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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?

304 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 14, 2015

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About the author

Lauren Layne

66 books9,824 followers
Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Hot Asset, Hard Sell, and Huge Deal in her 21 Wall Street series, as well as her Central Park Pact series. Her books have sold more than a million copies in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 677 reviews
Profile Image for Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog.
1,260 reviews9,964 followers
April 14, 2015
*****4.5 STARS*****
(ARC Provided by Random House Publishing Group- Loveswept via Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review)
{BR with Dee and Mel}

"I don't think it's about who loves you first. It's about who loves you best. And that's me. I love you best. More than I love anyone. More than you've ever been loved." ~ Chloe

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I'm a really huge fan of Lauren Layne's works. I've read just about all her books and am lucky in that I usually get approved on Netgalley for her ARCs. Sometimes her stories can be just "okay" but when she gets it right, she knocks it out of the park!!! Well she's definitely done that with "CRUSHED"!!!!!

Usually I fall in love with the main male character in the story, and while that did happen here with Michael, I was also HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE with Chloe. She was just so unexpected. I never thought that Michael would fall for a woman like her. I mean he was madly in love with Olivia and she was walking perfection. Chloe was a REAL woman with curves, and crazy, curly, out of control hair. AND this girl had the most FABULOUS sense of humor ever. I lost count on how many times I laughed out loud reading this one. When I read the first book in this series, titled "Isn't She Lovely", I thought that was Ms Layne's masterpiece, but this one definitely rivals it.

Michael moves to Dallas after having his world turned upside down when he finds out the man he has called "Father", his entire life, actually is not his biological father. His mother had an affair with a man, who currently lives in Texas and has a wife and son. Michael ends up working as a tennis instructor and personal trainer at the country club that his real father is a member of. He comes up with a plan to get close to the Bellamy sisters, who have close relationships with his half brother, Devon.

He sets his sights on the pretty sister, Kristin, but soon meets the delightful and slightly chubby Chloe. He quickly deduces that Chloe has a major crush on Devon, who happens to be dating her sister. Michael offers to help Chloe get her man. During their time spent together, both start to realize they are developing feelings for each other. I really loved that Michael was attracted to Chloe with all her curves and wild hair. When she starts losing weight and tries to change her hair to look more like her sister's, Michael is the first to declare that he prefers her normal look and that she shouldn't change a thing, except for maybe her wardrobe. Since she was always wearing really bulky clothes in order to hide her body.

I was going insane just waiting for these two to get together. Michael was the stubborn one who kept pushing Chloe away. He believed that she was crazy in love with Devon and that he was just her second choice. He was already in a situation like that and it didn't end well for him, so Michael is more than a bit gun shy of putting himself out there again.

Eventually, and I mean you have to wait until you get almost 75% through the story, they finally give in to their physical attraction to each other and I'd give the scene a PG-13 rating. The author normally doesn't get too descriptive with her sexy time scenes, but I think it had just enough spice.

My only issue was with Michael being so stubborn and sometimes stupid, towards the end of the story. I wish that he had realized sooner that Chloe was worth the risk. But I guess that's the angst part of the story that we usually need in a good romance.

I loved how it all comes together in the end. It had to in order for Michael to truly heal from his past. I kind of wish the epilogue gave us a deeper look into Chloe and Michael's future, but it was still a sweet ending.
Profile Image for • Lisa •.
555 reviews1,524 followers
April 17, 2015

"Is love worth the risk?"


From the hilariously relatable heroine to the gloriously romantic ending this book hit the jackpot in every single way for my reading tastes. When a book makes your heart thump ridiculously fast and your toes curl in delight then you know with every certainty that you have read a book that's worth talking about. Lauren Layne is my number one contemporary author she has the Midas touch on all she puts her hand to and I don't mind one bit that I gush and get a little ridiculous over my love for everything about this gorgeous authors writing. 'Crushed' is yet another book that I can add to my love you forever and ever shelf and it's only given itself as proof that I'll never be getting over my own Lauren Layne girl crush.

What's it all about?
Chloe has been living under the shadow of her perfect sister for as long as she can remember. The girl has it all perfect hair, fabulous body and most of all the boyfriend that Chloe has wanted since the first time she met him. Under no illusions that she will ever be able to catch the one she loves Chloe has unhappily resigned herself to the friend zone corner. But friendship and love can creep up unawares and now she has a new distraction in her life the handsome but annoying Michael St Clair. But secrets and heartbreak are just around the corner and Chloe and Michael have to get over what's holding them back and realise that love can appear when you least expect. 'Crushed' is a fabulous tale of unrequited, hilariously perfect love.


What did I love?
I've asked myself a slightly ridiculous question here (as I loved just about everything) but just so I can put some reviewing thoughts together I'll answer. Without question I cherished every little thing about this contemporary novel. The whole kit and caboodle screamed 'love me Lisa' and I can admit that I was thoroughly lost in the book and the story of Chloe and Michael. 'Crushed' had all the elements that I love about reading romance bundled into one book. You want the ugly duckling theme? this book has got it. You love a friends to lovers story? it's here. You can never resist a perfect happy ending? then you will be more than gratified. Yet again in perfect Lauren Layne style this author has wow'd me with her gorgeous story telling and provided the perfect book to escape with, what more can a romance addict ask for? You won't find a sweeter romance story in my opinion and predictably so I was sold lock, stock and barrel by this heart squeeze of a novel.


Final thoughts ...
There was zero I can tell you about this book that I didn't love, adore and want to gush about with my book friends. I've read all there is to read from this author so far and I can guarantee I won't be missing any future releases from my favourite. 'Crushed' is a hilariously, wonderful tale of finding love when you least expected it and it whole heartedly deserves to be loved and read by all romance fans. A huge five star read for me, bring on the next release. Enjoy ... Kisses.

*ARC generously provided by Random House publishing via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Catarina.
896 reviews1,967 followers
March 25, 2015
4 “Ugly Duckling” Stars.

Michael did some mistakes on the past and now he’s trying to let go. He switches his charmed life in NY for cowboy boots in the country. There he meets Chloe, the sweet girl that is often underestimated because she’s a little chubby. Chloe is in love with his best-friend since forever, the same who is currently dating her sister. And her sister recently caught Michael’s attention so they decide to make a deal: pretend to date to catch their attention. But as their friendship grows other feelings starts to appear, but how can one guy that doesn’t believe who will ever be chosen first and a girl who doesn’t believe she’ll ever be chosen at all, let go of their fears and be happy together?


As ever, this was a very well written and heartwarming story that will leave you wanting for more. It was romantic, sweet and with some sexy moments. It was (too) slow in the beginning, but once it picked up it was a great book. If you like NA, you should really try this series. They are refreshing and get away from the traditional clichés, which is great. And this book had an epilogue! If you know me you know that my only bone with Lauren Layne is the fact that she rarely writes epilogues and I’m a sucker for them. And although this epilogue was small, if it symbolizes the beginning of an epilogue era for Lauren, I’ll be a very happy girl!


Rating: 4 Ugly
Characters Development: The amount of “push & pull” was too much for me in the beginning, which meant that both of the MC’s annoyed me at the beginning. As the story progressed I ended up really liking them both. They wised-up, especially Chloe. Kristen, her sister, was a bitch. Devon was a clueless idiot. I loved how all of characters from the three books got together in the end, definitely best part of the book.
Steam: Some heated moments.
Sensible Subjects:
Love Triangle:
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,042 followers
February 4, 2015
4.5 stars!

Lauren Layne is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me. This is the second book from her that I've loved.

After Michael St. Claire learned of the devastating truth about his parentage, he runs to Dallas to find his father. For those who have read the previous books in the series, you all know about Michael's feelings for Olivia and the eventual fallout he had, not only with Olivia but with Ethan as well.

Not only that, he just found out a monumental family secret that had him questioning his identity. It upended his life. Everything he knew about himself were nothing but lies. In other words, Michael's life was a mess.

Chloe Bellamy is the opposite of everything Michael wants in a woman. She's mouthy, extroverted and unrefined unlike her sister, Kristin, who was more of Micheal's type. Chloe has been in love with her sister's boyfriend for years even though he never really noticed her.

When Micheal found out about Chloe's feelings for his half-brother, he offered to help. His motives were not pure though. Aside from wanting Kristin, he also wants to get to know his biological father. But the more time Chloe and Michael spend together, the more they realize how much alike they are, how much they need each other and how much they are attracted to each other.

Their progression from enemies to friends and then to lovers was simply delightful to read. Their banter, their camaraderie that later on became little flirtations had me turning the pages, and I didn't stop until I reached the end. This is the kind of book you can read in one sitting. Once I started I couldn't put it in. I was thoroughly engaged.

I loved the chemistry between Chloe and Michael. And despite Michael's issues and hang-ups, I truly saw him fell for Chloe. I understood why he didn't aggressively pursued her. He's been there and done that and got burned. All he knew was Chloe was hell bent on getting Devon, and he didn't want a repeat of his relationship with Ethan and Olivia.

Little did he know that Chloe was also falling fast for him. I loved Chloe. She's feisty, funny and real. You can relate with her insecurities because she wasn't burdened by it. It's there and she has it but she knows how to deal with it.

The only reason this one didn't get a five was the ending disappointed me a bit. It's good. It's believable but instead of So that took points off of my rating a bit. But it's a small thing and the epilogue was still sweet.

So definitely, I'll recommend this one. The great writing, wonderful characters and an engaging storyline made this a winner for me.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,379 reviews4,627 followers
March 2, 2015

”Nobody ever falls in love with me.”


Michael St. Clair was the third wheel from book one that fell hard for Olivia Middleton and broke up his friendship with Ethan Price. In book two, he went the step further when Paul lead him to believe that Olivia texted him, he flew all the way to Maine just to get shot down and crushed yet again. His world gets further rocked when his paternity is revealed and so he is in Texas stalking is biological father while working at a posh country club.

Michael has his mark all set on Kristin Bellamy, the pretty and perfect Olivia lookalike who is dating his half-brother, Devon. What Michael doesn’t count on was Chloe Bellamy, Kristin’s sister who is had a crush on Devon for over eight years.

Chloe and Michael’s banter was fantastic. Chloe was a wonderful heroine (loved that bikini) and although Michael offers to be her personal trainer to get her healthy, she’s the one that shows him a thing or two.

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

Overall this was a fun read that had a great ending and endearing heroine!

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

*ARC generously provided by Random House publishing via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,444 followers
January 21, 2015
4 Stars!

I’m not going to lie, I was really surprised I liked this one. Especially because it had almost ZERO sex. ZERO people!

Not to mention it took the hero and heroine the whole book to get together.

The story reminded me a lot of The Do Over by MK Schiller. Two sisters, one’s curvy and one is a stick. Curvy is in love with Stick’s boyfriend. Enter Michael who wants Stick, but not for the reasons you might think. Michael is going to help Curvy get her man which will only benefit Michael.

Anyone want to guess what happens? Anyone?

Curvy, aka Chloe, was a fantastic heroine! Really! She was so sarcastic and self-deprecating. And just plain awesome! I wanted to hug her and at the same time I wanted to be her best friend.

With a plot like this a lot of things could have gone wrong, but gah for the most part they were great. I was sucked right in from the get-go, curious to see how everything would all play out.

Yeah…Stick, aka Kristen is a total bitch!

Not a shocker!

And yeah, I’ve read this story-line before…..but this one was fun. It made me laugh, a lot. And it gave me the feels, which is hard to do.

BUT...yep there's a but. I didn't love the end. I didn't like

And Michael was just an idiot.

So despite the lack of sex and the not so stellar ending, I would still totally recommend this one!

ARC kindly provided by NG in exchange for an honest review

April 15, 2015

It's Live! * Amazon US * Amazon UK *

I very much enjoyed this New Adult friends to lovers story richly themed in the true beauty lying within our souls. It gave me the full on sweet book butterflies and here’s my reasons why....

Michael St. Claire and his sexilicious six pack are metaphorically damaged by his heartbreaking past so he goes to Texas for the summer in search of redemption. Michael has an ulterior plan, a plan to use people to get to someone who doesn’t even know he exists. What he doesn’t figure in is a girl named Chloe, a girl he slowly becomes friends with, the way their relationship develops throughout is utterly enchanting.

Curvaceous Chloe is smart and funny and bubbly and beautiful. I LOVE her quirkiness and individuality. She lacks a little confidence from being made to feel second best to her sister but this doesn’t hold her back from showcasing her fierce determination, a quality that helps in her attempt at becoming a healthier person whilst under the training wing of Michael. Her goal is to seek the attention of her forever-crush, Devon and make him see that she’s the one for him.

Michael sees something in Chloe, she’s not the girl he first sets his sights on but their friendship develops nevertheless and they devise a mutually beneficial plan..... What if what you wish for isn’t actually what you really need? How will it all work out?

I love the lighthearted comedy value and self deprecating humour in the writing. It’s totally unexpected and driven throughout much of the dialogue and thoughts of the protagonists. In contrast to this, some of the situations that they naturally become entwined in are downright heart melting.

I swooned and smiled and laughed. Chloe’s personality is in every ounce of the writing; she has an immensely strong identity throughout the prose. The family issues concerning Michael are emotional and touched my heart in the way it evolved. My only wish is that the author didn’t skip along weeks. I understand this moves time forward and allows for story development but on a couple of occasions I wanted to read about some of that missing time. Sometimes sweet stories can be a little twee for my personal tastes and there are a couple of pushing my twee-borderline moments, if I’m honest, but on the whole it didn’t detract from the loveliness of this story.

Crushed is rich in history, layered with emotion and teamed with angst levels that are set to perfection for the mood of this piece. I felt anticipation and so looked forward to the climax and result of this story as I was reading the final chapters.

Note: Crushed is a Standalone story narrated in first person and alternates between Michael and Chloe’s perspective with each passing chapter. The hero, Michael St. Claire, is a secondary character from the first novel in this series, Broken Redemption, and although this story has an impact on CRUSHED it’s not necessary to have read it in order to enjoy the Crushed reading experience.

I highly recommend to all readers of sweet loving and ROMANTIC love stories.

Complimentary copy received from the publishers, via NetGalley, for my honest review thoughts
Profile Image for Lana ❇✾DG Romance❇✾.
2,020 reviews12k followers
July 15, 2015
4.5 Stars

I don't think it's about who loves you first. It's about who loves you best."

There's a reason that Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite New Adult authors. There's just something about her writing and her characters that never fails to reel me in and keep me glued to the pages. It also never fails to give me that warm and fuzzy feelings right in my tummy that I've come to adore about New Adult. There's no insta anything and her characters are far from perfect and watching that progress and develop through the story is the best feeling in the world. I have to admit that I wasn't too keen on Michael after first meeting him in Isn't She Lovely. But then right around Broken that changed. My heart hurt for him and I couldn't wait for the guy that fell in love with his best friend's girlfriend only to be devastatingly rejected by her in the end to get his HEA.

Michael's world changed forever right around the time his heart was shattered into a million pieces. First he gets rejected by the girl he's been in love with for years. A girl that just so happened to be his best friend's girlfriend at that he cheated with. So in the span of one kiss, he lost the girl AND his best friend. Then his world gets rocked when he finds out that his whole life has been a lie and his father isn't his father. In the hopes to get to know the man that is his true father, he moves to Texas, but he's no longer the boy that he was. He's broody, he's disenchanted and jaded. He no longer believes in love, but working as a tennis pro for the rich and the bored, he has no problem being the boy toy to the spoiled housewives. But he has ulterior motives to working there. He has his eye on a girl that happens to be his half-brother's girlfriend. A half-brother that has no idea he exists. And while Michael has his eye on Kristin, the gorgeous and spoiled rich girl, her frumpy sister is in love with Devon.
On a good day I'm curvy. On a bad one, I'm plump.
Most of the days are bad ones.

Chloe is honestly what truly made this book for me. Her ability to laugh at herself and this lighthearted presence she had to her was a breath of fresh air. She's so fun and quirky and just this girl next door that could be anyone's best friend. Being the frumpy sister to the perfect skinny one is no easy feat. It's also twice as hard being in love with her boyfriend for as long as she remembers. But Chloe knows she has no chance. So when Michael offers her a chance to make Devon "notice" her, she may be hesitant at first, but she takes it. What ensues is an unwilling friendship that slowly begins to turn into much more.
Michael might be sick of being "second choice." But the rejected-woman part of me?
SHE'S tired of being the platonic sidekick.

These two were polar opposites but yet made perfect sense together. And the banter between them? Absolute perfection.
So, what's the problem?" he asks.
"I just...it's never like it is in the movies."
Michael makes a strangled noise and turns toward my nightstand, opening a drawer.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Looking for a gun," he mutters, before shutting it again. "Are you fucking kidding me? You're one of those girls waiting for the movie kiss?"
I scrunch my nose at his disbelieving face. "They do exist."

But then somewhere between the personal training and just hanging out together, their plans shift and it begins to turn into something much more.
With Chloe, it's easy to forget that I'm nobody. Because she makes me feel like somebody.

I loved the slow burn element to the story. It's truly brilliant when the reader discovers things right along with the characters. Chloe and Michael didn't lust for each other at first sight, and that was evident. But somewhere along the way their feelings shift, and you get to experience that with them.

It was perfection.

It's not often that this self proclaimed smut slut enjoyed a story that basically has zero sex this much. But to be honest, anything more would have been plain filler. The one and only scene is filled with so much feeling that it's satisfying all on it's own. Immensely so.

Did I also happen to mention the fantastic banter?
...at the lesson, the other day, she was...forward."
"FORWARD? I swear to God, Beefcake, every now and then you slip in a word that makes me think you're a nineteenth-century butler."
"Yeah? You like? What if I slip a British accent in there?"
"Don't you dare. I'll swoon. I mean it."

I adored this book. My only quibble was the somewhat cheesy-ish reunion at the very end, but then at the same time I was hoping for one, so I can't complain much.

If you're a fan of New Adult that has a witty heroine, a broody hero, a slow burn romance and incredible writing, this book is simply a must read!

ARC courtesy of publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Beverly.
1,005 reviews799 followers
April 8, 2015

This series and characters keep getting better and better. When I finished this one I was really debating on which couple is my favorite and so far I am at a loss. However, I can say without a doubt Chloe is my favorite heroine.

Chloe Bellamy is different. And I mean that in an I could strangle her way, not I’m intrigued.

If you have been following the series Chloe is a new character and we meet her when Michael moves to Texas to get more information regarding his dad. Michael has given up his family’s money and is in Texas on his own. In need of a job he begins working at the local Country Club. He is working as a personal trainer and tennis pro, that’s how Chloe and Michael meet.

This isn’t your typical boy meets girl and they fall in love story. No, Michael is actually giving lesson’s to Chloe’s beautiful sister, Kristin, and pursing her. See Chloe isn’t your typical country club girl, she is a little overweight, refuses concede to other's expectations and is outspoken.

As I read all this my heart was breaking for my crazy, say it like it is heroine. But we quickly learn that Chloe is actually interested in Devon, Kristin’s boyfriend. See how the plot thickens and this is just the beginning. Chloe and Michael both have something the other wants. Chloe wants to get healthy and for Devon to finally see her as more than his girlfriends nerdy sister. Michael needs to get closer to Devon’s family. They decide to work together to accomplish their goals.

It isn’t a surprise that real feelings begin developing between Chloe and Michael, but the way things play out is. I love how the story progressed and the characters continue to grow and develop. Most importantly I love the message of this story. This isn’t a story about an ugly duckingly turning into a swan it’s a story about loving yourself for who you are.

She laughs again, and it’s genuine and bold, and suddenly it hits me: Chloe Bellamy deserves better. She deserves better than what I got.

I found Lauren Layne because one of my great friends is a HUGE fan. The more I read of Lauren’s work the more I love her, too. I had my doubts and fears about this one. Mainly because I loved Chloe so much I knew I would be more sensitive to her hardships, but in the end it was perfect! My only complaint and it’s a small one I wanted more couple time, but you all know I am greedy when it comes to my favorites.

I highly recommend this story and series if you haven’t started it. I have loved them, but Chloe made this story extra special.

ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Brandi.
633 reviews1,278 followers
March 2, 2015

Crushed is Michael St. Claire and Chloe Bellamy’s story. Michael is broody and a little lost, while Chloe is the witty, chubby girl who has lived most of her life in her gorgeous sister, Kristen's shadow.

'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 who doesn't appreciate him.'

Michael is in Texas for one reason, and while trying how to handle the secrets he recently discovered, he and Chloe become friends. He is interested in Kristen and Chloe is crushing on her sisters boyfriend, Devon. Friendship grows into something a little more complicated, and Michael and Chloe struggle with how to deal with their feelings.


These two were tons of fun, witty banter and great sexual tension filled the pages. I really enjoyed this cute read.

"Duckling...swan...who cares.
With the right guy, it's all happily ever after"

*ARC kindly provided by Netgalley in return for an honest review*
Profile Image for Jo ★The Book Sloth★.
485 reviews428 followers
January 29, 2015
4,25 I Wanna Be Besties With Chloe Stars

Michael never expected to lose in short time his best friend, the girl he was in love with and his family. Now, the once golden boy of Manhattan is working his ass off at Cedar Grove, Texas, to make enough money to pay for a shitty apartment and a shitty new life, hoping he will get to meet his real father.

Enter the Bellamy sister. One is every guy's wet dream and her name is Kristin, the other one is not exactly what fashion magazines would call beautiful and her name is Chloe. One of them is a bitch, the other one is one of the most interesting people one could ever meet. One of them is dating his half-brother, Devon, the other one has been in love with him since she was a kid. So Michael makes Chloe a deal, he will help her get Devon from Kristin, but his reasons aren't exactly what he lets Chloe believe...

You know how sometimes you tell yourself, "Self, you will not like this character. He doesn't deserve it.", but then you totally go against your own advice and like him anyway? That's what happened with Michael for me. He was an ass until about 60% in the book and I never really understood why he wanted to steal Kristin from Devon, but he was also kind of sweet sometimes and nice to Chloe, even if he did mess things up... Oh well, I'll just say it. He was a jerk and jerks are my thing!

Chloe on the other hand was all kinds of awesome. I liked how she made fun of herself and how even though she felt the pressure of her weight she didn't let it drag her down. Did she have insecure moments? Yeap, and having that bitch Kristin for a sister didn't help at all. But she always got over it and when the time came she had the motivation to change what she didn't like in herself. I also liked how kind she was and the fact that the author gave us examples of her kindness. How she would always talk to people that other people ignore, like old ladies or the odd guy at a bar, or how at holidays, she would bring home people who were lonely and sad. And her quirky sense of humor helped a lot too.

There were a couple things I didn't like about the book but for the love of me, I can't remember anything right now. LL's writing was as always great and spell-binding, the characters had depth and I had a couple of "I wanna cry for your trouble" moments. Generally another success for the author. I'm so glad I requested this book!

PS. I can't wait to see who the next character will be.

Hear me fangirling? It's because I have my ARC!!!

Profile Image for MELISSA *Mel Reader*.
1,347 reviews1,419 followers
April 18, 2015
4.5 Yummy Beefcake Stars!
(ARC provided by Netgalley)
(BR with Patty & Dee)

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Michael St. Claire aka Beefcake is a 24 yr. old guy who grew up on the Upper East Side of New York. Six months ago he learned his whole life is a lie, and that his dad isn't really his dad at all. He leaves Manhattan and walks away without anything but his car. He wants a fresh start & to get some answers about his real father, so he heads to Cedar Grove, Texas.

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Michael gets a job at the Cambridge Country Club as a tennis pro & personal trainer in hopes of crossing paths with his half brother or his girlfriend. He thinks they can possibly lead him to his father. Michael is also trying to escape his memories of Olivia, the only girl he's truly ever wanted or loved. He's decided love isn't for him anymore, but he can still enjoy women, and his new brother's girlfriend Kristen Bellamy is just his type. It also doesn't hurt he can use her to get to his brother Devon.

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While Michael is giving Kristen tennis lessons, her sister Chloe begins tagging along to watch. She's loud, and not little miss perfect like her sister. Chloe is real. She speaks her mind, and is hilarious. Michael quickly realizes the way she looks longingly at his brother who is also her sister Kristen's boyfriend. He figures if they can break them up, then he can have Kristen & Chloe can have Devon, and maybe he can also stick it to his brother in the process. They decide to work together, and Michael begins training Chloe, & helping her perfect her image.

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-Michael makes no secret of the fact that he's checking me out as he moves toward me. I narrow my eyes at him, and he grins.

-"You are such a guy."

-"I am. You shouldn't forget it."

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Michael & Chloe spend time together, & they actually become great friends. At the same time, Michael is starting to realize he is attracted to the quirky, curvy, Chloe. He starts to lose focus on their plan, and realizes he just may want Chloe for himself. As he's around her, he grows to care for her, & sees just how shallow & superficial her sister is. Chloe is genuine & just a great girl. She's sweet & funny & what you see is what you get.

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-Michael kisses me.

-It's a man-to-woman I want you kind of kiss.

-His mouth tastes familiar. And the way we kiss is familiar, too. Like we've done it a hundred times, as though we belong here. Belong to each other.

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All of the sudden Michael is feeling very possessive of Chloe & at the same time other guys are all noticing her as well. He has fallen for her, but doesn't quite know what to do about it. We get some angst as these two try to deal with and admit their feelings for one another.

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I thought this was such a cute, sexy story. I would highly recommend this one! As usual Lauren Layne writes books I just adore! :D
Profile Image for [~Ami~]♥Sexy Dexy♥ .
501 reviews455 followers
February 23, 2015
4 stars

Enjoyed this! Great characters, fun banter, no insta love. The main characters frustrated me a little but it was tolerable.

Michael wasn't as moody as Paul (from the previous book) which made him more likeable but IMO he goes on my Not-Enough-Grovelling-List alongside Ansel (@Jeanne yes he is still there! Lol)

I especially loved the last 10% of the book. A sweet romantic quick read.

P.S. I Love Stephanie

ARC provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Jeanne .
303 reviews
March 23, 2016

Loved this! So cute, my favorite of the series:)

This has been such a great series, and imo, each book has been better than the last. I love everything about Lauren Layne's writing! I wish there were more heroines like Chloe. She was funny, real, and sarcastic. At the same time, she was so genuine and really cares about people. She was exactly what Micheal needed! I loved the friends to lovers slow build, it's my favorite kind of romance.

I know this seems like a shallow thing to point out, but I also bond with Chloe over the hair struggle. I get teased about my messy bun or ponytail habits, but let me tell ya, you don't spend an hour with two straightening tools to go to the grocery store. I think I spend more money on my hair than books, and that's saying something, Lol.

Sure, there were a couple of times I wanted to smack Michael, but overall, I ended up really liking him too. I mostly appreciated the growth in his character as the book went along. I think it's kind of cool that in this book and well as the last one, she took a character I didn't think I could possibly like and changed my mind about them. In some ways this was more of a 4 star read, but because Chloe was such an unusually awesome heroine and I think L.L's storybook theme is clever, I rounded to 5. I highly recommend any of her books, she is truly one of my favorite authors, I've never been disappointed!

*arc provided by Netgalley, thank you!

Profile Image for ♥Sharon♥.
961 reviews143 followers
February 20, 2015

I know I have said this many times I just adore this author! Lauren Layne has become my go to author when I need a fun, sweet, steamy with a bit of angst read. Her books always leave me with a stupid grin on my face.❤

In Crushed we get Michael St. Claire and Chloe Bellamy’s story.

Michael has become a bitter man. Piece by piece his life has fallen apart. He lost the only girl he has ever wanted and his best friend at his own doing. But that isn't the only thing that crushed him. When he learns of a sordid family secret, there really isn’t anything left for him to care about. He is angry and heads down the “I really don’t give a shit about anything” path.

Michael ~ He had that dreamy face and sexy body that any woman would fall for. But beneath all that goodness was a guy that could be a real arse. It was going to take a special woman to find the goodness in him that is buried.

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Chloe ~ I instantly fell in love with her. She was funny and sarcastic and oh so real. She saw herself in a simple light which made her beautiful on the inside and out.

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On the outside looking in, Michael and Chloe didn’t belong in the same circle. You wouldn’t put them together as a couple but Michael’s reasons for “befriending” Chloe are not that pure. But no matter how hard he tries to keep Chloe in a certain light she manages to get under his skin.

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Michael’s ulterior motive when it comes to Chloe involves her oh so bitchy sister Kristen and her boyfriend Devon. Ruining their relationship is just a means to one end. It was a way to get to the one person that has brought him to Cedar Grove.

But Chloe’s intentions are not all that clear either. So much changes for her and she becomes more confused when she begins to realize who she wants to give her heart to. How much damage will this cat and mouse game cost Michael and Chloe?

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Overall this one was an enjoyable read even with a bit of quirkiness at the end. The epilogue was sweet too!

I’d definitely recommend this one to anyone that love Lauren Layne. I’d also highly recommend her Sex, Love & Stiletto’s series too!!

**ARC generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley.**
Profile Image for Patrycja.
639 reviews3,801 followers
December 16, 2015

Title: Crushed
Series: Redemption #2
Author: Lauren Layne
Release Date: April 15, 2015
Rating: 4 - 4.5 stars
Cliffhanger:. No

I was very excited to see that Lauren Layne is writing a new adult series; I loved Broken and completely adored Isn’t She Lovely so I am very happy that I had the chance to read Crushed earlier than everybody else. Lauren is one of my favorite authors and she also did not let down me this time. Crushed was awesome! Super sweet, heart fluttering new adult book that made me want to hug my ereader to my chest… tightly.

This story focuses on Michael St. Claire and Chloe Bellamy. Michael just got his heart broken by the girl he was in love with for years, what’s more he also discovered awful family secret that sliced him in half. He lost everything he took for granted - Olivia, Ethan and his parents. That made him question his life and led him to Cedar Grove in Texas.

That’s where he meets two sisters Kristen, prefect little Barbie doll, and smartass, curvy Chloe. Michael immediately wants Kristen in his bed, but she’s in relationship with Devon. And Chloe is completely, utterly head over heels in love with her sister’s boyfriend.

"I'm the pretty one. Don't tell Kristin; she's sick of hearing it."

Guess what happens when Michael agrees to help Chloe win over Devon…

I laughed so many times while reading this story! It was hard not to. The main heroine is totally kick ass babe. I loved her from the moment she made her first appearance. Chloe is one of those witty, strong and stubborn girls you want to be or want to make friends with. She doesn’t take any crap from others and I assure you Chloe is perfect in so many ways! She made me smile. I loved her.

Michael is not so bad boyfriend material also. Behind his rough exterior there’s a teddy bear hidden. And I quickly found myself rooting for him.

The banter as well as the sexual chemistry between Chloe and Michael made me giddy. I couldn’t stop reading; I was sucked into this story.

Despite the fact that the storyline was similar to few other books I’ve read, I was enjoying myself very much. Between Curvy Chloe and Stick, Bitchy Kristen and two boys there were a lot of drama and funny moments. I adored that! I had so much fun reading about those characters and the only reason why this book is not five stars for me is the ending. For me it was a little bit rushed.

Besides that, I was smitten with this story. Lauren Layne done superb job with it and I can honestly recommend it to all of you. Don’t be uncertain and pick it up as soon as it releases. It’s worth it.

*Review copy provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest review *


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Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
841 reviews3,775 followers
January 20, 2018

Edit 04/14 : RELEASED TODAY!!

Don't you hate when you're completely unable to gather your thoughts about a book? That's so annoying. Right?! Because I'm a scientific girl I'm really not. At all. I decided to complete a quizz to help me decide.

Who knows? Perhaps it will help you too. One can hope.

Cross the odd one out! - Romance facts, anyone?
Typical NA package with instalove, instalust, virgin and pure but beautiful perfect heroin Nope!
Not free of stereotypes : hello, player, nice to meet you! Need a savior? Why, thank you, mean perfect sister, need a slap? Love triangle, anyone?
✔ Gradual and believable love-story

Rate the characters! Or try to, anyways.

Match the sentences! - Plot facts

MCQ! - How in the world am I supposed to rate this?

If I'd only rate this book compared with other New Adult...
☑ Who am I kidding? I never could have finished it.
☑ It would deserve a high 4, perhaps 4.5
☐ It would share my overwhelming bunch of 2

As I rate this book with regards to other contemporary romance I read...
☑ I'm giving it a 3.5 because even if I'm pleasantly surprised by the lack of instalove and other bullshit, the male-lead is far from unforgettable for me and the stereotypical sister irked me. Overall, that was a cute read, but I won't reread it.
☐ It stands out from the rest.
☑ Lauren Layne did better before.
☑ But still - in the whole bunch of craps we find in New Adult, that's quite awesome. And that ending? Hilarious and swoon-worthy. Now, that's the Lauren Layne I love.

*ARC kindly provided by Random House publishing via Netgalley in exhange for an honest review*

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for ~♡AB♡~.
975 reviews665 followers
April 14, 2015
★★★★ 4.5 Stars ★★★★

Amazon - http://amzn.to/1CVS56Z
Amazon UK - http://amzn.to/1PIoVSx

Well, this was my first Lauren Layne book and it definitely won't be my last, once I started this one I couldn't put it down!

Michael St. Claire has exchanged his Upper East Side lifestyle for a job at a Dallas country club - he is on a mission to find his real father and he doesn't really care who he uses in the process and that includes his half brother Devon and his girlfriend, Kirsten.

When he meets Kirsten's sister, loud mouth curvy Chloe, he sure doesn't know what he's getting himself into when he offers to help her in her quest to get Devon to ditch the bitch, and finally realise he is with the wrong sister.

Chloe is a fan of junk food, and seems resigned being the ugly sister, but Michael sees a kinship in Chloe and decides to take it upon himself to get her fit and gain some confidence.

What starts off as two totally opposite people doing each other a favour, slowly becomes a friendship with underlying feelings bubbling beneath the surface.

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

_ _ _ _

I loved the slow burn here, Michael and Chloe turn from enemies to friends to lovers but it is a gradual process and I enjoyed every step of the way.

Michael is moody, he's had his heart broken recently by both a woman and his family but Chloe was infectious and her fun banter and witty personality were what stole the show for me. She was a fantastic heroine, and even though she had massive self esteem issues, she never let it get her down too much.

Told in dual POV and can be read as a standalone.

ARC gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Sandy ღCoffee Addict Booksღ.
229 reviews245 followers
August 3, 2015
***3.5 stars***

was smart, funny, caring, foodie and curvy. Her sister, Kristin’s stark beauty always overshadowed her goodness and she had to live with the bitter fact that her long-time crush/love (Devon) is dating her sister. Devon and Chloe were best friends back in school when he was just as invisible as her, as they grew up he only had eyes for Kristin and they started drifting apart now since she found an opportunity to win him back she agrees to lose some weight and gain that self-confidence to charm Devon.

Michael left the luxurious life of NY to work as trainer/bartender in Dallas to find his biological father. In earlier books we saw that Michael was still in love with Olivia, that her rejection hurt him badly. He swore he wouldn’t love anyone else but Kristin’s exquisite beauty reminds him so much of Olivia the kind of girl he dates; only hindrance is that she is dating Devon, his half brother. So he devise a plan to get to his father through Devon by getting close to Chloe, in return he’ll help her get in shape and break up Kristin and Devon.

Michael never thought he’d feel so strongly about someone after how things left with Olivia but being with Chloe makes him forget his miserable lonely life for a while. Though she keeps annoying him with her nonstop chatter she always makes him laugh, she knows the right thing to say to ease his burden. Falling for Chloe is not an option for Michael, he has firsthand experience of being someone’s second choice and he doesn’t want history repeating itself again.

Chloe was such a refreshing unusual character, she was definitely the reason I enjoyed this story so much, loved her sassy witty mouth. Michael on other hand didn’t leave an impression on me; I was so annoyed by his choices. While first half of the story was great fun, second half seem to divert from its track. It was as if the author was trying to tie all the loose ends to give a happy ending which again was rushed. Nevertheless the story was really sweet and Chloe was super cute, just to know how amazing she is you have to read this book.

ARC kindly provided by Random House Publishing Group via Netgalley, for an honest review.
April 14, 2015
IT'S LIVE GO BUY IT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? Click here for a link to purchase: Crushed

**Arc provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

*4.5 Stars*

It's been six months since I betrayed my best friend.
Six months since I walked away from
her. No. Since she walked away from me.
But more than that...more than any of that...
It's been six months since I've bothered to care.
About anything.

Let me just come clean, as I do whenever I read one of this author's books-I am in love with this author. She is my rainy day, bad mood, giggle-fest, any mood author. So, while I am actually a very fair rater and reviewer, I still have warm feelings towards every single one of her books, even the one that I didn't rate a 5 *gasp*. I did have things I do wish would have been different-just minor, baby things. But nothing deterred my mood once. Not. Once. There wasn't a moment I wasn't on cloud nine as I read this story and no page was turned without me being all fangirly. So, yeah, that's right-I'm a Lauren Layne fan girl-DEAL WITH IT. And proceed with caution.

"Beefcake!" Again with one of those dopey, guileless smiles.
She plops down at one of the few vacant spots at the bar, and unlike the usual solo girls that daintily perch themselves on the stools, there's no glancing around to see who's noticed her arrival. No careful positioning to ensure her posture's just right to show off her best side. She's just there...and happy.
So annoying.

It's so hard for me to say or admit to a favorite Lauren Layne series as a whole, but I am going to have to level with you guys-This is probably the series I get the most excited about. It's the series I go out of my way to stalk netgalley for and it's the series that I have fallen the most deeply in love with. I just connected with it on a visceral level and it touched me so deeply. Each guy and each girl holds a special place in my heart for very different reasons, but it all comes down to this: Every single person in this series is a tortured soul.....and I must say, masochist that I am, it's the reason I think I fell so hard for the Redemption series. Ethan, the guy who's girl cheated on him with his best friend. Stephanie, the girl who was ALSO cheated on and helped Ethan realize he didn't need to impress anyone but the girl he wants to spend his life with. And then Olivia. The cheater. The one that broke her long time relationship with THEIR best friend. The one who went to Maine to help atone for her sins with a scarred ex marine....PAUL. Omg I LOVE PAUL. The asshole marine who didn't think anyone could love him because of his scars and surly, asshole attitude. He brought Olivia out of her deep depression, and she him, and they became happy again-TOGETHER. And then our dear, Michael. The. Best. Friend. The one who technically lost two loves-his best friend and the girl who he had been in love with, secretly, for ten years. These are our three main characters that had problems throughout the series...but this story is about the one who royally fucked up their little trio and set them all on a path out of their comfort zones.

"You're an idiot," I say gruffly. It's not what I mean to say. I don't know what I mean to say. I just can't stand the thought of this cheerful, good person going through what I went through.
Instead of being offended, she laughs. "Good pep talk, Beefcake."
She laughs again, and it's genuine and bold, and suddenly it hits me: Chloe Bellamy deserves better. She deserves better than what I got.

I must say, I fell hard for Mr. Asshole With A Horrible 'Tude. I didn't know how I'd feel about him, really, but the minute he opened his not-so-talkative mouth, I was smiling ear to ear and knew he'd be a tough one to crack. Just like I like 'em. He's had more problems than just cheating with his best friend's girl. When family is involved, it's even worse. So, to say he is tortured is mild. But then this totally snarky chick starts to call him out, pull him into an area of his life he's not accustomed to, and he starts to come out of his shell....a little. He lusts after the stick figures with perfect hair and toned bods, but he starts to connect with the sister (of his client) who is curvaceous, loud, and has untamed hair. What starts out as an agreement to help her becomes an understanding, becomes a partnership, makes them become....friends. He can't believe, after months of seclusion and brooding, that his one true friend is this girl who won't ever shut up and who constantly gropes and teases him.

Well, would ya look at that? I didn't even try to cop a feel.
Progress. Definitely progress.

Lauren Layne is officially a weekend-only author. Her books are too good to destroy during a work week and I really screwed up with this one. Every time I started to get truly immersed in my reading or get to a super juicy part, I would start to get dizzy because I was forcing myself to stay up late....it hinders my reading experience and I hate that I felt that way this time-SO NEVER AGAIN WILL THIS HAPPEN. But that just proves my point on how good this was-I still got through it and loved every little bit...albeit a little bit hazily and strained because I was literally about to pass out from exhaustion.

That'll help distract me from the real reason I asked if he wanted to go to dinner.
Because he'd looked lonely.
Or the real real reason.
Because I'm lonely, too.

Here's another reason I love the Redemption series: It has formulas, sure, but omg they are the most FANTASTIC formulas. They all have grand gestures (and she doesn't try to hide that every one of the stories ends with a grand gesture-she embraces it and literally says it multiple times in the story-it's brilliant!! And so so cute) and ways to get the girl back and I absolutely ADORE that aspect. And it's INDIVIDUAL TO THIS SERIES. She doesn't use the same theme in any of her other stories, at least not so openly, and I LOVE going big to get the girl. I cannot believe LL kept up this theme from book one until this fantastic finale to wrap up all of these wonderful characters' lives. It was just all so perfect.

"Um, I've seen the way you talk about your car. I'd be too scared to eat snacks in there."
"It's a three-hour drive," she says, jerking her thumb over her shoulder.
I glance back and see a cooler and a paper bag with Lay's potato chips perched on top. I can just imagine what other junk-food monstrosities lay beneath.
"Three hours," I repeat.
"Lots of time to get to know each other, Beefcake."
She grins and pats my leg. "Okay, no problem. How do you feel about Broadway tunes?"

And the thing is, LL doesn't forget her roots. At one point, it literally quotes: "Yeah....She's really lovely."-which is an homage to book one Isn't She Lovely.-it was said in the same dry way that Ethan said it in book one about Stephanie (The person above, coincidentally, was also talking about the firecracker, Stephanie) and it was just so funny and exactly as it should have been. It made me goon like a loser to see that idea resurface and it brought back so many wonderful memories-I fell in love with book one the minute I started it.

"Really." My voice is sarcastic.
"Do you love her?"
If the room was quiet before, it goes downright soundless now. At least until Stephanie steps on a chip. "Shit. Damn it." She crouches down to pick up the pieces. "Mikey, you got a vacuum?"
Olivia tries to hide a smile, and Ethan looks to the floor in exasperation. "Such a lady, this one."
"Yeah. She's really lovely," Paul says, stepping out of the way when Stephanie bats at his leg to get the rest of the crumbs.

Is it weird that I not only got butterflies from the romance but also from this age-old, damaged bro-mance?? BECAUSE IT TOTALLY HAPPENED. Ethan and Michael...just omg it was too much. Odd of me, but true, nonetheless.

With Michael, it's a little bit different. He's a project invite, yes.
But he's also the first of my projects that feels a little bit like...a friend.
Not that I'd ever tell him that. The guy's about 84 percent scowl, and I think words like friendship would up that percentage to 90-something.

I did want a little more from the ending-that's the only reason I took .5 away. I just wanted it to be a bigger deal than it was...but that wouldn't have fit Michael and Chloe's style, so ugh, anyway. And I also think this stems from me loving Broken (book two) so much. I couldn't let it go, it was perfect and amazing and I was an utter addict for Broken....And I'd even venture to say I loved Isn't She Lovely about as highly as Broken, if not a little less-I dunno, it's a beautiful Lauren Layne blur-but that doesn't make this book any less great. I loved and obsessed over the moment I could get back to this story and I adored our brooding, mercurial Michael-I'd never discount my love for this book and this amazing series. But I did want to draw attention to the fact that the prior two were absolute favorites-maybe because they were my first two by this author and they hold a special place in my heart.

"Fine what?" He asks
"I mean fine, I'll stick my tongue in Scott's mouth and play with his hair while I let him pet my boob."
I start to walk away, but Michael's laugh stops me. Both because it's a rare noise, and because I'm not sure what the funny part was.
"Chloe, I don't know how you do it, but you just managed to take the sexy out of the idea of making out."

So, wow, this is way too long.....but still not long enough. It's so rare I enjoy a NA book this much. It just is. So when I pick up a book I know I'll love, I guess I feel the need to express how much others could love it, as well. I won't even get started on all the other books she's written and the wonderful, successful, HOT AS SIN male leads that have me wishing I could make them real every day, but just know, she creates some of the most addicting characters ever. I am still tangled in all of their webs....I have been from the beginning. But this series holds a place deep in my heart, and I will likely re-read all three books over and over again until I have them all memorized. It's a series about three best friends who found their way back to one another....it's so poetic. And I wouldn't have ended it any other way.

Buddy read with my wonderful Star-Crossed Ladies-Anna Banana and Jen ♥

For more of my reviews, please visit:
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Aaaahhhhh...I need this...badly.

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Can I have it?? Pleeassee?? Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease

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Profile Image for Jen .
804 reviews580 followers
April 26, 2015
4.25 Girl Crushing Stars

”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’s ever loved me first, either. But I’ve been thinking about this, and Michael…I don’t think it’s about who loves you first. It’s about who loves you best. And that’s me.”

Finally Michael’s story! Crushed is book three of the Redemption series by Lauren Layne and I have to admit I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Michael as a leading man. Sure, he seemed moody and sexy in the other installments, but come on…the dude was in love with his best friend’s woman for years and was caught making out with her, seemingly ruining a lifelong friendship. That’s a whole lot to overcome as far as the likability thing goes. I forgot about those issues from almost the beginning and I found myself loving the story of Chloe and Michael.

First, a little background info. Michael’s working in a wealthy Dallas suburb as a personal trainer/tennis instructor/bartender/f**ker of bored Cougars with the hopes of making contact with the biological father he’s only recently learned the identity of. Chloe’s sister is dating the son of Michael’s father so of course when she (sis) requests tennis lessons, Michael decides it’d be a bangin’ idea to seduce her away from his half-brother. Sounds like a solid plan so far. Chloe has a lifelong crush on her sister’s boyfriend but he’s never noticed her in that way and she’d do just about anything to rectify that little situation. The two become allies of sorts and along the way they start to fall for each other.

”I want the guy who wanted me before I turned into a swan.”

Chloe absolutely made this book for me. She was snarky as hell without being a bitch and she genuinely cared for the people in her life. Yes, she was incredibly jealous and self-conscious as far as her relationship with her beautiful yet vapid sister went, but she never set out to wreck her sister’s relationship. When Michael got broody (and let me tell you, homeboy pulled the broody card often) she called him on his shit and put him in his place. She gave the story a vibrancy it would’ve lacked without her and left me with a smile after almost every scene she was in.

What can I say about Michael? Poor tortured, unlovable Michael. I did warm up to him but he still pushed my NA “your acting like an asshole” limits a few times. It’s not that I disliked him because getting his POV throughout the book helped humanize him in my eyes. The length of time he remained closed off emotionally to Chloe meant it took me a little longer to buy them getting closer. His character did end on a positive note for me, though, and when it’s all said and done I really enjoyed this book.

I’m sad to see this series end and am not so secretly hoping for a Devon book. Even if this series heads off into the sunset I loved the fact that Michael, Olivia and Ethan reconnected and got their own happily ever afters.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,856 reviews847 followers
April 10, 2015
Michael was a secondary character in Isn’t She Lovely and Broken, the first two books in this series, and even though he kissed his best friend’s girlfriend, and caused all kinds of trouble, I felt bad for him. After getting his side of things, I almost couldn’t fault him for his actions. Olivia, Ethan and Michael grew up together and both boys, Ethan and Michael, fell for Olivia but she only had eyes for Ethan. That didn’t stop Michael from loving Olivia and so he had to endure watching them together. He took his chance with Olivia when he thought she felt something for him. It really wasn’t right, but I could empathize with his situation even so. In the end Olivia didn’t pick Michael, and to add insult to injury, very soon after this rejection he found out his mother had an affair and he was the result. Michael left New York and headed to Texas to find his real dad, and get away from his heartbreak.

Michael decides the way to get close and observe his real father is through his half brother Devon. He uses Devon’s girlfriend, Kristin, to try and accomplish that. Kristin is gorgeous, and hot and she knows it. Even though she’s with Devon, she doesn’t mind Michael’s attention. Kristin likes it when men drool over her. But it’s not Kristin who ends up turning Michael’s life upside down; it’s her loud mouth, curvy, younger sister, Chloe who grabs his attention.

Michael recognizes the longing on Chloe’s face every time Kristen and Devon embrace. Chloe’s been in love with Devon since they were in elementary school, but Kristin snatched him up once he grew out of the awkward stage, and became popular. Michael offers to help Chloe make herself over and finally get Devon after years of longing, but soon Chloe is wondering if Devon is who she really wants. After spending time with Michael, Chloe slowly starts to fall for him, someone who sees and likes her as she is. In spite of his reluctance, Michael starts to fall for Chloe as well.

I know going after your sister’s boyfriend fits into the icky category, but it seemed like Kristin charmed and stole away Devon. I can’t say I really liked Devon much, because he went for someone like Kristin, who was thoroughly unlikable, IMO, because of her looks. Although, I guess after going through an awkward, geeky stage, coming out of it, and then gaining the attention of someone like Kristin would be a boost to the ego.

This was sort of an odd romance where the main characters were initially wrapped up in someone else but unexpectedly fell for each other. It took me a while to warm to Chloe and Michael being a couple, because for a good portion of the book I didn’t even sense any attraction or chemistry between them. I did like both Michael and Chloe, though. Chloe was awesome and spunky, and so real. She said whatever she was thinking for the most part, except with her sister. Kristin treated her sister terribly and I really couldn’t stand her. I appreciated that Michael fell for Chloe and liked her for her uniqueness, both in personality and looks.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series and usually I’m excited to get a glimpse of the previous couples, but I was a little puzzled by Olivia and Ethan’s reunion with Michael here. I would’ve liked to see a lead up or the part where they made amends, and were friendly again. I can’t say I liked Crushed as much as the first two books, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It still had Lauren Layne’s signature snark and humor, and I did eventually warm to the romance.

A copy was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This review is also posted at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,729 reviews465 followers
April 15, 2015
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

4.5 Stars!

I fell in love with this book! I have never read anything by Lauren Layne before this book and now I am sitting here wondering why I have missed this author. I have read so many romance novels that lately I have starting feeling a little bored by them. I have blamed myself and have tried to mix things up a little bit by reading other genres. After reading this book, I realize that I still like a well written romance novel as much as I ever did.

I find that I usually like a book about as much as I like the characters in the book. There are exceptions to that rule of course but speaking in generalities the characters oftentimes really can make or break a story. The characters in this book really are phenomenal. I adore Chloe. Chloe has lived her life in her sister shadow in a lot of ways. Chloe is funny, smart, and says what she is thinking. Chloe is not the Barbie doll that her sister, Kristin, is and has not had a luck of luck when it comes to romance. Chloe has actually been in love with her sister’s longtime boyfriend, Devon, for a very long time.

Michael has had his world turned upside down. He comes to Texas to try to figure things out and has plans to get close to Devon and Kristin. Michael meets Chloe during one of her tennis lessons and after a little bit of banter Chloe has a new personal trainer, Michael. Michael and Chloe say what they are thinking to each other and soon realize that they are becoming friends and maybe feel a little bit more about each other.

This book did so many things well. I was pulled into the story right away and really had a hard time putting this book down until I was finished. The characters were perfect. Chloe was so easy for me to relate to. I loved that she wasn’t perfect and needed to learn to gain some control over her life. I loved that the focus was never on Chloe losing weight but on her gaining control and becoming healthier.

Michael had a few moments that made him look a little bit like a jerk but because half of this book is spent inside of his head you realize that he is really just as confused as anyone else. I think that the alternating points of view in this book were perfectly executed and I just loved getting to know what both Michael and Chloe were thinking. Not only did this book do a great job with characters that I love, I can’t believe how much I grew to hate some of the characters, namely Kristin and Devon.

I love to laugh and this book accomplished that goal. This book was funny without trying too hard. The banter between Michael and Chloe was top notch. I liked the fact that the story was able to balance the funny moments with the more emotional moments. This is still most definitely a romance novel. I really liked the fact that this book was able to bring a couple together by getting them to really get to know each other.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a great romance with a few laughs. I can’t wait to get my hands on some other books by Lauren Layne because her writing style is just wonderful.

I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Profile Image for aksana .
308 reviews136 followers
February 19, 2015
4 Stars

This was a good story...

It was full of witty banter.

Some nice sexual tension..

Sure it lacked in the steam department..

What did bother me was the last 20%. It wasnt full of drama but that back and forth (like in the previous two books)  was too much for my liking.

Overall a great funny and light read which I highly recommend if you loved the previous books.

ARC kindly provided by NG in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Michelle.
943 reviews223 followers
July 12, 2015
This baby is on sale for .99 on Amazon!


5 Beefcake Stars!
If you want to stay up all night, ignore your chores for the day, laugh, melt and maybe even shed a tear or two Lauren Layne is the perfect author for you.
Michael St. Claire is broken. After he destroys his relationship with his best friend and the girl he's loved for a long time doesn't return the same feelings Michael is devastated. Then when he comes home he hears more news that sends his head spinning. He finds out that for almost 24 years his parents have kept a secret from him. His mother had an affair and got pregnant. The man he calls dad is not really his dad. He over hears his parents talking about it and leaves his life in New York to find his real father. He trades in his suites and his money for some cowboy boots, two low paying jobs and a rented out basement. Defiantly not the life style he's used to.
While working at a country club as a trainer he meets Kristen Bellamy. Kristen just happens to be his half brother Devon's girlfriend. Michael sees a perfect opportunity to get close to Devon and his biological father. He however doesn't expect to get close to Kristen's totally opposite sister Chloe.
Chloe is not a size two like her sister. Chloe doesn't care that she's a nerd and loves books and her snacks. She doesn't care that she's not noticed by anyone. She tells it like it is and goes on about her way. She is perfectly fine sitting in a chair reading while everyone else is out enjoying the pool or whatever else is going on outside.
Since its summer break everyone's home. Including the love of Chloe's life Devon Patterson. Chloe's sisters boyfriend.
Chloe and Devon have been friends since grade school. Both of them out casts because of their looks and their love of books. Eighth grade summer changes Devon. He gets rid of his braces, acne and has a growth spurt. This sends him to the popular side and also Kristen leaving Chloe behind. We'll sort of. They are still friends just not as close as they were.
Chloe becomes the third wheel hanging out with her sister and Devon as much as she can. She starts going to the country club with her sister while Kristen's getting the un-needed tennis lessons from Michael. Chloe and her don't give a s### attitude gains Michael's attention right away.
Chloe sees how Michael is playing with Kristen's head and Michael sees how Chloe only has eyes for Devon.
Michael comes up with a better plan to get close to his father. He stops trying to woo Kristen and focuses on Chloe. He's going to get the smart mouth, snack eating, book reading and wild hair Chloe in better shape.
I loved how Michael had no problem with the way Chloe was. He just wanted her to be healthier and have better self esteem.
Once these two start working out a few days a week Chloe starts getting under Michael's skin. She makes him want to talk and smile.
Of course once Chloe starts getting a little braver wearing different clothes showing off her more toned curves she gets noticed. She gets the attention of the one man she's loved forever. But does she still want his attention?
I loved Chloe and Michael! They banter back and fourth. Chloe making Michael open up and face what he was in Texas to do. Michael making Chloe feel comfortable not being a size two like her sister.
We get a surprise visit toward the end and I was very happy:)
I really enjoyed this series and hope we get more!
I recommend you clear your schedule and click the buy button on this baby! You will not be disappointed!

***ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. Thank you so much!!***
Profile Image for Bj.
1,217 reviews262 followers
April 24, 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.
Profile Image for Andrea.
211 reviews45 followers
March 4, 2015
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


This book was so awesome!
Chloe was an amazing heroine. She was feisty, funny, smart and just so damn lovable. Michael, on the other hand, was moody, sexy and a jerk at times, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him. He had been hurt so much in the past that it was hard for him to believe that anything good would ever come his way.
I loved the banter between Chloe and Michael, and while this book lacked steam the humor all but made up for it. They had such a great connection. Chloe pushed his buttons so many times that made me smile a lot. I love the way she kept calling him "Beefcake". She got under his skin and made him react even when he didn't want to and tried to keep his emotions out of it.
I loved that they started as friends to lovers these are my favorite plots, they helped and needed each other also completed each other perfectly.

I comply, and then mutter a string of curses because Chloe Bellamy has just reached out in the middle of a busy gym and patted my ass.
“Very nice,” she says, sounding surprised.
She shrugs. “You just got so upset when I was ogling that other guy instead of you, so I wanted to make you feel good."

Profile Image for AJ.
2,872 reviews932 followers
June 24, 2015
4.5 Hilariously heartwarming stars

I really enjoyed this book. The third in the Redemption series (counting the first novella), it’s great fun, laugh-out-loud funny with a bit of drama and a really sweet romance.

Michael St. Claire is the last of three people involved in a love triangle implosion that forms the basis for this series. Having spent most of his teenage years in love with his best friend’s girlfriend, his heart was further destroyed when the relationship broke down (thanks, in no small part, to him), and then the girl of his dreams went and fell hard for somebody else. Then, he learned that his father is not really his father. And so, desperately tired of his life and searching for ‘something’, the privileged rich boy packs up and heads down to Texas to scope out his biological father and his new family.

Taking a job as a tennis coach at the local ‘club’, he meets and sets his manwhoring sights on Kristin Bellamy, a tall, blonde, gorgeous socialite who is also, conveniently, dating his half-brother, Devon. And then he meets Chloe Bellamy, Kristin’s younger sister who is everything that Kristin is not – a slightly chubby, frizzy-haired bookworm who is charmingly sassy and sarcastic and doesn’t seem to care what other people think about her.

“You play tennis, Chloe?” I call out as I pull out another ball and serve it to Kristin, harder this time.
“Do I look like I’m all about cardio?” she calls back in a cheerful voice.
“What about when you were younger? You didn’t take lessons?”
“Um, that’s a negative,” Chloe says around a mouthful of chocolate. She has a candy bar now. “Some of us were reading Harry Potter like normal kids.”

Michael immediately notices that Chloe is desperately in love with her sister’s boyfriend and, for purely selfish purposes, he offers to help her get her man. But he has no idea that his world is about to get turned upside down.

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

I loved every moment of the interplay between Chloe and Michael. They banter and tease, and their conversations and quips had me laughing so many times! Their friendship develops slowly but beautifully – they have fun together and they genuinely care about the other, and they are there for each other in a way that they didn’t realise they’d both been craving. And watching that friendship turn into something more meaningful was fantastic! Again, it’s a slow build, but it’s very realistic with fantastic UST and I was bouncing up and down in my chair in delighted glee as I read.

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.

I love Chloe! I have a total girl-crush on her! She’s feisty and funny, and she totally owns who she is. She speaks her mind and she has no filter, and it’s freaking hilarious!

I do a squat to demonstrate … “Okay?” I say, doing another since she didn’t mimic my motion the second time.
She watches my movement in the mirror. “One more time,” she says.
I comply, and then mutter a string of curses because Chloe Bellamy has just reached out in the middle of a busy gym and patted my ass.
“Very nice,” she says, sounding surprised.
She shrugs. “You just got so upset when I was ogling that other guy instead of you, so I wanted to make you feel good.”

And her honesty is so incredibly refreshing. Sure, she’s never told Devon about her feelings, but there is a lot of history there, and that relationship is complicated. When it comes to the boy she calls Beefcake, she totally wears her heart on her sleeve for him.

“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.”

Michael’s motives may be shady, and his initial thoughts about Chloe are not exactly the stuff of romantic heroes, but he’s reacting to his situation, and the devastation of his past so I could understand where he was coming from. And it makes his character development as the story progresses even more impressive. It’s like each interaction with Chloe cracks the wall he’s put around his heart, and he starts to think about his life, about what he wants and what he needs. And I loved watching that shift – especially as he started to realise just how amazing the girl in front of him really is.

The thought of Chloe changing kills me a little. She’s one of the most real girls I know, and I’d give anything to have her stay that way, just as she is.

But Michael is damaged by all that he’s been through, and even with Chloe coming into his life like the force of a hurricane, he has his own hurt to deal with before he can move on.

“I’ve tried being someone’s second choice.”
… His voice is raspy, and so quiet that I barely hear what he says next. “I can’t do it again.”

Yes, it’s heartbreaking in places, but it’s a fantastic story of two ‘slightly’ broken people coming together. It’s a bit of an ‘Ugly Duckling’ story, and there is some focus on Chloe’s weight issues, but I loved that despite what was happening to her on the outside, it never changed who she was on the inside. And it’s tied in well to the rest of the story – the family dramas, the romantic dramas, and two characters coming to terms with who they are and discovering what they want. And it’s written in a way that is laugh-out-loud funny and totally heartwarming. And the romance (although a bit of a push and pull situation), is absolutely gorgeous.

“I don’t think it’s about who loves you first. It’s about who loves you best. And that’s me.”
… “
I love you best. More than I love anyone. More than you’ve ever been loved.”

I would have like a little something ‘more’ from the ending , but the story ends in a great place, and I liked that we got the chance to check in with the other couples from the series. I really enjoyed it.

Great fun – 4.5 stars.

An Advanced Reader Copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,101 reviews1,254 followers
December 4, 2015
ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group- Love-swept in exchange for honest review

SQUEEE!!!!! I LOVED LOVED LOVED Crushed by Lauren Layne. This was my first read by Ms. Layne and after reading CRUSHED, I can 100% guarantee you this won't be my last. I am hooked now with Ms. Layne's writing and storytelling. To put it mildly, I am now addicted to this author after I read this book. I seriously LOVED everything about CRUSHED. This was one of those reads that I practically inhaled because I couldn't get enough of Chloe Bellamy and Michael St. Claire's story.


Michael St. Claire just learned that the dad he grew up thinking was his father turned out to be someone else. And then to top if off, he was left brokenhearted when his friendships with his two best friends were severed. So when he moves and relocates to Texas to be close to his biological father, he plans to get close by flirting and gaining the attention of his half-brother, Devon's girlfriend, Kristin. But what he didn't expect was to befriend Kristin's younger sister, Chloe, who happens to have a big crush on Devon.

Chloe is the complete opposite of her big sister. She is fun, vibrant, and has a great personality. But the only thing that Chloe needs to work on was her self-esteem and to gain control of her life. And Michael St. Claire was the guy to help her when he decides to be her personal trainer and at the same time, help her get Devon. As Chloe and Michael's friendship begins to bloom, chemistry begins to ignites between these two. Feelings begins to emerge. So when Chloe finally catches the attention of Devon, will she choose to be with her long time crush? Or will she choose the guy who knew instantly she was beautiful from the beginning before she transformed into a swan?


CRUSHED is a modern, fun, fresh, and sassy take on the the ugly duckling and friends to lovers theme. If you want witty and smart banter and two beloved characters that stole your heart right off the opening pages then I highly recommend you to READ this book. For all you romance addicts, this book had all the elements that I loved and craved. How could you not love a book that leaves you with a big fat smile and the warm fuzzy feelings. The author did an amazing job in writing two fabulous main characters. Honestly, Ms. Layne was able to showcase the strong connection of Michael and Chloe. There was no doubt that these two had a deep and strong connection for one another. The chemistry was sizzling hot. Sparks were flying all over this book and I couldn't get enough of Chloe and her Beefcake. What I loved about this book was the message of this book that true beauty does not lie on the outside because true beauty is in the inside. And Chloe reminded us all that her beauty was not just physical but also lies in her beautiful and caring heart. There is not much to say but this is a MUST READ and I will be sure one-clicking Lauren Layne's books now.

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Review can also be found on Four Chicks Flipping Pages
Lauren Layne
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,376 reviews317 followers
March 5, 2015
I find myself enjoying this one more than Broken. The theme we have here are the unrequited love/feelings and the whole ugly duckling thing.

Michael is part of the love triangle fiasco between Ethan-Olivia-Michael. He is the guy who was pining for his best friend's girl for years. He got crashed and burnt and add on with the fact that he found out he is a bastard son, he pretty much turned into this moody, grouchy, reserve guy. Now he is in Texas, searching for his biological father to find some closure for himself and get away from all the heartache.

Chloe is very much the ugly duckling in this story. She had wild, curly hair, weight issue and totally overshadowed by her barbie sister. Chloe is one of the most bubbly and lively character I've ever read. I mean girl loves to talk, but she can talk and joke like nobody business and even grouchy Michael is having a hard time keeping a straight face when she called him beefcake. Behind all the sarcastic jokes and colorful personality lies a girl who is pining after her sister's boyfriend, Devon for a decade.

When Michael learn about Chloe's situation, he step in to help her to win the guy with the motive of getting close to meeting his real father. You see, Devon happened to be his half brother. In between, gym lesson and hanging out, they both formed a tight platonic friendship. Chloe turned from being a nuisance to him, to becoming his friend and confidant. Let just say Chloe is such an awesome friend, the one who will standby you during tough times.

There was unrequited love from Chloe's part towards Devon, but I mostly chalked up to teenage crush. But the unrequited feelings from Michael towards Chloe was evoking all the sappy emotion in me. It seems like a sense of deja vu for Michael to be having feelings for a girl who will never return it. Again.

Although I don't feel much for Michael in previous books, I really sympathize with him here. He is always the sidekick, the second best. No, not even that because when Olivia broke up with Ethan, she went and feel in love with someone else. You can't help but feel sad for Michael. So when he start having feelings for Chloe, is understandable that he will NOT be doing anything about it. Been there, done that.

"I tried being someone's second choice. I can't do it again."

Of course it goes without saying that when Chloe start looking desirable, Devon finally noticed her. She wanted Devon for so long and when it finally happened her heart is no longer there. Because all this while it was Michael who stood by her and cheering for her.

"I want the guy who wanted me before I turned into a swan."

The end scene with the sudden cameos from Ethan-Steph and Olivia-Paul was not welcome by me. I'm all for catching up with the previous couples, but this time it felt force. Like force down my throat kind of force. Anyway, I also agree that the groveling part from Michael is not enough. I'm not the kind of woman who needs guy to be begging on his knee,

Overall, I still enjoyed it very much. I actually like Michael more than the previous hero, Paul. The plot is engaging and had me flipping pages, just to find out what more crazy things can be sprout from Chloe's mouth and even the angry, grouchy Michael is endearing to me.
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