Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
By Christina Lauren (Combined pen name of writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings)
Read by: Todd Haberkorn and Jayme Mattler
Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hrs and 16 mins
Release date: 09-04-18
ISBN 9781508259145 | September 2018
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
The New York Times bestselling “romance It Girls” (Kirkus) bring you a hilarious, sexy romance about love perpetually unrequited (and denied), in the vein of their Roomies and Beautiful Bastard.
Foul-mouthed, quirky, sharp-as-a-whip Hazel never thought she would win the heart of her gorgeous college TA, Josh. And, in fact, she didn’t. But what a difference ten years can make. Well…ten years, and a lot of legwork.
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? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CL8YSK1
What happens when an adorable, free spirit without a filter and a buttoned up hot guy get together? In this case it is a formula for a steamy and funny romance with moments of slapstick humor and ditzy hilarity.
When Hazel is in college, her antics would have made her seem pretty much a nightmare to Mr. Straight-and-Narrow, Josh with whom she embarrassed herself a few times in college. They still seem to make her “undateable” for him. But, they do decide to be friends, or as Hazel says, best friends when they meet up at a party at her best friend’s house. There’s a relationship crossover here that the authors try to explain away but their explanation seemed weak to me.
No matter the exuberance of this character, Hazel, has is super charming and [even] charmed me. You can just see her as the zaniest friend you ever wish you had. She is who she is and she loves herself. That is due to her mother being much the same way and living her truth. They have a unique and very caring relationship. Hazel OWNS herself and it really makes the story. She is not embarrassed by herself – she loves who she is and she doesn’t let any man diss her. She also owns her sexuality with positivity. She is a fun character with good qualities that could be contraindicated by her ditziness but which, somehow, work.
Josh is really buttoned-up and the opposite, behaviorally, of Hazel. I think the thing here is they share values even though they hail from disparate cultures. Hazel was raised in a split family and mostly by her free-spirited mom and Josh ancd his sister were raised by parents who emigrated from Korea when they were first married. They seem like they were traditional, but having moved here, were open-minded. Both characters are closer to their mothers, and it is that closeness and the importance to each charater of that relationship that makes it all possible.
When they go on the double dates mentioned in the blurb, it is obvious to everyone what’s going on – except of course to them.
The main plot points are pleasantly predictable. There are some fun twists, and poor communication at one point has too much plot hanging on it. The sheet time is pretty hot, and fun with a little awkward mixed in. The banter is great — I like saucy banter. I really loved the Korean food aspect – it made me want some good fried rice! And Hazel’s pets, especially Winnie, are charming.
Along the lines of banter, it’s all helped by the narration. When there’s a lot of dialogue, narration is the make-or-break of an audiobook. The two narractors are both spot on. Haberkorn nailing Josh Im’s straight-laced decency and feelings, as well as his hotness. And, Mattler is the perfect Hazel: airy, but deep; a woman whose inner child is definitely not repressed.
I enjoyed this both times I listened to it and that is pretty amazing: a lot of steamy contemporary romance doesn’t hold up on a second listen, but this one does.