Learn everything you need to know about Too Late by Colleen Hoover in this full summary (with spoilers of the ending marked) and book review.
#1 New York Times bestseller
You probably already know that Colleen Hoover is the hottest author out there right now. You may have even read the most popular Colleen Hoover Books and are diving even further into Colleen Hoover’s back list.
Too Late is uniquely both an old and new book of Hoover’s. Let me explain: Too Late “has been self-published in several formats over the past 10 years. But it has now been edited and revised and this is the definitive mainstream version – much-sought-after among her completist fans.” (Source)
This full summary and review of Too Late by Colleen Hoover was prepared by my freelance writer, a Colleen Hoover super fan whose been devouring her catalog alongside me, and it was edited by another super fan –me!
We think Too Late would be a great read for someone wanting to experience Hoover’s writing in a somewhat different genre with difficult content. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it for those who are up to reading difficult content, like that in Verity.
Too Late by Colleen Hoover: Summary
- Release Date: The “definitive edition” of Too Late was released on June 27, 2023. It was self-published in various formats throughout the decade beforehand.
- Trigger Warnings: foul language, graphic sex scenes, drug use, sexual assault, murder, cheating
- Age Rating: 21+ based on very mature adult content
- Spice Level: We don’t feel we can appropriately rate the spice level of this book, given the sexual assault content.
Too Late by Colleen Hoover is the story of Sloan, a college student in a two-year codependent and abusive relationship with her boyfriend Asa, a drug dealer.
Sloan lives with Asa in his house which is a revolving door of sex, drugs, and debauchery. She never has a quiet moment to herself and finds it difficult to concentrate or study — especially when she’s awoken by Asa having sex with her while she is half asleep in the wee hours of the morning.
Sloan has a decent head on her shoulders and knows that Asa is not the guy for her, but she has a younger brother named Stephen, who is mentally challenged and lives in a group home. He had state funding years ago but that abruptly ended. So, while Sloan had left Asa previously, she then went crawling back to him when she needed someone to pick up the bill for Stephen’s group home.
Meanwhile, Asa happily obliged and was all too happy to have Sloan back under his control.
Sloan meets a cute guy in her Spanish class and is surprised to see him at her house later that day. His name is Carter, and he is introduced to Sloan as Asa’s new business partner.
(But, at the same time, he’s introduced to the audience as an undercover DEA agent who, along with his partner Dawson, is on a mission to end Asa’s antics once and for all.)
Sloan and Carter are almost immediately enthralled with one another. They feel a pull toward one another that’s unlike anything they’re known before. Carter develops a need to protect Sloan from Asa’s abuse.
As the story progresses, Asa becomes more and more unhinged and unstable, and Sloan and Carter become closer and more afraid of what Asa is capable of. Asa is suspicious of Carter throughout the entire book, but Carter being as smart as he is tends to be one step ahead of Asa, even going as far as to have one of his fellow agents Tillie act as his “girl for the night” so Asa can see him kissing someone else, thereby showing his lack of interest in Sloan.
Asa’s need to control Sloan and keep her near him intensifies. He proposes to her and promises to get the two of them out of the house and into their own place. He buys her a gaudy engagement ring she would have never chosen, and when she doesn’t wear it one single time, Asa physically superglues the ring onto her finger. The lengths to which he will go to keep Sloan by his side are downright frightening.
After Sloan confronts Carter in private about his escapade with Tillie, she storms out of the house to the backyard. When Carter catches up to her, Sloan is eerily quiet and something seems off about her.
Carter soon learns that Sloan has put all the pieces together. She knows he is undercover and trying to bust Asa. She also knows his real name — Luke.
With Asa passed out in his bedroom after taking a cocktail of drugs, Sloan and Carter/Luke share a passionate kiss and have sex in his car.
Luke sends Sloan up to bed with Asa against his better judgment, but he knows he has no other choice without blowing his cover to the rest of the people in the house.
Sloan goes up to bed with Asa, who is vomiting all over their bed. She calls for help, and Dawson and Luke help her move Asa and change the sheets. Sloan, Dawson, and Luke have a moment of pity for Asa as he sleeps. He comes from a tremendously broken family and, although a psychopath, drug addict, drug dealer, cheater, and girlfriend abuser, he is also a broken person.
Asa is truly unhinged now. He begins exhibiting strange behaviors like giving Sloan monotonous replies in conversation and sitting in the shower fully clothed and staring straight ahead. Sloan, Luke, and the others in the house are getting concerned.
Asa calls for dinner with Sloan, Luke (who he still knows as Carter), Dawson, and a few others from around the house. They all sit around the table to enjoy a good meal, but they are also walking on eggshells with Asa’s recent bizarre behavior.
Ending (WITH SPOILERS)
(If you don’t want to see any spoilers, then skip to the Book Review section below this section.)
There is a knock at the door shortly after dinner begins. Asa hesitantly opens the door and the house is swarmed by FBI agents. Each person is taken to a separate location to be interviewed privately.
Luke is slightly disappointed that the work he and Dawson have done is for nothing, and the FBI seems to have busted Asa before their investigation concluded.
Luke, concerned for Sloan who is upstairs being detained, tells the agents who handcuffed him that he is a cop and blows his cover. He feels that the sooner he makes them aware that there is no need to arrest him, the sooner he can get to Sloan.
It’s at this point that Asa enters the room and the agents depart. It’s revealed that Luke has been set up — the agents were all hired by Asa, and this was Asa’s way of getting Luke to come clean and learn why he has really been around lately.
Asa goes upstairs to retrieve Sloan, but as she is trying to escape the “agent” in charge of her, the “agent” kisses her to try and subdue her. Upon seeing this, Asa shoots the “agent” dead.
Asa and Sloan return to the room with Luke. As Sloan screams in panic, Asa shoots Luke in the chest.
Luke miraculously survives this very close call, and he and Sloan move into an apartment together.
Asa claims he shot the man who was with Sloan during the fake FBI raid in self-defense, and the judge dismisses the case.
Ryan, Luke’s partner (previously Dawson for most of the book), shows up at Sloan’s and Luke’s apartment, and when Luke opens the door, Ryan explains that Asa made him come to the apartment. Asa appears and Luke shoots his gun out of his hand. Ryan then shoots each of his legs. He is taken away by cops, and Sloan, Luke, and Ryan are all relieved that these new charges will finally bring him to trial and give him what he deserves.
Asa is sentenced to six months of house arrest.
Sloan and Luke continue to live in the apartment — with added security. Thereafter, Sloan realizes she is pregnant, but she doesn’t know whether the baby is Asa’s or Luke’s. However, upon discussing it, she and Luke discuss decide to keep and raise the baby regardless.
Asa uses medication to increase and decrease ankle swelling, enabling him to remove his ankle bracelet and put it on Anthony, the only friend he has working for him, and heads to Sloan and Luke’s apartment.
Asa cons a maintenance man into leaving a window latch open. He surprises a terrified Sloan and has non-consensual sex with her. Sloan thinks quickly and decides to kill him with kindness to gain his trust.
Luke, realizing something is wrong, comes home from work early with Ryan in tow. He shoots and kills Asa and Sloan’s two-year struggle is finally over. She is free.
In a short epilogue, Luke and Sloan have a baby boy named Dawson, presumably after Luke’s partner. Sloan purchased a paternity test that Luke throws away, showing that he deems himself to be the baby’s father and he does not care whose DNA Dawson carries.
Buy Too Late:
Too Late by Colleen Hoover: Book Review
This is not the happy romance-with-a-twist we commonly see from Hoover. This is a very graphic story and not for the faint of heart: there are vivid mostly non-consensual sex scenes, lots of drug use, foul language, and psychopathic behavior that is disturbing since it is portrayed with a lack of remorse.
I liked that Too Late featured Hoover’s fast-paced, to-the-point writing. It is very engaging and moves the story along well. I also am one who finds it interesting to read about subject matter that I don’t have much experience with in real life, so getting a glimpse into the life of a drug dealer was interesting.
Overall, I enjoyed Too Late, which feels like an awkward thing to say given the heavy content. I did not like it as much as Verity (which was more of a thriller), but I did like Sloan’s and Luke’s story here. And the character development of Asa was spectacular. Hoover did a wonderful job describing him, his opinions, his background, and his thoughts.
The cons for me in Too Late are the long length, the lacking character development, and the unrealistic instant love.
Sloan and Luke were not very well developed. Even their physical appearances weren’t described, and the reader was not given any background on Luke either — he simply came, saw, and conquered. It may have been intentional on her part to give Asa top billing and have Sloan and Luke be subordinate and thus, less developed. Asa, although truly evil and psychotic, was the main character after all.
Also, while Hoover is known for “instant love” stories, this one seemed incredibly fast — even for her.
It should also be noted that fans looking for Hoover’s signature spice may be disappointed, as Too Late only has one non-graphic sex scene. The rest of the sex scenes, although plentiful, can be difficult to read as they involve assault.
Too Late would be a great read for someone wanting to experience Hoover’s writing in a somewhat different genre with difficult content. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it for those who are up to reading difficult content, like that in Verity.
Buy Too Late:
Frequently Asked Questions
Too Late by Colleen Hoover has 381 pages.
Yes, Too Late by Colleen Hoover is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.
Too Late by Colleen Hoover has one spicy scene that could be considered enjoyable, but most of the graphic sex scenes are difficult to read because they primarily focus on sexual assault.
In Too Late by Colleen Hoover, Sloan ends up with Luke, who previously was known as Carter earlier in the story.
Buy Too Late:
In summary, Colleen Hoover super fans will definitely want to read Too Late, especially if you’re a fan of her darker work. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for the difficult content and/or want to complete her catalog, it’s worth the read.
WANT MORE PRINTABLES?
Get instant access to the exclusive library of dozens of bookish printables when you subscribe to The Literary Lifestyle’s free email newsletter community.