Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first Colleen Hoover book that I've ever actually liked. Every single other one of her books that I've read ended up getting a one-star review from me, but this...this was good. I devoured it the way I devoured the Meiji chocolate mushrooms I bought in San Francisco last week: all at once - with no regret.
Sloan is in an abusive relationship with an influential drug-dealer named Asa Jackson. She's tried to leave him before but he has a hold on her that makes this almost impossible, so she's saving up money on the sly and waiting for her chance to escape.
One day in Spanish class, she meets a guy named Carter who's everything Asa isn't - considerate, patient, kind. She feels an instant attraction for him which she unsuccessfully tries to suppress. It's more than a crush, it's a feeling of rapport.
But it turns out that Carter isn't what he seems; and to make matters worse, he's involved with Asa. So much for her chance of playing it cool and hoping she never lays eyes on him again! As Carter's and Sloan's feelings for one another grow and Asa grows increasingly jealous and insane, tension spikes, leading to what you know is going to be a major shit-storm of a climax.
Obviously, Hoover doesn't disappoint. She's become pretty infamous for her mind-fucking climaxes. TOO LATE is no exception. There were several twists and turns that definitely took me off-guard.
So why did I devour TOO LATE when all of her other books made me want to throw them out the window? The writing was better here. Bar a few typos that I chalked up to a lack of professional editing, her prose was significantly less clunky than it was in earlier works. Also, previous Hoover love interests were kind of slimy and overly familiar, whereas Carter plays it cool and - gasp! - actually respects the heroine's boundaries. There were moments when he was an utter jerk and I wanted to slap some sense into that fool, but for the most part, I liked him. Shocked? I am, too.
But don't think that the males in here are all likable, because the villain - Sloan's rapist, abuser boyfriend, Asa - is sicker than me after I've eaten a bowl of corn chowder (because I'm allergic to corn, you see - ha ha). Oh my God, his POVs made me feel like I was coated in a thick layer of slime. He's sexism personified, clad in designer pants, and everything he said made me want to punch him. Men are biologically driven to cheat. Women are biologically obligated to remain faithful in spite of this. All women are whores unless they're virgins who only sleep with one man for the rest of their lives. He gets sexually aroused by hymens. Oh yes, this guy is a real piece of work. And when he starts talking about marriage, Tim Curry's performance of "Don't Make Me Laugh" from Pebble and the Penguin started playing in my head on repeat because Asa is SO DRAKE, you guys, it isn't funny.
Not sure what else to say about this novella that doesn't veer into spoiler territory. I like this edgier, darker version of Colleen Hoover. It's practically a shoujo manga. And guess what? It's free.
3 out of 5 stars.