Updated: Jan 19
Ghosting: A Love Story
by Tash Skilton
Published by Kensington Books
LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS—TO BREAK ALL THE RULES
Online Dating Ghostwriting Rules to Live by
Dumped by his fiancée, not only is Miles couch-surfing across New York City, but downsizing has forced him to set up shop at a café. Also, he no longer believes in love. Not a good look in his line of work . . .
Do not present a “perfect” image. No one will trust it. Nor should they.
Zoey’s eccentric L.A. boss sent her packing to New York to “grow.” But beneath her chill Cali demeanor, Zoey’s terrified to venture beyond the café across the street . . .
Think of your quirks—such as cosplaying B-movies from the 1980s—as a “Future Honesty.” Save these as a reward only for those who prove worthy.
The only thing Miles and Zoey share is their daily battle for Café Crudite’s last day-old
biscotti. They don’t know they’re both ghostwriting “authentic” client profiles for rival online dating services. Nope, they have absolutely nothing in common. . . . Until they meet
anonymously online, texting on the clock . . .
Never remind the client you’re their Cyrano. Once you’ve attracted a good match, let the client take over ASAP.
Soon, with their clients headed for dating disaster, both Miles and Zoey's jobs are at stake. And once they find out their lines have crossed, will their love connection be the real thing—or vanish into the ether?. . .
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #RomCom Feel Good
Ghosting: A Love Story is written by Tash Skilton, which is actually a pen name for two authors, Sarvenez Tash and Sarah Skilton. Ghosting: A Love Story has two narrators; Miles, a New Yorker who is going through a rough breakup, while working in an industry that helps people fall in love as a ghostwriter for clients on online dating sites, and Zoey, a newcomer to New York who is having trouble adjusting, and works as a freelancing ghostwriter for a competing agency.
I have to start by saying, I freakin' loved this book. For many reasons.
* It's unique. We have all read romances where enemies fall in love, but this is just done in such an organic and modern way.
*C.H.E.M.I.S.T.R.Y. Miles and Zoey have so much chemistry it's insane. From the moment they meet, even when fighting, it's electric. Even when they aren't together, you can't help but feel a sense of rightness between them. When they are together, its intense and beautiful, but not overwhelming so. It's just perfect.
*Entertaining. I laughed way too much reading this. Their banter with one another is refreshing and fun. And feels real. Not just their words, but the situations they get themselves into. Without getting spoilery, I feel like every city should celebrate National Cheese Day.
*Authentic. The characters feel like people that actually exist. They talk the way friends and I talk. The setting is equally realistic. New York tends to be a bit romanticized ... and for sure, there is a lot of love for New York in this book. But it's real too. I've only been to NYC once, but the descriptions of certain smells, the sound of a train coming in to the subway platform, and the people ... I was transported back. I have read a lot of New York based books, and this is the first time I felt like I was there again.
The characters are so well written and fleshed out. I liked Zoey. She's a girl I would actually be friends with. Low-maintenance, intelligent, sarcastic, and a lot stronger than she thinks. Her battles with anxiety struck a cord in me, and it was very easy to relate to her. Miles was an easy male protagonist to fall for. I've ALWAYS had a thing for nerdy, hipster type guys, and he fits the bill. The fact that he is a self admitted romantic ... swoon. The side characters are just as fun and interesting, which gave the added bonus of never being bored in the book.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend this one. Obviously Sarvenez Tash and Sarah Skilton work amazingly well together, and I am crossing fingers for more projects to come from them. In the meantime, I think I will check out their individual books as well. If those books are even half as good as this one, I will be in for a treat.
Where to Preorder:
And then there's Jude Campbell. There's nothing very special about Jude's profile. He's good looking enough. His answers are normal enough. Or, I should say, there's almost nothing very special about Jude's profile.
Jude apparently moved here from Scotland a couple of years ago. Which means Jude has an accent. And if I am going to stake my whole career on one guy's love match?
I'm picking the dude with the Scottish accent.
I've just hit send when music comes blasting from a corner table, warranting a glance in that direction.
It's I Am Legend, whose face has turned bright pink, Bambi lashes fluttering as she frantically hits keys on her laptop. I'm pretty sure that's a song from Fifty Shades of Grey. Is that what she's doing here? Does hoarding free food while she watches soft-core porn in public get her off or something? I watch her for a second, curious whether I can discern if she's turned on. Then I catch myself. Under no circumstances am I to be checking out women again, even if it's purely anthropological.
Zoey: "Not today, Satan."
His brown eyes whip toward mine
Miles: "What'd you say?"
Zoey: "Uh, I said, 'Seat's taken.' "
Miles: "I can see that. Given that you're sitting in it."
Zoey: "Just wanted to make sure we're clear. I'll be here all day, but the way, so don't get any ideas that you can like, wait me out."
Miles: "Well, Fifty Shades can't watch itself."
Zoey: "Excuse me?"
Miles: "Six straight hours of mommy porn is admirably rigorous."
Zoey: "I have no idea what you're - oh. The Weeknd. Uh, it was a parody video."
Miles: "Parody porn is underrated."
Zoey: "I didn't come here to watch porn."
Miles: "Just do me a favor and keep the volume down, okay? Some of us are here to work."
Zoey: "Hi, this is Zoey with Sweet Nothings. How may I help you?"
Bree: "Basically, my dick picker is broken."
Bree: "Sweet. And you're like a spellchecker and grammar bitch?"
Zoey: "Exactly. Minus the bitch part."
Dating App Chat:
TheDuchessB: I've been burned. This is a strictly an in-person subject. I need to see the whites of your eyes before I can discuss Her Highness with you.
GreatSc0t: Like ... in the Battle of Bunker Hill?
TheDuchessB: Dating is war, my good man.
GreatSc0t: Touche. I respect that. Soldier to soldier.
Dating App Chat:
TheDuchessB: Woo. Is it hot in here? But, seriously. Keep talking Scot to me.
GreatSc0t: Whiskey. Heather. Kilt.
Dating App Chat:
TheDuchessB: Is this your subtle way of reminding me you have muscles?
Oops. Maybe that wasn't as organic as I though. I should be more careful, especially since this girl seems extra sharp
GreatSc0t: Yes. It obviously worked, right? You feel very subconsciously attracted to me?
TheDuchessB: Of course. Freud would be having a field day with my id right now.
I grin at my screen
GreatSc0t: So ... until the morning sky kisses the stars away, my Liege.
TheDuchessB: You're a little bit of a rule-breaker, aren't you?
GreatSc0t: Only in the best way.
Contrary, Quite: Did you taste the fried chicken at Momofuku, yet?
Zoey: Not yet.
Contrary, Quite: Don't contact me again until you do. I mean it. You're partially dead to me, starting... now.
Mom: "I think this is a lack of food talking. Come here immediately and I'll make you my chili, okay? And mandel bread."
Miles: "Yes, Mom."
Baba: "You never make me mandel bread."
Mom: "You can make it yourself."
Baba: "So can he! He's a thirty-one-year-old man."
Mom: "That's true. But he'll also always be my baby. Aren't you, my little oogle-boogle."
Miles: "Mom, how do children appear?"
Mom: "Didn't we already have this talk?"
She turns to Baba
Baba: "I mean, I mostly left it up to you but I thought it was taken care of."
Baba: "As did I. Of course, I taught physics, not biology, so maybe something got a little lost in translation?"
Miles: "No. I don't mean where do they come from ..."
Mom: "Thank heavens. I'm not sure I have enough blood pressure medication to explain this to you now."
Miles: "I'd just found out my fiancee was pregnant and I wasn't the dad."
My mouth falls open
Miles: "Want to guess who the dad is?"
Zoey: "I ... I'm so sorry -"
Miles: "Yoga Doug. YOGA DOUG! And who can afford therapy, right? I mean, I was actually considering starting an anonymous Twitter account so I could air out my grievances into the void. You know, for free."
Zoey: "Swamptown? Where is it you think I'm from?"
Miles: "If I had to guess, I'd say Florida."
Zoey: "Get out."
I point to the door
Zoey: "I rescind your invitation."
He stands, stunned
Miles: "What did I ...?
Zoey: "Sit down."
He does, looking perplexed.
Miles: "To be fair, your outfit's a little - eccentric ... to put it mildly ..."
Zoey: "Who cares about my outfit! Do I look like someone who would tolerate hanging chads?"
Miles: "That's a little before our time."
Zoey: "It's still a topic of conversation among my friends."
Miles: "How old are your friends?"
Zoey: "Ancient. For the record, I'm from California. The Best Coast."
Miles: "That's debatable. Aren't you about two seconds from falling into the sea or getting blown up by nuclear weapons? In between throwing yourselves bloated award shows every weekend, that is."
He does an obnoxious little song-and-dance from his seat.
Miles: " 'Hooray for Hollywood' ..."
Zoey: "You seem nice, Miles. This has been oodles of fun."
Miles: "I know we discussed your greed earlier, but could you at least try to make it equal?"
Zoey: "What are you talking about, your portion is clearly larger."
There is a gleam of humor in his eye
Miles: "Does Evelynn need to come back and intervene?"
Miles: "Ladies first."
Zoey: "What am I, your food taster? Seeing if it's poisoned?"
Miles: "You do seem violently determined to keep this table. I don't know what lengths you'll go to."
I place a forkful of black bean quinoa on my tongue. My eyes widen and I contort my face as I force the food down. He looks nervous
Zoey: "It's ... fine."
Miles: "That bad, huh?"
Zoey: "No, nooo. You'll probably like it. Why don't you take a nice, big, enormous bite and find out?"
He looks mournfully down at his food
He digs his fork in and scoops out the smallest possible portion, gingerly raising it to his mouth.
Miles: "It's delicious. It's really, really good.
I giggle, unable to pretend any longer
Zoey: "I know."
Miles: "Why'd you try to trick me?"
Zoey: "I thought if I made you think it was gross, you might set it aside and I could take it home later."
Miles: "You're like ... a con artist. Are you sure you're not from Florida?"
Miles: "Pro tip: Some women wear sneakers to commute to work and then put on high heels at the office."
Zoey: "Are you honestly suggesting I change into high heels while I sit at a cafe?"
Miles: "It's basically your office, though, isn't it?"
Zoey: "I haven't gotten any work done since you sat down."
Miles: "No! Never go backward. Always forward, always moving forward."
She flails and flings the HankyBook at my chest.
Zoey: "I don't want your analogy rags!"
Miles: "I have a way to feed you lines during your dinner. If you want."
Zoey: "I would think you're joking, but from what little I know of you, that seems like the exact sort of thing you would have."
Miles: "I use it for work."
Zoey: "Why? Are you a dialogue coach or something?"
Miles: "Something like that."
Zoey: "Huh. Not what I would have pegged you for."
Miles: "And what would you have pegged me for?"
Zoey: "I don't know. Social media manager for one of those hipster mail order glasses companies?"
Miles: "Wow. That's ... oddly specific."
Miles: "It really caught me off-guard that you've been my neighbor this whole time. But that was a really crappy thing to say. I'm sorry."
She looks at me.
Zoey: "And I'm a shithead, Zoey."
Miles: "And I'm a shithead."
Zoey: "Whose wardrobe looks like it came straight out of the Smarmy Hipster catalog."
I look down at my black T-shirt, eggplant blazer, seersucker shorts, and boat shoes before looking up at her.
Miles: "I am rocking this."
Miles: "What could LA possibly have that New York doesn't?"
Zoey: "Legal weed."
I laugh, surprised.
Miles: "Well, you have me there."
Zoey: "Abort, abort."
Miles: "Already? What's going on?"
Zoey: "Imagine your parents looking past you to see if someone more interesting has entered the womb."
Zoey: "I know what I said."
Miles: "I've had a look at the menu, and I think it's worth staying, if only for the free meal. Tonight's special is cochinita pibil, which is slow-roasted pork wrapped in a banana leaf ..."
Zoey: "I know you didn't just tell me what to order."
Miles: "Ha. Sorry."
Zoey: "It sounds delicious. That's why I'm pissed."
Zoey: "Besides, why spend $125 a month on a gym membership when everyone in New York basically has their own Stairmaster right at their disposal?"
She looks down at me, coming up behind her on the stairwell
Miles: "Ah, but the $125 a month is not for the equipment, it's for the privilege of comparing every inch of your body to the professional gym rat working out next to you, keeping your sense of self-worth at a standard low-to-mid-range level."
Zoey things for a second
Zoey: "I have instagram for that."
Zoey: "I was new in town. Completely freaking out - West Coast born and bred - and he was a breath of fresh air, took me under his wing like a helpless baby bird. Pure luck that I should meet the kindest, most patient, most generous guy right off the bat like that. And we've been inseparable ever since."
From the corner of my eye, I see Mile's expression go from shocked to a knowing grin.
Jordan: "That's ... nice."
Zoey: "So very nice. You haven't heard the wildest part, though."
Doug: "What's the wildest part?"
Zoey: "Well. I was single, and he was single. No one was dating anyone, or in a relationship, or living with someone, or, like, planning a wedding. Can you imagine? Both people free like that?"
After they leave, Miles lets out a whistle.
Zoey: "Too much?"
Miles: "You told her her life is a Halloween costume."
Zoey: "It is! You dodged a bullet."
Baba: "Love is easy ... If you just remember one thing: It looks like it might be those beautiful wedding photos on Instagram. And it feels like it might be those butterflies when you've just met and you're flirting. But it's actually when you're cleaning up your kid's vomit at four a.m., and you manage to crack a joke that makes your spouse smile."
Miles: "What's not to love?"
Zoey: "There's plenty not to love. And I think you're just being nice to me because you found out I know a celebrity. And not just any celebrity, but your teenage crush."
Miles: "No way."
Zoey: "Really? You and your hand never spent some time getting to know each other beneath a poster of Duchess Quinnley?"
Miles: "I ... didn't say that."
Miles: "My point is ... that's not why I'm being nice to you."
Zoey: "Oh? Was it the kiss? Have I replaced your Mary fantasy? I'm hot stuff, right?"
She waggles her eyebrows.
Miles: "What's the matter?"
Zoey: "I have to get to Brooklyn."
Miles: "Your emergency is ... Brooklyn?"
She thrusts an envelope at me
Zoey: "I have to get here. ASAP."
I read the return address. It just says
Zoey: "I don't know where that is and it's unGoogleable!
Miles: "Normally, I would say 'after you,' but I'm actually not sure whether it's chivalrous to send you down to your hipster death first."
Zoey: "Hotel The, right?"
Guy: "It's actually Hotel the, not The. Lowercase t."
She stares at him
Zoey: "I'm speaking it. How can you tell what case I'm speaking?"
Guy: "I can tell."
Zoey: "I feel like I'm taking advantage of you."
He looks amused
Miles: "You're not."
Zoey: "I drugged you, and now I'm having my way with you..."
Miles: "We drugged ourselves."
I glance at my phone.
Miles: "How's the countdown going?"
Zoey: "Twenty-seven minutes left."
He yanks off his shirt and I help him.
Zoey: "Hurry, hurry."
Holy hell, his abs are firm. I can't take my eyes off him. His runner's body, lean and smooth, is a gorgeous canvas. I drop to my knees so I can paint his chest with my lips.
Zoey: "You're - you're -"
Miles: "Less talking, more stripping."
I rise, kiss the smirk off his face, and proceed to remove my shirt and jeans. Now it's his turn to gaze, and the heat of his eyes - centered on my black bra and lacy panties - makes me flush all over.
Miles: "You're stunning."
Zoey: "Less talking, more stripping."
Miles: "I wonder how many times I can make you come in twenty-seven minutes. I'm going to bet three."
Zoey: "Someone's got a healthy ego."
Miles: "Are you really going to argue with me about this?"
He lifts off my bra and his mouth encircles the tip of my breast, pulling at my nipple agonizingly slowly.
Zoey: "You'r right. Go Miles. Go team."
Miles: "Remind me, I'm just curious, how many did you have?"
He ticks off one, two, three on his hand and shoots me a questioning look. I want to flick him on his smug nose. But I feel too relaxed to muster the effort.
Zoey: "I lose track."
Miles: "I'd be happy to make you a chart. I know how much you love charts."
Zoey: "Okay ... I miss beer-can chicken from A-Frame in Culver City. Pork fried rice, and pickles, and street corn."
Miles: "Can I tell you a secret? A little-known fact about New York? We have restaurants here too. Crazy, I know."
Miles: "Last night was ... surprising. In the best way."
Miles: "You know, the Promenade was listed in an article: 'The Top Ten Places to Kiss in Brooklyn.' "
Zoey: "Is that an invitation?"
Aisha: "Though I can't believe you lived next door to each other and didn't know she worked at Sweet Nothings."
Miles: "Well, we were kinda busy hating each other."
Aisha: "Foreplay. Nice."
Zoey: "When people have a choice, I'm never the one they choose."
Aisha: "Look, I don't know what you should do about Jordan. Only you know that. I know if you decide they're going to be your kids, they will be. And they'd never know the difference. But I just really want you to think about this, Miles. Because is it more important to you that you have kids, or that you find the right person to have kids with?"
Miles: "You can't make someone who doesn't want kids have kids."
Aisha: "No, you absolutely cannot. But you owe it to yourself - and Zoey - to give her a real chance to understand the stakes. Let her know it's not a jokey question for you, not a reason for a quick comeback. It's time you were Heart on Your Sleeve Miles again. For Zoey. She deserves that."
Miles: "If I said yes to you right now, it would be coming from a place of fear. I know I'd get to be a dad and that's something I've always wanted. But it's not the only thing. Because that dream has someone else in it, too. Someone I love deeply for her own sake. Someone who loves me back just as fiercely. I can't give up on that, Jordan."
Jordan blinks at me
Jordan: "I love you, Miles."
Miles: "Do you? Or do you love the idea of me? Are you envisioning the four of us -"
I gesture at her belly
Miles: "- as a profile picture? The 'likes' pouring in?"
Jordan: "That's not fair."
Miles: "You weren't fair to me. And if I came back now, I wouldn't be fair to either of us. Or to Doug. Those are his kids, this is his family photo. Give him a chance to step up to the plate. Give him a chance to surprise you."
Miles: "You can't leave New York."
I glance between him and the screen
Miles: "For the same season I turned down Jordan. I'm in love with the girl I've been speaking to for these past couple of months. I think about her all the time. What she says. The way she thinks. She makes me laugh. And someone once told me that a relationship is about finding that person who makes you laugh on the worst, most god-awful days."
Zoey: "Who told you that?"
Miles: "It ... it was my dad, okay?"
I can't help it; a smile pulls at my lips.
Zoey: "A life without lows makes the highs meaningless."
In love with me. He chooses me.
Zoey: "Was this a recent heart-to-heart with your dad or was this a Brady Bunch moment of yore?"
Miles: "Listen, I promise you can tease me about my parents all you want. Only keep teasing me. Don't stop teasing me. Don't leave."
Miles: "The new walking tours have a lot of those things covered."
I take his hands in mine, and look him straight in the eyes
Zoey: "I want to hear them in your voice. Because I want you walking beside me while you speak. I've fallen in love with New York and I've fallen in love with you, too. Will you show me your New York? Can we start fresh?"
His response is to cup my face in his hands and pull me in for a passionate kiss. It feels like coming home.
Miles: "Yes, yes."
His thumb gently brushes a tear from my cheek. He leans in and kisses the spot where it slid.
Miles: "Where do you think you're going?"
She looks back at me.
Zoey: "Where else? There's a very large, empty table waiting just for me."
Miles: "You've got to be kidding me."
Zoey: "Listen. If you think a few rounds of mind-blowing sex are enough to keep me from my destiny of Table Champion, you don't know me very well."
Miles: "Mind-blowing sex, eh? Go on."
Zoey: "My mind is blown and my strategy is sound. Flattery just bought me another thirty seconds. See ya!"
Miles: "You're ruthless."