Crushed by Layne Gray: A Review

Hi friends! It's a new week so, naturally, it's time for a new book review. It's also spring break for a lot of my high school girls and teacher friends, and I think Layne Gray's debut novel Crushed will appeal to anyone who's spending their whole week being lazy on the beach. (Also, I am not jealous of you guys. Nope. Not at all.)

Crushed: A Summary

After a decade of dialing it in on her marriage – subsisting mostly on school fundraisers and designer trunk shows – Grace, on a whim, surprises her husband at the airport, picking him up in nothing more than scant lingerie and a fur coat. But that backfires spectacularly. Hoping to help, Grace’s best friend tells her of a secret retreat for discarded wives—Finedale, where Grace just may be able to get back her confidence, build her self-esteem, learn a rewarding career, or even rediscover that hot sex needn't be a thing of the past. 

Before long, Grace is orchestrating a new, fabulous life. Everything seems to be going brilliantly. But as cracks begin to appear the possibility of another, darker, truth behind Finedale catapults Grace into a role she never anticipated. 

Crushed: What I Think

Okay, first? I really love that cover. If I saw this book in-store I would snatch it right up. I get seriously peeved when I see self-published novels with crappy covers and Layne did this right. It has no bearing on the story, I know, but there isn't a reader alive who will tell you covers don't matter. They do.

Anyway. Off my soapbox.

At the beginning, Crushed seemed to fall solely in the category of over-the-top, fantasy chick lit. The whole concept of an all-inclusive treatment spa for women recovering from their husbands' infidelity is right up Sophie Kinsella's alley. And when I started reading, I felt a bit disconnected from Grace's plight. Not because of Layne's storytelling ability or because of the lavish setting, but because I couldn't quite get inside Grace's mind. I didn't really believe that she cared about Peter's extramarital relationship so, eventually, I stopped caring, too. About a quarter of the way through the book, I became far more interested in the complexities of Finedale and the other women who were living there. I picked up early on that it was more than just a treatment center, and while I couldn't have cared less about who Grace ended up with (I did enjoy those steamy sex scenes, though), I thoroughly enjoyed watching Layne unravel the tangled web of lies every character seemed to be weaving.

The last half of Crushed was more like chick-lit turned thriller, with twists and turns around every corner. There was almost too much going on, but somehow it worked. Layne is incredibly gifted at details and world-building, and her strength seems to lie in taking what are otherwise outrageous scenarios and making them believable. (With the exception of Professor Johnson's southern accent. We only talk like that in movies.) And while I never fully clicked with Grace, she was an invaluable protagonist because it was only through her actions that every other character found resolution (whether they liked it or not!). For me, Grace's story was a vehicle for transformation...and it was the transformation of everyone she met along the way that kept me reading.

Crushed is the perfect read for your next book club selection, so if you're interested: GOOD NEWS! Layne offers a lovely book club guide right here.

Want to learn more about Crushed? Buy the book here or visit Layne's website. You can also check her out on Facebook. And don't forget to enter the giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card!

Please note, I received a free copy of Crushed in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Layne Gray is an author, entrepreneur and experienced marketing strategist. Layne’s background is in technology marketing and she has worked for large companies, including as Director of UNIX Product Line Marketing at Oracle Corporation and Director of UNIX Application Marketing at Altos Computer Systems. She was the founder of LKE Productions, a global technology conference production company that ramped to over $20M in annual revenues.

Layne is a seasoned charitable fundraiser who has helped raise millions of dollars for local and national charities through events she has chaired and campaigns she has spearheaded. Bay Area beneficiaries have included the San Francisco Ballet, Junior League of San Francisco, San Francisco Zoological Society. National organizations include buildOn, UN Foundation Girl Up and Mocha Moms.
Born and raised in Oregon, Layne received a B.A. in Marketing and Statistics from the University of Oregon. She has taken the WSET Level 3 Certification and teaches wine classes around the country. Layne is an Emeritus Board member of the San Francisco Zoological Society and a sustaining member of the Junior League of San Francisco and the San Ballet Auxiliary. She lives in San Francisco and enjoys cycling, snow skiing and walking her dogs at Crissy Field. 

1 comment

samantha said...

Thanks for kicking off the tour!