Review + Excerpt: Josh + Hazel's Guide to Not Dating - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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 (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, 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?

Book Type:

Romantic Comedy

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Josh + Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
By Christina Lauren

Review + Excerpt: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

With a fresh, jovial tale of two best friends looking for love, Christina Lauren delivers another must-read rom com hit.

This talented writing duo breathes new life into the friends-to-lovers story with unforgettable characters who try to set each other up, failing miserably, and sometimes… falling into bed together.

Hazel Bradford met Josh Im in college, when she threw up on his shoes. And that wasn’t even the worst of their initial encounters.

But bumping into Josh ten years later is the best thing that’s ever happened to her, because this time, she’s claimed him as his BFF (whether he likes it or not).

With an unapologetically electric, off-the-wall personality and style, Hazel never fails to make an impression. She’s deemed herself “undatable” – too out there for anyone long term.

Josh, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Hazel, or so it seems. He’s reserved and mellow to her unrelenting exuberance. Her apartment is in a constant mess, whereas Josh’s is orderly. He’s a long-term relationship kind of guy, whereas she’s had a string of short-lived trysts that end when they tire of her eccentricities. Somehow, to Hazel’s delight however, Josh accepts her just as she is, quirks and all.

“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.”

When Josh’s current relationship ends, Hazel is determined to get him back in the game. They agree to go on double blind dates in hopes they find a match. But date after date, everything goes wrong… well, all except Josh and Hazel’s relationship. They continue to get closer, in fact, sometimes they accidentally end up in bed together, even though they’re absolutely, most definitely not dating.

But when Hazel’s past catches up with her, it forces her to examine those feelings she’s been denying for way too long. Trouble is, could a man like perfect Josh Im fall for a girl like her?

With their signature wit, irresistible banter and two characters you just can’t help but love, Christina Lauren once again delights with a story that’s wonderfully quirky and charming.

Hazel leads us through the kitchen and out the back door, and the screen falls closed at our backs. The sun is long gone but the motion-detector lights flicker on, casting shadows of the trees from one end of the yard to the other. The air is heavy and damp, thick with pine and the sweet scent of decaying mulch in the flower beds. It’s a little on the chilly side, and feels like it might rain. Even in the night air, Hazel bounds down the stairs and out onto the grass.

Satisfied that she’s found the right spot, she bends at the waist, gathering her long hair again and twisting it back into another gravity-defying bun. Winnie stops at my side, head tilted as we both watch, eager to see what Hazel has in store for us.

Straightening, she motions for me to join her.

I cross the yard. “What are you—” I start, but my words are cut off by a gust of air forced from my lungs as I’m tugged down into the dewy grass. Hazel kneels at my side and proceeds to tug off my socks, one at a time.

I look down to my bare feet and then to my dress pants and button-down shirt. “What . . . are we doing?”

She considers me for a moment but is not deterred, chewing on her lip as she moves to unbutton the top two buttons of my shirt.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” she says then, pulling my arm toward her to begin rolling up my sleeve.

“Of course.”

“Do you ever miss Tabby?”

This takes me by surprise and I look up at her. She’s so close, hovering just above me. I spot a tiny freckle I’ve never seen before on the underside of her chin.

“What makes you ask that?”

She shrugs. “You were right. Dating is rough. I think I forgot. Or maybe I’ve never done it like this before.”

Hazel looks down, meeting my eyes briefly before she turns her attention back to where she’s rolling up my other sleeve. Her touch is soft and focused; it makes me feel hyperaware, bringing the heat back to my face as I think again about what Michelle said. For the length of an inhale, I picture leaning forward, feeling the press of her mouth to mine. I swallow, not sure where the thought came from, or what to do with it.

“I can see why you were so reluctant to dive back in there,” she says quietly. “I don’t know. Just wondering whether you missed being in a relationship with her.”

“I used to think I was a good boyfriend. Looking back, I think maybe not.”

She catches my eyes again, a protective gleam there. “I’ve talked to Emily. You were a great boyfriend. Tabby was a dick.”

“I don’t know . . . maybe that was sort of convenient for me? I was beginning to realize how much we’d grown apart but it was easier to keep things the way they were than be the one making the decision.”

“That makes sense.”

“I think what I liked was being someone’s person.”

Hazel’s fingers come to rest on my wrist, and I blink up again to catch her reaction. She doesn’t meet my eyes but a flush

of color deepens along the tops of her cheeks. “You’re my person,” she says. “Thanks for sticking up for me tonight.”

She gives these vulnerable words so freely it makes fond- ness clench at something in my chest. Taking her hand, I bring it to my mouth and press a quick kiss to the backs of

her knuckles.

“I like being your person.”

The corner of her mouth turns up, and she sits back on her heels. “And Winnie’s, apparently. Who knew she was so easy for a pretty face.”

I grin. “What can I say?”

Hazel groans, rolling her eyes skyward before she moves to her feet. “All right, lover boy. Let’s do some cartwheels so I can laugh at you and wipe that smug look off your face.”

“I’m not the one insisting I can still do this. I’m fine being an old man.”

I follow, watching her legs as she makes her way across the lawn. The sky is a bruise behind her, blue and purple in the dusky light pollution from downtown. I’m momentarily distracted by the way her skin looks under the beams of the backyard lights.

Hazel takes a moment to shake out her hands and roll her head a few times in each direction. “Honestly. How hard can this be?” She moves into as deep a lunge as she can in her denim skirt. “Like riding a bike, right?”

I motion back toward the house. “Should I get the first aid kit or . . . ?”

Straightening, she stretches her arms over her head, but not before shooting a glare in my direction. She waits one, two, three seconds, and goes for it—body tumbling forward, feet in the air, and flowy tank top going right up over her face and flashing me a prolonged shot of her neon yellow bra.

When she’s right side up again, her bun has slipped to the side of her head but her expression is one of pure joy.

“Oh my God. That . . . was so FUN!” She bats the hair away from her face and tucks the front of her tank into her skirt. “And uh . . . sorry for the peep show.”

I bite back a laugh. “It wasn’t a hardship.” I tilt my head. “You going again?”

She does, and if possible, her smile is even bigger than the first time.

“Why did I ever stop doing this?” she says, clearly dizzy but continuing on to do a line of cartwheels down the grass.

Once vertical, she points to me. “Your turn.”

“Me?”

“Yeah!”

Wrapping her fingers around my wrists, she tugs me to stand in front of her.

“I can’t. I’m taller than you.”

She blinks a few times, confused. “So?” “It’s further to fall?”

“Come on. We’ll do it together.”

“Hazel.”

Josh.”

I glance around the yard, suddenly nervous. “The neighbors will see me.”

Unswayed, she moves to my side and gets into position. “Come on, it’s dark. Arms up. One . . . two . . . three!”

The world turns upside down and when it rights itself again, Hazel and I are a tangle of arms and legs in the grass, and I’m laughing so hard it hurts.

“Ow,” I say, rubbing my stomach and everything else I managed to pull on the way down.

“But was I right?” She’s breathless, hair wild and face flushed and how has nobody seen how crazy and fucking amazing she is?

I decide right there to make sure somebody does.

“Yeah, Haze. You were.”

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