January 28, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

Let’s talk about the dead romantics (spoilers)

Hello readers, sometimes I think about what makes a fiction contemporary woman and romance?

A book can of course be a combination of both. A book can be about the protagonist’s love life and life itself, but the cover of a book sets the tone.

A contemporary women’s novel usually has a woman on the cover provided there is only one protagonist like Ghosts by Dolly Alderton and Olive by Emma Gannon. A romance novel usually has two characters in the cover, like Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood and The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams.

I say that because Ashley Poston’s The Dead Romantics is both but more contemporary women because the book is more about the female protagonist Florence Day, not that I’m complaining.

The Dead Romantics is about ghostwriter Florence, who sees ghosts. She left her hometown years ago and is finally coming back because her father passed away and she is trying to finish the list her father left them for his funeral. She also can’t finish the love book she is supposed to write and has missed the deadline because she no longer believes in romance because her ex-boyfriend used her true life stories to write a book.

The ghost of her editor Ben accompanies her. She thinks Ben’s unfinished business is the manuscript. They spend time together and Florence falls in love with the ghost Ben, even though she’s not allowed to because he’s a ghost!

What do I think of the author’s spelling?
I am torn.

Ashley Poston has brought some scenes together like the scenes of Florence and Ben and how it is getting through to Florence that her father is dead. I like these words AP wrote:

“And a deeper part of me was like, ‘How can you think about Ben and writing and books when your father is dead? I thought about her because if I thought about Dad too much, that rock in my stomach would push me to the center of the earth, and I’d never crawl out again.”

I know this feeling. It’s as if my brain is saving me by thinking about other things so as not to drown me in grief.

What I didn’t like, and that’s just me and my reading preference, is when AP describes the setting or something in paragraphs. I know it’s important to the story, but too many words to describe an environment makes me jump to scenes. Here is an example:

“The undertaker’s was a renovated Victorian mansion that was painted white every summer to keep it looking fresh and spooky, whatever the lucky home seekers might want. The shingles were a dark obsidian that sparkled like black sand when the sun shone squarely on the roof. The patterns in the stonework of the foundation were faded reds and oranges, and the wrought-iron railings drew sweet, deadly patterns across the upper windows and dormer windows. On Valentine’s Day it was adorned with cut-out hearts and pink and red balloons, on July 4th we set off purple fireworks, and on Christmas it was bordered with red and green lights, like the grumpy old grandfather who didn’t want to admit he was missing the holidays enjoyed, but very much.”

That’s too long for me. An image of a funeral home came to mind, I skipped the words and then moved on to the next scene.

HUGE SPOILER: Another thing I didn’t like is why Florence and Ben waited three months before speaking. It’s anticlimactic.

Florence rushes to the hospital to talk to Ben, but she doesn’t because Laura, Ben’s ex, is there. She sees her ex there, hits him and leaves. For three months she writes and writes until she finishes her book. Ben emails her and she meets him at the office. They talk and they kiss.

Someone should get in touch immediately. Ben should have asked Florence to meet him at his office as soon as he got back to work. But no. Three months later, Ben Florence writes via email that she was a pleasure to work with. Florence had to be the one to say she wanted to set up a meeting with him. Arghh. So what if Florence doesn’t answer that. Would Ben be okay with doing nothing and just letting Florence go? If Ben really wants Florence, he should be the one arranging the meeting, even if he thinks their time together was just a dream.

He says, “Oh, I want/love her” and then “but I’ll do my job first and just let her come to me.”

Well, Ben apologized for keeping Florence waiting because he hadn’t noticed, but was annoying anyway. Disappointing. He knows he wants her, with or without being a ghost.

Anyway, that’s one of the scenes that ends up not being what happened in the last chapter.