by Ashley Poston
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.
Most of my friends and pretty much everyone on my BookTok feed loved this one, and I feel a little like I read a different book than them. Or maybe I loved The Hacienda so much that I’m judging this, my next read, a bit harsh by comparison. Either way, this book did not work for me.
Spoilers ahead, so stop here if you still plan to read The Dead Romantics.
The first thing you need to know about this is that it’s flooded with pop culture references. The main character is a ghost writer for a wildly successful author, and several times a chapter, a bestselling romance book is mentioned. There were a ton of pop culture references in the other Poston book I read, Geekerella, but those were integrated in a more organic way and felt natural considering the MC’s fandom obsessions.
In this book, it was jarring. The one that did me in was describing the male lead by saying he looked exactly like the male lead from another book: Josh from The Hating Game. The way it was done felt less like an homage and more like lazy characterization, especially when this male lead is the same sort of gruff office grump.
The book blurb above mentions that he won’t give the MC an extension but what it fails to do is mention the severity of the situation. She already received several extensions and still hasn’t finished the book. If she blows this one too, it goes to the legal department of her publishing house. Tens of thousands of dollars will be lost, mountains of work hours wasted for other employees, and the author she writes for will be exposed as a result of her negligence.
Instead of buckling down and getting it done or explaining the situation to someone, she goes out for drinks with her roommate. I’m sorry, but is this supposed to endear this character to me? Well, it didn’t. It made her come across as cold, callous, and extremely self-centered.
These traits are only reinforced when the beloved patriarch of her family dies and neither she nor anyone else in the family shed a single tear or show any obvious signs of grief. And yes, I know everyone grieves differently, but since when is complaining about having to throw a funeral for a genuinely lovely man who you all cherished a sign of grieving?
And then that gruff editor dies and shows up on the MC’s doorstep (she can see ghosts). He is understandably confused, scared, and visibly upset, and when he asks her what is happening, she whirls on her heel and tells him he’s dead in the least sympathetic way humanly possible.
And he’s supposed to be the love interest? Oh, Christ.
I started skimming from that point and the rest of the book didn’t improve much. The characters seemed a little shallow, the plot and internal monologue felt meandering, and I could not understand why the male lead was into the female lead. It was like the school ground saying “she’s mean to you because she likes you”, especially in the beginning.
Overall, a disappointment. Oh, well. On to the next.