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Better Left Unsent

A Novel

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About The Book

So many ways to torpedo your career and your love life… So little time.

A woman accidentally reveals all her secrets in this witty and charming novel from the author of Eight Perfect Hours.

Two years ago, thirty-year-old receptionist Millie Chandler had her heart spectacularly broken in public. Ever since, she has been a closed book, vowing to keep everything to herself—her feelings, her truths, even her dreams—in an effort to protect herself from getting hurt again.

But Millie does write emails—sarcastic replies to her rude boss, hard truths to her friends, and of course, that one-thousand-word love declaration to her ex who is now engaged to someone else. The emails live safely in her drafts, but after a server outage at work, Millie wakes up to discover that all her emails have been sent. Every. Single. One.

As every truth, lie, and secret she’s worked so hard to keep only to herself are catapulted out into the open, Millie must fix the chaos her words have caused, and face everything she’s ever swept under the carpet.

With her signature “tender and heartwarming” (Anstey Harris, author of When I First Held You) prose, Lia Louis presents another unforgettable and moving novel that is perfect for fans of Rebecca Serle and Emily Henry.

Excerpt

Chapter 1 chapter 1
I am going to vomit. I’m going to have a heart attack right here, on a scratchy office chair and in Boardroom Two, which, for some reason, always smells faintly of Pecorino cheese. Perhaps I’ll even—die? I mean, that’s surely possible given the circumstances and that my poor heart is thumping so hard, so quickly, my body must be convinced I’m running a marathon completely untrained. Deaths happen all the time at marathons, don’t they? It’s why I don’t run. (That, and the fact that sweating always turns my face to the color of a shiny, embarrassing, prize red cabbage.)

But now—now I’m seriously considering running. Running and not stopping. Running until this stuffy boardroom is nothing but a tiny, unidentifiable speck in the distance. Running until I get to the border, until I meet a nameless man in dark sunglasses who’ll shove a fake passport into my hand, along with a false beard and a one-way ticket to a tiny, hidden-away desert town in the Outback somewhere.

Because—God, this is awful. My worst, worst, worst possible nightmare. Probably anyone’s worst nightmare, for that matter, but most definitely, beyond a doubt, mine—and it’s happening. Right now. To me. Actual me. Millie Chandler. Live, and in stereo.

Nobody’s even said it out loud yet either; why on a totally normal-seeming, run-of-the-mill Thursday morning at nine fifteen I find myself summoned here, in a boardroom of people mere receptionists like me only ever see when redundancies are announced (or when they’re drunkenly tightrope-walking the sexual harassment borderline at after-work drinks). But I already know. Without anyone uttering a single word, I know why I’m sitting here in front of three of my bosses, plus Ann-Christin, our incompetent but sweet HR manager whose blank face stares through a laptop screen like a Star Trek villain. I knew almost the second I walked into the room a few moments ago, trailing behind Petra, my boss (and, I hope, still my friend), and saw my name projected from a computer onto the screen on the wall. A uniformed stack of them. Millie Chandler. Millie Chandler. Millie Chandler. Millie Chandler.

Because it seems, somehow, emails that shouldn’t have been sent, have been sent.

Lots of them.

So, so, so many of them.

Emails I wrote, but never sent. And “never sent” was how they should have always, always stayed.

Oh my God, I really am going to be sick. Or pass out. Or both. (But then—passing out would definitely get me out of this, wouldn’t it? And I want, so much, to get out of this.)

“We’re just waiting for Paul to arrive,” sighs Michael Waterstreet, more hard-hearted cop than managing director, and although I manage to nod, let out a shaky little whimper of an “OK,” I’m so rigid in this chair, it’s hard to tell if I actually moved at all or if I’ve perhaps, due to all the shame and terror and utter embarrassment, turned to stone like a petrified fossil.

How has this even happened? How? Five years I’ve worked here at Flye TV, a small, slightly disorganized (but mostly successful) TV sports broadcasting company. Five whole years I’ve given it my all, like an agreeable robot, a considerate, smiley yes-woman, full of nothing but “Sure!” and “Oh, absolutely!” and “Of course I’ll send your parcel overseas and pretend I totally believe you when you say it’s for the company, and not for your auntie in New Zealand again, who collects what looks and feels like monster truck tires.” Yet here I am. Here I am, at what I can only imagine is about to be a disciplinary and perhaps what will go down as one of the worst moments of my entire twenty-nine-year-long life.

“Could you, um, please t-tell me what this… this is about?” I ask wobblily, even though I am, of course, 99.9999 percent certain what this is indeed about. “Is it about emails? Is it about… my emails?”

But Michael holds up a large, corn-beefy hand. “We’ll discuss it once everyone’s arrived.”

Oh, it’s bad, isn’t it? This feels really, really, really, undeniably bad.

I should have known today was going to have a shade of disaster to it too. The signs were all there, and I’m so skilled at looking for signs these days; little whiffs of bad things approaching on the horizon that I might need to dodge. Today, though, I missed them. Completely. The traffic that was unusually horrendous this morning (a tiny hint). My favorite work mug—enormous, sloth-shaped, so amusingly funny-faced—that wasn’t in the office kitchen cupboard (a bigger hint). And the fact that when I’d asked Chatty Martin in Finance if he’d seen it, he blanked me. Yep. Chatty Martin, the man who during a bad bout of tonsilitis carried around his laptop, open on a text-to-speech website through which he spoke to us like an expressionless AI robot, ignored me. (The very biggest omen of them all.)

And now, I’m here. Staring at this screen on the wall.

At my drafts.

My email drafts that are no longer just ‘drafts.’

All those things I want to say but I’m too afraid to. All those things I type instead, to get them off my chest, to release them, without anyone knowing, without any… well, collateral.

Oh, God, this really is like a terrible dream. One of those dark “what if” situations you dream up at 2 a.m. when you’re feeling sad and alone in the world. Except this is not a “what if” or a dream. This is happening. This is real life—my real life.

The boardroom door clicks shut behind me, and my heart drops to my feet. Paul Foot, our director, stands in front of it in a pin-striped suit two sizes too big. He slowly looks at me, to everyone else, and then to the screen on the wall—to that shameful, shameful Jenga tower of “From: Millie Chandlers,” each a little window into who I really am. Rants, complaints, my stupid inside jokes, my truths, my… secrets.

“Righty-o, folks,” he says, and—ah. There it is. The sloth, smiling judgmentally, in his chubby hand. My favorite mug, now symbolic in its own right.

Because this is it.

This is “The Moment.” And how do I even get out of this? The damage is already done. The worst has already happened.

All my email drafts have somehow been sent.

Every single last one.

From: Millie Chandler

To: Michael.Waterstreet@Flyetv.com

Subject: Re: millie, set up meeting room asap

Ummmm, an empty email and an instruction in the subject without a single please or thank you?????? Not that I expected anything else of course, because I hear how you speak to other people who work here. YOU ARE THE RUDEST MAN ALIVE!!!!

Kind Regards,

Millie Chandler

Reception

Flye TV, Progress Road, Essex

From: Millie Chandler

To: Alexis.Lee@TTMedTech.com

Subject: re: sorry, can’t make dinner, clients over from Sweden, can’t go home until I’ve closed the sale!!!

Good. I’m sort of relieved to be honest, Lex. The cinema last week was hard-going. I wish it hadn’t been but it was and I felt like you were mad at me the whole time. You were so contrary and argumentative!? It was like you had a problem with everything I said. And lately, it really feels like we’re drifting apart, and I hate saying this, but sometimes I think that’s a good thing.

From: Millie Chandler

To: Owen.Kalimeris@Flyetv.com

Cc: All Office

Subject: re: Update from Team India, week 16!

It’s been four months since we broke up, and I still miss you so much, Owen. So much sometimes that it physically aches. I just don’t know how to forget you.

About The Author

Photograph by Patrick Harboun

Lia Louis lives in the United Kingdom with her partner and three young children. Before raising a family, she worked as a freelance copywriter and proofreader. She was the 2015 winner of Elle magazine’s annual writing competition and has been a contributor for Bloomsbury’s Writers and Artists blog for aspiring writers. She is the author of Somewhere Close to HappyDear Emmie Blue, Eight Perfect HoursThe Key to My Heart, and Better Left Unsent.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (May 21, 2024)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668001295

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Raves and Reviews

"Adorably addictive! Sometimes happily ever afters have messy beginnings--and I am here for it! BETTER LEFT UNSENT is best read with a clear schedule because it's an up-all-nighter. Who needs sleep when you can read Lia Louis stories?"

– Annie Rains, USA Today bestselling Author of THROUGH THE SNOW GLOBE and THE CHARMED FRIENDS OF TROVE ISLE

“No one writes a romcom like Lia Louis. Better Left Unsent is beyond wonderful; so funny, so sweet, very, very romantic, and somehow managed to make me feel better about every email I've ever sent accidentally (I've sent a lot of accidental emails). Lia is and always will be my autobuy author, this is the perfect book to brighten up your day."

– - Lindsey Kelk, internationally bestselling author 

"Who among us hasn’t accidentally sent an email we wished we hadn’t to the wrong person? This cringe-worthy setup — the premise of Lia Louis’ BETTER LEFT UNSENT — blossoms into a charming story about living with authenticity, owning our mistakes, and being brave enough to stop chasing love…and to let it find us instead."

– Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author

"Such a brilliant premise and an unrelenting delight! I opened this one to peek and ended up reading it in one, breathless sitting. Voicy, hilarious, vulnerable, and triumphant, BETTER LEFT UNSENT is an absolute blast. Pure romance magic!"

– Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of THE PARADISE PROBLEM

"I am such a huge Lia Louis fan. BETTER LEFT UNSENT is an absolutely gorgeous, laugh-out-loud, heartwarming tale of a life fully lived, with one of the smartest rom-com concepts I've ever come across. Such a joyous read."

– Beth O'Leary, internationally bestselling author of THE WAKE-UP CALL

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