After months of communicating solely via Post-its, the anticipation of them finally meeting was excruciating. And oh, the moment they finally do is golden. I was grinning like an idiot.
This is an imaginative romantic novel that illustrates the importance of solid friendships, owning your flaws, finding true love and has a poignant moral behind it all. Despite the hurdles each of them must conquer, love and trust come to the forefront and makes for a feel-good novel that I can’t wait to re-read in the near future. O’Leary has created the perfect British rom-com which was such a joy to read! I couldn’t recommend this more and can’t wait for this to be out in the world.
Thank you to Quercus for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing Published: March 2019 Rating: 4 stars
This is a story about not one, but a married power couple of serial killers.
We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.
We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.
Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.
The story unfolds through the husband’s eyes for the entirety of the book. He’s just your everyday family man. He talks us through the ups and downs of modern married life, taking the kids to school, looking after them when they’re sick. Furthermore, we learn about how he met his soul mate, how they built a life together and their typical issues surrounding money. Oh, and there’s odd murder thrown in there too.
With every chapter, we learn more about the characters and begin to navigate our way around the complex web of secrets they’re keeping. Eventually, the action in their secretive lives spills into their personal ones and things get messy. Yes, I guessed a couple of the major twists. However, the narration was so well executed that it was gratifying to watch it all play out and lead towards a satisfying ending.
There’s something about seeing the story from the serial killer’s perspective that alters the whole reading experience. I was stuck at a crossroads between both being repulsed and routing for the husband. Overall, this was a fast, addictive psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages.
Thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for sending me a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What’s your favourite romance novel? Will you be picking these books up?
Thanks for reading!