Author: J.M. Darhower
Publication Date: August 23, 2017
Page Length: 450 pages
My Rating: 5 / 5 stars
He’s a troubled young actor, Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, struggling with fame as the star of the latest superhero franchise. Through scandal after scandal, addiction on top of addiction, a flurry of paparazzi hunt him as he fights to conquer his demons.
She’s a single mother, assistant manager at a grocery store, existing in monotony with her five-year-old daughter. Every day when she goes to work, lurid tabloids surround her, the face of a notorious bad boy haunting her from their covers.
A man and a woman, living vastly different lives, but that wasn’t always the case. Once, they were just a boy and a girl who bonded over comic books and fell in love unexpectedly.
When Kennedy Garfield met Jonathan Cunningham back in high school, she knew he had all the makings of a tragic hero. With stars in his eyes, and her heart on her sleeve, the pair ran away together to follow their dreams.
But dreams, sometimes, turn into nightmares.
Now, years later, the only thing they share is a daughter—one who has no idea her father plays her favorite superhero. But Jonathan is desperate to make amends, and at the top of his list is the woman who gave up everything for him and the little girl he hasn’t yet met.
I was skeptical about whether or not I would like this story. This is a new-to-me author, and I tend to stay away from super hyped books. But this book deserves all the hype. It’s a bit longer than your average romance book, but I came to love the story. It’s character-driven, and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the split past/present chapters. I’ve read this formatting in a few books now, and I really like it in contemporary novels. It never fails to be a sucker punch in the feels. Which is exactly what Ghosted is. Ghosted is told in split present-day first-person alternating chapters between the two lead characters – Kennedy and Jonathan – and second-person chapters detailing their past. These second-person chapters were slow-going at first, where I was wondering what exactly was happening, but I got super into them once I realized where the story was going.
This is a second-chance romance between Kennedy Garfield and Jonathan Cunningham. Kennedy transferred to a prep school and met the wild son to the Speaker of the House. Jonathan longed to be an actor, but his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps. Jonathan was every bit the bad boy teenager when he was in school. And then he fell in love with Kennedy. Their love was a grand one, full of young hope and young, optimistic dreams.
Some years later, the start of the present-day part of the book, we meet Kennedy, a woman making a living as a supermarket manager, and a single mother to a five-year-old little girl named Madeline, or Maddie for short. Jonathan is the Hollywood star, reinvented as Johnny Cunning, and the star of a superhero franchise based off a comic series named Breezeo. But most of the time Kennedy knew him as Johnny Cunning, he was drunk. Or high. And after a recent incident that left him injured, he’s back home in Bennett Landing sober, and wanting a chance to reconnect with Kennedy and the daughter he’s never known.
This is a slow-burn. If you can call a second-chance romance a slow-burn. The chemistry and the love between Kennedy and Jonathan never really disappeared. But the lies, the alcohol, the drugs? That fractured them. Love can’t be enough when one was sacrificing everything to keep them together, and the other was doing everything to break them apart. The story is gradual. Kennedy isn’t where she wants to be in life, and she knows it’s not what her parents ever envisioned for her.
Kennedy has Maddie and will do anything for this kid. Her mother has passed away, but her father’s still around to take care of Maddie when Kennedy goes to work. And there’s Jonathan’s older sister who loves watching her niece, but the past five years have only ever really been Kennedy and Maddie until Jonathan waltzes into town and decides he wants to be a father again.
I do like that we get alternating perspectives from Kennedy and Jonathan. We get to see the differences between the Jonathan now, and the one that Kennedy had to leave behind. This story is heartbreaking, because I think that it feels real. The celebrity aspect doesn’t necessary feel blown out-of-proportion or makes Jonathan any less relatable, human, but it shows what he’s given up to get to where he is today. Is he happy? Well…it’s his job, and he’s living it.
I love Maddie. She’s absolutely adorable and I loved reading her interactions with Kennedy and Jonathan. Other secondary characters who were hilarious are the innkeeper, Mrs. McKleski, and Jonathan’s foul-mouthed sponsor, Jack. This book is incredible, with a wide cast of characters, and the story so well-written that I couldn’t put it down! I’m looking forward to seeing what else the author publishes next!