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Crushed by Lauren Layne
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This was the final book in this series where we finally see the last person in this friend group paired off. I liked Michael's story, maybe more than I liked Olivia's. I did feel like their was actual character development occurring all the way through for both Michael and Chloe. Heck, even for Kristen, Chloe's sister and Devon, her bf. Just good stuff all around.

The ending was a bit... cutesy. There is one of those reunion moments that happen a lot at the end of series like this where everyone gets together again so the reader can have some overall closure. I think it worked pretty well here, though there didn't seem to be much of a reason for it to really happen that way.

Overall, really liked it and want to read more from the author. ( )
  GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
And The Oscar for the most cheesy NA book, goes to...



Ok, first of all, that photo of the cover is awful, and doesn't represent the characters of the book. AT ALL.

Now, about the story. I truly believe that there is a new wave of authors of NA books that listen to their readers and are trying to stop the abuse of stereotypes and clichés. Lauren Layne it’s one of those.

In [b:Crushed|23166994|Crushed (Redemption, #2)|Lauren Layne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1420025091s/23166994.jpg|42712432] you don’t find the typical Barbie-like I'm-hot but-I-don’t-know-it heroin or the I'm-arrogant-because-I-know-I'm-hot hero. Chloe is curvy, sarcastic, unathletic and funny. And Michael, well, he’s just emotionally closed off.

The plot is not the most original —Michael wants Kristin. Chloe wants Devon. Devon and Kristin are a couple. Michael and Chloe unite forces to break them up, but ultimately fall in love with each other— but it’s wrote in a entertaining way, and the romance is cheesy and light. My favorite book of the series keeps being [b:Isn't She Lovely|17883712|Isn't She Lovely (Redemption, #0.5)|Lauren Layne|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1369776091s/17883712.jpg|25046741], but this it's worth a try if you want an easy read.

Thank you Random House for sending me this book without me having to ask. You know me ;) ( )
  Glire | Jun 22, 2016 |
Loved Loved Loved this book!! I've loved this entire series but this is truly my favorite. The added characters in this book were great. I adore the always chipper and snarky Chloe. She's a perfect match for the brooding Michael. He was always my least favorite character but this book changed all that!

This is truly a fantastic read and one I definitely recommend for everyone's must read list. ( )
  Bette_Hansen | Nov 3, 2015 |

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! ( )
  ysar | Jul 8, 2015 |
5 "When What You Want Is Not What You Need" Stars!

A New Top Favorite! Hilarious, witty and touching! Why oh why had I not previously read any of Lauren Layne's works? With a style somewhat reminiscent of Emma Chase's or Penny Reid's, Ms. Layne's writing style is immensely entertaining and the romance in Crushed was perfectly developed. If you are a lover of the "ugly duckling" trope or are just generally looking for an uplifting, comical and satisfying romance, then I highly recommend Crushed.

Michael St. Claire was recently delivered a double whammy. Not only did he just realize that he has lost for good Olivia Middleton, the girl that he has been pining for for years and the same girl that used to be his best friend's girlfriend (but only broke up with his best friend to find a completely new boyfriend). But Michael also just found out that he is the product of an extramarital affair.

Heartbroken, Michael leaves his rich lifestyle in Manhattan to go to Texas, where he tries to clandestinely spy on his real father. Posing as a personal trainer and tennis instructor at the exclusive country club where his real father is a member, Michael devises a plan to seduce his step-brother's (Devon's) girlfriend, Kristin Bellamy, in order to learn information about his real family. The fact that Kristin happens to also be the epitome of everything he wants in a woman (ie, the splitting image of Olivia) is just icing on the cake.

Soon he discovers that while his step-brother's girlfriend is more than happy to flirt with him, he really can't seem to make any progress, so he enlists the help of Kristen's sister, Chloe Bellamy. Chloe is the perfect alibi, as she too has a vested interest in seeing that Kristin and Devon break-up. You see, Chloe has been in love with Devon since they were kids.

With Michael's personal training help, Chloe begins losing weight and generally "upgrading" her image. It doesn't take long for Devon to notice. Just as everything seems to be falling in place, and Kristin's and Devon's relationship appears doomed, both Michael and Chloe begin questioning everything they thought they thought they ever wanted. But for two people that have felt the hurt of being second best, can they ever trust enough to truly let love in?

I love the character development in this romance. I have to admit that Michael "Beefcake" St. Claire was not exactly my favorite hero in the beginning, with all his typical societal beauty conventions. But his character demonstrates tremendous growth as he really gets to know and starts opening up to Chloe. This is not a romance that develops quickly, and given the stark contrasts between the hero and heroine, it is this prolonged period of friendship that really lends credibility to the romance in the end.

From beginning to end, I was totally engaged in this fantastic read. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to read more of Ms. Layne's titles asap. In particular, now I'm really curious as to Olivia's story, which appears to be the subject of Redemption Book 1, Broken.

Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  B.J.O. | Apr 23, 2015 |
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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.… (more)

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