Published: 8th August 2019
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 can't believe that 'Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating' is the first book I've read by Christina Lauren, the pen name of writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. It's even more extraordinary because I love the contemporary romance genre, so I don't know how this author has escaped me so far. This was a sweet, funny romance with lots of touches of comedy along the way. I read it in one day and now I'm going to be hunting down the rest of their back catalogue.
The story is about the friendship turned romance between Hazel and Josh who have known each other since they were at college together. Hazel has always admired Josh's perfection and has a history of always ending up in embarrassing situations which he has been witness to. Ten years after their college days have ended and not having seen each other in all that time, they finally meet again. Hazel is now an elementary school teacher and her best friend turns out to be Josh's sister. What is so great about these two characters is that they are complete polar opposites who find that they actually provide balance and support for each other. Hazel is wild, impulsive, funny and pretty zany. She does her own thing and she doesn't care what people think of her. Josh on the other hand is more serious and reserved but still incredibly thoughtful and kind. Each chapter provides their alternating point of view as they become best friends and then possibly something more.
But romance isn't on the cards for them yet. First, they have a go at double-dating with other people. I thought all the scenes in the book when they are trying to set each other up with blind dates were so funny. There are some really great comedic moments in the story and I found myself laughing out loud at times. So many things end up going wrong for them but their experiences ultimately bring them closer together.
Josh is part of a Korean family which gave me an interesting insight into a different culture and his extended family. I really liked his sister Emily who is influential in bringing Hazel and Josh back into each others lives and I thought Josh's mother was very sweet too, particularly her need to provide constant amounts of food for her children.
My absolute favourite thing about this book was the super sweet epilogue. I can't say anything about it because I don't want to provide any spoilers but it was written to perfection and made my heart sing. If you enjoy contemporary romance then you need to get your hands on this book. It's a light, fun filled escapist read which totally swept me away.
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