Ghosts are the last ‘species’ to be explored in this series. There are probably a dozen or more other minor species, but most of them are variations and off-shoots of the major groups already explored and discussed.
Ghosts come in a range of shapes and sizes, from visible apparitions, to spirits that show their presence only by what they move and/or effect. Most ghosts are anchored to a building — usually the building within which they died and while their physical body has been buried or burned, their spirit has been trapped in this world for some reason, unable to move on to the hereafter, heaven or ‘the next plane’.
Logically, ghosts are the most doomed and unromantic species in the paranormal pantheon – even worse than werewolves (in my opinion). They have no corporeal body with which to touch another person, one of the most fundamental senses upon which a relationship is built. Often, any type of communication is difficult. The prospects for a long term romantic relationship aren’t good.
An author has to really screw around with the fundamental characteristics of a ghost in order to make a romance work in the normal world as we know it. The author must endow the ghost with the ability to communicate freely and well, give them a body and all five senses, and the ability to have sex or some sort of sensual pleasure — at the very least, to be able to kiss. This brings the ghost a long way from the traditional spirit-only being who has lost their physical body and is trapped between this world and the next.
The other alternative is to have relationship end as a mutual ‘ever after’ one — where both characters become ghosts or their spirits are bound together in a hereafter. These types of endings may satisfy some readers, but as they frustrate the bejeezus out of me, I suspect there are more readers who also find these types of endings somewhat empty and joyless.
There is a third alternative: Ghost spirits can re-enter the physical world by taking over a human body. This was an idea used in the Patrick Swayze movie Ghost, where the body in use was a medium, played by Whoopi Goldberg. The movie suggested that this was a temporary state. As a permanent solution, it would require a human body that had no spirit/soul already in place — or else questions of moral and possibly murder raise themselves.
In the romance section on Amazon, there are nearly 1,500 “ghost” related stories, which shows that ghosts do own a small corner of Romanceland.