I approach novels set in the world of the entertainment business with trepidation. My husband is a TV reporter who covers entertainment for a living, so I’m familiar with the beat and therefore quick to spot inaccuracies or false notes in novels with a Hollywood setting, so it was a joy to read the novel Chasing Chaos (Blue Crow Books) by Katie Guest Pryal. It not only delivers in terms of plot and characters, it believably depicts the Hollywood milieu of today. With its pitch-perfect dialogue, characterizations that ring true and vivid descriptions of today’s celebrity culture, it passes the “sniff” test with flying colors.
When the ethereally beautiful Daphne dumps her long-time boyfriend and screenwriting partner, Dan, following a one-night stand, she informs him that it’s been over for some time and that she was never in love with him to begin with. In fact, she’s never really been in love with anyone. She doesn’t believe herself worthy of love after a childhood trauma that left her emotionally scarred, and more recently, an incident involving her best friend Greta that nearly cost Greta her life. Greta has long since forgiven her, but Daphne has yet to forgive herself. She feels responsible for the chain of events that were set in motion by what she perceives to have been a betrayal of her best friend.
Enter Marlon, the live-in handyman of aging movie star Sandy who is a sort of surrogate son. When Marlon and Daphne connect, sparks fly. She warns him that trouble follows wherever she goes. He dismisses her warning. When they become intimate—in a scene with some serious sizzle that brought to mind the smoking-hot on-screen chemistry of certain Hollywood stars—it seems Daphne has found the One. Not so fast. Disaster strikes when Daphne’s ex-boyfriend Dan, in a jealous fit, leaves a party they’re both at—the wedding reception of Greta, which Daphne planned with the help of Marlon and Sandy—with Marlon’s pretty young cousin, Carrie, and they get into a car accident. When Marlon finds out about it, he loses it, and in the heat of the moment, blames Daphne.
Can he forgive her? Can she forgive herself?
What makes this novel such an entertaining read, besides its well-drawn characters, accurately-depicted La La Land setting and crackling dialogue, is its plot that sails along and keeps you guessing. As glamorous and mercurial as Hollywood itself, it’s a novel that glitters.
Chasing Chaos is available for purchase.
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Katie is a novelist and essayist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of the Hollywood Lights Series, which includes the number one Amazon bestselling Entanglement (2015), Love and Entropy (2015), Chasing Chaos (2016), How to Stay (2017), and Fallout Girl (2018). She has also authored Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education (2017). Katie is a columnist for Catapult and Women in Higher Education, and she is the founder and co-editor-in-chief of Disability Acts magazine. She also contributes to The Establishment, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other national venues. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship. Katie has published many books on writing, including How Writing Works with Oxford University Press. A professor of writing for more than a decade, she now works as a writing coach and developmental editor when she’s not writing her next book.