by Colleen Hoover
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime.
Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
Verity by Colleen Hoover follows struggling mystery writer Lowen Ashleigh, broke and facing eviction, when she gets a job offer too good to pass up. When Jeremy Crawford approach's Lowen to continue the popular mystery series his injured wife is unable to finish, she doesn't quite know what to think. She desperately needs the money, but stepping into the insanely popular Verity Crawford's shoes is a monumental task she doesn't think she is up for. But on the brink of being homeless, she travels to the Crawford home to go through Verity's chaotic office, in hopes of finding material that will help her write the last novels of the series. Instead, she finds an unfinished autobiography that Verity never meant anyone to find, and learns chilling and dark secrets - including what happened the day Jeremy and Verity's daughter died. Lowen decides to keep the horrific confessions secret, not wanting to upset the already grieving Jeremy. But the longer Lowen spends at the Crawford home, her feelings for Jeremy grow - and Lowen carries secrets that will break the ties between Jeremy and Verity forever.
Well this was disturbing. And weird.
Listen. I love Colleen Hoover. The woman can write some amazing books. She is an amazing writer. But this book was ... weird. Off. Yes, mystery is a different genre for Colleen, but it didn't feel like a Colleen Hoover book. The writing style was off. Could it be that Verity is just really dark compared to her other work? Possibly. But there was another problem that wasn't like Colleen Hoover at all: the romance was lackluster. There was no chemistry between Lowen and Jeremy. It felt weird, and forced. In a book this dark, I needed Lowen and Jeremy's connection to be intense, and to lighten up the story a bit. I didn't get that from Verity. And when I say I needed it, I needed it. Verity's autobiography was one of the most disturbing things I have read, and there was a moment I had to put the book down, and I couldn't go back to it for a full 24 hours. Frankly, I had to push myself a bit to finish it. Which I have NEVER done before on a Colleen Hoover book. Points to Colleen for stepping out of the box, and trying something new, but I don't think it worked in this case.
Spoiler below. Please don't read this if you haven't read Verity. It will ruin the experience of the book for you. But I have thoughts on that ending, and I want to voice them. And please, if you agree, disagree, or have a different theory on the ending, let me know in the comments.
Spoiler in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ....
While I wasn't crazy about this book, I got to admit, that ending had me. I didn't know what to believe, and the horror of Verity being innocent this whole time, and the autobiography being some sort of writers exercise was truly chilling. But I'm putting this out there: I think the letter was bullshit. I think the autobiography was the truth. Hear me out, because, yes, that letter was convincing as hell of Verity's innocence, but I am going to fall back on what I know, and what I know, is being a mother. How it feels to be a mother. One thing I know for certain, is no sane person is going to write the things Verity wrote about their own children. Writing about a fictional child, for a writing exercise, or book - sure. Happens all the time, and while still hard to read, its fiction. It serves a purpose. But Verity writing about horrific abuse and murder attempts on her OWN REAL LIFE CHILDREN? Nope. I can't sleep at night imagining something bad happening to one of my children. No one, not even a writer, is going to write out the things she did for the purpose of an exercise. Plus, I think its pretty telling that she told her son to hold his breath when the boat tipped. Why only her son? How would there have been time to tell him to do that? And come on - the woman faked being brain damaged for months. Again, no sane person is doing that. If she really wanted to leave with her son, money wasn't going to stop her. She had plenty of opportunity.
Verity is a bit of a rollercoaster. A slow roller-coaster with lots of twists and turns that make you feel sick. I'm not sure what else to say about it. I hate to say anything bad about a book Colleen Hoover wrote, but Verity is just ... weird.
I don't want to call him an asshole. He's a little kid, and he's been through a lot. But I think he might be an asshole.
Jeremy: "Give my best to Sherman."
Patricia makes a face.
Patricia: "My husband's name is William."
Jeremy nods once.
Jeremy: "Oh. That's right. I get them confused."
I hear Patricia scoff as we walk away. When we make it to the next aisle, I say,
Lowen: "Um. Who is Sherman?"
Jeremy: "The guy she fucks behind her husband's back."
I look at him, shocked. He's smiling.
He leans his head against the doorframe and looks down at me.
Jeremy: "I lied to you."
I try not to look too concerned, but I am. His words rush through me, and I think back to our conversation tonight, the conversations that came before it.
Lowen: "You lied about what?"
Jeremy: "Verity never read your book."
I want to take a step back, to mask my disappointment in the darkness. But I stay put, squeezing the doorknob with my left hand.
Lowen: "Why would you say that if it wasn't true?"
He closes his eyes for a brief moment while inhaling. When he opens them, he stands up straight through his exhale. He raises his arms and grips the top of the doorframe.
Jeremy: "I'm the one who read your book. And it was good. Phenomenal. Which is why I suggested your name to her editor."
He lowers his head a little, looking me firmly in the eye.
Jeremy: "Your writing matters to me, Lowen."
Jeremy: "I felt like there was something missing in the beginning, but I stayed and I married here and we started our family because I always believed that deeper connection was within reach. I thought I'd wake up one day and look her in the eyes and then it would click, like that mythical puzzle piece had finally snaped into place."
It's not lost on me that he mentioned loving her in the past tense.
Lowen: "Did you eventually find that connection?"
Jeremy: "No, not like I had hoped. But I've felt something close to it - a fleeting intensity that proved a deeper connection can exist."
Lowen: "When was that?"
Jeremy: "Several weeks ago. In a random coffee shop with a woman who wasn't my wife."