Title: Crushed (Redemption #2)
Author: Lauren Layne
Publishing Date: April 14, 2015 (Loveswept)
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo
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?
Hi Lauren! Welcome back to Girl meets Books. I am super ecstatic to have you back on the blog. A Lauren Layne feature is always my kind of post.
LL: Aww, thank you so much! I am BEYOND happy to be here!
The last time you were here we talked about your Sex, Love, & Stiletto series. But today, we’ll be talking about your Redemption series, which is in the New Adult genre. How did you find yourself writing in this particular genre? Was it something that was in your writing career plan or did the voices and the stories just needed to be heard and read?
LL: It pains me a little to say this, because I’m one of those slightly anal, super organized people who has a color coded business plan, massive outlines, etc, but I stumbled into New Adult 100% by accident!
I’d always imagined myself writing contemporary romance and then eventually venturing into the YA world. I didn’t even know what NA was! But then my lovely agent called me up one day and said she had editors looking for this mysterious “new adult” and she thought my voice would be a good fit, and did I want to give it a shot?
I figured—why not? I sped-read a handful of the New Adult “classics” and then sat down to write my own. I have to say that I really, REALLY love it. The first person element of NA give it such a different feel from traditional romance, but while still having a love story at the heart of it.
When Ethan’s book, which is sort of like a prologue of your Redemption series, came out as a stand-alone, I didn’t even imagine that you would get to write and we would get to read Olivia’s story and now, Michael’s story as well. How did that come about? Did you have their stories in mind already when you were still writing Ethan’s story?
LL: Another accident! Maybe I’m not as much of a planner as I thought 🙂 Isn’t She Lovely (Ethan’s story) was 100% intended to be a stand-alone. It never occurred to me to do any kind of spin-off, much less Olivia’s story.
But then my editor asked if I had any other NA (I didn’t) and I got to thinking about what I wanted to write. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do a Beauty & the Beast story, but with a fresh “spin” in which the heroine was beautiful on the outside, but “ugly” on the inside in some way, while the hero was ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside. And then it hit me … Olivia was the perfect heroine! Gorgeous and perfect on the outside, but completely torn up on the inside from a huge mistake in her past.
After that, it became pretty clear that I needed to tell Michael’s story as well!
I wouldn’t exactly call Michael an anti-hero and I think he is his own toughest critic. He sort of brings the meaning of ‘tortured hero’ to another level. What made you decide to make his character the way he is? What was it like building his character for this story?
LL: You know, Michael was a little different for me in that I created him as a villain in Isn’t She Lovely without ever thinking he’d have his own story. Similarly, he played a small but crucial role in BROKEN. Basically, by the time I sat down to tell his story, he was fully formed by these events in his past. It was never a conscious decision to make Michael tortured, he simply was. He made bad mistakes, yes, but he also has had a pretty rotten streak of luck. I never had any doubt he was a good guy. The challenge really was figuring out what would bring out the good in him. Or perhaps the better question is WHO would bring out the good in him.
Let’s talk Chloe. (I love her, by the way) She’s so snarky and witty and adorable. How did you find her? lol 🙂 What inspired you to write her character for this book? What made you decide: Chloe + Michael = YES!?
LL: Oh man … Chloe was both a very deliberate choice and a wonderful surprise. Michael is still pretty hung up on Olivia at the beginning of the story, thinking she’s the love of his life, so I knew from the very beginning that I needed the ACTUAL love of his life to be Olivia’s opposite. Noisy, messy, a little bit loud …
But even knowing that I had a rather snarky, outgoing heroine, I wasn’t prepared for how great she was going to be. She’s absolutely my favorite heroine I’ve ever written. More than any other character, she was “talking” in my head faster than I could possibly write her.
One of my favorite things about this story is the banter between Michael and Chloe. I love the atmosphere that it creates, the level of intimacy and closeness that it can depict. I know you love great banters too. How do you make these work? I often wonder how authors write these particular dialogues. Is it easy or difficult? Do they come to you easily or do you have to squeeze them out of your characters, so to speak? How do you decide when a particular exchange or banter is just right for a particular scene?
LL: You know, I’m sure it depends on the author, but for me the banter and dialog is always the easiest part of writing. My absolute favorite scenes are one in which the hero/heroine are chatting or fighting. If it were up to me, I’d write scene after scene of the witty banter, but alas, I need some plot in there to hold it all together. And I can’t tell you how many times my editors are like “hey, Lauren, don’t forget the setting – give us something about WHERE this conversation is happening. What are they wearing? What’s the restaurant like?” It’s a good reminder that a complete story needs more than just conversation. But man, is the conversation fun!
Another thing that I loved about this story is the slow-burn romance. I felt and experienced every step of their blossoming friendship and relationship that it wasn’t so hard to become and to stay invested in their HEA. Do you enjoy reading or writing slow-burn romances too? I know I always ask for your recommendations, but can you recommend any of your favorite books that have slow-burn romances, if there’s any?
LL: Honestly, the slow-burn romances are my favorite, because to me, the best part of a romance is the build-up. I’d much rather write/read about the sexual tension than the actual sex scenes! That being said, I think slow-burn romances are a little out of vogue right now. My slowest of my slow burn romances is ONLY WITH YOU, and I get a lot of complaints that it took too long for something to happen. And I notice that it’s getting harder and harder to find them, especially in contemporary romance where things are very “sexy” right now. I’m trying to think of a good slow-burn romance, and I’m coming up blank!! I will say historical romances are better for the slow-burn. The time period and all the rules/etiquette ensure that things HAVE to move slow. Tessa Dare, Sarah Maclean and Lisa Kleypas are my favorite historical authors.
I know that some of your future projects are still top-secret. But in general, are you planning to write more NA books in the future? (Please say yes… 🙂 lol)
LL: Yes, certainly! I actually signed a 3-book contract for a new NA series back in the summer of 2014, but because I have so many other projects ahead of it, it won’t be out until 2016/2017. (hint: I haven’t even started writing it yet). But don’t fret … I do have a standalone NA called BLURRED LINES coming out in August of this year to tide you over! It’s a friends-to-lovers story, and for anyone that’s been missing some of the levity of ISN’T SHE LOVELY, you’ll adore this book. It’s a pretty straight up romantic comedy (but still with plenty of butterflies in the belly moments!)
Thank you very much for dropping by again, Lauren. You are always welcome here on the blog. I can’t wait for your future releases!
LL: As always, thanks for having me!!! I love how thoughtful your questions are!
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.
Connect with Lauren Layne:
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Have you read any of Lauren Layne’s books? Aren’t they just amazing? If you haven’t read any of hers yet, pick one up right now.