Book Review: ‘The Dead Romantics’ bridges paranormal, heartfelt

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“The Dead Romantics” features the writer Florence and the ghost of her literary editor Benji. (Photo courtesy of @heyashpost on Instagram)

Florence Day takes ghostwriting to a new level in Ashley Poston’s paranormal romance novel “The Dead Romantics.”

Florence is secretly a ghostwriter for one of the most successful romance novelists in the business. There are just a few problems: she no longer believes in love after her most recent breakup, and her new editor, the formidable yet beautiful Benji Andor, won’t give her an extension. Oh, and she can also see ghosts.

When Florence arrives back in her small town for her father’s funeral and is greeted by the ghost of none other than Benji – who was, by the way, very much alive when she kissed him the night before – her already complicated task of coordinating her father’s last wishes becomes even more difficult.

This book takes on a monumental task: asking readers to root for a couple that would require one of them to die to be together. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often find myself hoping for the death of the main character of the romances I read. Not to mention, there’s the challenge of creating chemistry when the characters exist in opposite realms. Perhaps more difficult is navigating heavy topics like grief and belonging alongside a love story.

Poston somehow rises to all three of these challenges. Florence and Benji are an electric couple, and they are immediately bonded in an endearing way as they are both caught in the midst of one of the most emotionally taxing periods of their lives — or afterlives.

Some of the romantic tropes that often grind my gears actually make more sense when one of the people involved is a ghost. When the love interest suddenly appears every time the protagonist needs something, it normally induces an eye roll from me. But here, it checks out. Benji is a ghost — showing up out of nowhere is kind of their thing.

The book also does an impressive job of handling death. Florence’s family owns a funeral parlor, so she has a unique attitude toward death and grief. Poston allows her characters to grieve fully and unapologetically but also gives a refreshingly hopeful take on the way people stay with us after death. Not many books make me cry, but Florence’s reflections on her father’s life and death definitely got me.

I wholeheartedly recommend “The Dead Romantics” this spooky season or any time of year. It’s not Halloween-specific, but if you’re in the mood for ghost-related content or heartstring-tugging romance, pick up Ashley Poston’s latest.