The novel hits shelves on June 28.

Being a ghostwriter has its share of challenges...from never getting public credit for one's work to working on other people's deadlines.

But for Florence Day, a ghostwriter for a prolific romance writer, things are even more complex as she struggles to meet her newest deadline. In The Dead Romantics, the debut adult novel from Ashley Poston, Florence returns home to her small Southern town and her family's funeral parlor to sort through the aftermath of her father's passing.

Things get really complicated when her new editor shows up at the funeral a ghost. Florence can't help developing feelings for the infuriatingly handsome figure, even if he lacks a substantive corporeal form. But she had to help him sort through his unfinished business, while dealing with plenty of her own, as she rethinks everything she's ever known about love stories.

EW has an exclusive excerpt from Poston's novel, featuring the moment the spectral editor first appears on her doorstep.

Poston has worked steadily as a YA author for several years, but The Dead Romantics, which hits shelves June 28, marks her adult debut.

Read the excerpt after the cover image below.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Credit: Berkley

My heart floundered. It swelled and deflated and felt strange. And I felt so wrong to be here, gathered in this parlor room that smelled like roses and the softest, barest hint of formaldehyde, without Dad.

Mom looked up from her lap when I came into the parlor, and quickly jumped to her feet. "Darling!" she called, opening her arms, and rushed over to me. She drew me into a hug, so tight it was rib cracking, and I buried my face into her warm orange sweater. She smelled like apples and rose perfume, the smell of my childhood— skinned knees and pancakes in the breakfast nook and Sundays at the library, sitting in the stacks reading romance novels. She hugged me so tightly, it felt like every memory was a bone in my body that she needed to hold on to, to make sure they were still here. Still real.

"I'm so glad you're here," she said softly, and finally let me go.

She tucked my hair behind my ears, and her eyes were a little wet. "You're still skin and bones, though! What do they feed you in New York—lettuce and depression?"

"About," I replied, unable to hide a laugh. She squeezed my hands tightly, and I squeezed them back. "I'm sorry I'm late."

"Nonsense! We were just getting to the good part, weren't we?" Mom finally let go of my hands, and turned to Karen to ask her to start from where she left off again. Leave it to Mom to find a good part in reading Dad's will.

Seaburn bumped his shoulder against mine and gave me a nod. "Nice to see you home."


Karen gave me a sad smile and said to us, "It seems like Xavier left some instructions for his funeral." She took out a list from the manila envelope on her lap, and showed it to us.

Carver gave a groan from his seat in the high­back velvet chair. "Chores?"

Alice massaged the bridge of her nose. "Even from beyond the grave, he's making us work for free."

"Alice," Mom chided. "He's not even in the grave yet."

"Bless his soul," Karen lamented, and pulled her glasses down a little to read from the list. I was surprised she could read his handwriting at all—it was revoltingly bad. "One. For my funeral, I would like one thousand wildflowers. Bouquets are to be organized by color."

A murmur of confusion crossed the room.

A thousand? Why would—oh. Wildflowers, like the ones he picked every Saturday for Mom. I glanced over at her, and she hid a smile as she looked down into her lap. Alice and Carver were blanching at the request—they hadn't realized its significance.

Why a thousand, though, I didn't know.

"Two. I want Elvis to perform at my funeral."

Seaburn murmured to his wife, "Isn't he dead . . . ?"

"Very," she replied.

Dad would've tsked at that and said, "Only mostly dead," in that cryptic way of his. Because music was a heartbeat, too, in its own way, and death wasn't a send­off without some good tunes.

I was beginning to get the worst sort of feeling.

"Three. I want Unlimited Party to supply decorations. I put in the order on January 23, 2001. You can find a receipt in the envelope with this will." And then Karen Williams took the yellowed receipt out of the envelope.

I remembered Dad once saying, "When I go out, there'll be streamers and balloons, buttercup. There won't be any tears."

My throat tightened. I curled my hands into fists.

Karen put the receipt back, and kept reading, "Four. I want a murder of twelve to fly during the ceremony."

"A murder?" Alice asked.

"Of crows. Twelve crows," I translated. The same murder that kept stealing our Halloween decorations, and gave Dad shiny things when he fed them spare corn on the cob, and sat on the old dead oak tree outside of the funeral home whenever a ghost appeared—how were we supposed to catch those birds?

They hated me.

Karen went on. "Five, my final request. Buttercup"—I felt my heart skip at my nickname, and even though Karen was reading, I could hear Dad in the words, the soft love there, the lopsided grin—"I have left a letter to be read aloud at the funeral. Not a moment before—"

The doorbell rang.

Seaburn asked the group, "We're not expecting anyone else, are we?"

I checked my watch. It was 9:00 p.m. A little late for visitors.

"Could be flowers," Carver pointed out.

"Or someone canvassing for mayor," Karen added.

"Our mayor's a dog. Who would want to run against a dog?"

Mom said, "Florence, you're closest."

"Sure," I replied, and made my way to the front door to answer it.

A letter? What kind of letter did Dad want me to read for his funeral? I didn't like the sound of that. For all I knew, it could've been mortifying stories from my childhood he'd been keeping as blackmail—like the time I got a marble stuck up my nostril and then shoved a marble in the other one because I was afraid my nose wouldn't look even. Or the time Carver was playing in a coffin and it closed on him. Or the time Alice thought she was a witch and gathered all the stray cats in the neighborhood as her familiars and they ate the neighbor's canary. He was that kind of person. And he definitely was the kind of person to include a PowerPoint presentation in the letter, too.

And that just made me miss him more. He couldn't be gone, could he? He—he could still be here. As a ghost. Lingering. He had unfinished business, didn't he? He hadn't said goodbye. He couldn't be gone. I hadn't talked with him enough, laughed with him enough, soaked in the stories he had and the cryptic wisdom he espoused and—and—

When I opened the door, I didn't see anyone at first. Just the porch and the moths that fluttered around the porch lights, and the rocky cobblestones that led to the sidewalk, and the soft street­lights and the wind that rushed through the oak trees.

Then a crow cawed in the oak tree out front, and my eyes focused, and barely—barely—I began to make out an outline. Of a shadow. A body—

A man. A ghost.

My heart leapt into my throat—Dad?

No—it wasn't. The man was . . . too tall, too broad. Slowly, like adjusting the focus on a pair of binoculars, the shape took form, until I could see most of him, and my eyes traveled up to the face of the towering stranger, framed by dark hair and a chiseled jaw. It only took a moment to recognize who he was—

Well, who he had once been. I paused. "Benji . . . Andor?"

And he was most definitely dead.

BEN'S GAZE FELL on mine as soon as I said his name. His eyes were dark and wide and—confused. The slightest crease between his eyebrows deepened as he recognized me. "M­Miss Day?"

I slammed the door closed. Oh, no. Oh no, no, no.

This wasn't happening. I didn't see anything. It was a trick of the light. It was my overworked brain. It was—

"Florence?" Mom called from the parlor. "Who is it?" "Um—no one," I replied, my hand curling tighter around the

doorknob. The faintest outline of the figure still stood in the door­ way, shadowed in the stained glass. He wasn't gone. I closed my eyes, and let out a breath. Nothing was there, Florence.

No one was there.

Not your dad, and not the crazy­hot editor who was most certainly not dead.

I opened the door again.

And there Benji Andor stood as he had before.

Ghosts didn't look like they did in the movies—at least from my experience. They weren't mangled, flesh rotting off their bones. They weren't pale as if some unfortunate actor had a bad run­in with baby powder, and they didn't glow like Casper. They shimmered, actually, when they moved. Just enough to make them look a little wrong. Sometimes they looked as solid as anyone living, but other times they were faded and flickering—like a lightbulb on its last wire.

Benji Andor looked like that, standing on the welcome mat to the Days Gone Funeral Home. He looked like how his memories remembered him, the night in Colloquialism, his dark hair neatly gelled back, his suit jacket fitted to his shoulders, his black slacks pressed. His tie was a little askew, though, just enough to make me want to straighten it. My gaze lingered on his lips. I remembered them, the way they tasted.

But now he was—this man was—

The spring wind that rattled through the dead oak tree didn't mess up his hair, and the light from our foyer didn't sit right on his face, and his shadow was gone. He shimmered, slightly, like a holograph in glitter. I reached out toward him, slowly, to touch his chest—

And my hand went through him. It was cold. A burst of frost.

He stared down at my hand in his sternum, and I whispered just as he cursed—


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