If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend October swinging between being ridiculously excited for Halloween but also wanting it all to be over so you can officially get excited for Christmas! I basically just love having something to celebrate! So I literally hit the jackpot when the lovely Ruth Saberton sent me a copy of her latest novel Dead Romantic* which brings together the spooky mystery of Halloween and festive promise and excitement of Christmas. Perfect!
Dead Romantic tells the tale of Egyptologist Cleo Rose Carpenter who has no time for a social life, family life or any kind of life outside of the office as she buries her head so deeply in her work to avoid dealing with the grief of losing her mother on Christmas Eve 10 years ago.
Cleo also has no time for a love life, but dwells on the kiss she had on the platform of her local train station with a stranger who comforted her the same night her mum passed away. Whilst she never got the name of the handsome guy with a guitar on his back, she did give him her number but never heard from him again. In the trauma of her mums death, Cleo instantly packed up her bags and spent several years in Cairo continuing her mother’s and grandmother’s research into a young Pharaoh boy named Aamon. Focused on her academia, Cleo had no time for Christmases of the future and totally missed the smash hit One Christmas Kiss released by brooding brother duo Thorne, which tells of Rafe Thorne’s kiss with a stranger on a train platform one long ago Christmas Eve. Poor Rafe felt he’d met the love of his life, only to lose her number to the cold wind and snow straight after their encounter and never stopped dreaming he’d finally meet her again. His brother Alex promised he’d never stop helping him look for her.
Fast forward 10 years to one wet and windy London night, and Cleo has a narrow escape – falling over and luckily coming away with no more than a nasty bump on the head… a nasty bump on the head and the sudden ability to see ghosts! Cynical Cleo of course puts the appearance of ghost Alex Thorne (who died in an accident following an argument with brother Rafe) by her side down to being a hallucination as a side effect of her injury, however he slowly but surely manages to persuade her that she must reconnect with grieving Rafe who blames himself for Alex’s death.
Cleo struggles to balance her new found “gift”, spotting spirits wherever she goes, with trying to beat off an arrogant academic in a fight for a promotion, as well as starting to deal with facing her own feelings, all whilst trying to save Rafe from himself. Her new ghostly gang helps her several times along the way. Could it be that the bump on the head is actually the best thing to ever happen to Cleo?
I really enjoyed Dead Romantic. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read before, bringing in elements of the supernatural with the classic chick lit formula. As always, Ruth Saberton creates some amazing characters – all believable, likeable and identifiable.
Cleo was great fun to follow and I really empathised with her pain and anger dealing (or rather not dealing) with her mother’s death. Like all Saberton’s female leads, Cleo had me giggling at her witty one liners and also identifying with many of her character traits and observations. Following Cleo’s journey and watching her grow and deal with her past was an absolute pleasure to read and really made me connect with her. I also loved the supporting female characters – outgoing flat mate Susie and nice but dim Primarni Queen work colleague Dawn, who both added even more laughs and fun to the novel.
Ruth also writes amazing men (remember Jonty in Escape for the Summer?!) Love interest Rafe Thorne is the classic dark, dangerous and devilishly sexy rock god who you can’t really help but fancy! However it is his brother Alex who is really likeable (even though he’s dead!) We get to meet Alex a lot earlier in the book than Rafe, and his cute sense of humour and desperation to make both his brother and Cleo happy is so endearing. On the other end of the scale is smarmy Simon Welsh, Cleo’s dreamy but dastardly colleague, who just makes you just want to punch him on the nose and will have you screaming at Cleo not to trust him!
I really enjoyed the storyline and loved that it is set largely inside a London museum – it’s like having a behind the scenes peek at the British Museum – very cool – and the perfect setting for some ghostly goings on! Ruth also makes Cleo’s home town Taply-on-Thames sound like an absolutely picture perfect haven and I was quite upset to find that it’s not a real village I could go and visit!
Dead Romantic is available to buy at Amazon now – go go go!
*Many thanks to Ruth Saberton for sending me an ARC of Dead Romantic. All thoughts are honest and my own, for more information please see my Disclaimer Page.
Here’s the official blurb:
What do you do if you come face to face with a ghost? Put it down to a bump on the head and work stress if you’re a respected academic like Cleo Carpenter. With Christmas approaching, professional rivalry afoot and a best friend determined to interfere in her love life the strain is clearly starting to get to her. Guilt-stricken and deceased, Alex Thorne is desperate to make amends with his brother, Rafe, a tortured musician trapped in a spiral of destruction. When an encounter with Cleo forges a link between them she becomes his only hope. So what if the only person who can see him is a sceptic? As Cleo starts to doubt her sanity, the safe world she takes for granted crumbles around her. Setting out to regain control and prove once and for all ghosts don’t exist, she embarks on a journey of self discovery and surprise, learning that love really does defy science, logic and maybe even death itself…