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Learn what happens in a story that defies the norms of traditional romance and thriller books. Too Late by Colleen Hoover captivates readers with its intense drama and dark narrative. This full summary (with spoilers of the ending marked) answers all your burning questions. Let’s get started before it’s too late! (*wink*)

too late by colleen hoover in front of bookshelves.

#1 New York Times bestseller

Quick Details

  • 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 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)

In Too Late, Sloan is stuck in a relationship with the corrupt Asa, and nothing can get in her way to find an escape… except Carter.

The problem is that nothing can get in the way of Asa staying one step ahead of Sloan… except Carter.

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.

Full Summary of Too Late by Colleen Hoover

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.

Sloan 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 Dalton, is on a mission to end Asa’s antics once and for all.)

Sloan and Carter are almost immediately enthralled with one another, and Carter develops a need to protect Sloan from Asa’s abuse.

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 on one occasion, Asa physically superglues the it onto her finger. 

After Sloan confronts Carter in private about his escapade with Tillie, 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.

Sloan goes up to bed with Asa, who is vomiting all over their bed.  She calls for help, and Dalton and Luke help her move Asa and change the sheets. 

Sloan, Dalton, 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 begins exhibiting strange behaviors, and Sloan, Luke, and the others in the house are getting concerned. 

Asa calls for dinner with Sloan, Luke (who he still knows as Carter), Dalton, 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 given Asa’s recent bizarre behavior.

Ending Explained

Warning: There are spoilers in 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 Dalton 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 Dalton 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.  She and Luke 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. 

In a short epilogue, Luke and Sloan have a baby boy.  Sloan purchases 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 the child carries.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens in Too Late by Colleen Hoover?

In Too Late by Colleen Hoover, Sloan is a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, Asa. Her world is turned upside down when she meets Carter, who has secrets of his own. This intense and suspenseful novel navigates the complexities of love, choices, and self-liberation.

What is the trigger warning in Too Late?

The trigger warnings in Too Late by Colleen Hoover include foul language, graphic sex scenes, drug use, sexual assault, murder, cheating, and more.

Is Too Late a good read?

Too Late by Colleen Hoover is a good read for someone wanting to read a different kind of romance novel. This book is dark and intense, but it is worth it for those who are up to reading difficult content, like that in Hoover’s popular romance thriller, Verity.

Is Too Late a dark romance?

Yes. Too Late by Colleen Hoover is a very dark romance. It includes such difficult content as drug use, sexual abuse, and murder, as it follows the romantic and personal journey of the protagonist, Sloan.


In summary, readers should read Too Late by Colleen Hoover if they are fans of her darker work. It’s not for kids or 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.

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