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In the past, I’ve talked about horror romances, and I’ve even talked about ghost romances specifically. But it’s been a few years, and there have been more romances featuring ghosts — and while some of them are being annoying voices in the background, so many more of them are actual love interests! The interesting thing about the concept of “ghost romance” is that it can be broken into two different categories: romances featuring ghosts and romances about ghosts. Something like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, for example, is a story that features a ghost, might even have that ghost as a central, friendly character, but the concluding romantic plot is not about the loquacious gentleman ghost. Ghost, on the other hand, is a romantic story featuring the ghost as a central romantic character. (Of course, spoiler alert, that one isn’t a romance because homeboy walks into the light at the end.) While my preference is basically for an adult version of Casper in which our ghost friend and the person they’re haunting just…do whatever the phantasmic version of dating is for the rest of the living person’s life, there are also some great romances in which the Ghosts As Supporting Characters range in scariness from the talking gargoyles in Hunchback to Samara in The Ring. (I’m sorry for all of the very specific and dated reference, I’m a child of the ‘90s.)
There are some great new romances with ghost love interests out this year, and there are some of both kinds that I didn’t get the chance to cover in my previous post. Some take the hauntings a little more seriously while others are just…I don’t even know, dude. The ones I’ve read have all been a delight, and there are plenty more that I haven’t gotten to…but I am very excited to check them out!
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
I swear, this one had to have originally been called “The Ghost and the Ghostwriter.” Because that is literally the plot: A ghostwriter for a famous romance novelist is having trouble turning in the next book. She doesn’t particularly believe in love anymore, and it’s affecting her work. When she meets the new editor (who doesn’t know she’s anything besides the author’s assistant), they have immediate chemistry, but she doesn’t see him again until he shows up in her hometown…dead. And since Florence can see ghosts…well, you know.
I have devoured plenty of Ashley Poston’s YA novels and I’m so excited she’s moved into grown-up territory!
A Ghost in Shining Armor by Therese Beharrie
The second of Therese Beharrie’s new paranormal romance series, this one features a woman who can see ghosts (theme for 2022?) and helps them finish their business. In this particular universe, once Gemma sees a ghost, they become corporeal — which leads to her kissing Levi, and then them having to pretend to be together.
What. Ghost fake dating. Here for it.
The Hand I Fan With by Tina McElroy Ansa
This is an older book that I only came across recently. While Ansa hasn’t published a new novel in 20 years (as far as I can tell), her body of work from the 1990s is both significant and well loved. In The Hand I Fan With, 45-year-old Lena and her friends perform a ritual to bring her a man — and the universe does! Herman has been dead for over a hundred years, but he’s happy to offer as much love and affection as his ghostly body can handle.
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Tall, Dark, and Haunted by Mia Harlan and Hanleigh Bradley
So Rhiannon is a ghost. And she’s naked. She was a shifter as a human, and died in that form so…bye bye clothes. When she ends up haunting an old castle, it turns out she has three haunt-mates. But Casper’s Uncles these guys are not. When a supernatural town…appears…and they find themselves in real bodies, but they have to figure out not only how to keep them, but to get the town back to where it was supposed to be.
A Haunting Love by Emilee Harris
So I mentioned above that The Ghost and Mrs. Muir isn’t a romance between the titular characters, even though theirs is as much a love story as the one that concludes the story. But Emilee Harris has set out to redeem their love story. She essentially calls it a fanfic, and uses the original story, about a widow who moves into a home only to be haunted by a sea captain who once lived there, to set the foundations of her own. It’s a retelling, but with an ending more acceptable to any of us who shipped Mrs. Muir with Rex Harrison. I mean the captain. Yeah.
Haunting Love by KA Moll
Where the other book on this list with that title is a little more lighthearted, this book is…a lot darker. Anna has moved into a new life and a new home, but she’s certain she’s being haunted by something evil. When her landlord’s daughter comes to check it out, Gabe, who is a powerful medium, can tell that there is definitely something bad in the space. The two have a lot to endure alone before they can be together, but this is definitely a romance with an HEA. CW for intrusive thoughts and thoughts of suicidal ideation, as well as mention of severe homophobia in Anna’s past life.
The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert
This is another one that is more ghost-adjacent, but it’s one of Amy E. Reichert’s classic love stories to Wisconsin, so you should be reading it anyway!
Sabrina has moved back home after a stint away in D.C., and she’s not looking forward to being back in her hometown. In part because there’s nothing but people who are going to be in her business, and in part because seeing ghosts and helping them with her unfinished business is also…everybody’s business. And she just wants to mind her own. But when she meets the new guy in town who runs a supper club, there’s something there that simply wasn’t there before. (Sorry. I had to.)
Ghost Walk by Cassandra Gannon
Grace Rivera has training as a crime scene investigator, but for now she’s stuck doing ghost tours in her Revolutionary War themed town. So when she encounters a ghost who was hanged in 1789, she’s sure she’s not quite sane. But eventually, Jamie enlists her help in solving the murder he was charged with…because it’s been hundreds of years since someone has been able to see him.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
This is a YA novel, but believe me, it belongs on this list!
Yadriel might be trying to convince his family that he’s worthy of training to be a brujo, but he’s also trying to prove it to himself. Either way, he’s now summoned a ghost while looking for a newly dead family member, and he can’t get rid of him, in any sense of the word. It doesn’t help that the guy is his age, and very cute. But he’s kind of annoying, and he won’t tell Yadriel the whole truth. So while the two of them try to get to the bottom of Julian’s death, they also get closer…until maybe Yadriel doesn’t want to send him into that good night.
Hot Ghost by Annika Martin
So this is the book that introduced me to The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, which sounds intriguing but only has one name out of 18 that I recognize as an author of color so…I’ll have to further investigate.
This is a novella that features yet another person who does tours in a haunted area, but she kind of complains about the fact that the haunting is…kind of boring. Little does she know that the ghost hears every word and would like a word. They’ll get that chance sooner than he expects, when the complainer becomes a ghost herself.
The Black Parade by Kyoko M.
Jordan is stuck. She killed a Seer, and has two years to help a hundred souls with unfinished business cross into the afterlife or she’s going to hell. Same old, same old, right? So she’s two days from her deadline and meets Michael, who might just cause her eternal damnation. This is the beginning of an urban fantasy series, and is chock full of angels, demons, ghosts, and all the fun stuff that goes with it.
So as you see, there are lots of ways ghosts can exist in romance, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular…trope? Sub-sub-genre? Whatever…plays out in the future! (In the meantime, maybe I’ll look for that aged up Casper fic I dreamed up in the intro…)