Babes & Books is the name that Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek, Brandie at Brandie is a Book Junkie, and I have named our irregular, conversational joint reviews. You might’ve seen our last review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. What follows is our joint review of Confess by Colleen Hoover. Fair warning: There are some minor spoilers in this review, but we couldn’t do it justice without them!
Brandie: I am SO excited to discuss this one! My love for CoHo apparently knows no bounds, and I loved pretty much everything about this book.
Rachel: My anticipation levels for this book were HIGH, knowing the artwork element was going to be included made me swoon for this book before even seeing it, and the artwork really didn’t let me down, in fact I want to own one of the prints so bad (edit: I found out you can buy them here!). After finishing the book I had to give myself a couple of days to think it over before discussing it. I love CoHo but didn’t want to be biased and automatically love this book without being critical of it. I had a couple of minor issues with it, but overall I really enjoyed it.
Stef: My anticipation level was pretty high as well – mostly because of how freaking excited the two of you were! I LOVE books that include art or some other kind of medium (music, pull outs, maps, etc.) as I feel they really add to the story, and I think the artwork in Confess really lived up to that anticipation level. I would really like to own some prints of the art too. I thought the story was cute and I absolutely loved the banter! Overall, I liked it, but some things left a bad taste in my mouth.
Rachel: OK, let’s get into this! When I first started reading Confess I was tad confused, I feel Tarryn Fisher has rubbed off on Hoover (from them collaborating on Never Never), because this read had more of a mystery element than we’re used to with CoHo, particularly at the start as we try to piece together what is happening to which characters, and how they all fit together.
Hoover did a great job with this story-line, my only minor complaint is how successful Owen is at 21. The maturity level of Hoover’s characters makes me feel like a toddler sometimes…
Brandie: There’s no denying that there is an element of suspense and mystery throughout the entire book, and I LOVED that. I’m a big fan of suspense novels, and CoHo did an awesome job with it. I loved the shock factor of the reveals throughout the book, and the ending – how it all wrapped up blew my mind. I can NEVER see anything coming when it comes to CoHo books, she’s constantly surprising me and keeping me on the edge of my seat.
To be honest I didn’t really think about the age thing, Aubrey and Owen had already been through so much in their lives that they seemed older.
Stefani: I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I enjoyed most of the book but I wanted to like the romance so much more than I actually did. I felt like the chemistry between Aubrey and Owen was somewhat forced at times, but I also had heart-eyes and swoony moments several times too. I think I’ll eventually need to do a reread, because I’m still not sure if I liked Confess or not. I’m so torn.
Auburn irritated me because, while she was sweet and kind, she was also a doormat. She didn’t stand up for herself and wasn’t really her own person, and I hate that in female protagonists. Yes, I understand not all women are strong or independent, etc., but to let yourself be run over like that all the time is irritating to me. She was SO indecisive. I can’t connect with a character who’s self-esteem is SO low and who lets everyone run over her SO much. What did you guys think?
Rachel: When it comes to the romance itself and the forced feeling, I did think it was verging too close to being insta-love at times. Realistically, Owen and Aubrey hardly knew each other when they developed this strong connection and I wish that had have been fleshed out a little more at the start to make it more realistic.
I could understand Aubrey’s doormat ways because of the situation she was in. Though I did have a problem with one scene in particular because she didn’t fight back. I’m not sure how I’d react in that circumstance, I don’t think any of us do unless we’re in it, but I’d like to think I’d put up one helluva fight.
Brandie: Was the love a little fast for me? Maybe a little, but I didn’t focus on that because I had a feeling from the get-go that Owen and Aubrey knew each other somehow. I guess that made it more realistic and easier for me to believe.
I could sympathise with Aubrey when it came to being a doormat for a large part of the book. Without being too spoilery – doing whatever it takes for someone you love, I got that.
Stefani: I completely agree about the insta-love thing. They were actually in each others’ presence for what? A WEEK? They fell for each other too quickly and too intensely, which definitely came across in the book. I agree that’s what felt forced to me. I still swooned, but occasionally I also rolled my eyes.
Rachel: Agreed, though I loved Owen’s POV, it felt much more “real” than a lot of male POVs I read because he wasn’t always politically correct, and he wasn’t overly lovey dovey (at least at the start anyways). Smushy romance can be swoonworthy when you’re in the right headspace, but sometimes it can just rub me up the wrong way because it’s overdone to the point where it isn’t realistic. *Sigh* I LOVED the banter, I have such a soft spot for Owen.
Brandie: I agree, I love when a book shows both POVs – getting into the guy’s head and his feelings is such an added bonus. Plus the amazing artwork. CoHo added so much to this book to make it incredible!
Stefani: I seriously love dual POVs – especially if one or both is a guy. I like getting into a guy’s head.
My big issue with this book was the cheating. It’s the second CoHo book I’ve read that this happens in. I’m not sure what it says about CoHo, or if it just happens to be the two that I’ve read. I know it happens in real life too, but I hate how easily the characters rationalize it. I guess to me there isn’t much of a gray area when it comes to cheating. It obviously didn’t ruin CoHo for me, or my enjoyment of the book, but I just wish she’d think of other ways to get characters out of relationships. You know, like just breaking up. Do you guys get where I’m coming from?
Rachel: It’s times like this I begin to question my morals! I definitely get where you’re coming from, especially the whole breaking up with someone instead of cheating on them thing, BUT I’ve been cheated on and when I read CoHo’s books, I can still see how the cheating in these cases is far from black and white. Hoover always does this to me, there’s always at least one thing in her books that makes me… “uncomfortable”. It can verge on ugly, but it’s real, and I appreciate fiction that doesn’t shy away from ugly.
I find it so difficult to explain my stance on this – probably because it can be such a grey issue. Cheating is one of those topics that causes a divide among readers, and with CoHo I struggle to see it in terms of “wrong” or “right” because she’s so damn good at tapping into human emotion and presenting a scenario that makes you question your stance. I think she handles it really well.
Brandie: This is what I love most about CoHo’s writing – the fact she makes you think. Her stories are always unique and she incorporates some sort of controversial issue, proving that everything isn’t always black and white. That is what I think makes a great author. She pushed a lot of buttons with this one – clever lady.
When it comes to the cheating,I totally get what you’re saying, but I agree with Rachel on this – CoHo portrayed it in a way that made it not feel like cheating. Could the characters have dealt with it differently?Probably. But in the situation Aubrey was in, most rational thought goes out the window. It’s unfortunate that both CoHo books you’ve read involve cheating, because she incorporates other major issues in her books too. They aren’t just fluffy feel-good reads. I expect a HEA from all of them, but it’s never an easy journey getting there. You should try Slammed or Hopeless.
Stefani: There were two parts in this book that made me want to stop reading, but then you have CoHo’s writing that is so freaking wonderful and feels-inducing that it’s SO hard not to keep reading. CoHo’s writing is just so gripping. I liked Confess, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Rating 3/5
Brandie: I enjoyed this book so much, and didn’t find much fault in it at all. I don’t usually focus on things that irk most people while I’m reading a book, it ruins the reading experience for me. As soon as I finished it, I knew the ‘insta-love’ would be a major issue in a lot of reviews, but it just didn’t bother me. Maybe because it was CoHo, but mostly because she made me believe it was real. Her writing does that for me, and that’s why I love her! Rating: 5/5
Rachel: CoHo’s writing just sucks me up and doesn’t let me go. For me, her writing is just so unique. I can only read so many contemporaries before I need a break because there can be a lot of common themes and tropes. But her storylines!! In Confess, we have the “good guy” and the “bad guy” but with a twist, the mysterious bad guy’s secrets being revealed, the poignancy of the artwork Aubrey owns, the heart-breaking history of her first love, the surprise revelations, and the history of how Owen first met her. Add to that the fact the confessions in the novel are real confessions from Hoover readers?! Where does she get her inspiration from?! I would say, “you just can’t make this shit up”, but clearly CoHo can! Rating: 4.5/5