Review: Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, Edelweiss
Status: standalone

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 wasn't sure any CLo book could come close to my love of Beautiful Player or Dirty Rowdy Thing, but by golly, Josh & Hazel gave the others a run for their money! You guys should know by now, I am HERE for books with shenanigans, and this Guide to Not Dating had them in SPADES. Normally I want romance couples to get together as quick as possible (although slow burn romances torture me  so good!), and I slightly worried the blind date shtick would get tired, but no fear! Each new date brought on a new set of wacky happenings that had me ROLLING with laughter. I think CLo did an amazing job of balancing all of these ridiculous—and hilarious—first date nightmares with actual development of Josh and Hazel as individual characters AND to their relationship. I really looked forward to each disaster date because not only could I expect a popcorn-worthy catastrophe, I also started looking forward to the post-date, when Josh and Hazel would go back to his place or hers and talk about how bad the dates were. I LIVED for those sweet, quiet scenes afterward when they'd laugh or be gentle with one another. Those moments were the ones when I delighted in their closeness and also was pushing their faces together in my head.

Hazel is described as having a "zany playfulness" in the summary, and this is 100% what you get. She's extremely sweet, but she's also incredibly quirky and kind of a steamroller at times. This isn't a characterization that I'd normally get behind, but I really think it works here. Josh is a very calm, thoughtful guy. Not thoughtful as in considerate but as in contemplative and deliberate. He's a restrained guy who you can tell likes things "just so." But then Hazel comes around and pushes against his boundaries, makes him step a bit outside his comfort zone. He's in his late 20s, but Josh feels a lot older than that because he seems a bit stuffy. I like that Hazel loosens him up. Hazel absolutely oversteps at times, but I like that these two figure it out together and create a relationship that works for them, first as a friendship and then more.

What's amazing is that as playful and seemingly platonic as their friendship starts out, once Josh and Hazel break that barrier, WOWZA. These two have some INSANE sexy chemistry. The progression of their relationship seemed very natural, but once they crossed that line between platonic and VERY MUCH NOT PLATONIC, hoo boy, they light. it. up! And yes, I do believe they were firmly platonic in the beginning. Hazel kind of came onto Josh at one point in college, but she was drunk and wild. Even when she's thinking about how hot he is, I didn't get the sense that there were romantic feelings there. And I liked that. Their romance blossomed out of a sweet friendship and a close comfort with one another.

I always enjoy Christina Lauren books (they're among my most reread!), and Josh & Hazel is one of the absolute best! I think they hit each beat perfectly, and readers are going to have a lot of fun reading about Hazel and Josh's wild (mis)adventures. I can definitely see myself adding this into a frequent reread rotation, and although this book is very much a standalone (I didn't see much room for spinoff potential), I hope to read more CLo books like it AND I hope Hollywood takes notice. We deserve to see this one on a big screen!

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The coauthor duo writes both young ddult and adult fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. Their books have been translated into 30+ languages. (Some of these books have kissing. Some of these books have A LOT of kissing.)
Author Links:


  1. Your review makes me really want this book now. I love the premise of this book and that you more than enjoyed the chemistry and relationship development. This sounds so much fun to read. Now I need a cozy reading spot and Sherpa blanket and this book for a "blind date."

    1. It's SO much fun, and your bookish blind date sounds amazing!

  2. Ugh I want to read this so bad! My library hold is still 7 weeks out!

    1. I promise it's worth the wait! And you could always try their other books while you wait.

  3. The only Christina Lauren book I had read before this one was Roomies and it left me overwhelmed. So I was super happy that I loved this one too. SO Many SHENANIGANS!!!

    1. I still need to read Roomies (especially because MOVIE) and a couple others, but I'm a HUGE fan of this duo!

  4. I've been curious about this author since all the hype when Roomies was released, but I wasn't sure if this book was for me, that is until I read "zany playfulness." I think this might just be what I need.

    1. It's such a feel-good book, and I think zany playfulness is exactly what a lot of us need right now.