Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating is Charming and Full of Heat (Review: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren)

6:30 AM

Continuing on with my apparent goal to read everything Christina Lauren (Hello, dynamic duo!) have written so far, I finally read Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating. And I'm glad I did--it was a fun read.

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?

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren 
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)  
“I know I’m like Pig-Pen in Charlie Brown, and I have chaos around me, but it’s like he doesn’t even care. He doesn’t need me to change or pretend to be someone else. He’s my person. He’s my best friend.”

One of my favourite things about Christina Lauren's writing is the way that they portray their many characters: as flawed individuals, with quirks and kinks, laughter and angst, and everything in between. They have this little habit of giving their characters so much life, that they charm you and exceed all your expectations. Even if you don't always like the story or how it ends, you'll always have the characters. 

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating is every bit as tense and steamy as one would expected. It has an uncanny ability to make any reader grin in joy and humour. At its core, Josh and Hazel is more than a romance novel--it's a novel about the types of friendships and intimacies. It's a definite rom-com that is destined to play against your mind and take you on an emotional journey. Josh and Hazel succeeds because Josh and Hazel are more than just magnetic--they are indescribably Josh and Hazel.

I found myself laughing for a good chunk of the novel. In humor, happiness and general awkwardness. It is an excellent nod to the fact that relationships need a specific brand of humor to survive. And the banter that these two have from the very start? *Chefs kiss*  

Honestly, there is nothing but good to be said of the relationship but the real shining star of Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating is actually in the character of Hazel. There's something about her that is a breath of fresh air. Sure, she has her quirks that could have veered into underdeveloped territory, but there's something about her. That spark of life. She's different, but not in the overused trope sort of way. It was easy to root for her because she felt like that mess of a little sister you want to protect. Hazel tangles herself into the heart of Josh, but also the reader. 

My biggest, and only, complaint is the way it ends. There's this sudden shift in things that felt natural for a minute, before feeling a bit too rushed for my taste. Plus, I am not terribly keen on the way that the story ended. It's not that it's a bad ending--it's a happy one that shows us Josh and Hazel's family as it's grown--it's just that it wasn't written in a way that was my cup of tea. I am not all that interested in Epilogues as a general thing but this one felt particularly rushed. 

Which is disappointing and what knocked the star rating down for me. The rest of the novel was paced beautifully, but the last few chapters and the epilogue just went by too quickly and didn't feel right to me. Even if the plotline is what I wanted.

If you're a fan of slow-burn romances (that aren't quite slow-burn but feel as such) then Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating is for you. It is, without a doubt, essential reading for any romantic/rom-com lover. Christina Lauren will leave you laughing and swooning.

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