Michael fled his privileged life in New York after a failed attempt to win the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately she was also his best friend’s girlfriend and now he’s lost them both. Added to his heartache is the revelation that the man he’s always called Dad is not his biological father. Searching for answers, Michael flees to an upscale community in Texas with plans to confront his father, using whatever methods necessary. This includes getting close to Kristin Bellamy, the young woman dating Michael’s half-brother, Devon.
Chloe is Kristin’s sassy, curvy sister. And she’s also been in love with Devon since they were childhood friends. She’s stood by as her sister and Devon have dated the last six years, always overshadowed by Kristin and knowing that Devon will never view her as more than a friend. But when Michael offers to help her get the guy, Chloe jumps at the chance. But as she gets closer to Michael and starts to make changes, will she want the guy who finally notices her… or the guy who saw her all along?
I absolutely loved Chloe and found myself wishing this smart, sparkling girl was my friend. Despite the fact that she often felt eclipsed by her sister’s outward perfection (size 2, shiny, straight hair, pretty face), that didn't stop Chloe from being outgoing and funny and compassionate. She rarely failed to speak her mind and I loved her sarcasm and quick wit. She also didn't stand on the sidelines and wallow. This girl was willing fight for what – and for whom – she wanted.
Michael held been dealt some emotional blows that rocked him to the core and left him feeling alone and without an anchor. No connection to those around him. Taking the job as the club tennis pro/personal trainer was a far cry from his previous life in New York but it gave him access to those he needed to get to his biological father. But he never counted on Chloe, with her unruly curls and her determination to be his friend despite his efforts to close himself off from everyone. Michael could be so gruff and so abrupt but I still felt for him and it broke my heart how he felt so unworthy of love and incapable of giving it in return.
The unlikely friendship that formed between Chloe and Michael was just a joy to read. Michael could be as closed off as he wanted but he was no match for Chloe’s dogged determination to be his friend. Their banter was truly laugh out loud funny and felt so genuine, never forced. I loved watching as they both grew and changed over the summer and began to question their initial goals and motivations.
My only quibble is the reunion of sorts that came near the end that seemed a little too good to be true and might have stretched believability just a bit. But I was so invested in the characters and the story by that point that I was willing to go with it and just enjoy.
There were so many elements of Crushed that I enjoyed: the character development (which was so well done), the slow, simmering burn of the romance, the humor, the secondary characters and the back story. This is one that I highly recommend and I will definitely be reading more by Lauren Layne.
Crushed is a companion novel to Broken but can easily be read as a stand-alone.
*ARC provided by NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren's gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you'll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.