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?
Praise for Crushed
“I couldn’t stop smiling. I hated that the book had to end! Lauren Layne is a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken
“I read Crushed in one sitting because I was utterly unable to put it down. Lauren Layne’s characters are so witty and real. This story warmed my heart and left me feeling good all day. Go Team Curvy Girls!”—New York Times bestselling author Courtney Cole
“Filled with humor and heart, Crushed draws you in with an unlikely friendship turned steamy romance as Chloe and Michael turn imperfections into flawless love.”—Renita Pizzitola, author of Just a Little Flirt
Lauren Layne’s New York Times bestselling Oxford Novel series can be read in any order:
I WISH YOU WERE MINE
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Don’t miss any of Lauren Layne’s hot reads:
The Love Unexpectedly series: BLURRED LINES | GOOD GIRL | LOVE STORY | WALK OF SHAME | AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS
The Sex, Love & Stiletto series: AFTER THE KISS | LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH | JUST ONE NIGHT | THE TROUBLE WITH LOVE
The Redemption series: ISN’T SHE LOVELY | BROKEN | CRUSHED
The I Do, I Don’t series: READY TO RUN | RUNAWAY GROOM
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I’ve been in love with Devon Patterson since I was eight.
And I know what you’re thinking . . .
That I didn’t have hormones when I was eight, so it wasn’t real love, or even real attraction.
I love him.
And I know he could love me back, if only he’d look at me.
But ya know? I can’t even blame Devon for not seeing me.
It’s probably hard for him to be aware of his surroundings when my Disney Princess sister has her tongue in his mouth.
I mean, why would you want the funny sidekick when you can have the heroine?
And that’s the type of person Kristin is. Or at least thinks she is. She’s the heroine in every story.
Even other people’s.
As if he reads my mind, Devon slowly pulls back from his reunion kiss to join the land of the living where the actual people do not have eyelashes the size of small bats and a waist the size of a toddler’s.
But, actually, it’s not fair to pick only on Kristin for her blinding good looks.
Of the four of us here on this godforsaken tennis court, I’m the only one that’s not outright beautiful.
Take Devon, for example. Blond. Blue-eyed. Chiseled jaw. Tall, but not too tall, muscular but not bulging. Yummy.
As for the new tennis instructor . . . I don’t even know what to make of him.
My first thought? Beefcake. It’s obvious why he was hired, and it’s not because he can make contact with a tennis ball ten times out of ten.
Nope, it’s definitely the way his biceps strain the requisite Cambridge Country Club polo, and the way his tanned skin contrasts perfectly with the crisp white fabric.
That and the sulky bad-boy gaze that I’m pretty sure he’s aware of. Maybe even practiced.
New guy is definitely gorgeous. And Kristin’s definitely noticed.
I shift my gaze to where Devon is tucking a lock of Kristin’s ever-silky hair behind her ear. We both have curly hair, but Kristin’s is the kind that can be blown out into all kinds of satiny shine. Unlike my corkscrews, where each curl is like its own rebellious teenager.
It’s clear which version Devon prefers.
And Beefcake, too, given the way he was practically undressing Kristin with his eyes when he thought she wasn’t looking.
I liked that about him. The way he didn’t let her know he was looking. He was playing games, but by his own rules.
But, anyway, who cares about tennis boy.
Tall, dark, and brooding isn’t my type.
I like them blond, smiley, and kind.
I like them like Devon Patterson.
Did I mention I love him?
Devon’s torn himself away from Kristin’s pink lip-glossed mouth long enough to shake hands with Michael. Any other dude would be sizing up the competition—I mean, not three minutes ago, Kristin was totally giving the tennis instructor all kinds of come-hither. But Devon has a friendly smile for the guy who was staring at his girlfriend’s butt.
I wonder if it even occurs to Devon that his girlfriend isn’t immune to Michael St. Claire’s dark, I pop cherries for a living kind of appeal.
Nah. Devon knows how perfect he is. He’s not going to be worried about some bad-boy tennis pro with too-big biceps.
I pretend to read my book while Devon informs Michael that despite Kristin’s modesty she actually plays tennis for her college team, and Kristin blushes prettily and pretends that it’s no big deal, like she hadn’t already told Michael about her illustrious tennis skills in excruciating detail.
Kristin likes to pretend that her tennis “career” is the reason she didn’t graduate in four years, and the good ol’ parents never seem to wonder if it has something to do with the fact that she changed her major seven—yes, seven—times before settling on French.
The only French Kristin is good at is kissing, but she’s so freaking pretty that nobody seems to notice. Or care.
Meanwhile, I’m on schedule to graduate early with a double major in biology and econ. Not an obvious combo, but, hey . . . a girl’s got to have options, especially when an MRS degree isn’t exactly right around the corner.
My dad is proud of me.
My mom . . . well, she’s proud, too. I think she just wishes I were a skinny double major.
You and me both, Mom.
Anyway, none of this really matters.
What matters is that I’d been counting on having my upcoming senior year to myself. Davis University is a small college, and having the beautiful, charming Kristin a year ahead of you in school and light-years ahead of you in popularity has gotten, well, old.
But then sister dearest dropped the bomb that she was two dozen or so credits short of graduating.
My parents hadn’t even blinked.
Me? I’d consumed an entire pint of Häagen-Dazs, and I’m more of a Ben & Jerry’s kind of girl.
That’s how bad it was.
I snap my head up from the book I hadn’t actually been reading to see Devon moving toward me.
My heart flips.
No, I’m not.
Devon pulls me off the bench into a bear hug, and I sniff his neck. Just a little, while glancing at Kristin to make sure she doesn’t notice. But she’s just smiling her usual pretty smile, completely confident that chubby Chloe could never be a threat.
My eyes skip over to Beefcake, and, interestingly, he seems to have noticed that the smell of Devon’s cologne is making me flush and that I cling to Dev just a little more tightly than is appropriate.
This Michael St. Claire guy lifts a knowing eyebrow, and I jerk my gaze away before pushing back from Devon’s big-brother hug.
“Congrats on graduating,” I say, giving him a friendly-yet-dorky punch on the shoulder.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Beefcake roll his eyes.
I ignore him.
A couple weeks ago, Devon graduated from UCLA. I didn’t fly out to the ceremony, of course. That was a right reserved for his family and girlfriend, but I’d been proud from afar. Devon is Kristin’s age—a year older than me—but, unlike Kristin, he managed to graduate on time.
Mostly I am just glad to have him back in the state of Texas. And, according to Kristin, he’s here for good, planning to work at his father’s company.
I secretly wonder what happened to his long-ago dreams of an East Coast law school, but I guess he has the right to change his mind. God knows he’s smart and charming enough to do whatever he wants with his life. Devon may have been the quintessential Texas quarterback in high school, but he was also the valedictorian.
You’re seeing why it’s impossible not to love him, right?
The thing is, I loved him before everyone else did.