Josh + Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge.
If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.
Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.
Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Rom-Com Happy
Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren is a standalone rom-com featuring polar opposites Josh Im, the mellow physical therapist, and Hazel Bradford, the playful, wild and free teacher. After a series of ... unfortunate interactions between the two in college, both are rather surprised to meet seven years later at Josh's sisters summer BBQ, a sister who happens to be best friends with Hazel. And Hazel being Hazel, she latches on with her "octopus tentacles" and declares that Josh Im is going to be her best friend. As Hazel breathes new life into Josh after he finds out his long term girlfriend has been cheating on him, their unlikely friendship grows. As a way to get back out on the scene, they set each other up on blind, double dates. But as the dates get worse, and their mutual attraction gets stronger, can they withhold their feelings for the sake of their friendship? And if they give in, are they even compatible?
Listen, the last couple of romances have been duds for me. I needed a lighthearted romance, with a touch of smut, good, solid writing, and something that invoked emotion - other than annoyance. I also needed a book starting with the letter J for the alphabet challenge, but didn't want to get into a series, as I am EAGERLY awaiting Grace and Glory in a couple of days (as you can tell, I am writing this post ahead of time). That is when I stumble on this little gem on my TBR. I've been meaning to try a Christina Lauren novel for some times now (Christina Lauren is the combined pen name for co-authors and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings), and I figured, why not? It sounds cute.
Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating was a hit for me. A FREAKING HIT! It is original, combining several tropes (second chance, friends to lovers, and opposites attract), the story is fast paced, and fun. And I'm not just using that word. It is well and truly FUN. And our two main characters are adorable! Hazel is the shining star, with her big heart, her chaotic (in a good way) personality, and tendency to say everything the pops up in her head. I honest to god was laughing to the point of CRYING several times reading this book, not just because of the situations she landed herself in, but her inner monologue is great. And believable! So many times I read a romance, and the stumbling block in a relationship makes me roll my eyes. But Hazel's ... it was a genuine roadblock that brought a level of realism to this rom-com. And Josh ... oh I love Josh. Quiet, reserved, mellow ... he the polar opposite to Hazel's wild. But not once does he think she is embarrassing, or weird. Not once does he try to change her. And while he thinks she is wild, its one of the things he loves about her. He is the calm in the storm of Hazel, and it works. Another thing I loved about Josh's character was his culture being so important to him. Many times authors will write a character who ignores their culture because its frankly easier. But in small little moments, Josh's Korean culture comes through naturally. It's nice. Their friendship is wonderful, with many moments that had me laughing or crying. The steam - because yes, there is steam - is written descriptively but is tasteful. No overused terms that both romance readers, and best of all, its written realistically. It's the first time in a romance where both characters are surprised that she had two orgasms'. Knowing in reality, for a lot of women out there its lucky if they have one, let alone two, it's nice to encounter this reality in a romance.