Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Synopsis: 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?
My rating: 4/5 rom-commy stars
My Review: Full disclosure, I nearly bought a bottle of wine at Target purely for this book photo. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is a feel good rom-com, and I thought a big glass of wine would represent that nicely (there are also some very funny moments involving wine in the book, including excellent usage of one of my favorite words- quaff). But I bought ice cream instead and ate it before I managed to get a photo of it. Can you really blame me? Instead, I took a picture of the book right where I enjoyed it, curled up under a blanket in a cozy nook on my couch. 10/10 would recommend cozy couch book nooks.
I read this in a day. It’s amazing how prolific I can be whenever there are ten thousand other things I’m supposed to be doing instead! My overall impression of Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating: funny and surprisingly tender. At first Hazel felt a little too cartoony, but once you settle in and accept her as a character straight from a sitcom (Jessica Day down to the goofy hairstyles and kitschy outfits) you’ll stop cringing at her so much. I LOVED Josh. It was so refreshing having an Asian male lead who was just genuinely caring and sweet and good rather than the generic cocky white dude that dominates the romance genre.
The story really found it’s legs about halfway through. There was a good rhythm, really well-written side characters (the scene with her mom in the cafe had my heart swelling), and lots of amazing banter. I was iffy when I realized the “twist” (I suppose its more of a genre trope at this point) but it didn’t detract from the story very much. I feel like the saccharine sweet ending sold Josh and Hazel short, though. Their banter and interactions as friends was amazing and hilarious and I wish the author had kept a little more of that in until the very end.
I’ve seen lots of complaints about the ~graphic~ sex scenes but they seemed well done and not out of the range of normal for the genre to me. I’ve definitely read worse. Overall, this was a funny, feel-good, quick read that I recommend!
If you want well-written side characters, a swoon-worthy diverse male protagonist, and a story that will have you laughing out loud, you can find Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating here.