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Crushed (Redemption #2), by Lauren Layne

Crushed______________________________________________
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?
______________________________________________

Out of everything I’ve read by Lauren Layne, the Redemption Series is my favorite. And surprising as it may be, this series is much closer to the YA genre than what I’m used to read but gosh does it work for me. I’m actually kind of sad Crushed will be the last book in this series and that it hasn’t come out in paperback yet. I so want to get my hands on it.

“With Chloe, it’s easy to forget that I’m nobody. Because she makes me feel like somebody.”

Crushed was such a great book. Just so you know, this week I was reading a book and it took me over a week to finish (and that’s kind of a long time for me). I was tired and busy and all and so I got a little behind on my reading. And then I (finally) picked Crushed from my TBR list and it took me about 24 hours to read it. That’s how good this book was.

“Michael, listen. I get it. Nobody’s ever loved you first. You’re tired of being second choice. Or nobody’s choice. I get it. Because nobody ever loved me first, either.”

I was actually really looking forward to Micheal’s story. Olivia’s and Ethan’s were really great ones too but I really wanted to know what was going on in Micheal’s head after he lost his two best friends. And I wasn’t disappointed.

“I’ve tried being someone’s second choice. I can’t do it again.”

Micheal was beautifully broken and in denial. I loved seeing him go from the very dark and numb place he was at the start of Crushed, to the “new” version of himself he found and was forced to show at Chloe’s contact. It was time Micheal faced his demons and he had the chance to find a friend along the way to face them with. Plus he was broody and a bit intense so that’s a plus (at least here it was) but I wish he didn’t think so little of himself and his worth.

“I don’t know why I keep doing that. Coming back to Chloe. She’s annoying as fuck, and yet there’s something strangely calming about her manic personality.”

Now Chloe. Gosh how I loved her. She was so funny and quirky and sweet and lovely. She’s this great loving girl, full of life and sass, and she just brings light and laughter where she goes. I liked her instantly and everything she is was such a delight to read about. I loved how she connected with Micheal even though he (and herself included) didn’t realize it at first. How they became friends and then more, how she was never fooled by Micheal’s attitude and somehow saw right through him, how she brought him back to himself. I just plain loved her. She was a blast to read about and I ate it all up. Basically, I loved her and she was great.

“A girl wants to be loved, sure, and I thought I wanted that. I thought I wanted that from Devon. And now…I don’t know about that. But I do know that I want to be wanted. I want to be wanted by you.”

The two of them made me smile and laugh like a loon. Even when things weren’t great between them I just couldn’t get enough of them. I loved how she never took shit from Micheal and never let him hold back from her. And I certainly loved the sexual tension between them after that first kiss. Daaaaaaaym that first kiss….and that second…but I won’t say more so you have the pleasure of experiencing it for yourself. Just know that Chloe and Micheal together are freaking hot and that sparks usually fly when they come together (pun totally intended).

“I love you best. More than I love anyone. More than you’ve ever been loved.”

I loved getting to know both Micheal and Chloe, separately and together. I have to say though, besides those two, the other characters were a little bit stereotypical. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book as it was, but if you do read it, it pretty much enfolds like a rom-com, and you definitely feel the movie like ambiance of the book. It was a little bit like that with Isn’t She Lovely and that’s something I liked about this serie), but the end result is that even though we do have two main characters that are well shaped, the secondary ones are a little more stereotyped.

Take Chloe’s (evil) sister Kristin: in short, she’s The Bitch. She’s fake, perfect (at least from afar), has everyone wrapped around her little finger and whatever she desires, she gets (but mainly she gets male attention whereas Chloe… does not). The we have Devon, Chloe’s crush: he’s kind, smart, handsome….but in the end (even though he is all that) he felt a little bit tasteless, at least in comparison to Micheal.

“I don’t think it’s about who loves you first. It’s about who loves you best. And that’s me.”

So there’s that. But in the end, I still enjoyed the book. I especially liked the sexy and almost sexy moments in the book and the ending. And the fact that it was in fact a little bit predictable didn’t bother me …a all. I was glad to read a fluffy, funny and cute love story with a happy ending that felt like I was watching a rom-com where I knew the girl was going to get the guy and I loved it. This book (and this serie) makes for a great summer/beach read. It left me in a very good mood (pretty much the same way certain movies do). It made me smile, laugh and swoon a little. It was sweet and funny with just the right amount of cheesy and seriousness and quite simply, this book was just plain lovely. If you are looking for a nice, funny and cute NA romance, look no further because you’ve found you’re next (three) read(s).

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