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?
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review*
This Book Nerd Says:
I had to take a some time after reading this book before I sat down to write this review because had I not I would have filled this space with a whole plethora of heart emojis and exclamation marks. I picked it up one afternoon to start reading and I barely looked up until I was completely finished.
For those of you who may not know, this is the third book in the Redemption Series by Lauren Layne, each book can be read as a standalone but if you're like me you'll want to check them all out. Ethan and Stephanie's story in Isn't She Lovely tackled Layne's unique spin on Pygmalion, while Broken was all about Olivia and Paul's Beauty and the Beast tale... but in Crushed, Layne gives us a special twist on a classic Ugly Duckling story.
I must make a small note that while this is a sort of ugly duckling to swan story it was endearing because her beauty is noticed and commented on before the transformation. Any changes that were made to Chloe were with the insistence of Michael that she was doing so to be healthy and happy with herself; to help her find her own confidence in her quest to be noticed by the guy she loved.
Michael has left behind his life in Manhattan but he's brought his broken heart to Texas. Working at a country club for some of the elite he crosses paths with Kristen the girl that pales in comparison to the girl he longs for. Along with Kristen comes her sister Chloe, the girl that is full of curves, spunk, and sass. Chloe becomes his friend while also becoming his "so much more". But Michael is still trying to navigate the hurt in his past and his newly discovered present to be anything of importance to anyone. When he realizes that Chloe is in love with her sister's guy he decides to step in because if anyone knows what it's like to be the third wheel in that kind of complicated love story, it's Michael.
This story is so much more than the book synopsis had me expecting and it doesn't waste any time in grabbing your attention. If you're not a fan of the love triangle, have no fear, pick this up and read it anyway.
Now because I did read the others I had this little sinking feeling that I wasn't going to like a book about Michael St. Claire (for reasons that won't be elaborated on due to not dropping any spoilers). I was right, I didn't like Michael...I loved him. He totally came out of the wood work and surprised me because I was only about five minutes into the book and already had him stamped with my book boyfriend mark. It's his deeper emotional conflicts that revealed him to be more than what I had thought previously. Somehow he reveals his own emotional rawness and becomes the guy you just wish you could give a hug to and make it all better.
And then it did get better.
I thought Olivia would be my favorite character from this series but then Chloe Bellamy enters the story and not so quietly completely enamored me. Her character is completely refreshing and so down to earth real, she made the entire story so much better. She made me smile and laugh out loud so much. She's determined and fiesty but her own insecurities make her a relatable character.
"...I don't think it's about who loves you first. It's about who loves you best.
And that's me."
Gosh, Lauren Layne sure knows how to put a spin on these story lines and burst your heart into a million tiny little pieces with those endings!
I'm giving this story a huge 5 Stars