Layla and Leeds meet at her sister’s wedding and instantly feel a powerful attraction between them.
Consumed by the heady emotions of a new relationship and a whirlwind romance, they are just getting started when a tragic occurrence changes everything.
Trying to hold their relationship together, Leeds brings Layla back to where they first met in order to recapture that initial connection.
But something else has been waiting for them there, and it’s so relieved to no longer be alone.
Layla is Not Quite the Book You Expect
Sometimes I’ve browsed around for a book, read a few descriptions, and selected what I’m in the mood for.
Other times, I see a book by an author I’ve read before and just hope for the best.
Layla by Colleen Hoover definitely falls in the second category, and when I started reading it I had no idea it was a love story (kind of), or that it involved the supernatural (sort of).
Sitting down to write this book review of Layla, I thought hard about how I would categorize it.
Honestly, I was stumped. A paranormal romance? A plot-twisting romance not bound by the laws of this world? A straight-up ghost story?
I didn’t realize it truly would defy categorization.
While not actually a scary book, it does have some goosebumps moments and is full of inexplicable occurrences.
It’s a different genre for Hoover, that much is definite. And as difficult as it is to pin it down and get Layla’s genre wrapped up all nice and neat, it’s equally easy to say that this is a great read.
Author Colleen Hoover is wonderfully dependable in that no matter what she is writing about, she makes you care hard and fast.
Her stories draw you in and keep you under until you find it’s 2am and you really should be sleeping. But what’re a few more pages at this point?
Even her more traditional romances, like Reminders of Him, are impossible to put down. It’s what makes her one of my favorite authors.
In Layla, she brings her usual softness to describing the intricately complicated emotions of the main characters which makes them both interesting and infinitely relatable.
She makes it seem perfectly reasonable that the enduring spirit of love follows us into the afterlife. And why not?
The fact that the two main characters are as unsure of themselves as we are of them makes it all the more believable when we find resolution (sorry, no more can be said without spoilers)!
The best thing about this contemporary romance is just how different and strange it is.
As someone who reads a lot, coming across a trope you haven’t seen 50 times before is both unexpected and very welcome.
It’s such a unique novel that the unexpected twists will pull you along and keep you guessing. The end of this book is also both unexpectedly satisfying and satisfyingly complete.
I highly recommend that if you are a fan of romance, in any genre, you check out Layla.
What Happens to Layla: A Summary of the Novel
(Warning! This Synopsis Contains Spoilers!)
Leeds has been a bass player in a band for years and is at the point of abject boredom when he sees Layla moshing on the dance floor to a love song at a wedding.
The connection is instant, and as often happens to two strangers who are attracted to each other at a wedding, they fall into bed together. Less typically though, they don’t leave for several days and continue to see each other after.
After only a short time dating, Leeds can’t picture his life without Layla. She is the girl of his dreams and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her.
She encourages him to put himself out there more musically, and he does, building an Instagram audience of people that love both his music and his occasional shirtless pic.
One night, he posts a picture of him with Layla sleeping in his arms.
The internet trolls attack, and he deletes the picture, but not fast enough to stop his obsessive ex-girlfriend from seeing it.
Tragedy strikes when Sable shows up at their apartment and there is an unexpected attack: Sable shoots both Layla and Leeds.
We jump forward a few months to find them both alive and still together, but a shell of what they once were.
Since the shooting and Sable’s death, Layla’s behavior (perhaps understandably) has been different. She just hasn’t been herself and is no doubt suffering mental scarring from the attack.
Trying to recapture their initial spark Leeds tricks a realtor into letting them stay at the now For Sale wedding venue for a few nights under the pretense of being a potential buyer.
It’s a remote area, but things are fine (if tense) on the first day. Then things take a bizarre turn.
Leeds becomes convinced they are being haunted by something and sets up cameras around the property to try and catch whatever it is.
In the meantime, Layla is acting strange where she refuses to eat one minute and then is scarfing down a plate of pasta in seconds the next (with no memory of it).
Slowly, Leeds begins to communicate with a spirit via typing on his computer and discovers it has sometimes entered Layla for moments.
Leeds invites it to enter Layla again so they can more easily communicate, and this becomes the first of a nightly occurrence where Leeds spends time with the spirit. He begins to fall for her (or it) and does everything he can to convince Layla to stay at the estate longer.
In the meantime, Leeds has been chatting in supernatural groups trying to make sense of what he is experiencing. One member asks pointed questions that make it seem like they might have experienced something similar.
As Leeds spends more time with the spirit (who now calls herself Willow), he realizes that she has memories from the night of the shooting. It can only be Sable.
Hating himself for falling for Sable’s soul in Layla’s body, he still can’t bring himself to leave. Wanting answers, Willow and Leeds decide to invite the chat group member to help them.
Layla never remembers what happens when Willow is using her body, so she thinks she is going crazy and tries to leave. Desperate, Leeds ties Layla up long enough for the stranger to arrive, who introduces himself as a kind of supernatural detective (and is a spirit himself).
By asking leading questions and having Willow experiment with what she remembers when she is inside Layla and then Leeds, it becomes clear that Willow is actually… Layla.
When shot, there was a moment before Layla and Sable died when their spirits left their bodies and switched places, leaving the spirit of Layla stuck.
Leeds is overjoyed to know the person he has been falling in love with has always been Layla and becomes determined to find a way to get Layla back into her body permanently.
The opportunity arises when Layla’s sister (a trained nurse) and husband come to stay for the night. Layla and Leeds work together to drown her in the pool long enough to stop her heart and for Layla’s spirit to take Sable’s place in her old body.
They manage to restart her heart before she is whisked to the hospital unconscious. Leeds isn’t sure it’s worked until Layla wakes up in the hospital and she lets him know it’s truly her again, body and soul.
The story resolves with them going off together to live out their lives, making sure to do whatever they can to avoid possible places with ghosts.
Since 2012 Colleen Hoover has written at least 22 books in multiple genres and has been reported saying she loves being able to defy categorization.
She has won many awards and topped many bestseller lists, including the New York Times, and is a USA Today bestseller.
Layla is the author’s first foray into a paranormal story.
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Did you read Layla? What did you think?
Leave a comment below, as I would love to hear your thoughts about what you did (or didn’t) like about it!