Verity by Colleen Hoover weaves together elements of psychological suspense, detective fiction and erotica as it explores the murky depths of the human psyche, marriage and manipulation, and the blurred lines between truth and fiction that all couples eventually cross. The novel unfolds through the eyes of Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, who is given the task of completing the bestselling author Verity Crawford’s book series due to Verity’s incapacitation following a car accident. The narrative oscillates between Lowen's real–time experiences living in Verity’s house in Vermont, and a chilling manuscript autobiography Lowen discovers. This secret text, entitled So Be It, tells an apparently true story in which Verity is the villain in her own novel. Verity’s autobiography is interspersed throughout the book as Lowen “reads” chapters of it. Alongside this, Lowen develops a rapidly intensifying relationship with Verity’s chivalrous husband Jeremy, and with his quiet, damaged 5-year-old son Crew.  

Lowen is meant to be living in the Vermont house to study Verity’s work, in order to accurately reproduce her writing voice and finish her wildly popular thriller series The Noble Virtues. However, she quickly discovers that investigating Verity’s life of crime is far more intriguing than continuing a series of fictional books. The difference in diction of Lowen and Verity’s respective writing at the beginning of Verity is quite distinct. However, the more Lowen reads of Verity’s work, the more she begins to write, and sound, like her. She even begins to behave like her. As the similarities between the two women gradually reveal themselves—although Lowen thinks of herself as being a good person, and Verity as a villain—the two women are actually far more similar than Lowen seems to realize. Lowen’s narration occasionally seems unreliable, as she describes Verity’s actions with horror and then performs similarly dubious acts herself. The novel is full of moments of mirroring and doubling, which themselves reflect its key central narrative. The idea that there are two sides to every person, and that there is not one singular truth that accurately reflects a person's true character is absolutely central to this novel.  

Verity’s darkest secrets gradually reveal themselves as Lowen makes her way through the manuscript of So Be It. These sections of the novel are full of explicit descriptions of sexual acts, which reveal the extent of Verity’s obsession with Jeremy as well as her sexual fixation. Lowen quickly begins to be disturbed by these. She finds herself entangled in a complex web of even more unnerving revelations as she grows closer to Jeremy, and begins to hear two different versions of the events of the Crawfords’ family tragedies. The closer Lowen feels to Jeremy, the more unpleasant she finds reading about his sex life with Verity. The extent of the two women’s psychological entanglement is revealed, however, when Lowen and Jeremy begin having sex and repeatedly reproduce sexual scenarios that Lowen knows Jeremy enjoyed with Verity. 

While Lowen feels a strong attraction to Jeremy, she’s also conscious that they aren’t alone in the sinister Vermont house. Jeremy’s son Crew, Verity’s nurses, and several other characters cycle in and out of their vicinity, making Lowen feel as if she is always being watched. She also very quickly begins to suspect that Verity is not in fact comatose, but is only pretending in order to keep an eye on Jeremy and Crew, and avoid prosecution. The manuscript reveals more and more of Verity’s twisted perceptions and actions, painting her as a manipulative and malevolent figure. Her silent, motionless presence adds to the uncanny feeling the house consistently gives Lowen. The house, laden with haunting memories and a palpable sense of foreboding, becomes a site of anxiety and trauma for Lowen. Although she is happily immersed in falling in love with Jeremy, she is also constantly uneasy as her own love story unfolds on the stage set for another woman. 

The novel plays a psychological chess game with the readers, in which the boundaries between reality and fiction blur. None of Hoover’s characters seem entirely reliable: even the steadfast Jeremy has a hot temper and struggles to control his tendency for violence. Torn between revealing the horrifying truths hidden in Verity’s words and protecting Jeremy from the devastating impact of the truth about his wife, Lowen navigates a path filled with moral ambiguities. Her growing affection for Jeremy becomes the compass guiding her decisions, often leading her into situations where she herself is forced to lie and manipulate to get the information she needs. Throughout the novel, the narrative suggests that obsessive love has the capacity to skew anyone’s moral compass. This is particularly evident at the end of the book. After having killed Verity, Lowen and Jeremy return to the house to pick up the last of their things, and Lowen finds a letter from Verity hidden under the floorboards in her room. In a shocking twist, Verity reveals another competing version of the truth. The letter says that the autobiography she wrote was a fictional exercise in “antagonistic journaling,” or writing from the perspective of a villain. She denies any involvement in Harper's death and accuses Jeremy of trying to kill her. However, instead of giving the letter to Jeremy, Lowen elects to destroy it. She’s left as the only person who knows every “truth” that Verity makes available, but is unable to decide which version of the story is real. Even though she and Jeremy murder Verity, Lowen still ends up as the final victim of her ingenious manipulations.