Updated: Jan 17
by Lauren Layne
Published by Flirt
Book #3 in Redemption Series
Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?
Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.
Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.
After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?
I actually started a different book, before finishing the Redemption series, because to be honest, I didn't think I would like it. My impression of Michael St. Claire from Isn't She Lovely, and Broken wasn't making me want to get to know his character, to be honest. I told myself to finish though, because I might get to see how Ethan and Stephanie, and Paul and Olivia were doing. I AM SO HAPPY I READ THIS BOOK! I actually think I love Michael's story a bit more than the others.
I figured Michael was a dick. He made a pass on his best friends girlfriend, his best friend, and because of this, all three of them had to deal with the consequences. He is a broken man from the last time we saw him in Broken. Bitter. Heartbroken. Not just because of what happened with Ethan and Olivia, but finding out he was the result of an affair his mother had. Which leads him to Cedar Grove, Texas. To find his biological father. And living off his paychecks working at the country club instead of St. Claire money he didn't feel he had a right to anymore. Turns out, Michael is the farthest thing from a dick. Even if his intentions were selfish at the time, when he tells Chloe it isn't about looks ... its about getting control in your life and being happy and healthy ... I kind of fell in love with him. And despite him using Claire to get closer to his real dad, there was a part of him from the start that saw himself in her, saw the unrequited love in her eyes with her sisters boyfriend Devon, and he wanted to save her from that.
Chloe was a breath of fresh air. Crazy haired, and overweight, didn't take away from her charm. Her goodness radiated off the page. Funny as hell. I mean ... I snort laughed a few times. She was like Chandler from friends. She used humor to hide her pain. She was vulnerable. It took Michael to ask the right questions, say the right things for her to take a good look at her life, realize, she didn't have as much control over her life as she wanted, and she started trying to live her best life. Whereas at first it was about control and losing weight in hopes of getting Devon to notice her, Michael constantly reminding her that it wasn't about weight, it was how she felt, and pushing her out of her comfort zone, she learned to love herself. She started feeling healthy, not just physically, but mentally. In the end, she lost the weight, and some readers might take issue with that. But why? She is happy and content with herself. It doesn't change her. Michael started falling for her well before she lost all the weight, even if he didn't know it. At some level, Chloe knew Michael saw her for her. If she stayed chubby, I think we would have got the same ending. I don't think he was lying when he tells her, it isn't about looks.
These 2 characters heal one another. Chloe helps Michael finally face his biological family, and even eases tensions between him and his half-brother Devon. She unintentionally helps him heal by showing him he can love again. Michael helped her gain control over her life, and embrace who she is. Made her feel confident. Confident enough that she was able to see past Devon's attention to her body, and straightened hair, and see it for what it was. That he didn't love her for her. And she didn't love him like she thought she did. She loved Michael. Is able to tell him. Sadly, she couldn't heal his hurt from the past. Not all the way. Despite her telling him that he wasn't second choice, that she loved him best ... he didn't feel that was possible. He was always second choice.
Which takes me to my favorite part of the book. Ethan and Stephanie from Isn't She Lovely, Michael's best friend, and Paul and Olivia from Broken, Michael's best friend and the girl he secretly loved for years visit Michael. Knowing that despite the hurt they caused each other in the past, they wanted to still be his friend, they still cared ... that was the final healing moment for Michael. Not only was it incredibly emotional, but it was SO fun to read. To see how far these characters have come. Ethan and Stephanie are together and happy. Stephanie's personality went from bitter and angry to happy and bubbly. Paul and Olivia were also still together and happy. Paul saying that Olivia was his everything was a sweet moment. I mentioned in Broken that I didn't like that he loved to New York. Now that I see him in this book, it obviously did him good. Olivia does him good. He was still sarcastic as hell, but seemed lighter. Happy. The fact that Paul was the one who lured Michael to Maine in Broken, leading to Olivia facing him and breaking his heart, it seemed fitting that he would be the one to call Chloe and tell her that Michael needed her.
There was nothing about this book I didn't like. This wasn't your typical make over a girl, fall in the love story. It was different, and I loved it. The story was interesting, so much so I finished the book in a day. I loved the characters. While not a fan of Devon, or Kristin, I knew why they were needed in the story. The book was never dull. I totally recommend the whole series! Crushed is an amazing finale!
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Chloe: "I know, I know. I'm the pretty one. Don't tell Kristin; she's sick of hearing it."
Kristin: "Michael St. Claire, this is Chloe Bellamy. My mom insisted she come along and watch, in hopes that this will be the summer that she'll actually want to take part in some of the more active elements happening at the club."
Chloe: "Um, did you not see the way I kicked the ass of that vending machine? And if Mom had ever seen me pursuing a midnight snack, she'd know just how active I can be."
Chloe: "You've gone a whole week since trying to swat a fuzzy green ball? Why, God, why? Why is life so hard?"
Chloe Bellamy is different. And I mean that in an I could strangle her way, not I'm intrigued. - Michael
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.
Chloe: "Very nice."
Chloe: "You just got so upset when I was ogling that other guy instead of you, so I wanted to make you feel good."
Chloe: "Michael's my personal trainer. He thinks my life will be complete if I can run an eleven-minute mile."
Michael: "No. I just think you'll live a little longer if you don't have cheese-puff crumbs trickling through your veins."
Chloe: "He cares. We're best friends."
Michael: "We're not - damn it."
Chloe: "You have a crush on me!"
Oh, Jesus. - Michael
Chloe: "Well, of course he's protective of me. We're friends and you look like you collect virgins for a living."
Chloe: "Rawr. That was sexy."
Michael: "Come on, I'm not asking as a dude. I'm asking as your personal trainer."
Chloe: "Oh, gosh, well, in that case, let me just go ahead and get naked."
Michael: "Fine what?"
Chloe: "I mean fine, I'll stick my tongue in Scott's mouth and play with his hair while I let him pet my boob."
Michael: "It won't be that bad."
Chloe: "Objection. Considering you don't think that movie kisses exist, I'm highly skeptical of your skill -"
Chloe: "Go forth and be loose with thy morals."
Michael: "Damn you, Chloe Bellamy."
Chloe: "I know."
Chloe: "Did you finally realize that her personality's not worth the boner?"
Michael: *laughs* "Jesus, Chloe."
Chloe: "What are you smiling at?"
Michael: "I would have bet serious money that you were a screamer."
Chloe: "Why's that?"
Michael: "It makes no sense. You're the noisiest girl I know, except when you come."
Chloe: "You hear that, heart? Quit picking the idiots."
Stephanie: "What do you see in her?"
Olivia: "We want you to be happy. All of us."
Paul: "Oh, yes, me especially."
Michael: "I don't really do gestures."
Stephanie: "Talk to this guy. He wore leather pants to win me back."
Ethan: "We agreed not to talk about that. Ever. Remember, sweetie?"
Stephanie: "Nope. Do not remember committing to something so stupid."
Stephanie: "Speak, boy. Confess thy idiotic sins."
Stephanie: "Michael? It's Stephanie. You there? Okay, I know you're there. Anyway, I brought you Kleenex, in case it went badly. And condoms, in case it went well. Which do you want?"
Check out the first two books of the Redemption series below!