Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Crushed by Lauren Layne

The Basics:
Crushed by Lauren Layne
Flirt (from Loveswept)
Book Two in the Redemption series
Contemporary Romance
Published April 14, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon Kobo Goodreads

Why I picked up this book:

It's a Lauren Layne book, and she's one of my few auto-grab contemporary romance authors. Speaking of, which authors do you auto-grab when you see them? I mean their books, of course, not the authors themselves!


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?

My Thoughts:

Three cheers for a curvy, mouthy, nice main character! 

I was predisposed to enjoy Crushed because I've loved the Redemption series so far (see my reviews of Isn't She Lovely and Broken), and so it should be no surprise that I loved Crushed.

Crushed embraced the angst that we saw in Broken. To recap, Michael is the third member of a trio of best friends who underwent some emotional trauma/drama when the other two, Olivia and Ethan, who were in a relationship, broke-up. Michael had a part to play in that, and then it was all compounded by more emotional drama that drove Michael and Ethan apart. Of course, Michael still loved Olivia and after giving her time to grieve the end of her relationship with Ethan, he went after . . . only to get shot down, big time. 

So now Michael's living undercover, teaching tennis lessons to the rich set (even though he's part of that rich set). He's got an agenda that involves breaking up the beautiful Kristin and her boyfriend Devon. But he never planned on Kristin's sister, Chloe . . .

Frankly, Michael's an ass. He's broody and angst-filled, he's arrogant and pretty wrapped up in his own drama. He's carrying around a truckload of attitude because of past events and that makes him really hard to deal with.

Chloe, by contrast, is snarky and sweet. Despite being in love with her sister's boyfriend for years, she would never do anything to directly affect that relationship. For all her prickly, adorable sarcasm, she's vulnerable when it comes to men. Growing up as the 'heavy' sister has taken its toll on her self-esteem, and watching her blossom is awesome. 

In fact, Chloe's transformation from anti-movement to regular gym-attendee is one that I initially thought would be off-putting, but that ended up being a bit inspiring. Michael's motives might not be pure, but the words he uses to get Chloe moving - to stop being a bystander in her own life - were spot on. Exercise, moving more, is about energy and willpower and not about being stick-thin. Health should be a much more compelling motivator at a certain point than fitting into size 2 jeans. 

I thought that the chemistry between Chloe and Michael was realistic: there's this simmering tension between them until it finally builds to a breaking point. I enjoyed reading their transition from united by purpose to united through mutual interest. 

Bottom line:

I'd be surprised if Crushed is the last in the Redemption series as it's listed as book number two, but if it is? I couldn't be happier with the way it comes to a close. Absolutely satisfying, this is a new adult/contemporary romance I happily recommend.

5 stars
For fans of contemporary romance, new adult, redemption stories

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of Crushed:

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