If you’ve spent any time on #BookTok, you’ve no doubt been recommended to read a Colleen Hoover book, so I thought we should take a deep dive into Layla. This isn’t a book review but an actual summary of what happens in the story, so keep in mind there will be spoilers ahead.
- Book Title: Layla
- Author: Colleen Hoover
- Publication Date: December 8, 2020
- Category: Contemporary Romance
- Print Length: 305 Pages
Leeds meets the man that is supposed to help him with his current situation, but before this stranger can help him, he has to know the whole story. He asks him to explain how Leeds and Layla met and tell every important detail until the moment they are now. At the same time, Layla is tied up in the bedroom upstairs, making noise while she tries to escape, but Leeds goes to see her every now and then and makes sure she is okay and that she doesn’t need anything. And so, Leeds begins telling their story to the man.
Leeds and Layla met at her sister’s wedding, where he was the bass player of the band, and she was happily drunk. They feel an instant connection, and Leeds is so overwhelmed by her company that blames the pill she gave him, but she later explains that it was only an aspirin. They spend the night together having a fantastic one-night-stand, and the next day, when his band is looking for Leeds, so they can leave, just like Layla’s family is looking for her, they decide to stay some more days in the mansion that hosted the wedding. Leeds also takes the big step of quitting his band, something that Layla is happy about since even though she doesn’t know him so well, she is so sure he can be so much more than some unknown bass player in a band, and she motivates him to start something on his own.
After some days that they are inseparable, they decide to move in together. Leeds posts on Instagram a photo of the two of them while Layla is sleeping but soon deletes it because too many of his followers – especially women, are being rude, saying things such as she doesn’t deserve him and that he is sexier when he is single. When Layla tells him she was okay with their picture on Instagram and that he shouldn’t take seriously what people say, she mentions that some of the rude commentators actually found her profile and sent her a ton of messages before Layla deleted her. Leeds is curious about that until the moment Layla says the name of this woman was Sable, and this is where Leeds starts to worry, but he doesn’t tell Layla, so he won’t terrify her.
Leeds and Sable used to date on and off for some months in which he enjoyed spending time with her without wanting anything more serious. It was too late when he realized that she was unstable, and even when he told her to break up, she continued following him around everywhere.
A few days later, they are expecting some friends to visit, so when the door knocks and Layla goes to welcome them. Instead of their voices, though, Leeds, who is in the other room, hears a shot and goes to find Sable holding a gun and Layla on the floor in a pool of blood.
They spend the next weeks in the hospital, where the doctors save Layla’s life, but they are concerned that she might suffer from amnesia for a short or long period of time. Six months pass in which Layla is completely different and still missing some of her memories, while Leeds is always there to take care of her and help her get over the whole accident.
He secretly rents the mansion in which they met and takes her there on vacations thinking that visiting the place that was so important for them will trigger some of her memories. The mansion is no longer working as a reception hall or as a hotel. In fact, the owners have stopped using the building at all, and are willing to sell it, something that Leeds is considering.
When they arrive, Layla visits the restrooms, but after a while, Leeds hears her scream and runs to see what has happened. He finds her crying in front of the broken mirror, and Layla tells him that the one minute she was looking at herself in the mirror, and the other minute it broke just like something invisible was thrown at it.
A few days later, Leeds hears a strange noise coming from the kitchen, and thinking that Layla is cooking and something has been set on fire, he runs there. A few seconds later, Layla is running to the kitchen too, and they find the stove burning and a rug that was obviously on fire just a minute ago now under the sink with the water running over it. Leeds tries to calm Layla, telling her that he is the one responsible, but at the same time, he is so confused and concerned if this is something Layla does without even remembering because of her head injury.
When Leeds is writing an email to the owners of the mansion to talk about buying it, his laptop slams on his hands, and this is the last thing he needs to be sure that the place is haunted. Even though he doesn’t really believe in ghosts, he decides to set up some cameras in the mansion without telling Layla. After he does, they go to sleep, and he tries to see the recordings when he wakes up, but he is surprised to only see Layla walking in the living room during the night, covering him with a blanket, staring at the camera, and then leave. He is wondering how she saw the camera since she didn’t know he set it on, but he thinks that she probably thought the camera was there since before they arrived and it wasn’t working. His thoughts are distracted when he sees the recorded video suddenly change its direction of view without anyone touching it or being nearby.
Leeds tries to avoid thinking and getting scared of everything that happens since they have been in that house, but at the same time, his curiosity makes him start research online about ghosts and spirits, and he ends up writing about his experience in a forum he finds.
After the post, Leeds and Layla spend the day in the pool and watching movies, but when the night comes and she goes to bed, Leeds checks on his post to find hundreds of comments, all saying that he should leave because the house is definitely haunted. Then, while thinking about how he still doesn’t believe all that, he decides to ask if there is someone there, in the room with him.
To his surprise, a key from the piano plays. Not able to believe it, he asks the spirit to do it again, and the piano plays again. Then he starts asking questions, but when he can’t get no answers from a piano, his laptop opens, and a new Word document pops out, writing “Willow,” answer to his question “what is your name?”
The next day Layla’s sister and her husband visit. They have a meal when Layla suddenly starts eating everything she sees in front of her fast, surprising them all because she is always eating very small quantities of food. After a minute, she seems confused and starts screaming, repeating that her food is gone, like she forgot that she just ate it. Everyone is confused, too, but they are just blaming her head injuries again.
When everyone goes to bed, Leeds stays on his laptop and starts talking to Willow, asking her if she entered Layla’s body so she can eat. She tells him the truth, and he asks her to do it again so he can get all the answers he needs. Layla comes downstairs, but Leeds can immediately see that she is not Layla but Willow.
Asking her questions, Leeds learns that Willow doesn’t know if she is a ghost or why she is stuck there and since when, but she does know that she feels hungry all the time and that every time she enters Layla, she can see her memories and they are very confusing. They agree to meet again the next day after Layla is asleep.
The next day Leeds takes Layla out for Tacos and Margaritas, promising Willow he will bring her some home. Layla gets drunk, and when they are back home, she wants to have sex while Leeds is distracted thinking about Willow. After that, still drunk, Layla proposes they see the movie, but Leeds wants her to fall asleep faster, so he walks to the kitchen and tries to put a sleeping pill in her drink. Taking the glasses to go upstairs again, invisible Willow is pushing him, so he drops the glass and immediately understands that his eagerness to talk with Willow had made him not realize that this pill could cause Layla something worse since she has already been drinking.
By the time he goes upstairs again and Layla falls asleep, Willow cleans the kitchen floor from the broken glass, and once Leeds is there, she takes over Layla’s sleeping body and meets him again. He apologizes for being so impulsive and thinking about giving Layla the pill, trying to make Willow believe that he would never do anything to harm Layla.
Leeds opens up his post again and sees a new comment and a message from someone that is curious to know if he and the ghost communicated somehow. After that, the stranger tells Leeds that he might know how to help him if Leeds wanted to.
When they meet again after a few days, Willow asks Leeds if he is going to propose to Layla because she had found the ring he was hiding in a shoe. He admits that he isn’t sure about it because he had bought the ring back when Layla was in the hospital, but after all these months, she had changed so much, and he never found the right moment or motive to do it.
A few nights later, Willow is using Layla’s body as she does every night just so she and Leeds can talk a little and both stop feeling so lonely. But there is a big storm outside, and a loud thunder causes Layla’s body to wake up. She gets scared immediately because the last thing she remembers is going to bed, and now in a blink of an eye, she is awake and downstairs. Leeds tries to calm her down, and Willow enters her body again, leading her to bed, so she will think that all this was a dream.
The next day Willow informs Leeds that Layla had found the ring that he was hiding. Layla pretends that she doesn’t know anything but Leeds can see her mood lightened up that day, and he also can see how much his mood is different when they go to bed, and he can’t focus on Layla because he keeps thinking about Willow.
Leeds gets an email from the stranger that commented on his post in the ghost forum, and in this email, he asks him for the address so he can visit and offer his help. Leeds is concerned that this guy might be someone dangerous, but he also wants to do everything he can so Willow can find out why she is stuck there. When Willow learns about the stranger that wants to help, she gets scared, unsure of what a simple human can do to help her, but after all, they invite him and hope that he can actually help.
The next day Leeds wakes up and finds Layla going through his phone, and it’s obvious that she is irritated. She tells him that along with the ring, she had found the receipt, and it said that the ring was bought back when she was in the hospital, making her believe that all this time he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to propose. Leeds tries to explain that he never for a second doubted his feelings and that he just wanted to surprise her, and so he proposes at that moment.
The same night, after they have sex and Layla falls asleep, Willow gets in her body, and as she takes shower, Leeds feels bad for being intimate with Layla while Willow is there (in the house), but he also has to keep doing everything he usually does with Layla, otherwise, she would understand something is wrong, and she would ask him to leave.
Leeds and Willow start talking about the night that Sable showed up and shot Layla, but when Leeds hears Willow talk, he realizes she knows about the fan club that Sable had made for him and that he had never told that to Willow. Instantly he understands that the spirit he had been talking with for all these days must have been Sable’s, and she is being stuck there because of him because he had shot her right after she shot Layla. He starts accusing her of knowing who she was and not telling him while Willow tries to explain to him and understand herself why she has both Sable’s and Layla’s memories while she is in her body. They have a fight after which Willow feels overwhelmed and exits Layla’s body without thinking that she wouldn’t understand how she got there once again.
Layla is terrified and thinks that she is going crazy. She looks for her medicine while Leeds grabs some of their stuff and tells her they have to leave immediately, but as they walk downstairs, Layla stops following him, and he knows Willow is back inside of her. Leeds tells Willow that he and Layla will leave because he is sure that Willow is Sable. She explains to him that even if she is, she has no memories of it, not if she’s not in Layla’s body anyway, and that she never lied to him. She also tells him to reach out to the guy from the forum so he can come see them and see if he can help her understand who she is and help her go where she belongs.
When they send an email with the address to the guy, Willow and Leeds agree that Layla’s body has to stay there some more time, and so he has to tie her up because once Willow is out of her again, she will be terrified when she realizes she is inside the house when a blink of an eye earlier Leeds was rushing her to leave in the middle of the night and outside the house.
When the guy comes Leeds can understand he is also a spirit that is using a random body. He tells him the whole story while taking small breaks, trying to calm Layla, who is tied up on the bed upstairs and is going crazy. After listening to all the details, the guy wants to talk with Willow, and after he asks her a few questions, he proposes to Willow to enter Leed’s body and see what memories she will have.
For Leeds, it takes less than a second, but when he blinks again, the guy gives him the video they made while Willow was using his body, in which the guy asks her for the memories of the night Layla was shot. The only memory Willow has while she is in Leeds’ body is his memory. She doesn’t remember anything before or after the shooting scene. The guy asks her some more questions, and while showing them the video, he pauses before it’s finished, right at the moment when he asks what the first impression of Layla that Leeds had was, and Willow answered: “He thought I was a terrible dancer.”
Missing the point, Leeds and Willow wait for an explanation, and the guy tells them that Willow is actually Layla’s spirit, who had exited her body right when she was shot, and Sable’s spirit had entered it because it was something she deeply wanted (Layla’s life, being with Leeds, etc.). Willow, of course, didn’t have any memories as a spirit, but she could see both Layla’s and Sable’s memories when she was in her own body because she had been sharing them with Sable for months. And she was stuck in the mansion because it was a place that meant something important in her life before she was shot since there was her sister’s wedding and the place where she met Leeds.
Leeds kisses Layla while her real spirit is in her body and finally feels the way he used to feel before she was shot and felt like a completely different person… because she was. The guy gets up to leave once he explains everything he understood, talking to Willow, but Leeds asks him to help them out, telling them what they should do so Layla would be in her body again without having to exit every time Sable is awake. Unfortunately, the guy tells him that there are answers but not always solutions and that all three of them should get used to living together because Sable’s soul is not going to leave Layla’s body while she is alive, making Layla only enter her body temporarily, but once Sable is dead they will be both dead.
Layla exits her body so that Leeds can explain to Sable what is going on and why she has all those weird and double memories of the shooting night. Of course, Sable doesn’t believe him, and she is scared and still tied up, hopeless, trying to find a way to escape from her insane boyfriend. Leeds gives her two sleeping pills once Layla is back in her body, and they both go to bed feeling exhausted.
When Layla wakes him up again, she tells him that the only solution would be for him to kill her so she would try to enter her own body while Sable’s spirit would leave it. Leeds does not agree with that because he is too scared that this won’t work and he will lose Layla forever, but she tries to convince him when she tells him they can’t live like that forever.
They spend two days trying to see if this can work as it is but Sable’s spirit is too exhausted and scared, and Layla needs to sleep, so she takes the pills and has all the side effects. Also, Sable is trying to escape every time she is in control, and that makes her wrists and legs bruised from the ropes she is tied in during the night.
Layla’s sister and her husband visit again. They all spend a good time having a nice dinner and then go out for a swim, but when Layla’s brother-in-law decides to scare her in the pool, Layla’s body is so surprised that Sable gets the chance and enters again. For a minute, she starts screaming that Leeds is drugging her and has her tied up, showing her wrists. Layla enters her body again and tries to convince her sister that all this was a joke, but she is not believing her and tries to understand if Layla is making her any sign.
When Layla’s sister and her husband go to bed that night, Layla convinces Leeds that this is the right time to kill her and try her plan since her sister is a nurse and she could do CPR if needed. Layla even wrote a suicide note in case something goes wrong so Leeds won’t be fully blamed after what Sable had blurted out earlier.
After they discuss it, again and again, Layla and Leeds go back to the pool, and she exits her body, leaving terrified Sable in control again while Leeds closes her mouth before she screams and shoves her into the water. When she stops moving, Leeds takes her out and starts shouting for her sister to wake up, and they both try to save Layla’s life. They call an ambulance, and when Layla starts spitting some of the water out, they take her in the car and drive to find the ambulance midway. When they do, Layla’s sister denies Leeds to go with them, as Layla and her leave with the ambulance.
Leeds drives to the hospital, and when they meet again while Layla is still inside with the doctors, her sister asks him if he did this to Layla. When he says no, she points out his shoulders are full of scratch marks from Layla’s nails. He tries to tell her about Layla having a seizure when a doctor comes out and tells him that Layla asked for him. Both Leeds and Layla’s sister enters her room, and while the two sisters hug, he tries to understand if she is really Layla, but she convinces him by saying a phrase they used to say before the shooting day.
The story ends when they leave the hospital and decide to take the first available flight to a place none of them had ever been, just to be sure Sable’s spirit wouldn’t be able to find them there, and they buy a house to move there while Leeds tries to make Layla’s sister trust him again.
When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.
Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.