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?
Praise for Crushed
“I couldn’t stop smiling. I hated that the book had to end! Lauren Layne is a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken
“I read Crushed in one sitting because I was utterly unable to put it down. Lauren Layne’s characters are so witty and real. This story warmed my heart and left me feeling good all day. Go Team Curvy Girls!”—New York Times bestselling author Courtney Cole
“Filled with humor and heart, Crushed draws you in with an unlikely friendship turned steamy romance as Chloe and Michael turn imperfections into flawless love.”—Renita Pizzitola, author of Just a Little Flirt
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
Learning to love
This is the 2nd book in the Redemption series. This book can be read as a standalone. I recommend reading the series, since the author always gives us an HEA and makes it easier to understand each companion novel.
Michael meets Chloe, when she tags along with her sister to a tennis lesson he is giving. He recognizes right away that she has a lot in common with him and reminds him of his past weaknesses. Then he learns to like her outgoing personality.
Chloe is bored, at home for the summer and sick of being in her sister Kristin's shadow. Everyone just assumes she is the fat sister and not worth their time. Well, not dating has given her time to like herself, be almost finished with a double major, and spend time wondering why her sister's boyfriend has forgotten her.
Michael is in Texas to solve his past. It is causing trouble with his present. He is also getting distracted by the amazing and lovely Chloe. Why is he suddenly noticing her more than her sister?
This book is so much better than the average romance. It gives one the feels and makes you want to hug the book itself. The characters are refreshingly honest with one another, and the sexy times are seriously sexy and hot.
Funny, sweet, & sexy
It’s bad enough to be in love with your best friend, a guy who’s never looked at you like you’re swimming in the dating pool. But when that same best friend is dating your sister, you know that any happily ever after is going to come with its own pile of complications — assuming the ending isn't just sad and disappointing. And that’s the big boat of worst case scenario that Chloe finds herself in.
Michael came to Texas to find out more about the father he never knew he had, and he wouldn't mind having a little fun with the girl taking tennis lessons from him. Too bad she’s dating the half-brother who doesn't know he exists. And that she plays it flirty before backing away every time she sees him. But her sister, he notices, seems to be harboring an unrequited crush of her own, and if he can get in good with her, he’ll have an inside track into family of the man who left his mother pregnant and alone so many years ago.
The Verdict: Chloe is the ugly ducking to her sister Kristin’s swan, so in some ways, it’s easy to see why Devon picked her — at least from where Chloe sits. But that doesn't change the fact that she’s been pining for him forever. Unfortunately, he went for picture perfect over witty conversation, and so Chloe buries her head in books and her heart in sarcasm rather than let anyone know how she feels. But she’s not quite as invisible as she thinks.
The new super-hot tennis instructor is just the kind of guy she thinks her sister should be with, and it’s obvious he turns on the charm every time Kristen is around. But it’s against the rules of life to go after your sister’s guy, so Chloe has no choice but to wait on the sidelines and hope that Devon will open his eyes and come to his senses. Of course, if Michael can come between the couple, then Devon’s back on the market, and all bets are off. Michael quickly recognizes that Chloe is longing for a man who is off limits, and since that man is part of the story that left his mother pregnant and single, there’s nothing on his conscience to stop him from trying to lure away his girl. Pairing up with Chloe to pull it off seems like a smart move, but before he knows it, there’s something more between them than he counted on.
Chloe is by no means unattractive, but she’s been in the shadow of her seemingly perfect sister for so long that she doesn't see herself clearly. She’s sure that when compared to Kristen, she’ll always come in second, and that certainly seems to be the case. So while Michael is being nice to her, and they’re pretending to couple up as part of their grand scheme to work together to get what they want, her mind separates attraction from emotion. It’s really kind of sad watching her give up on herself in that way, but at the same time, it’s perfectly understandable.
With Michael, it’s easy to recognize his growing feelings, and it seems like he’d give into them a little more fully if he didn't have the distraction of his newly discovered father to keep him on track. I haven’t yet read the first book in the series (but you can bet I will now!), so I can’t compare him then with the person he becomes in this book. But while in the first few pages, he definitely rubbed me the wrong way, it wasn’t long before I was a little bit in love with him myself. For all his scheming and denial of his feelings, he’s obviously a really great guy who has made some mistakes and doesn't want to hurt anyone who hasn't hurt him.
I won’t say how it all plays out or give away the OMG-you-have-to-read-it scene when he finally faces the man who fathered him, but I will say that Crushed is a well-written, thoroughly entertaining story, and while the Ugly Duckling thing has been done countless times before, Lauren Layne certainly does it right. It’s funny, sweet, and pretty damned sexy, and once things get going with Michael and Chloe, it’s impossible to put it down. Crushed is perfect for New Adult Romance lovers, so if you haven’t started the series yet, join me in grabbing the first book and binge reading!
***FicCentral received this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t even know where to start. I love Chole sooooo much. Thank you for showing that not everyone is DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, THIN and size 2 but still BEAUTIFUL. I also totally apprecate that fact that she WORKED hard on changing herself (the parts she didn’t like). That’s all anyone can do. SUCH A HEALTHY VIEW in this book. I’ve read this book 3 times. It’s fun, flirty and SEXY! *I also thought it was cool how the “friends” all rallied around him.