8 British Romantic Novels You Might Have Missed

Because nobody does delicious awkwardness quite like us Brits

Claire Handscombe
5 min readMay 19, 2021
Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash

There’s a certain kind of sensibility to British romantic fiction. Maybe it’s the accents; maybe it’s our innate awkwardness — which would also explain the popularity of 1990s Hugh Grant movies. Regardless, if you’re wanting some great romantic fiction by British authors, here are some suggestions from the last few years, many of which didn’t get the attention they deserved in the American publishing world.

The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary (2019)

This book was one of the buzziest of the year in the UK in 2019 and sits firmly in the currently popular “up lit” genre — so if you need some feel good fiction in your life, you could do worse than picking up The Flatshare. Tiffy and Leon have never met, but the only way Tiffy can afford to live in London is by agreeing to an unusual arrangement: her apartment is shared by a guy who works nights and is only there when she isn’t. Complications ensue, along with some romantic shenanigans.

Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh (2018)

Imagine you meet someone. You spend seven glorious days together, and you’re sure, you’re sure it’s love. You’re sure they feel it too. Then…nothing. You don’t hear from them. You feel yourself descending deeper and deeper into madness. There must be a reason why he didn’t call. And you’re right: there is. I loved this book, and loved talking to Rosie for my podcast.

If I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane (2020)

Mhairi McFarlane is one of the UK’s best-loved romcom writers, and this novel of hers is one for you to pick up if a good “fake relationship” romance story is your thing. After being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend, Laurie agrees to pretend to be Jamie Carter’s girlfriend — they’re colleagues as well as fake lovers, so what can possibly go wrong?

In Case You Missed It, by Lindsey Kelk (2020)

Can you ever really come home? Ros is about to find out after three years away. Nothing’s the same: her friends’ lives have changed and so has her parents’ marriage. And what about the man who broke her heart? When she starts getting messages from him, she wonders if this is her second chance at love.

Lindsey Kelk is a much beloved British romcom author — her books have sold over a million copies in 22 countries. Marian Keyes, the Irish Queen of Women’s Fiction, calls her latest novel “witty, funny, warm and wise”.

I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella (2019)

When Fixie Farr agrees to watch a handsome stranger’s laptop in a coffee shop, she can’t possibly know the chain of events that will ensue. She certainly never imagines she’ll be redeeming the IOU the handsome stranger scribbles on a coffee sleeve or that she’ll end up having to decide: will she stop focusing on fixing other people’s lives and finally fight for the life that she really wants for herself?

Our Life in a Day, by Jamie Fewery (2019)

Here’s what the author of this buzzy novel has said about his own book: “With Tom and Esme, I wanted to look at a long-term relationship through the individual moments that really matter — whether comic or tragic — to explore how two people grow and change over the years. As well as a love story, at its heart Our Life in a Day is about male mental health, and how one man’s struggle with depression, anxiety and addiction colours his life and relationships… But in the face of this can be found warmth, humour and, ultimately, hope”. Online reviewers praise the novel for its realism and its inventiveness. It’s been available as an ebook for a while, but the audiobook is out now, and as with all British books, you can import it inexpensively from Blackwells.com.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, by Josie Silver (2020)

One Day is December was a favourite of 2018 for many of us, including me, and author Josie Silver is back with another book. This one is a Sliding Doors–ish story of a young woman who loses the love of her life to a car accident and has to learn to remake her life and open herself back up to love…or, in another version of her life, never loses him at all. One for fans of The Light We Lost and One True Loves.

We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis (2019)

Is there a better way to spend a few winter hours than curled up by the fire with a slow-burn love story? This one sounds perfect for fans of Notting Hill: it’s set in the same neighbourhood as the iconic film and its heroine daydreams about a life worthy of a Richard Curtis film — in much the same way as Annie indulges romantic fantasies in Waiting for Tom Hanks. So if you liked that book this summer, or you’re longing for another book to fill the gap left by Josie Silver’s One Day in December, this will be one to pick up.



Claire Handscombe

Editor of WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives; author of the novel UNSCRIPTED and of CONQUERING BABEL: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language.