I received this book for free from the Bought, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa
Series: The Hollywood Series #2
Published by Harlequin, HQN Books on November 14, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy, Fiction / Women
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Bought, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Readers who love books about books will fall for Erin La Rosa's latest rom com—a friends (with benefits)-to-lovers story about a romance author who's never been in love, and needs to find out why before her next manuscript is due! For fans of BY THE BOOK and BOOK LOVERS.
Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went viral: she’s never been in love. Though her debut novel made readers swoon, Sophie’s having trouble getting her new characters to happily-ever-after, and she blames it on her own uninspired love life. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s block: reunite with her exes to learn why she's never fallen in love—and document it all for her millions of new online followers. Which also means facing her ex-girlfriend Carla, the one person Sophie could have loved.
Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and offers to help. But he doesn't mention that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol and he intends to keep it that way. His family is Hollywood royalty, so Dash has to steer clear of scandal.
As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash's pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author would: a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a casual relationship won’t cause any trouble…
Happy Friday! Romantic comedies with some serious situations are enjoyable reads, and I loved Erin La Rosa’s previous novel, FOR BUTTER OR FOR WORSE, so I didn’t hesitate to pick up her latest book, PLOT TWIST. Check out an excerpt below and stick around for my review at the bottom.
Sophie Lyon was not in a good place.
More specifically, she’d had one (or three) too many the night before. So instead of falling asleep on her bed, she was lying on the couch with a paperback book as a makeshift pillow. Her legs were tucked up in the fetal position inside her billowy dress. And as she licked her lips, she tasted vodka and fried chicken, which she didn’t remember drinking or eating.
She attempted to open her eyes, but her lashes stuck together from the makeup she’d forgotten to remove the night before. With the help of her index finger and thumb, she managed to peel one lid open. White-hot summer light poured in through the arched living-room window and her mint green walls, a color she’d specifically chosen for its soothing properties, were mockingly chipper.
But even more unsettling was the book on the coffee table directly in front of her, Whisked Away. Sophie’s first published book. She closed her one good eye and wished she’d never opened it.
Her mom had always dreamed about Sophie filling an entire bookshelf with all her titles, the years of working multiple day jobs while tinkering on romance books finally worth the struggle. But, as it turned out, Whisked Away would be Sophie’s one and only book. Had she known she’d be a one-hit wonder, she wouldn’t have ordered the little placard for her writing desk: Ask Me about My Tropes.
The worst part was that she had sold a follow-up book—or, at least, a pitch plus the first three chapters—but she hadn’t been able to finish The Love Drought (a title so tragically similar to her own personal problems that it made her cringe). She’d been given multiple extensions but missed all of them. And, per her contract, her publisher had the right to terminate their deal if those deadlines weren’t met. But no matter how many drafts she started, Sophie couldn’t find her way to the happily ever after that all romance books promised and that she loved.
The phone call with her agent started with We need to talk… and ended with You have six weeks to finish this book or your contract, plus the advance, will be taken back.
She’d spent most of that advance, though, along with the royalty checks that grew smaller and smaller as interest in her last book waned. She needed money from turning in the next book if she wanted to continue paying for things like food or a place to stay.
She should’ve seen the implosion coming. Her horoscope had warned that the entire month of June would be bad for important communication. But the damage was done: Sophie was a romance author with writer’s block, and in six weeks’ time, she’d lose her publishing deal.
So she’d done the only thing she knew would make her feel better: called Poppy. And her best friend had suggested a night out at their favorite downtown karaoke bar to drown away the loud whir of failure.
She cautiously sat up, then settled her feet into the woven jute rug. Her legs were as firm as Jell-O when she stood. Still, she managed to make it to the hallway mirror, where she saw that her normally side-swept curtain bangs had morphed into Medusa, snakelike tendrils across her forehead, and she had more flakes on her face than her pet goldfish had in his bowl.
She cringed. Rain Boots. Her goldfish was twelve years old and the longest relationship she’d ever had. She planted her hand on the wall for support and shuffled over to her bedroom where a large glass fishbowl sat on her bedside table. Rain Boots swam in the exact middle and blinked at Sophie with large accusatory eyes.
“I’m sorry, honey,” Sophie croaked out. “I know we have our bedtime routine, but Mommy got horribly drunk.”
She tapped the glass with her index finger and waited for a response, but none came. Eventually the silence broke when her doorbell loudly ding-donged and caused her to jump in surprise. The next, and bigger, surprise came when she made her way to the front door and saw her landlord waiting on the porch.
Dash Montrose wasn’t a tall man, but he had presence. Part of that was because he always seemed to be fidgeting—tapping his fingers, shifting his feet, or pacing slightly—but also, he had thick arms with swirling, inky-black tattoos.
It’s not that Sophie had stared at those arms in prior instances but…well, yeah, she probably had.
Still, her first instinct was to hide behind the couch because what the hell was Dash doing there? She and Dash lived next door to each other, but they were not close. In fact, Dash hardly ever acknowledged her existence. He lived in the large house tucked behind her bungalow, but he was always walking away in some kind of a hurry. If she waved, he only ever nodded back. She didn’t think he was intentionally being a jerk, but he clearly had no interest in interacting with her. They hadn’t spoken actual words to each other in at least a few months. She Venmoed him the rent, and sometimes he left a thumbs-up in response. That was the extent of it.
But there he was, in jeans and a T-shirt. What could he want? Did he somehow know her funds were about to run out and he was preemptively evicting her? Sophie avoided confrontation at all costs, but she couldn’t run away from him, not when his face was pressed against the window of her door and he was peering directly at her. She clutched her arms across her chest, extremely aware that she was still dressed in her clothes from the night before, as she made her way to him.
When she opened the door, she was hit not only with the heat from the high sun above but by the sight of Dash’s wet hair slicked around his face. Water trickled down his neck and splotched his faded shirt, like he’d come straight over from a shower. Which meant a few minutes prior he’d been totally naked, covered in soap and water and…
“Hey, uh, whoa.” His voice cut through Sophie’s thoughts. When she glanced up, Dash gave her an uneasy expression, then gestured down the length of her. “What happened…”
She never left the house without a minimum of tinted moisturizer, but of course Dash came on the one day where she closely resembled a Madame Tussauds wax statue melting in the sun. Sophie gently swiped her index finger under her eye, and it came back coated in black liner. Excellent.
“Vodka happened,” she muttered.
She rubbed the liner between her fingers. Something was wrong. Mercury must’ve been in retrograde. If thirteen-year old Sophie had known that she would be renting a place from Dash Montrose—former teen heartthrob movie star turned still hunky landlord—and he was seeing her hungover…she’d be even more embarrassed than she already was. And she’d probably also be delighted. Because Sophie had maaaybe had a photo of him from a magazine cover on her wall when she was growing up. His film Happy Now? was her all-time favorite movie.
She absolutely did not have a crush on adult Dash, though. Well, he was undeniably hot. No point in glossing over that thick, dirty-blond hair, the dimple in his chin, or any of the other tatted-up details. But he was Poppy’s brother and so off-limits that Sophie had built a wall around Dash in her mind. Though bits of the wall appeared to crumble at the sight of his strong jaw and the dark circles under his eyes that made him all the more mysterious to her.
“Poppy asked me to come check on you. She said you weren’t answering your phone.” He glanced behind her, as if searching for a potential thief holding her cell hostage.
“My Poppy?” Sophie had worked at Poppy’s spa, Glow, for years—one of the many day jobs she’d had before quitting to write full-time. Though, now that she had endless writer’s block, she might have to beg for her old job back.
“She’s my sister, so she’s technically our Poppy.” His hands landed in the pockets of his jeans.
Sophie looked behind her to where the phone usually was, and blessedly, while she’d been drunk enough to use a book as a pillow, she’d been just sober enough to plug in her phone. She rubbed at one of her throbbing temples and walked over to her desk, grabbed her phone, then held down the power button and watched the white icon flash back.
As she waited for the phone to boot up, she walked back toward Dash.
“Okay, she wants me to tell you that there’s a video of you going viral?” Dash gestured to his phone, which made his forearm flex and Sophie’s eyes widen in response.
She tried to process what he’d said. She needed an intense boost of caffeine—maybe a matcha—to be able to comprehend the words coming out of his mouth. “A video?”
“I don’t know, she said you needed to see it. And that I needed to make sure you saw it.” He shrugged, but the small motion lifted the edge of his shirt up just enough for Sophie to catch a glimpse of his boxers.
Sophie didn’t want to be impolite—Dash was Poppy’s older brother, after all—but what was she supposed to do? She couldn’t so much as look at a candle shop without rushing in to buy one. Dash was the male equivalent of fresh beeswax. She was definitely staring.
Just then, her phone erupted in a series of pings, vibrations, and what sounded like one deafening goose honk. If she owned pearls, she’d be clutching the hell out of them. The screen filled with notifications—emails, texts, missed calls, and push notifications from Instagram—but she pulled up Poppy’s text conversation first.
Soph, are you up?
It’s 10. You never sleep this late.
I’m at work, ARE YOU OK
I’m sending Dash over.
YOU’RE NOT DEAD! YIPPEE!
OK, here’s the vid. Don’t freak out!
Dash’s phone pinged too, he looked down, then sighed. “Did you get it?” He sounded a little irritated.
Sophie frowned at the blurry thumbnail of a woman, but clicked the link, which sent her to the TikTok app. Then, almost immediately, she saw herself reflected on the screen. The video was taken at the karaoke bar, and Sophie was the main event. She stood onstage as the undeniable background music to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played. She had requested that song, hadn’t she? The small pieces of her lost-memory puzzle began to click into place.
Only, in the video, she was sobbing, with tears running down her cheeks, as she gazed wild-eyed into the crowd. Poppy ran onto the stage and attempted to coax Sophie off, but Sophie grabbed the mic and shouted, “I’ve never been in love, okay?!” Her voice so angry and vehement that she appeared to be deranged. The person holding the phone zoomed in at that exact moment to capture Sophie’s grimace as she shrieked out, “Love isn’t real!” Then Poppy yanked the mic out of Sophie’s hand and dropped it for her. End of video.
“Stop, stop, stop!” The words screeched out of her as she furiously poked the screen to try and delete the video. Then she remembered this was not her video—someone else had uploaded it. Eventually, her eyes drifted down to the caption, which read Relatable! The video had over two hundred thousand views and thirty thousand likes.
“Oh my holy hot hell.” She was a writer but could not think of any other words in that moment. Her mind raced at the thought of hundreds of thousands of people watching her have a public meltdown and liking it.
Normally, Sophie was an optimist, but after the last twenty-four hours, she was beginning to understand the appeal of pessimism. Her hand instinctively went to her chest and her fingers tap-tap-tapped at her pacemaker—something she always did to steady herself—as she scrolled through the comments and saw that not one but multiple people had recognized her.
Sophie Lyon is FUN
Sophie Lyon is secretly unhinged and it’s sending me
I hated her book, but I like this?
“Just breathe.” Then Dash’s hand was on her back, steady and warm, which momentarily distracted her, but not for long.
The heat outside had intensified to Palm Springs–level boiling and caused Sophie to break out in either hives or a rash. She furiously clawed at her throat with her free hand. She walked away from Dash and down the porch steps. Her bare feet hit the cool blades of grass in her yard, and when she looked up, the iconic Hollywood sign perched in the Santa Monica Mountains shined pearly white in the distance. Seeing those letters from her yard every morning used to make her feel closer to the success she so deeply craved, but now she felt buried under the weight of its implied expectations.
She stumbled, and Dash was next to her within seconds, holding her steady. He grabbed her elbow with one hand, and the other wrapped around her waist to cup her hip. His skin was warm against her, even through her dress. Her stomach flipped, probably from the lingering alcohol. “Sophie, you really need to sit. You look like you’re about to faint—”
The sound of her phone pinging cut him off. And when she looked down, a familiar name flashed across the screen. Carla. Sophie stopped scratching her throat. Her ex. The woman who had single-handedly led her on for close to a year. A year in which Sophie could feel herself beginning to fall head over heels, and then… Carla had ended it and dragged their relationship to the trash. Sophie stared at Carla’s name, and the text underneath, which read Saw the video… As in her ex had seen the video of Sophie having a full-on meltdown.
It was at this moment that she tilted her head back, let the punishing sun burn her eyes, and shouted as loudly as she physically could. When she eventually stopped screaming, her head felt light. The edges of her vision blurred with the realization that she had nothing left, her life was over, and she was completely mortified.
“Seriously, Sophie? My ears are ringing.”
Sophie was so focused on her own humiliation that she must’ve forgotten that Dash was right there.
“Are you on something?” Dash asked.
Sophie frowned. No, she was not on something. She may have been braless, hungover, and hanging by a thread emotionally, but what kind of an accusation was that?
And even if she were on ayahuasca and beginning to see rainbow caticorns encircling her feet—which sounded great, actually—what she did with her body was absolutely none of his business. She paid her rent on time. This was her place. He was the one who’d come bounding over, all wet and wearing a too-tight shirt, and now he had the nerve to suggest she was the one out of line?
She would tell Dash that he needed to leave. But when she opened her mouth to say as much, she felt the bile rise in her throat. Her eyes bulged wide as she closed her mouth and held back something akin to a burp. Dash clocked her panic, and his eyes narrowed. She shook her head, but there was no use. She was definitely going to hurl all over her high-school celebrity crush. And without even being able to call out a warning, she projectile-vomited all over Dash.
I really enjoyed the audiobook for Erin La Rosa’s FOR BUTTER OR FOR WORSE, so it was a no brainer that I’d pick up the audiobook for PLOT TWIST. Like her previous novel, the second installment in the stand alone Hollywood series had a bit of everything: drama, angst, comedy, friends to lovers, family dysfunction, alcoholism, physical ailments, and self discovery. There was a hefty dose of sexy and downright sweet times as well.
Sophie Lyon is a romance writer with severe writer’s block, and she only has 6 weeks to turn in her next book or she’ll lose it all. She drunkenly proclaims at karaoke that she’s never been in love, and the footage goes viral on TikTok. While she’s terribly embarrassed, her best friend Poppy and her landlord Dash convince her to make the best of this publicity while she’s hot. So Sophie decides to meet with all of her ex’s and ask them several things in her quest to find out why she’s never loved anyone, and more importantly, maybe she can kick that stubborn writer’s block to the curb.
Her landlord is her best friend’s brother, and Dash Montrose also happens to be an Indie film star that comes from an even bigger family of successful actors. Yet being in that world had him turning to alcohol to deal with things and now that he’s 18 months sober, he has no intention of going back to acting. He’s content filming and making crafts for a secret TikTok channel, but also keeping his social circle very small.
Sophie confesses her problems to Dash, and the two of them embark on a flirtatious, very honest, and sexy fling. While Sophie wades through her back catalog of ex’s, Dash can’t help but sit back and watch Sophie make some very big realizations about herself and her part in all of the break ups, but their attraction and romance grows until neither know how to deal with their feelings. They deal with selfishness, feelings of not being worthy, and even bigger problems along the way.
I really enjoyed the audiobook and hearing both Sophie and Dash’s points of view. The side characters add a fantastic layer to this story, fleshing out and growing along with the two main characters as well.
I give PLOT TWIST a 4.5 out of five. As I expected from Erin La Rosa, she delivered another perfectly paced and plotted romantic comedy that isn’t afraid to tackle all the hard things that life and entanglements can throw your way. The California setting made me forget that it’s getting cold outside, and I appreciated the little bit of weather escapism. I also highly recommend the audiobook, it really enhanced my enjoyment.
Find PLOT TWIST
About Erin La Rosa
ERIN LA ROSA is a writer living in Los Angeles. As a writer for BuzzFeed, she frequently writes about the perils and triumphs of being a redhead. Before BuzzFeed, Erin worked for the comedy websites Funny or Die and MadAtoms, as well as E!s Fashion Police, Wetpaint, and Ecorazzi. Erin has appeared on CNN, Headline News, Jimmy Kimmel, and The Today Show on behalf of BuzzFeed. She is the author of Womanskills and The Big Redhead Book.
Find Erin La Rosa