CBR 12 Bingo: Money! (I think this fits the category.)
So, the flat that is being shared is a 1-bedroom. More specifically, a 1-bed. Tiffy and Leon, our romantic leads, have an arrangement in which they will only ever be in the flat when the other person is out. Leon works nights as a nurse and spends the weekends with his girlfriend (until they break up), and Tiffy works a day job and gets to have the flat on weekends. By agreement they each sleep on a different side of the bed.
Tiffy is coming off of a break-up with Justin, with whom she has been in an on-and-off relationship for a couple of years. She needs to find a cheap place to stay as she pays him back, and Leon’s flat is the only one she can afford. Leon needs the extra funds to retain a lawyer because his brother Richie has been wrongly convicted of armed robbery and is languishing in prison while they wait for an appeal. (Eventually Tiffy’s barrister friend Gerty takes on the case pro bono because the other lawyer is terrible, and there’s a happy outcome.)
Leon and Tiffy don’t meet until about midway through the novel. They get to know each other through post-it notes they leave around. At first they’re simply informational (e.g., Tiffy left baked goods for Leon) or requests (e.g., please lower the toilet seat), but over time they share more information and get to know each other without ever having met and rarely even texting. The chapters alternate between Leon’s and Tiffy’s perspectives. I’m not sure why, but I felt like I learned more about both Leon and Tiffy from Leon’s chapters. This could be because in some ways Tiffy is not a reliable narrator. Justin was emotionally abusive, and allusions to this appear early on, but the reader has much more insight into that than Tiffy does.
I know the book is categorized as a rom-com, and in many ways it is, but for me the abuse history, combined with the ongoing manipulative behavior from Justin, keeps it from fitting firmly into the rom-com category. However, I did think the abuse was handled well. Tiffy is never blamed for staying with Justin or not seeing the signs, or even for being tempted to go back to him after she starts recognizing the signs. And Beth O’Leary knew better than to have a single therapy session “fix” Tiffy (probably PTSD, though she’s not diagnosed). Instead it’s a slow process and Tiffy improves through therapy sessions and with support from friends and Leon.
There wasn’t anything I particularly disliked about the novel. It’s a solid romance that I enjoyed but am not sure I’ll ever re-read.