Confess: A Novel by Colleen HooverConfess: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

Confess: A Novel

byColleen Hoover

Paperback | March 10, 2015

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Winner of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has her goals in sight and there is no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin.
Colleen Hoover is the author of six New York Times bestselling novels. The Slammed series, which includes Slammed, Point of Retreat and This Girl. The Hopeless series, which includes Hopeless, Losing Hope and the free novella FINDING CINDERELLA. The most recent release is the NYT's bestseller, Maybe Someday, which includes links to an ...
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Title:Confess: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 0.7 inPublished:March 10, 2015Publisher:Atria BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1476791457

ISBN - 13:9781476791456

Customer Reviews of Confess: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Average The story was bland and lacked material
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Confess: A Review So this was my first Colleen Hoover novel. She has been an author forever on my "to buy books from this author list". And I was not disappointed. I honestly would give this book a 3.75 out of 5 stars. ** MINI SPOILERS AHEAD** I really liked how Auburn starts out very timid and meek once we meet up with her present day... and by the end of the novel she has self confidence, and knows she deserves to be happy and with her son. Honestly I cried the first bit with Adam...it was truly heartbreaking. My only issues about this novel is when she first meets Owen, it's like he says 3 words to her and she's already in love. I mean yes falling in love that fast can happen in real life, but in novels it just seems strange. And the only other main issue I had with this book is he's supposed to meet up with her the next evening... and then all of a sudden it's 3 weeks later, and I'm thinking like part of my book was missing haha. You do discover what happened in that time frame later in the story, but it just seemed weird how that chunk was written. Overall I am definitely pleased that I picked up a Hoover book, and am excited to read the rest of her works. The writing style was something I really enjoyed... I read this book in like a day. Super pumped to pick up more of her novels....especially because who doesn't love a swoon-worthy guy who is basically perfect and has loved you since he was a teenager.
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Loved this book Such a great book by an amazing author.. I am a huge fan of Colleen Hoovers. Auburn's story will have you feeling all sorts of emotions.
Date published: 2017-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from YES! This book was my introduction to Colleen's works and now I'm all in! Captivated by her storytelling.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great novel Although at times it could be a little Fifty Shades-like, it was definitely a cool and enjoyable read. I liked the idea behind Owen's confession paintings and how the story unravelled pretty unexpectedly. With most books, I find it easy to predict the outcome and ties between characters, but this one continued to surprise me with every chapter and had a definite feel-good ending.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved This Romance With a Twist Auburn Reed loses the love of her life to cancer at a very young age. She also ends up pregnant and is only able to keep her son because of her Mother- In-Law who gives Auburn strict rules and often interfere`s in Auburn's attempts to raise her son herself. When she meet Owen a handsome neighbor and talented artist, she begins to fall for him and finds that Owen ties into her past in ways she never knew.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from OMG ( NO PUN INTENDED) Another win for colleen Hoover! She is actually amazing.... I cant wait to read more of her books. from start to finish I could not put the book down. You fall in love with the characters she makes you feel like you know them, I cried I laughed and loved every moment of it. The ending was amazing and the art added to the book made it extra special. five starts a must add to your TBR
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "I love you even when I shouldn't" This book was very good.... The lines and characters were very relatable.... I instantly fell in love with Auburn and Owen (esp. Owen <3)..... I'm also a fan of Colleen Hoover's works.... this book is just amazing just like her other stories. #pr
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this!! I've always been a big fan of Colleen Hoover and this book is exceptional!
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For Art and Romance Lover The art in the book is beautiful as is the story. A great New Adult read.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from worth the cheesyness i like the plot, so the cliches to me can be overlooked
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it so much The story is so cute and the painting I love it
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! I love the mix of pictures. It added a lot of depth and beauty to this novel.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Less Angst Please I'm sorry to say this but Confess and I did not click. As much as I wanted to like this book I couldn't connect with the characters and the story. In fact, most of the story frustrated me. I only kept reading because I like Colleen Hoover's writing- easy and smooth. My biggest problem with the story is the timeline. The story takes place over a couple months but the two main characters only see each other a few times throughout those months. I'm just not a believer how they can develop such intense feeling for each other during that short time period. And the connection they "shared" was very one-sided in knowledge and contributed nothing. It felt too unrealistic to me. Auburn was too passive of a character for my liking but I gave her a free pass because she was in a truly tough position. It killed me to have to watch her submit to others. Those bullies used her secret aka her one weakness to control and belittle her. It's a good thing Owen came along. Owen is a good person and does not deserve all the suffering he was put through. While his self-sacrificing behaviour seemed too good to be realistic, I liked how he gave Auburn strength and confidence to face her enemies. In the end I thought Auburn's problem was too easily resolved. Not to mention it's a morally ambiguous solution. I applaud her for using her brain for once but her method was questionable. It left me feeling like it could backfire any time after. Also, Owen's secret was totally no big deal. This is my third Colleen Hoover book. I've enjoyed one but not so much the other and Confess falls somewhere in the middle. I think I will give her other books a try and hopefully there will be more hits than misses.
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a great introduction I liked this book and was driven to read as it won a book award a year or so ago. It was a good introduction to this author's work. Nothing that terribly moved me other than the story itself. Easy to follow writing style. It was good but not memorable. Suitable for an airplane ride.
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oh My God! Finished this last night, and I cant wait for the mini series on go90 with Katie Leclerc! Its an amazing concept and was executed so brilliantly.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! This book deals with such important concepts but is still very fun to read and beautifully written. I love these characters and everything about this book. Another amazing book by Colleen Hoover.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing! I enjoyed this book, definitely recommend. Ignoring a few obvious tropes and stereotypical romance novel elements, I love the story Colleen Hoover has created between Owen and Auburn!
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Trope v Novelty I'm quite torn about this one. Although there were some very unique plot points to enjoy here, I felt they were nearly outnumbered by the tropes and cliches. Yet, at the same time Hoover writes in a way that was engaging and made me overlook the obviousness of some aspects because I was enjoying the read so much. It's an interesting read at any rate. With lots of drama and intrigue, and a satisfying if not completely realistic ending. I would suggest this for those who like contemporaries with teeth. But perhaps, not for those who like realism and cohesiveness as well.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Colleen's work is phenomenal. Confess your truth. I cried so much whilst reading this book. SO GOOD!
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it again Coho puts out an amazing novel
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it! I can't stop talking about this book! It was so good! I adored it! Just read it!
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone Must Read!! Colleen Hoover has done it again. My tear ducts have dried out and I am left feeling hollow and emotionally damaged. How does she do it? Where do these stories even come from? How does one even write a story that has the power to grab hold of your heart and squeeze it until nothing but numbness remains? Confess was such an amazing story. It literally blew my mind. (Seriously my mind has exploded and the remnants are scattered among my shed tears.) Like how in the shit is this novel even possible. I want to cry again just thinking about it. EVERYONE MUST READ I.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT Another great novel, could not put this book down
Date published: 2016-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life is complete I cried 5 times reading this. Cried in public with no regrets.
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love I love the confessions in this book. Like the review below, I loved how she tied everything together at the end.
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I will never get over how beautiful this book is Colleen Hoover is an artist. I don't even know how to explain the stories and characters and worlds she creates. They tear you apart and piece you back together in the most beautiful ways. They way she ties everything together at the end of Confess is so beautiful. You can't help but think about this book days after you've finished it. The addition of the paintings is such a unique way to tell the story, and the confessions are so raw. I recommend it to everyone.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from enjoyed it the story is very meaningfull and enjoyable to read, Colleen Hoover is an amazing writer
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good novel, nice twists Really enjoyable quick read. Definitely some twists I didn't see coming. Treys character was a little bit one-dimensional but given the length of the book it's reasonable and not annoying.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I must confess... Putting this book down was hard. I have no words to accurately compliment and express it's beauty. What a story, what a love story. Definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year. The artwork within is also brilliant. This book was definitely a "goodread". I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from really good a very good book coho knows how to make her reads fall in love
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nothing short of impressive Confession: this was my first Colleen Hoover read... It's also the first romance book I've ever been interested enough to finish in just one day.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first Colleen Hoover book! This was my first Colleen Hoover book and I think it was just wonderful! Both heartbreaking and heartwarming; and I just loved the ending that tied things together. I love stories that aspire the idea of fate without straying too far away from reality. If that makes sense. I felt from the beginning that this story was very well structured and I loved seeing some of the confessions at the beginning, my favourites being the person who pays for a stranger's meal every time they go out to eat and the parent who hides a new toy for their son to wake up and find every morning because christmas should come every day. The confessions are even more powerful and effective to know that they are true confessions from real anonymous people.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from LOVED LOVED LOVED this book was amazing, just like all her other books.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from CONFESS Great book. I like that it's full of secrets that keeps us guessing till the end.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK book This was an OK book the love story was cute but somewhat childish.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT Colleen Hoover does it again! I love the way she incorporated the confessions and the art with the story. Everything falls into place beautifully. The story is so compelling and powerful. Perfect!
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another amazing book! I have no words for how amazing this book was. Everything Colleen Hoover does is a masterpiece and this one was no different! I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a beautiful rmoance novel to warm their hearts.
Date published: 2016-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Absolutely loved this book! Definitely Recommend!
Date published: 2016-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT! Amazing! Colleen Hoover sucked me in again and I couldn’t put it down – read all in one night! Definitely added to my list of favourite books (Maybe Someday is still my #1 from CH). For sure recommend this to anyone looking to read about loss, love, heartache and happiness all in one book. Beautiful book :o)
Date published: 2016-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful both visually and emotionally Colleen Hoover has a way of bringing something new to the book world. Like when she had the talent of singer-songwriter Griffin Peterson write a 7 song album that went with her book Maybe Someday. This is one of the many things I love about Colleen Hoover. She brings all these different disciplines of artistic abilities together. Writing is an art, just like painting and songwriting; bringing these different aspects of art together and supporting other artists is pretty amazing to me. These collaborations are beautifully done and Colleen Hoover is a pretty awesome trend setter. I would very much be in support of more authors taking part in collaborations such as these. I love books that have a connection to the art world. For me, art is an extremely intimate and personal expression; I suppose as an artist myself I find a connection in characters that are artists. Owen Gentry is an artist that beautifully paints the confessions of others. Although, I should say that the artist Danny O'Connor's paintings are beautiful. Within the book you will find images of paintings mentioned in the book; adding a unique and intimate element to the story. I was able to create a personal connection with Auburn that caused me to understand so very much of what it was she was feeling. The situation she finds herself in is one that she never could have predicted or been prepared for. She is a young woman doing all that she can to be the best person she can for those she loves. As for Owen, he is doing the same thing. Protecting those he loves. The two of them realize that while protecting and doing everything they can for everyone else, they have sacrificed so much of themselves. They both begin to contemplate just how much of themselves they have given up, and when to say enough is enough. They find strength and courage in each other that they didn't have before and start to fight for a future that is far better than what they have been living. Writing is an art. An author "paints" a story for her readers, only she uses words instead of the stokes of a paintbrush. Slowly the colors are added, the mood is set, and the final product begins to take form. A completed picture that slowly comes together piece by piece, word by word. Confess paints a story of loss, heartbreak, fear, strength and hope. I read these pages and watched the story of Owen and Auburn come together, both their individual stories and the story they write together. At times there were paint strokes I didn't see coming and it would change the picture in my mind from light to dark. It broke my heart, but there was still beauty to be found beneath the sadness. I really really wanted to have an epilogue that was set a bit in the future just to tie off a couple of the secondary loose ends. I wanted to be able to paint that final picture of happiness in my mind.
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Did it again Coho never ceases to amaze! Well done. Wasn't too sure at the beginning. But Def turned out to be amazing!
Date published: 2015-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing I couldn't put the book down. Had to read it in one day. Her books are always interesting and she's probably one of my favorite authors.
Date published: 2015-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVE IT Couldn't put the book down. Loved every minute of it. Colleen Hoover is one my best authors she never disappoints in her stories. I have to say Confess was one of of them.
Date published: 2015-04-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I CONFESS... Even though i thought that things could,ve happened sooner i loved this story. Beautiful plot! s2!!!
Date published: 2015-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Favorite! Why must you do this to me Colleen Hoover!! At first the book was slow, but it really progressed half-way and then I started to love it! Confess is one of those books that will emotionally break you down from the start! I literally cried by the end of the book. Only Colleen Hoover knows how to create a plot that you can emotionally connect with the characters. This isn't my favorite book by this author but I still really loved it! I did love how Owen's character used the confessions to play a role into the story and the fact that they were real confessions by real readers, which is fascinating. Some of them will break your heart and some will make you think about what some people do. Confess was a emotional rollercoaster from the start because we get the story about Owen and Auburn meeting and slowly falling in love. There are also glimpses of Auburn's first love in the beginning and how it affected her the rest of her life. Owen Gentry (aka O.M.G) is an artist who takes confessions and turns them into art in a haunting and beautiful way. Auburn stumbles upon his art studio and then works with him for one night. They both share a bond that only one of them knows. They understand loss and even frustration but also reveal their own confessions. I thought that their lives were tied by fate since their pasts are intertwined in some ways. The romance between them also blossomed and I loved how Hoover convinces the reader to also start falling in love with their story. Auburn's character is very unique and she was easy to like. Colleen Hoover's writing is always intense and this book did consume me in a slow way than usual. The story was told in a interesting way that I didn't see what was going to happen in the end. Confess is also filled with humor, fear, hope, sadness, love and grief that it was a very powerful read. Lots of drama as well with secondary characters. Overall, I felt it was a bit slow but the entire book was brilliantly plotted and the romance was perfectly balanced. Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite authors and I would definitely recommend her other books as well since they consume you! Looking forward to her next book!
Date published: 2015-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Confess Loved it ! ! So good , I love this author . I think this one is a favorite of mine if I had to pick one of her books
Date published: 2015-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Colleen Hoover does it again. A must read for sure.
Date published: 2015-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Oh My God I'm obsessed with everything Colleen Hoover, and having this come out just a few weeks before my birthday was the greatest present. It was so perfect from beginning to end, I loved it. Absolutely wonderful
Date published: 2015-03-09

Read from the Book

Confess CHAPTER ONE Auburn I squirm in my chair as soon as he tells me his hourly rate. There’s no way I can afford this with my income. “Do you work on a sliding-scale basis?” I ask him. The wrinkles around his mouth become more prominent as he attempts to keep from frowning. He folds his arms over the mahogany desk and clasps his hands together, pressing the pads of his thumbs against one other. “Auburn, what you’re asking me to do is going to cost money.” No shit. He leans back in his chair, pulling his hands to his chest and resting them on his stomach. “Lawyers are like weddings. You get what you pay for.” I fail to tell him what a horrible analogy that is. Instead, I glance down at the business card in my hand. He came highly recommended and I knew it was going to be expensive, but I had no idea it would be this expensive. I’ll need a second job. Maybe even a third one. Actually, I’m going to have to rob a damn bank. “And there’s no guarantee the judge will rule in my favor?” “The only promise I can make is that I’ll do everything I can to ensure the judge does rule in your favor. According to the paperwork that was filed back in Portland, you’ve put yourself in a tough spot. This will take time.” “All I have is time,” I mumble. “I’ll be back as soon as I get my first paycheck.” He has me set up an appointment through his secretary and then sends me on my way, back out into the Texas heat. I’ve been living here all of three weeks and so far it’s everything I thought it would be: hot, humid, and lonely. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and assumed I would spend the rest of my life there. I visited Texas once when I was fifteen and although that trip wasn’t a pleasant one, I wouldn’t take back a single second of it. Unlike now, when I’d do anything to get back to Portland. I pull my sunglasses down over my eyes and begin heading in the direction of my apartment. Living in downtown Dallas is nothing like living in downtown Portland. At least in Portland, I had access to almost everything the city had to offer, all within a decent walk. Dallas is spread out and expansive, and did I mention the heat? It’s so hot. And I had to sell my car in order to afford the move, so I have the choice between public transportation and my feet, considering I’m now penny-pinching in order to be able to afford the lawyer I just met with. I can’t believe it’s come to this. I haven’t even built up a clientele at the salon I’m working at, so I’m definitely going to have to look for a second job. I just have no idea when I’ll find time to fit it in, thanks to Lydia’s erratic scheduling. Speaking of Lydia. I dial her number and hit send and wait for her to pick up on the other end. After it goes to voice mail, I debate whether to leave a message or just call back later tonight. I’m sure she just deletes her messages, anyway, so I end the call and drop the phone into my purse. I can feel the flush rising up my neck and cheeks and the familiar sting in my eyes. It’s the thirteenth time I’ve walked home in my new state, in a city inhabited by nothing but strangers, but I’m determined to make it the first time I’m not crying when I reach my front door. My neighbors probably think I’m psychotic. It’s just such a long walk from work to home, and long walks make me contemplate my life, and my life makes me cry. I pause and look into the glass window of one of the buildings to check for smeared mascara. I take in my reflection and don’t like what I see. A girl who hates the choices she’s made in her life. A girl who hates her career. A girl who misses Portland. A girl who desperately needs a second job, and now a girl who is reading the HELP WANTED sign she just noticed in the window. Help Wanted. Knock to apply. I take a step back and assess the building I’m standing in front of; I’ve passed by it every day on my commute and I’ve never noticed it. Probably because I spend my mornings on the phone and my afternoon walks with too many tears in my eyes to notice my surroundings. CONFESS That’s all the sign says. The name leads me to believe it might be a church, but that thought is quickly dismissed when I take a closer look at the glass windows lining the front of the building. They are covered with small scraps of paper in various shapes and sizes, concealing views into the building, removing any hope of taking a peek inside. The scraps of paper are all marked with words and phrases, written in different handwriting. I take a step closer and read a few of them. Every day I’m grateful that my husband and his brother look exactly alike. It means there’s less of a chance that my husband will find out that our son isn’t his. I clutch my hand to my heart. What the hell is this? I read another. I haven’t spoken to my children in four months. They’ll call on holidays and my birthday, but never in between. I don’t blame them. I was a horrible father. I read another. I lied on my résumé. I don’t have a degree. In the five years I’ve been working for my employer, no one has ever asked to see it. My mouth is agape and my eyes are wide as I stand and read all the confessions my eyes can reach. I still have no idea what this building is or what I even think about all these things being plastered up for the world to see, but reading them somehow gives me a sense of normalcy. If these are all true, then maybe my life isn’t quite as bad as I think it is. After no less than fifteen minutes, I’ve made it to the second window, having read most of the confessions to the right of the door, when it begins to swing open. I take a step back to avoid being hit, while I simultaneously fight the intense urge to step around the door and get a peek inside the building. A hand reaches out and yanks down the HELP WANTED sign. I can hear a marker sliding across the vinyl sign as I remain poised behind the door. Wanting to get a better look at whoever or whatever this place is, I begin to step around the door just as the hand slaps the HELP WANTED sign back onto the window. Help Wanted. Knock to apply. DESPERATELY NEEDED!! BEAT ON THE DAMN DOOR!! I laugh when I read the alterations made to the sign. Maybe this is fate. I desperately need a second job and whoever this is desperately needs help. The door then opens further, and I’m suddenly under the scrutiny of eyes that I guarantee are more shades of green than I could find on his paint-splattered shirt. His hair is black and thick and he uses both hands to push it off his forehead, revealing even more of his face. His eyes are wide and full of anxiety at first, but after taking me in, he lets out a sigh. It’s almost as if he’s acknowledging that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and he’s relieved I’m finally here. He stares at me with a concentrated expression for several seconds. I shift on my feet and glance away. Not because I’m uncomfortable, but because the way he stares at me is oddly comforting. It’s probably the first time I’ve felt welcome since I’ve been back in Texas. “Are you here to save me?” he asks, pulling my attention back to his eyes. He’s smiling, holding the door open with his elbow. He assesses me from head to toe and I can’t help but wonder what he’s thinking. I glance at the HELP WANTED sign and run through a million scenarios of what could happen if I answer his question with a yes and follow him inside this building. The worst scenario I can come up with is one that would end with my murder. Sadly, that’s not enough of a deterrent, considering the month I’ve had. “Are you the one hiring?” I ask him. “If you’re the one applying.” His voice is overtly friendly. I’m not used to overt friendliness, and I don’t know what to do with it. “I have a few questions before I agree to help you,” I say, proud of myself for not being so willingly killable. He grabs the HELP WANTED sign and pulls it away from the window. He tosses it inside the building and presses his back against the door, pushing it open as far as it will reach, motioning for me to come inside. “We don’t really have time for questions, but I promise I won’t torture, rape, or kill you if that helps.” His voice is still pleasant, despite his phrase of choice. So is that smile that shows off two rows of almost perfect teeth and a slightly crooked front left incisor. But that little flaw in his smile is actually my favorite part of him. That and his complete disregard for my questions. I hate questions. This might not be such a bad gig. I sigh and slip past him, making my way inside the building. “What am I getting myself into?” I mutter. “Something you won’t want to get out of,” he says. The door closes behind us, blocking off all the natural lighting in the room. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if there were interior lights on, but there aren’t. Only a faint glow coming from what looks like a hallway on the other side of the room. As soon as the beat of my heart begins to inform me of how stupid I am for walking into a building with a complete stranger, the lights begin to buzz and flicker to life. “Sorry.” His voice is close, so I spin around just as the first of the fluorescent lights reach their full power. “I don’t usually work in this part of the studio, so I keep the lights off to save energy.” Now that the entire area is illuminated, I slowly scan the room. The walls are a stark white, adorned with various paintings. I can’t get a good look at them, because they’re all spread out, several feet away from me. “Is this an art gallery?” He laughs, which I find unusual, so I spin around to face him. He’s watching me with narrowed, curious eyes. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an art gallery.” He turns and locks the front door and then walks past me. “What size are you?” He makes his way across the expansive room, toward the hallway. I still don’t know why I’m here, but the fact that he’s asking me what size I am has me a little more concerned than I was just two minutes ago. Is he wondering what size coffin I’ll fit in? How to size the handcuffs? Okay, I’m a lot concerned. “What do you mean? Like as in my clothing size?” He faces me and walks backward, still heading in the direction of the hallway. “Yes, your clothing size. You can’t wear that tonight,” he says, pointing at my jeans and T-shirt. He motions for me to follow him as he turns to ascend a flight of stairs leading to a room above the one we’re in. I may be a sucker for a cute, crooked incisor, but following strangers into unknown territory is where I should probably draw the line. “Wait,” I say, stopping at the foot of the stairs. He pauses and turns around. “Can you at least give me a rundown of what’s happening right now? Because I’m starting to second-guess my idiotic decision to place my trust in a complete stranger.” He glances over his shoulder toward wherever the stairs lead and then back at me. He lets out an exasperated sigh before descending several steps. He takes a seat, coming eye to eye with me. His elbows meet his knees and he leans forward, smiling calmly. “My name is Owen Gentry. I’m an artist and this is my studio. I have a showing in less than an hour, I need someone to handle all the transactions, and my girlfriend broke up with me last week.” Artist. Showing. Less than an hour? And girlfriend? Not touching that one. I shift on my feet, glance behind me at the studio once more and then back to him. “Do I get any kind of training?” “Do you know how to use a basic calculator?” I roll my eyes. “Yes.” “Consider yourself trained. I only need you for two hours tops and then I’ll give you your two hundred bucks and you can be on your way.” Two hours. Two hundred bucks. Something isn’t adding up. “What’s the catch?” “There’s no catch.” “Why would you need help if you pay a hundred dollars an hour? There has to be a catch. You should be swarmed with potential applicants.” Owen runs a palm across the scruff on his jaw, moving it back and forth like he’s attempting to squeeze out the tension. “My girlfriend failed to mention she was also quitting her job the day she broke up with me. I called her when she didn’t show to help me set up two hours ago. It’s kind of a last-minute employment opportunity. Maybe you were just in the right place at the right time.” He stands and turns around. I remain in my spot at the bottom of the stairs. “You made your girlfriend an employee? That’s never a good idea.” “I made my employee a girlfriend. An even worse idea.” He pauses at the top of the stairs and turns around, looking down at me. “What’s your name?” “Auburn.” His gaze falls to my hair, which is understandable. Everyone assumes I was named Auburn due to my hair color, but it’s strawberry blond at best. Calling it red is a stretch. “What’s the rest of your name, Auburn?” “Mason Reed.” Owen slowly tilts his head in the direction of the ceiling as he blows out a breath of air. I follow his gaze and look at the ceiling with him, but nothing is up there other than white ceiling tiles. He takes his right hand and touches his forehead, then his chest, and then continues the movements from shoulder to shoulder, until he’s just made the sign of the cross over himself. What the hell is he doing? Praying? He looks back down at me, smiling now. “Is Mason really your middle name?” I nod. As far as I know, Mason isn’t a strange middle name so I have no idea why he’s performing religious rituals. “We have the same middle name,” he says. I regard him silently, allowing myself to take in the probability of his response. “Are you serious?” He nods casually and reaches into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. He descends the stairs once more and hands me his license. I look it over, and sure enough, his middle name is Mason. I press my lips together and hand him back his driver’s license. OMG. I try to contain the laughter, but it’s hard, so I cover my mouth, hoping I’m being inconspicuous about it. He slides his wallet back into his pocket. His eyebrow raises and he shoots me a look of suspicion. “Are you that quick?” My shoulders are shaking from the suppressed laughter now. I feel so bad. So, so bad for him. He rolls his eyes and looks slightly embarrassed in the way he attempts to hide his own smile. He heads back up the stairs much less confidently than before. “This is why I never tell anyone my middle name,” he mutters. I feel guilty for finding this so funny, but his humility finally gives me the courage to climb the rest of the stairs. “Your initials are really OMG?” I bite the inside of my cheek, forcing back the smile I don’t want him to see. I reach the top of the stairs and he ignores me, heading straight for a dresser. He opens a drawer and begins rummaging through it, so I take the opportunity to look around the massive room. There’s a large bed, probably a king, in the far corner. In the opposite corner is a full kitchen flanked by two doors, leading to other rooms. I’m in his apartment. He turns around and tosses me something black. I catch it and unfold it, revealing a skirt. “That should fit. You and the traitor look about the same size.” He walks to the closet and removes a white shirt from a hanger. “See if this works. The shoes you have on are fine.” I take the shirt from him and glance toward the two doors. “Bathroom?” He points to the door on the left. “What if they don’t fit?” I ask, worried he won’t be able to use my help if I’m not dressed professionally. Two hundred dollars isn’t easy to come by. “If they don’t fit, we’ll burn them along with everything else she left behind.” I laugh and make my way to the bathroom. Once I’m inside, I pay no attention to the actual bathroom itself as I begin to change into the clothes he gave me. Luckily, they fit perfectly. I look at myself in the full-length mirror and cringe at the disaster that is my hair. I should be embarrassed to call myself a cosmetologist. I haven’t touched it since I left the apartment this morning, so I do a quick fix and use one of Owen’s combs to pull it up into a bun. I fold the clothes I just removed and set them on the countertop. When I exit the bathroom, Owen is in the kitchen, pouring two glasses of wine. I contemplate whether or not I should tell him I’m a few weeks shy of being old enough to drink, but my nerves are screaming for a glass of wine right now. “Fits,” I say, walking toward him. He lifts his eyes and stares at my shirt for much longer than it takes to acknowledge whether or not a shirt fits. He clears his throat and looks back down at the wine he’s pouring. “Looks better on you,” he says. I slide onto the stool, fighting to hide my smile. It’s been a while since I’ve been complimented and I’ve forgotten how good it feels. “You don’t mean that. You’re just bitter over your breakup.” He pushes a glass of wine across the bar. “I’m not bitter, I’m relieved. And I absolutely mean it.” He raises his glass of wine, so I raise mine. “To ex-girlfriends and new employees.” I laugh as our glasses clink together. “Better than ex-employees and new girlfriends.” He pauses with his glass at his lips and watches me sip from mine. When I’m finished, he grins and finally takes a sip. As soon as I set my wineglass back down on the countertop, something soft grazes my leg. My initial reaction is to scream, which is exactly what happens. Or maybe the noise that comes out of my mouth is more of a yelp. Either way, I pull both of my legs up and look down to see a black, long-haired cat rubbing the stool I’m seated on. I immediately lower my legs back to the floor and bend over to scoop up the cat. I don’t know why, but knowing this guy has a cat eases my discomfort even more. It doesn’t seem like someone could be dangerous if they own a pet. I know that isn’t the best way to justify being in a stranger’s apartment, but it does make me feel better. “What’s your cat’s name?” Owen reaches over and runs his fingers through the cat’s mane. “Owen.” I immediately laugh at his joke, but his expression remains calm. I pause for a few seconds, waiting for him to laugh, but he doesn’t. “You named your cat after yourself? Seriously?” He looks at me and I can see the slightest smile playing at the corner of his mouth. He shrugs, almost bashfully. “She reminded me of myself.” I laugh again. “She? You named a girl cat Owen?” He looks down at Owen-Cat and continues to pet her as I hold her. “Shh,” he says quietly. “She can understand you. Don’t give her a complex.” As if he’s right, and she can actually hear me making fun of her name, Owen-Cat jumps out of my arms and lands on the floor. She disappears around the bar, and I force myself to wipe the grin off my face. I love that he named a female cat after himself. Who does that? I lean my arm on the counter and rest my chin in my hand. “So what do you need me to do tonight, OMG?” Owen shakes his head and grabs the bottle of wine, storing it in the refrigerator. “You can start by never again referring to me by my initials. After you agree to that, I’ll give you the rundown of what’s about to happen.” I should feel bad, but he seems amused. “Deal.” “First of all,” he says, leaning forward across the bar, “how old are you?” “Not old enough for wine.” I take another sip. “Oops,” he says dryly. “What do you do? Are you in college?” He rests his chin in his hand and waits for my response to his questions. “How are these questions preparing me for work tonight?” He smiles. His smile is exceptionally nice when accompanied by a few sips of wine. He nods once and stands straight. He takes the wineglass from my hand and sets it back down on the bar. “Follow me, Auburn Mason Reed.” I do what he asks, because for $100 an hour, I’ll do almost anything. Almost. When we reach the main floor again, he walks into the center of the room and lifts his arms, making a full circle. I follow his gaze around the room, taking in the vastness of it. The track lighting is what catches my eye first. Each light is focused on a painting adorning the stark-white walls of the studio, pulling the focus to the art and nothing else. Well, there really isn’t anything else. Just floor-to-ceiling white walls, a polished concrete floor, and art. It’s both simple and overwhelming. “This is my studio.” He pauses and points to a painting. “That’s the art.” He points to a counter on the other side of the room. “That’s where you’ll be most of the time. I’ll work the room and you ring up the purchases. That’s pretty much it.” He explains it all so casually, as if anyone is perfectly capable of creating something of this magnitude. He rests his hands on his hips and waits for me to absorb it all. “How old are you?” I ask him. His eyes narrow and he dips his head slightly before looking away. “Twenty-one.” He says it like his age embarrasses him. It’s almost as if he doesn’t like that he’s so young and already has what appears to be a successful career. I would have guessed much older. His eyes don’t seem like the eyes of a twenty-one-year-old. They’re dark and deep, and I have the sudden urge to plunge into their depths so I can see everything he’s seen. I glance away and place my attention on the art. I walk toward the painting closest to me, growing more and more aware of the talent behind the brush with each step. When I reach it, I suck in a breath. Sometimes I wonder if being dead would be easier than being his mother. Owen GentryIt’s somehow sad and breathtaking and beautiful all at once. The painting is of a woman who seems to encompass both love and shame and every single emotion in between. “What do you use besides acrylics?” I ask, taking a step closer. I run my finger across the canvas and hear his footsteps close in on me. He pauses next to me, but I can’t take my eyes off the painting long enough to look at him. “I use a lot of different mediums, from acrylic to spray paint. It just depends on the piece.” My eyes are drawn to a slip of paper next to the painting, adhered to the wall. I read the words sprawled across it. Sometimes I wonder if being dead would be easier than being his mother. I touch the paper and then look back at the painting. “A confession?” When I turn and face him, his playful smile is gone. His arms are folded tightly across his chest and his chin is tucked in. He looks at me as if he’s nervous about my reaction. “Yep,” he says simply. I glance toward the window—at all the pieces of paper lining the glass. My eyes move around the room to all the paintings and I notice strips of paper adhered to the walls next to every one. “They’re all confessions,” I say in awe. “Are these from actual people? People you know?” He shakes his head and motions toward the front door. “They’re all anonymous. People leave their confessions in the slot over there, and I use some of them as inspiration for my art.” I walk to the next painting and look at the confession before I even look at the interpreted piece. I’ve never let anyone see me without makeup. My greatest fear is what I’ll look like at my funeral. I’m almost certain I’ll be cremated, because my insecurities run so deep, they’ll follow me into the afterlife. Thank you for that, Mother. I immediately move my attention to the painting. “It’s incredible,” I whisper, spinning around to take in more of what he’s created. I walk to the window of confessions and find one written in red ink and highlighted. I’m scared I’ll never stop comparing my life without him to how my life was when I was with him. I’m not sure if I’m more fascinated by the confessions, the art, or the fact that I feel like I can relate to everything in here. I’m a very closed-off person. I rarely share my true thoughts with anyone, regardless of how helpful it might be for me. Seeing all of these secrets and knowing that these people have more than likely never shared these with anyone, and never will, makes me feel a sense of connection to them. A sense of belonging. In a way, the studio and the confessions remind me of Adam. “Tell me something about yourself that no one else knows. Something I can keep for myself.” I hate how I always tie Adam in to everything I see and do, and I wonder if and when that will ever go away. It’s been five years since I last saw him. Five years since he passed away. Five years, and I’m wondering if, like the confession in front of me, I’ll forever be comparing my life with him to my life without him. And I wonder if I’ll ever not be disappointed.

Editorial Reviews

“Colleen Hoover has created another unforgettable story exploring the human condition and, in this case, how much of themselves a person is willing to sacrifice for the ones they love. Her trademark sense of humour, her familiar literary techniques, the very recognisable tone of her characters, are all there to pull us in and leave us incapable of putting this story down.”