Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
by Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 Pages
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Blurb via GoodReads:
Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Roomies, Beautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.
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?
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher.
Well… From the blurb and the cover, I was expecting a cutesy little light romance. For a while, that’s what it seemed like I was going to get. As the story develops, however, the cutesy factor gets dialed down in favor of steamy sex scenes and Hazel’s raunchy musings. I’ve read some romances that have decent crossover appeal for people who don’t read a lot of romance; this isn’t one of them. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, only that the reader should know that the romance is the major draw in Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. If you don’t care much for romance, you won’t find much to like in this novel.
Hazel is cartoonishly zany; this girl should have “hot mess” tattooed on her forehead, but her antics are strangely endearing. Prim and proper Josh serves as the perfect counterpart for this “opposites attract” love story. Hazel pushes Josh outside of his comfort zone to help him enjoy life, and Josh keeps Hazel tethered to earth and some semblance of normalcy.
The main drawback of this story was that it was sometimes, like Hazel, too much. Everything about this story felt loud and exaggerated. Hazel was cute and quirky, but sometimes too ridiculous to feel believable as an adult woman. The unfortunate double dates Josh and Hazel set up are filled with a cast of characters wildly varying, but almost always feeling like some manner of caricature.
However, I loved Hazel’s free-spirited independence. She knows she’s “too much” for most guys, but she’d die before she’d dial down her personality to please somebody else. She is her mother’s daughter in every respect. Her father found her mother’s quirky personality embarrassing; having grown up seeing their unhappy marriage, Hazel is determined to find someone who loves every bit of her or to simply stick it out on her own.
Josh’s Korean heritage is not just a footnote in this story; his heritage is woven into the fabric of his identity, and family plays a big role in his life. This felt like surprisingly thoughtful and respectful representation for a book that was not primarily about race and identity.
Overall, this was a cute friends to lovers story with some spice thrown in for good measure. If you’re in the mood for a comfortably predictable feel-good book, pick up a copy today.
Do you read romance novels? Do you prefer them cute and cuddly or hot and spicy?
Do you prefer romance to be the focus or is it better as an addition to a good story?
Discuss in the comments!