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Learn what happens when a secret changes everything. This Confess by Colleen Hoover summary unravels a captivating romance novel that intertwines art, secrets, and unexpected love. You’ll get all your questions answered here, so let’s get literary!

Confess by Colleen Hoover held in front of a bookshelf with other Colleen Hoover books.

Quick Details

  • New York Times bestseller
  • Winner of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance
  • Genre: contemporary romance
  • Tropes: love triangle
  • Trigger Warnings: addiction, terminal illness, physical assault, sexual assault, custody battle
  • Age Rating: We recommend Colleen Hoover’s Confess for persons aged 18 and over in light of triggering content with adult themes.
  • Spice Level: 1.5 out of 5 (It has a couple of spicy scenes, but they are not very graphic.)

Confess is a love triangle about a woman named Auburn, who has lost everything in her life and, as she rebuilds it, she sees no room for error.

But, when she looks for a job at an art studio, she becomes attracted to an artist there, Owen. But Owen is keeping a big secret that can destroy Auburn once again. And then, there’s Trey, who has bad blood with Owen and an interest in Auburn.

The question is whether their confessions will make things better or worse for all of them.

This book shows a lot of Hoover’s strengths: her fast-paced writing, her excellent character development, her “just enough” spicy romance, and some twists and turns that the reader never sees coming.

It would be perfect for any fan of Hoover’s work or any fan of romances that have substance.

Confess by Colleen Hoover Summary

Part 1 of 2

Confess by Colleen Hoover starts with a prologue in which we see a young couple in their mid-teens saying their final goodbye.

Adam has a terminal illness and, although he and his girlfriend, Auburn, live in Portland, he was transferred to a Dallas hospital to live his final days.

The chapters that follow are five years after the prologue.

Told in alternate narration between Auburn and Owen, the story begins from Auburn’s perspective. She has just moved to Dallas, where she lives with a quirky roommate, Emory, and is a part-time hairstylist. She is looking to make some extra cash when she stumbles upon an art gallery looking for extra help.

Owen, the artist who paints in the studio, is having a showing that very night and Auburn agrees to help him with it.

Owen’s apartment is just above the gallery. Within his narration, he hints that he knows Auburn from the past and cannot believe he is seeing “her” again.

The showing goes well and the two have a drink at a bar across the street, where their chemistry grows. Owen asks Auburn out the following night and she agrees.

However, Owen gets arrested for possession of prescription pills and never shows up for the date. Owen’s father, Callahan, an attorney, bails him out.

Auburn and Owen cross paths again after Auburn gets drunk at a bar and the bartender, a friend of Owen’s, calls him to rescue her. He informs Auburn that he is moving in two days (although to the reader it is clear that his “move” likely has something to do with his arrest).

They plan to spend the weekend together before he moves.

When the two are at Auburn’s apartment, Lydia, Auburn’s late boyfriend’s mother, pops in for a visit with a small boy in tow. The boy is AJ, Auburn’s son with Adam, and it is clear Auburn loves him tremendously.

Once Lydia and AJ leave, Auburn tells Owen everything: She had AJ young, and her parents wanted nothing to do with her. Lydia offered to raise him, but she recently left Portland after her husband died. So, Auburn is on a mission to get custody of her son again.

Auburn and Owen enjoy their first kiss as Trey, Adam’s brother and local police officer, knocks on Auburn’s door. He and Owen seem to have some bad blood and Trey does not want Auburn near him.

Owen finally comes clean to Auburn about his arrest for possession and likely jail time. She now knows that she can have nothing to do with Owen or the courts will use it against her in the fight for her son.

Owen gets sentenced to three months in prison.

The story then cuts to Owen’s arrest three weeks earlier and the reader finds out that Owen’s father, the highly regarded public defender, is the one with the addiction — not Owen.

Owen’s father called him while intoxicated one night and Owen came to his rescue but then got pulled over by Trey. Knowing what an arrest of a public offender would look like to the public, Owen took the blame for the pills found in the vehicle.

Part 2 of 2

With Owen in jail, Auburn and Trey are growing closer. Trey has made it clear that he has a romantic interest in Auburn, and Auburn knows that Trey is the easiest way to get access to AJ, but she has trouble reciprocating feelings for Trey.

Owen is released from jail early, and he runs into Auburn while shopping. Their connection remains undeniable.

When Trey is out of town for the weekend, Auburn visits Owen and they make love for the first time. Auburn knows that it’s wrong and that her commitment lies with Trey, but the connection she feels with Owen is undeniable.

Upon returning to town, Trey confronts Auburn over her relationship with Owen and sexually assaults her. Her roommate, Emory, threatens Trey with his gun until he leaves.

Owen comes clean to Auburn about everything: that the pills were never his and that his father is an addict.

The following day at Owen’s apartment, Trey restrains Auburn and Owen punches him. Trey arrests Owen for assault of an officer, and Owen goes back to jail.

Ending Explained

Warning: There are spoilers in this section.

Auburn, determined to help Owen out of jail and have the truth revealed about Trey, goes to Callahan with a plan.

They call Lydia into his office and ask her to sign custody papers. She and Trey are then surprised with an audio recording of Trey’s abusive behavior that could end his career as a cop.

Lydia has no choice but to sign the custody papers, and Auburn also demands that Trey release Owen from jail. Owen is released, and Auburn and Owen are finally together with AJ.

The last chapter is narrated by Owen, and it is a flashback to five years prior.

Owen’s father was in the hospital in a coma after a car accident. In the room next door was Adam, and Owen watched Auburn visit Adam frequently.

When Trey went in to get Auburn and tell her that her time with Adam was up, she wanted to say one last goodbye to him.

Owen had then confronted Trey about this and punched him, asking that Trey let Auburn say her final goodbye, which is what had resulted in their bad blood all these years.

Owen then went on to use Adam’s discarded paint supplies to paint his very first painting, which he gifted to Adam.

Upon seeing the painting, Adam asked Owen to mail it to Auburn. It still adorns her apartment wall, although she never knew Owen painted it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Colleen Hoover’s Confess about?

Confess by Colleen Hoover is about a love triangle between Auburn, a young mother determined to get custody of her son; Owen, a local artist with a long secret history with Auburn; and Trey, Auburn’s dead ex-boyfriend’s brother, who plays a key role in her custody battle.

Does Auburn have a kid in Confess?

Yes. In Confess by Colleen Hoover, Auburn had a son, AJ, with her now-deceased boyfriend, Adam.

What are the trigger warnings for Confess by Colleen Hoover?

Trigger warnings for Confess by Colleen Hoover include addiction, terminal illness, physical assault, sexual assault, and a custody battle.

What did Owen Confess to Auburn?

In Confess by Colleen Hoover, Owen confessed that the prescription pills for which he was arrested for possessing were not his but rather his father’s, an addict.

Does Confess book have a happy ending?

Yes. Confess by Colleen Hoover has a happy ending. Auburn gets custody of AJ, and Owen is released from prison, reuniting all three of them. It’s also revealed that Owen knew Adam during Adam’s final days, and Owen had painted the art that Adam sent Auburn, which still hangs on her wall.


This Confess by Colleen Hoover summary detailed a romance novel with a lot of moving parts, from a drug-addicted supporting character to a love triangle, and a custody battle. Like most of Hoover’s books, it’s fast-paced, slightly spice, and has some twists and turns that the reader never sees coming.

It would be perfect for any fan of Hoover’s work or any fan of romances that have substance.

By the way, there was also an under-the-radar adaptation of this novel! Watch the trailer below:

If you love Colleen Hoover’s books, then check out these posts next:

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