The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Contemporary Paranormal Romance
June 28, 2022, by Berkley
Review by Angela
I almost passed this book up. The blurb was so intriguing with its mentions of ghostwriters and ghosts, funeral parlors, and dead editors, but I still hesitated. Mostly because I tend to grab up books like I’m hoarding in case of an apocalypse. I have zero willpower and my TBR shows it. But then one more email hit my inbox and I couldn’t resist anymore. I hit that read it button and never looked back. I’m so, so glad I did.
The Dead Romantics is a quirky, weirdly wonderful book about a woman finding her way through grief. Florence Day is a ghostwriter for an enormously popular romance author and she has a huge problem. She doesn’t believe in love or HEAs anymore. Which makes finishing this last contracted book an issue. She asks her new editor, who may or may not know she’s actually the ghostwriter and not just an assistant, for an extension, but when he says no she knows she’s in an impossible situation.
Then she receives news from home that her father has died and her whole world changes.
For ten years, I hopped from one apartment to the next, chasing after a love story that wasn’t mine, trying to force myself to be the exception instead of the rule, and over and over again all I found was hearbreak and loneliness, and never did I see a murder of crows in a dead oak tree, or a ghost on my front steps, because I was like everyone else, normal and lost, and my dad was still alive.
It’s hard to encompass this book and the emotions it invokes with just a few paragraphs in a review, but I’ll do my best. When Florence heads back home after 10 years she is a little lost and deep in her grief for a father she adored. She feels like her life is in shambles, a failure who didn’t make it in the publishing world under her own name, who thought she found the “one” only to realize he used her for her stories and then stole them for his own book. Florence is a little bit of a mess and I loved her so much.
We might’ve been a family in black, but our lives were filled with light and hope and joy. And that was something that Lee Marlow never understood, never wrote in his cold, technical prose.
It was a kind of magic, a kind of love story. I didn’t think he’d ever understand.
The Days are a staple in the small town community where she grew up. They own the only funeral parlor in town and have made giving heartfelt goodbyes to the dead and their loved ones the purpose of their lives. They are a marvelous group of individuals who embrace their differences and have a deep and abiding love for each other. They make this book shine and sparkle and I enjoyed every one of their interactions.
One of the gifts Florence and her father shared was the ability to see ghosts, which is what eventually drove Florence away from her hometown. But when she gets back to help with the funeral of her father an unexpected ghost appears… her new editor who refused to give her an extension.
Benji Andor doesn’t understand why no one else but Florence can see him. He doesn’t understand why he’s more shadow than solid. It’s up to Florence to help him realize that he is dead and figure out why he’s still around. What can she do to help him wrap up his unfinished business? As Florence plans a funeral and deals with sadness and grief and missed opportunities, they grow closer. Ben is there for her like no one really has been for a long time. He sees her. He understands her. He helps her believe in love again.
You would think this would be a deep, dark, heavy book, but it’s really not. There is sadness and a couple of times I did get that heavy feeling in my chest and head which means that tears are imminent… but I also laughed and smiled and felt a lightness of spirit at the end. There IS an HEA. There are also twists and turns and unexpected detours. Surprises that made me grin in delight. There is an ending that left me satisfied.
The Dead Romantics is such a fabulous journey of life and loss and love. I enjoyed it so very much. I’m going to gently place it on my keeper shelf to come back to when I need to revisit these characters.
Love wasn’t a whisper in the quiet night.
It was a yelp into the void, screaming that you were here.