A murder of crows, a dog as a mayor, zoom-zoom juice, and a ghostwriter who can see and talk to ghosts. What's not to love?
As a bookseller for Barnes & Noble, I'm expected to know the monthly picks each month and be able to talk about them. This is probably one of my favorite parts about being a bookseller--I know, I'm weird. But let me explain. I love this part because I get to introduce people to possibly their next favorite read. And I support authors at the same time.
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston is one of those monthly picks. The fiction/romance one, to be exact.
And I loved every page of it.
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.
After learning that Benji (Ben) Andor, Florence's new editor, is dead and she sees his ghost during one of the most difficult times of her life, I was hooked. I mean, how do you write a love story about a very much alive girl and a ghost? And, let me tell you, Ashley Poston freaking delivered.
Florence Day is funny, witty, and anything but normal. But that's what makes her character likeable. She'd much rather sit at home, making depression mac and cheese because her editor declined another extension than have a night on the town with her roommate. Until she forces her out of the house. In a black dress. And to a bar. Where her ex-boyfriend, who destroyed the idea of love for her, reads an excerpt of his new book at the literature-themed bar. Which is based on stories she shared about her life in confidence.
I'd want to eat depression mac and cheese too, sis.
Then she gets the call she never wanted to get. Her dad passes, leaving her no choice but to travel from New Jersey to South Carolina and walk the streets of the town that basically ran her out after she solved a murder at the age of thirteen with the help of the victim's ghost. Just a totally normal day for Florence Day. Not to mention, her family owns a funeral home.
The night her father's will is read, none other than Ben Andor shows up on her doorstep. Dead and glittery like Edward Cullen in the sunshine. Again...just a totally normal day for Florence Day...?
When I tell you how much I love this book, I don't think I can actually explain in full detail how much I freaking love this book.
For example, Florence's father, Xavier Day, has requests for his funeral:
A murder of crows
Balloons and streamers and other party materials
One thousand wildflowers and
To be perfectly clear, Xavier could see ghosts, too. So all of these requests seemed rather fitting.
The characters were so well-written and relatable, as well. Like, they seem like they would be real people. They are vulnerable and witty and funny and know when to have fun, even during some difficult times. The Day family is just so pure. And I love all of them.
Some twists I saw coming, others I didn't see. I laughed. I cried. And that is significant because only a few books have ever made me cry. I'm an emotional reader, but it takes a lot for a book to make my eyes leak.
If I haven't convinced you enough about how much I love this book, maybe these quotes will help you understand (and make you fall in love with the book, too):
"He was a bullet journal guy, and I was a sticky note kind of girl." Pg. 11
"The kind of breakup from a love you thought would last your entire lifetime, only to find your heart ripped out with a spork by your former lover and placed on a silver platter with [FORGET] YOU written in ketchup." Pg. 17
"How could two people reconcile and trust each other when they fell in love with the lies the other person told them?" Pg. 19
"Like I'm talking Benji Andor is a modern-day Rochester, but without the wife in the attic." Pg. 33
"Because loneliness was the kind of ghost that haunted you long after you were dead." Pg. 157
"I'm a thirty-six-year-old bachelor whose close relatives are all dead, and I share my apartment with a cat named Dolly Purrton."Pg. 157
"I'm keeping my zoom-zoom juice." Pg. 188
"A refined editor and his chaotic gremlin of an author." Pg. 189
"I couldn't believe that I was swooning over the bare minimum--decency." Pg. 262
"That worth wasn't dependent on someone else's love for you or your usefulness, or what you could do for them." Pg. 270
"There is no happy ending...just happily living." Pg. 298
I am a firm believer that every book has at least one thing we can learn morally. And this one had quite a few.
I found myself relating to not only Florence, but Benji, as well. Relationships are hard. And while I've only been in one, it still did enough to shake how I viewed relationships. As Florence learns, she is swooning for decency, which is literally the bare minimum for any relationship. And I find that sad. Because many others often feel the same.
Love isn't about what you can gain. It's about giving. Not just 50-50. One hundred percent effort on both sides. Florence saw her parent's relationship and her brother's relationship and thought maybe she could have the same. Until every single one of them blew up in her face. And then came Ben. The ghost. The one who finally treated her with respect...just a little too late.
We expect these happily ever afters because of books and movies. I mean, I have unrealistic expectations because fictional men are perfect. But love shouldn't be perfect. It just requires effort, respect, and the ocassional pining.
I think that's what really made this book relatable and so cute for me. Because it was realistic. And vulnerable. And broke the boundaries of how we should view love versus society. And I really enjoyed that.
Obviously ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. It was so well-written and I fell in love with the characters. I can see why Ali Hazelwood, author of The Love Hypothesis (which I also loved) enjoyed this book. Because it truly is enjoyable.
Also, I will now continue to call coffee zoom-zoom juice.
A Song I Felt Fit This Book
Okay, so, Ben Andor kind of stole my heart and as I finished reading this book, I had to stop for a second and listen to Justin Bieber's That Should Be Me because I want a man like Ben Andor in my life. Who will call coffee zoom-zoom juice with me, name their cat Dolly Purrton (or, since I'm more of a dog person, a dog with a name equally as corny), loves romance books and books in general, who understands literature, and wants to work in the book industry (as well as make jokes about death when he's clearly dead). Thank you, Ashley Poston. You have given me completely unrealistic expectations 🥲.
If the guy you were interested in showed up on your doorstep as a ghost, what would you do? Let me know in the comments! Let's start a conversation.