Lauren Layne is still hanging in there as my current favorite romance author, and I was really excited to get approved to read this ARC from NetGalley. My Goodreads review is below. I also noticed tonight that I’m only one book ahead of my 2015 reading goal. Since I’ve been knitting like a maniac, I might need to take some time to read some books so I don’t get behind. Too many hobbies, not enough time.
Crushed by Lauren Layne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Most of my Lauren Layne reviews are pretty similar and consist of a lot of gushing about the awesome writing and the epic feels. This one will be about the same. I seriously can’t get enough of this author.
Crushed was exactly what I expect from Layne and her contemporary romances. Her characters are likable but flawed, and in the case of those in her Redemption series, seriously damaged. The humor is balanced perfectly with the pain the main characters go through during their romantic journey. In other authors, this portrayal of emotion can easily become melodramatic, but Layne nails it. I don’t get annoyed, I get immersed in the good feels and never want the story to end.
Along with this, I think her pacing is amazing. A novel can very easily jump the characters into a relationship too fast or draw it out boringly long. Layne paces her stories perfectly, and it really showed in Crushed. The development between Michael and Chloe was real and believable.
This book is getting five stars because I absolutely loved it, but I do want to talk about two things that I questioned in the novel. This is spoiler territory, so stop now if you hate spoilers.
The first was the choice in bringing together all the characters from this series in for a cameo. I understand the appeal in it, and for the story, it was a way for Michael to get closure. It was also a way to kind of close out the series for fans (though I’m hoping LL finds a way to sneak another book in there somehow). But when the scene first happened, it seemed strange and a little out of place, almost a little forced as a way to catalyze the ending. However, some of the interactions in this scene were pure gold. Paul is hilariously sarcastic and Stephanie’s brashness cracked me up. So while the use of the scene seemed strange, I still enjoyed it.
The second thing that made me a little wary in this book was the subject of Chloe’s body size and some of the body shaming from other characters. It’s a tricky topic at the moment, as I constantly see and read things about body positivity, body shaming, health at every size, disordered eating, and that kind of thing, so I was a little unsure of how it was going to be handled. I very much liked the take that Michael enjoyed Chloe for her personality and wanted to help her build her confidence, though I have a feeling there will be critics who could (and may) pick apart the whole bikini subject. Overall, I think it was handled well and fit the storyline perfectly.
Honestly, I’m not sure if Layne could write a book I wouldn’t absolutely love. The only bad part of reading Crushed was finishing it and not wanting to read anything else…except maybe another Lauren Layne book. Now to try be patient until her next one comes out.