Title: Crushed by Lauren Layne
Redemption Series Book Two
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Lauren Layne’s latest novel about the healing power of redemption tells the story of a crush gone wickedly wrong, proving that what you want isn’t always what you need.
Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.
Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.
After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?
Crushed is a smart and sassy addition to Lauren Layne’s marvelous Redemption series. This new adult romance is sweet and witty but it is the characters that make this such a superb read. Although part of a series, it can be read as a standalone, but I HIGHLY recommend the other books in the series as well.
Michael St. Claire left New York after his life fell apart. He fell in love with his best friend’s girlfriend, then made the mistake of acting on those feelings and in the end, lost both of the friendships that meant the world to him. To top things off, he then discovered that his parents have been lying about the identity of his father. So Michael moved to Texas to meet his real dad, but six months down the road, he still has not worked up the nerve to confront him. Now he has come up with a rather convoluted plan to use his half-brother Devon’s girlfriend Kristin to get close to his biological family. When he meets Kristin’s sister Chloe, things become even more complicated when he becomes Chloe’s personal trainer so she can get the man of her dreams-Kristin’s boyfriend, Devon! I know it sounds like a lot going on, but the story is really quite simple once all of the character’s various backstories are explained.
Michael and Chloe are really, really good for one another. Michael is angry and withdrawn but he is no match for bubbly, outgoing Chloe. She is über friendly and talkative with a snarky sense of humor while he is… not. Slowly but surely, Chloe works her way under his skin, gets him to open up and he is pretty surprised by how much he enjoys her company.
Chloe is definitely unenthused about getting off the couch and into the gym, but Michael goads her into taking better care of herself and pretty soon, she begins to see the results of her hard work. Despite the outward changes to her appearance, Chloe remains the same person she has always been and Michael always appreciates her for who she is, not what she looks like.
Michael and Chloe’s romance is slow growing and understated for much of the story. Chloe is determined to win Devon’s heart and she is taken off guard by her growing attraction to Michael. As for Michael, a relationship is the last thing he wants or thinks he needs, so he tries to ignore his unexpected desire for Chloe. However, both she and Michael are stunned by their reactions when it appears that Chloe has finally succeeded in capturing Devon’s attention.
Crushed is an enchanting installment in Lauren Layne’s Redemption series. The characters are quite charming and although flawed, they are very easy to like. The storyline is fresh, engaging and delightfully angst free. It is terrific love story that fans of new adult romances are sure to love.