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 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 hear the crack of his skull before the splattering of blood reaches me.”
When I read the opening line above I got shivers down my spine. This book started with a chilling, ominous tone that remained throughout the book and made it unputdownable.
Lowen Ashleigh is a writer with limited success that is now facing financial ruin. On her way to meeting with her literary agent she witnesses a gruesome accident and meets a handsome stranger who helps her through her shock. Unbeknownst to them, this chance encounter will become a turning point in both their lives.
In an offer that could change her fortunes she is being asked to complete the final three books in Verity Crawford’s bestselling The Noble Virtues series as the author is incapacitated after an accident. Despite the huge financial reward being offered, Lowen is reluctant. One of the things she loves about writing is the anonymity; she doesn’t do social media or interviews and knows by having her name connected to these books she would be thrust into the limelight. So a deal is reached that she will use a pseudonym and not do any publicity for the books.
Jeremy Crawford, Verity’s handsome husband, invites her to stay at their Vermont home so she can access all of Verity’s notes and outlines from the last 13 years. As she is about to be homeless Lowen accepts. She finds a disorganised office and a home overshadowed by sadness after multiple tragedies, and the eerie presence of Verity, who is in an almost catatonic state after a car accident.
Whilst sorting through the disordered office Lowen comes across a manuscript of Verity’s autobiography, “So Be It”. Curious about the woman she’s been hired to get in the mind of, Lowen begins to read. The autobiography is no holds barred and shocking. Verity is not the woman it seems even her husband thinks she is and the confessions in this book become increasingly sickening and harrowing. As she reads more of the book it is harder for Lowen to be around Jeremy and hear him talk about his wife, knowing he is clueless to who she truly is and the reprehensible things she has done. When Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy deepen, and seem to be reciprocated, she beings to justify the idea of showing him the manuscript, knowing it will end his loyalty to his wife and bring him closer to her.
I absolutely loved this book. It is hard to believe that the author hasn’t written a thriller before as this read like the work of a seasoned thriller writer. It was enthralling, genuinely terrifying and impossible to put down. Verity is a brilliant character. She starts off very mysterious, intimidating and omnipresent, kind of like Rebecca in the eponymous book. Once the autobiography is discovered Verity is revealed to be a narcissistic, malevolent character who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. While passionate in some ways she is also cold as ice and I found it hard to have any empathy for her after reading her inner most thoughts and hateful deeds. As the book goes on Lowen is sure Verity doing things that shouldn’t be possible in her state and becomes terrified of her. This gave the book an increasingly creepy vibe and I couldn’t decide if it was all Lowen’s imagination because of what she’s been reading or if these things are actually happening but it all added to the mystery of Verity’s character and her sinister presence. I thought Verity, Lowen and Jeremy were all well written and the writer made it very easy to empathise with Lowen and Jeremy and to cheer them on as they fell in love.
“No matter which way way I look at it, it’s clear that Verity was a master at manipulating the truth. The only question remains: Which truth was she manipulating?”
The ending of this book had my jaw on the floor. I literally gasped in horror and read the final pages with my hand over my mouth. It was one of the most breathtaking and unexpected twists I’ve read. It made me question everything I’d just read and asking myself what is the truth? Is it something tangible and unwavering or something we bend to fit out preferred narrative?
Colleen Hoover should write more thrillers as this is an outstanding book. It is a terrifying story that will get into your psyche and haunt you. If you’re a fan of thrillers then you have to read this book.
Out now. Available on Kindle Unlimited.