#DGRFave Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by @ChristinaLauren

JOSH + HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: September 4, 2018

From New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren comes a new romantic comedy about two friends who are definitely, for sure, in no way dating…maybe 

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. JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING 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?

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Sometimes your lack of filter kills me,” he says. “It’s not even like you lack a filter; you lack a funnel.”

Oh my gosh! I loved this book! If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, put-a-smile-on-your-face-and-keep-it-there rom-com, this book is it! I was immediately hooked from the first page and stayed glued to my kindle until the end. It was the most fun I’ve had reading in a while! Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was a refreshingly different take on friends to lovers and I loved every adorably quirky page!

It’s cool.” I wave an extremely casual hand. “Josh has already seen my boobs.”
The party stops. Air stills.
“I mean, not because he wanted to see them.” My brain desperately tries to fix this. “They were forced on him.”
A wind chime rings mournfully in the distance.
Birds stop flying midair and fall to their deaths.

Josh and Hazel first met in college when she threw up on his shoes at a party and proceeded to have a few more fun run ins when he was her TA. A particular favorite of mine was the email she sent him while hopped up on pain killers after having her wisdom teeth removed. Suffice it to say Hazel is the sort of woman that makes a lasting impression. She’s adorably different with her borderline manic personality, and I loved how comfortable she is in her own skin. This is a woman that knows she’s different, and she makes no apologies for it. She is who she is, and she accepts that about herself. She knows that she can be a lot to take and she won’t settle for anyone that will make her feel like she should be embarrassed about herself. I absolutely LOVED that about her.

Sorry. I’m being too Hazel-y.”
I watch her wash the dishes and manage to clean up the kitchen quite capably while I pick at my breakfast. She isn’t pouting, and it doesn’t seem like I’ve hurt her feelings—she honestly just seems to have heard something in my tone that I didn’t intend.
“What does that mean,” I ask, “ ‘being too Hazel-y’?”
Turning with a dish towel in her hand, she shrugs. “I tend to be too chatty, too silly, too exuberant, too random, too eager.” She spreads her hands. “Too Hazel-y.”

Hazel was simply adorable with her brood of equally quirky pets. There’s Winnie the poodle, Vodka the parrot, Janice Hoplin the rabbit, and the fish Daniel Craig. I mean, seriously! This is rom-com magic right here. But I digress. Hazel knows what her faults are, and she knows that she’s doomed to short lived relationships because of it. Men seem to think that her over the top personality is cute at first, but then they expect her to settle into being a ‘normal’ girlfriend. And when she doesn’t, things end.

Josh Im is Hazel’s best friend’s brother. And as fate would have it, they stumble back into each other’s life years after college. Hazel takes one look at Josh’s calm manner and unassuming personality, and immediately decides they’re going to be best friends. She makes no secret of the fact that she had a huge crush on him in college, but she knows that they’re simply not suited for each other. And when Josh’s current relationship comes to a crashing end, they make a bid on setting each other up on blind dates until each of them find ‘the one’. What ensues can only be described as one hysterically bad date after another. I was eagerly turning the pages just to read the next laugh out loud disaster of a date they’d inadvertently line up for each other next. And as the dates continue, Josh and Hazel’s unlikely friendship blossoms.

I can’t believe I’m encouraging this conversation, but you were telling me about your gynecologist snubbing you and I’m actually curious to hear how it turned out.”
“So I stopped in the middle of the gymnasium and smiled at him—not my courtesy smile, but my real one—and he just walked by.”
“Maybe he didn’t see you.”
“He definitely saw me—and don’t get me wrong, I run into guys all the time who’ve seen my vagina and pretend not to know who I am. Things don’t work out and that’s fine. But I paid this guy.”

I adored Josh. Where Hazel was a refreshingly different heroine, Josh was definitely a refreshingly different hero. He’s a serial monogamist that doesn’t sleep around. He’s sweet, serious, and in any other book he could have been entirely forgettable. But Christina Lauren made him one of the most lovable and memorable characters here; with Hazel being the perfect kooky balance.

Your turn.”
“Me?” I honestly have no idea how many guys I’ve been with, so I pull a lowball number out of the air. “Maybe twenty.”
His eyes go wide and he coughs as he swallows. “Twenty?”
“Actually probably more? Let’s say thirty.”
Josh shakes his head and laughs. “Wow, okay.”
This response is not an improvement.
“Don’t do that.” I point a finger at him. “Don’t act like I’ve crossed some magical threshold of appropriate numbers for a woman. If I was a dude and said that, you’d reply, ‘In high school, right?’ and then high-five me and call me brah.”

This was easily my favorite rom-com I’ve read all year. It was absolute perfection that kept a goofy smile on my face the entire time! I couldn’t get enough! I adored everything about this book and the characters. If you’re looking for your next read, look no further. Because this book is simply not to be missed!

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. They are New York Times, USA Today, and #1 international bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Sublime, The House, Dating You/Hating You and the critically acclaimed Autoboyography. Roomies (released December 2017), has been optioned for film by Jenna Dewan’s company Everheart Productions, with Christina and Lauren set to write the screenplay.  

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Review: Love And Other Words by Christina Lauren

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: April 10, 2018

The heart may hide, but it never forgets.

The first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco reading books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

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Other people have a falling-out. What we had felt like a rupture.

I don’t typically read women’s fiction, unless of course it’s penned by the talented duo that is Christina Lauren. Then I don’t even think twice about jumping into the story. Though truth be told, while the story encompasses friendship, life and loss, the romantic element is very much at the heart of everything. So even though it wasn’t the steamy romance that I’m used to from theses authors, the emotional connection that I developed to these characters and their story was more than enough to make up for it.

Macy Sorensen is a woman that seemingly has her life together with a loving finance and a budding medical career. But then everything comes to a screeching halt when she bumps into the one man that she never forgot or gotten over; Elliot Petropoulos. The boy that was once her everything, her confidant, her best friend, her escape, is now a man. And while it’s clear there’s a reason for their ultimate rift, the reader is left to wander what could possibly happen to tear apart such a strong bond. The story is told in alternate parts past and present, truly engrossing the readers into the connection that these two develop and share from the time they’re just children. You get to experience them becoming friends, to developing feelings, and ultimately falling for one another. Christina Lauren did such a phenomenal job with the development of these characters and their sweet and budding love. You don’t feel like you’re just reading it, you truly feel engrossed in their experience. It’s beautiful, emotional, and so incredibly real. It’s a coming of age sort of feel with the addition of true adult feelings in the aftermath. It was, for lack of a better word, beautiful.

Elliot clearly never got over Macy, and Macy clearly never got over whatever it was that made her turn away from him. Years apart did nothing to heal the wounds or dim the love they had for each other. The story is brimming with emotion and overrunning with the rawness of their love for each other and pain of their past. It was magnificent and almost painful to read at times. It had me riveted to the pages, eager for just one more morsel to truly understand what could possibly go wrong to tear them apart.

This had all the makings of an epic 5 star read for me, until the big reveal happens. Man did I struggle with my feelings about it. And while I can understand how something like that could happen in the circumstances they had, it still felt like a betrayal to everything I had learned about these characters. I’d be lying if I said a part of me didn’t absolutely hate it. Because I did. I hated it and it ripped my heart apart at the same time. But after sitting on my rating and review for over a week, I decided that I can’t discount everything else this book made me feel, including the ultimate reveal of the truth. I may have hated it, but it also made me feel. It made me feel right along with the characters, and even though a part of me can’t help but still feel like it was in part unnecessarily OTT, I get it. I truly do.

Love and Other Words was a beautifully crafted coming of age story and second chance romance. It was emotional and all encompassing. It made you feel everything. So much of it. And it left a bit of a gaping hole in your heart at the end, even while mending bits and pieces of it. I hated it and I loved it, and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Geri’s Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

ROOMIES
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: December 5, 2017

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director.

When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him.

As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway.

In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

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Come home and kick me in the teeth if you need to, but then kiss me.

Image result for swoon gif

This book isn’t just sweet & cute, it’s also full of charm and wit. It also has fantastic tension and conflict, not to mention a great chemistry between its main protagonists.

Roomies is told entirely in Holland’s point of view, which was great mainly because Holland is a character that you can’t help but love. She doesn’t have her shit together. One could say that she’s privileged, which she is, but the great thing again is that the book acknowledged her privilege. You just can’t help but root for her.  And her painful crush on the hero was not only endearing, it’s also very relatable.

Calvin was a crush-worthy hero that I honestly couldn’t blame Holland for crushing hard on him. What I really like about his character is that he’s not the quintessential ” alpha bad boy musician” hero I’m used to reading nowadays. He’s a theater nerd, and I personally find that refreshing. He’s very flawed, and his backstory is one that immigrants like me could relate to. And even if you’re not a US immigrant, you’d still feel for him.

I loved the marriage-of-convenience set up. Holland and Calvin started out as strangers and then friends until they inevitably became lovers. But things aren’t as straightforward as it may seem. There’s quite a bit of angst in this book. Not too much though, just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and invested in these characters. You want them to work out so bad but since they’re not perfect characters, imperfect decisions were made.

One other thing that makes this book for me are the secondary characters, most especially Holland’s “uncles” Jeff and Robert. Their presence in this book was a grounding force for Holland. They’re her rock and she’d be lost without them. I loved these characters so much I wanted to read more about them, preferably in their own standalone book.

Roomies isn’t a perfect book but the emotion it evoked was undeniable. The romance, the banter, the sexy times…all of it worked. It’s a quick read, too. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. It was that readable.

So whether you’re a fan of the marriage-of-convenience trope or not, I highly recommend this book. It’s sweet and angsty with characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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