on December 7, 2018
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.
I detest what my friends sweetly refer to as “kissing books.” If it’s a book where the main focus is a romance, I have whatever accounts for “less than 0% interest” in it. Because of this, I have never had any interest in Colleen Hoover because her books are … well, anyone who is into them will tell you they’re spicy at best. But I kept hearing that Verity was different and worth my time. I threw it on my Amazon wishlist and forgot about it, but I wound up receiving a gifted copy and eventually I had no choice but to pull it down off my shelf and give it a try.
Applicable PopSugar 2020 Prompts: A book with a great first line (“I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me”), A book with an upside-down image on the cover, A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins (greed, lust, pride … the gang’s pretty much all here)
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Lowen (I have never been able to get past the bananas names CoHo uses for her characters) is a writer, but she’s not exactly a famous one. And to make matters worse, she’s had the shittiest day ever: a man got run over in the street right in front of her, and now her shirt is covered in blood. At least there was a hot guy nearby who gave her the literal shirt off his back. Struggling to make ends meet now that her mother has died and left her with a two bedroom apartment she can’t afford, Lowen was excited to be on her way to a meeting with her publisher (who used to be her boyfriend, oops) when this accident happened, and she is quickly floored to learn that the sexy man she met earlier that morning is actually representing the other party in this meeting. Jeremy, the sexy man in question, is the husband to a very prolific writer – Verity Crawford.
After suffering a tragic accident, Verity can no longer complete the series that has become her life’s work – Jeremy knows that Verity adored Lowen’s first novel, and so Lowen was his first suggestion to Verity’s agent. After some heated discussion, it is decided – Lowen will make more money than she knows what to do with in exchange for “co authoring” (as co authoring as you can get when the other author is basically in a vegetative state) the final three books in Verity’s series.
Jeremy invites Lowen to his family home to settle into Verity’s office for a couple of days, to root around and see if she can find some notes for suggestion of where the series was meant to go. Lowen discovers that Jeremy and Verity have a fairly tragic backstory – they lost both their young twin daughters, at different times, and of course now what’s happened to Verity. All that’s left is their 5 year old son named Crew, who is Jeremy’s pride and joy. Jeremy takes devoted care of Verity, and brings in the best nurses and medical equipment money can buy. But of course, none of that can bring his wife back.
We’re left in a creepy house with a creepy bedridden Verity who Lowen swears knows and sees more than she lets on. And then, Lowen finds the manuscript. It seems Verity wrote an autobiography before her accident, detailing how she met and fell for Jeremy, what happened to their daughters and how all three of their children were conceived, Verity’s innermost thoughts and passions are outlined in black and white, right on the page. And once Lowen has read this, she can’t look at Verity or Jeremy the same way again.
The Bottom Line
This book was an atmospheric thrill ride. I was right there with Lowen, feeling the ice edge up my spine as I read Verity’s manuscript in time with her. We get 3-4 chapters of present-day story progression, and then Hoover teases us with a chapter of Verity’s autobiography. It horrifies us, but we’re back in current time again, and begging for more. This enables this book to be compulsively, enchantingly readable – it took me a day or two to get through the first ~50 pages, but once Lowen was in that house and found that manuscript I was zooming.
There’s a lot of sex. Like, a lot. Mostly in Verity’s autobiography, but not all of it. Does it have a narrative purpose? Yes, but you don’t find that out until the end. Did I skim over the sex parts? Yes. Did it diminish my enjoyment of the story? No, I don’t think so – in my opinion you don’t lose anything by glossing over Verity and Jeremy doin’ it for the 50th time. It underscores Verity’s enchantment with her husband, her desperation to be the thing he loves most, and her neuroticism when she discovers that he loves his children more than he loves her. It all comes back to sex for Verity because she uses it as a control mechanism, and of course another piece that is revealed late-game. But still, I don’t want to read about the teeth marks on the headboard any more.
Overall, Verity is a tightly-written story with great pacing and one of those final chapters that makes you want to throw it across the room (in the best way possible). I highly recommend it, and if you’re a “kissing books” prude like me, just skip over the sex. It won’t detract from your enjoyment of the story, and the thriller aspects are great! And best of all, no “big red bow happy ending” here – thank goodness and praise be to Colleen Hoover for that!
“Some families are lucky enough to never experience a single tragedy. But then there are those families that seem to have tragedies waiting on the back burner. What can go wrong, goes wrong. And then gets worse.”
“I was difficult. An emotionally challenging puzzle he wasn’t up for solving. Which was fine. I wasn’t in the mood to be solved.”