Lauren, Christina. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. New York: Gallery Books, 2018.
Paperback | $16.00 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1501165856 | 309 pages | Contemporary Romance
Every time I think Christina Lauren can’t top themselves, I seem to find myself proved wrong with every new book of theirs I pick up. And while the other books I’ve read from them have each been wonderful and special in their own ways, there were quite a few reasons I enjoyed this one.
For one, this is one of the most fun friends-to-lovers books I’ve ever read. I love how well Josh and Hazel play off each other, with a firm foundation of a genuine friendship that includes seeing each other at their worst, that easily translates into something more…even if they don’t realize it initially, due to their perceived incompatibility.
Josh as a hero is really special to me, as while romance novels often fall into the standard formula of the hero typically being the one I want to fall in love with, and the heroine being the one I’d like to be like or be friends with, I found Josh filled both roles well. Part of it had to do with his family and Korean heritage, which resonated with me as I’m part Korean. I also have immense respect for the authors and their depiction of Josh and his family, making his ethnic background part of him without fetishizing him or making him a stereotype, and instead making him a fully fleshed out person.
That’s not to say that Hazel didn’t resonate with me as well. I can relate to her awkwardness, and while she is zany and quirky, it’s never to the point of being annoying. And as I’m fascinated with books that don’t fall into standard romance archetypes, I like that she’s the one that had a lot of casual sexual experience, stemming from the drama of an intense on-and-off past relationship, contrasting with Josh, who is known as a “serial monogamist.”
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves laugh-out-loud romantic comedies with quirky heroines.