Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.
When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.
For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.
Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.
Romance is most certainly dead… but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.
A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
The Dead Romantics showcases a different side to Ashley Poston’s writing and I’m totally here for it! I loved her YA sci-fi books but this paranormal, contemporary romance was something I didn’t even know I needed from her.
First off, the prose is everything. There were so many quotable paragraphs I found myself highlighting more than I usually would. There’s just something so flowery and magical in the writing. Words fit together so smoothly and transition like water gently flowing over stones in a shallow creek. I’m not normally this poetic or sappy about how words are strung together, but it definitely set the mood for a small town in South Carolina our protagonist, Florence, finds herself going back to for the first time in a decade.
It’s not just how the words fit together but also the way Poston was able to make Florence’s voice so distinctive and personal. She’s emotional and stubborn, loving but also hardened by life’s betrayals. I saw myself in Florence’s struggles to love herself and find worth looking inwards instead of to those around her. Reading her narration reminded me of the voiceovers in the early 2000s shows that brought both witty and sarcastic commentary to the story. I absolutely loved it.
Though the writing was oddly refreshing and wholly different than I anticipated, it’s also the story itself that made everything such a wild ride. I don’t cry very often when I read books and I wasn’t expecting to in this one, but boy, did the waterworks just start going at certain points. This book is also one about grief, though the author doesn’t drown us in it so much as reminds us it’s there as Florence faces the burial preparations for her dear father. The balance of funny moments with the reality of death and grief was one I thoroughly enjoyed. It doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the topic, but it allows for different processing and I think that’s what worked for me. Florence mourned her father’s passing and the time she lost spending it with him in person, but their love and memories still remained.
Florence’s self-inflicted isolation from her family all comes to a head when she’s forced back home to face the demons she ran away from. Her family, the town, and her backstory that led to her run to NYC was fleshed out very well. I will admit that the first half of the book moved quite slowly, setting up the foundation for the latter half. I almost wanted to give up but I’m so glad I stuck it out. So this is why I can’t give it top rating but the latter half more than made up for the slow pace.
But the waterworks didn’t only come from dealing with grief. The majority of this story is also one of romance. From the opening proclamation that Florence believed love was dead, a ghostwriter for romance novels, I knew this would get interesting. When her hot(!) but suddenly dead editor who wouldn’t give her an extension on her book pops up in town, you know this isn’t your ordinary meet cute kinda story. I grew up reading the Mediator series by Meg Cabot so I immediately knew this hot ghost love interest would make me happy and sad simultaneously. And wow, was I sure right.
Can I just interrupt this to say I love how meta this romance book felt? Ashley just name dropped all these big names in the publishing community, authors and books we hopefully should all know of, and I felt like only someone in the time period I grew up in with the kind of books I read could truly appreciate how cool it is to feel Florence’s reading and writing inspirations were mine too.
Back to Mr. Hot Editor, Benji Andor. He’s the perfect cinnamon roll, helping Florence through the roughest week of her life when she should be the one trying to help him move on. The chemistry was so on point, and the tension was agonizing because, well, he’s a ghost and they can’t actually touch.
Mostly, I’m a huge fan of character development. And Florence had her issues at the beginning. While the course of everything at home and with her dad’s death obviously changed her, it’s ultimately her shift in perceiving love that’s the winner for this book. We always think of love as romantic love first, but we gotta remember, love also exists in multiple forms beyond the one.
The Dead Romantics will leave you feeling mushy inside, trust me. Or at least, if you have some kind of a heart. It’s the perfect blend of paranormal romance with the contemporary struggles we can all relate to. This is probably Ashley’s best book yet and that’s saying something as I’ve really enjoyed most of her writing so far. Please do yourself a favor and pick this one up ASAP.
The Dead Romantics blends wit and humor into a powerful story about grief and love. While that may sound like many books out there, what’s unique about this one is the ghostly boyfriend vibes a la Mediator style and the way the author lets us process Florence’s emotions and grief over her dad in a way that’s not suffocating. I LOVED the gorgeous prose that made the atmosphere of the small town and vivid emotions come alive off the pages. It’s truly a book to experience though the first half may test your patience as it sets up for the climax. With plenty of tears running down my face, I can honestly say this book in it’s entirely is sure to tug at your heartstrings and make you believe in love again too.