By: Colleen Hoover
Publication: December 7th 2018 by Hoover Ink, Inc.
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--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.
A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, releasing December 7th.
Some background including some spoilers for some of Colleen Hoover's previously published books (no spoilers for Verity). I've been reading Colleen Hoover books since I originally saw Slammed available for review on NetGalley and took a chance. I was blown away. And the next couple of books that followed were just as good. (Point of Retreat and Hopeless specifically.) I didn't love Maybe Someday because there's a bit of cheating, and I also felt like Ridge only ended up choosing Sydney when Maggie was no longer an option. For Ugly Love, I didn't like that Tate and Miles built their relationship upon a foundation of friends-with-benefits. Yet the formatting of this book was beautiful. I did really enjoy Confess. I'm still not sure how I feel about the story elements of It Ends With Us despite a 5 Star review. I cried so that boosted my rating. But there were several pieces I just felt iffy about. Without Merit has been by far my least favorite Colleen Hoover book. I didn't like any of the characters, but specifically, I didn't like Merit. So it's hard to root for a character or a relationship when one of the characters isn't likable. All Your Perfects was good, but I felt like the letters at the end covered a bit too much ground. And here we are at Verity.
I always try to avoid spoilers or reviews before picking up a book. But being a member of Colleen Hoover's CoHorts on Facebook inundated me with post after post about how great Verity was, how "twisted", etc. I couldn't really avoid seeing these posts. And I feel like seeing so much of this really boosted my expectations. Plus I mean Colleen Hoover. That being said, I started this book with extremely high expectations as well as fear and paranoia concerning the twistedness of the book and characters. In the end, I felt a little letdown. Let me try to explain without spoiling anything.
Lowen and Jeremy meet at the scene of an auto versus pedestrian accident in New York City. Obviously shaken by the events Lowen needs a moment to compose herself and Jeremy steps in to help at that moment. As fate would have it, Lowen and Jeremy were headed to the same meeting where Jeremy and his wife Verity's publishing company would be attempting to contract Lowen to write the remaining three books in Verity's popular suspense/thriller book series. Due to Lowen's financial situation, she's also about to be homeless and agrees to visit the Crawford home in hopes of finding some outlines and research Verity might have concerning her plans for the remaining three books in the series. As the description says, while sorting through Verity's office, Lowen finds an autobiographical manuscript written by Verity. And here's where the twisted bits come into play.
Verity's manuscript will make you cringe. It will make you angry--furious. It will make you cry (possibly...I didn't, but I can see how someone might). It will make you want to vomit. It will make you want to hug any and every child you might see passing by on the street--especially your own children should you have any. How a person could be so callous and devoid of proper emotion is just beyond believable. Yet these people do exist. I hate to think that these people exist, but they do. With every chapter that Lowen reads, it got worse. And worse. I was even telling my husband about it after I finished the book and his words were "I want to vomit." This is truly the worst part of the book. The manuscript. And well one more part...but spoilers you know.
I don't want to spoil anything so I'm trying to be vague. But I guess I'd built things up so much that my imagination was worse than the truth. I expected a serial killer in the wife or the husband or a combo-couple team. I expected more scariness I guess. There were a few moments that were creepy and chilling no doubt. But my imagination got the better of me I guess. I think part of that is due to not being able to read Verity immediately upon release and form my own thoughts before the opinions of others started pouring out. But real life prevented me from reading sooner.
There's a twist at the end that has caused some debate, but it was intended to do so. I won't say more than that it comes in the form of a long, detailed letter. And while I don't want to discuss the contents of the letter, I do want to discuss that this seems to be a repetitive plot point through several of Colleen Hoover's books. I specifically mentioned the letters from All Your Perfects earlier. I know there have been other letters too, Slammed/Point of Retreat had them, It Ends With Us, probably others. But I feel like it just ties things up in a bow too nicely. The letters cover too wide a range of topics in an attempt to address all of the pieces and sometimes cover up holes in the story. I don't doubt Colleen Hoover has things planned from the beginning to end and even if she didn't in the first draft, but the time the manuscript goes through several passes of editing, she knows how it'll all end. And this means that sometimes decisions are made that lead the reader and characters in one direction, but then a nicely worded letter toward the end of the book is supposed to redirect us. It's hard to explain without getting into specifics or spoilers. Regardless, I hope CoHo decides to re-evaluate using this as a tool for her future books.
-Caring for your body is no different from caring for a child. Sometimes it's hard, sometimes it sucks, sometimes you just want to give in, but if you do, you'll pay for the consequences eighteen years down the road.
-If an attraction is present between two people, those two people can only be one of two things. Involved or not involved. There is no in-between.
I don't read suspense/mystery/thrillers often. There's a reason for that. The night after reading the first 50% of the book I didn't sleep well. I was paranoid about what was to come. Of course, I found that my imagination was worse than what the book included (in terms of what would happen to Lowen). Verity will still go down as the most disturbing book I've read in 2018 with one of the most memorable characters (Verity herself). I took issue with a few other things (the frequency of the f-bomb and the frequency of descriptive scenes, as well as a moral repulsion to some things discussed within the book). Verity wasn't a perfect book for me. I can't say I'll ever want to re-read it. But due to the experience and emotions, I felt while reading Verity, it deserves 4 Stars. Have you read Verity? What did you think? Let me know!