Crushed (Redemption #2) by Lauren LayneCrushed by Lauren Layne
Published April 2015
Series: Redemption #2
Genres: New Adult
Format: ARC

Note: I was granted an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my rating or the content of my review.

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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.

After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?

Michael St. Claire traded his sophisticated lifestyle in Manhattan a job as a personal trainer at a country club in Texas. With a broken heart and the realisation that his whole life was nothing but a lie given, Michael is looking for answers in the Lone-Star State.

He soon sets his sights on Kristin Bellamy, who is the first thing that’s distracted him since he got his heart broken back in Manhattan. But it turns out Kristin is also the year-long girlfriend to Michael’s new-found half-brother Devon Patterson.

However, when Michael notices that Kristin’s curvy and smart-mouthed sister Chloe Bellamy has been harbouring a giant crush on Devon for ages, he jumps on the opportunity and makes a deal with her: he helps her get Devon, and in exchange, he gets the beautiful sister.

“Fat yet clever girl patiently waits for the guy of her dreams to realize that he’d rather have a lifetime of laughter and conversation than a lifetime of great sex with a twig who doesn’t appreciate him”

What I loved about this book:

  • Strong smart-ass heroine
  • Hilarious read
  • Wonderful character development
  • Very rich and varied characters
  • Characters from past books are perfectly woven into this book, and without creating any confusion

What I felt needed improvement:

  • Nothing, really. Apart from… oh yeah… more steam please!

If you’re looking for a completely refreshing read, with a not-so average storyline and absolutely wonderful characters, then Crushed is definitely the next book you should plan on picking up.

Crushed is your total anti-love-story: two people who are used to coming “second” in their lives finally decide to take matters into their own hands and help each other to make things work out their way. It’s just that the thing that’s right for them was standing in front of them all along, and has nothing to do with what they thought they wanted for such a long time.

Sure, this storyline existed before (I’m thinking about The Do-Over by M.K. Schiller), and sure, we all know how it ends, but it gets me everytime, and this time it was just perfect.

“I don’t think it’s about who loved you first, it’s about who loves you best.”

At first, Michael came across as a beefcake without any brains (he’s made out to be quite a player in the beginning of the book!), but it turns out he is kind, intelligent and caring. However, it did take him quite some time to realise what was in front of his eyes the whole time, and that caused for some trouble and heartache. But in the end, he was the one who saw Chloe like the person she was from the start, despite her extra-pounds. And in spite of his repeated fuck-ups, Chloe never lost faith in him.

Oh, and I absolutely loved Chloe – she was the perfect heroine – and believe me I find it hard to find perfect heroines these days. She’s strong, outspoken, smart-mouthed, intelligent and has a huge heart. She just needed a push in the right direction to see herself that way. And once pushed, there’s no holding back on her. She’s a real inspiration.

“Join the land of the living where the actual people do not have eyelashed the size of small bats and a waist the size of a toddler’s.”

And of course, how can you not fall in love with the curvy sister (okay, in the end she worked out, a lot) that’s real, true and kind? I certainly did! And even though the book seriously lacked in steamy scenes, I was captivated by the intense emotional build-up between Chloe and Michael. And the ending of the book, believe me it was just phenomenal. Absolutely perfect from front to back!

Lauren Layne is probably already on my auto-buy list. With Crushed, she reconciled an Abbi-Glines-like story with the complexity of Colleen Hoover characters, adding very emotional Samantha-Young-like feelings to it. The result is a true masterpiece.

Lauren Layne perfectly masters the dual-POV writing (in use for Crushed), just as well as she masters the 3rd-person writing with alternating POVs. So far I’ve read one book from the Love, Sex and Stiletto Series, and two books from the Redemption Series, and they are both miles apart (in terms of characters, setting and storytelling), yet they are both the same genius. I can only praise such versatility and will certainly be trying to read her other works.

Detailed Rating
5 Stars
5 Stars
5 Stars
All the feels
5 Stars
Overall: five-stars