Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not DatingJosh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on September 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

FINAL DECISION: Quirky and sweet contemporary romantic comedy. I read this one on a whim and ended up loving the story between two opposites. It was cute and fun and just perfect for a couple hour’s escape.

THE STORY: Hazel Bradford is a lot to handle. Chaos follows her everywhere, she doesn’t have a filter and she has a habit of doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. She met Josh Im in college when she vomited on him at a party. Ten years after college, the two meet again and Hazel is determined to be Josh’s best friend. After a bad breakup, Hazel convinces Josh to agree to go on a blind date with Hazel. Well, they would each set the other up with someone and they would double date.  The two have no interest in one another, but somehow their dates don’t work out and the attraction between Hazel and Josh keeps growing.

OPINION: Some books you just have to approach with an open mind and an open heart. Not that everyone would love this book if they did, but I know that I had to be open to this book to enjoy it.

Hazel is a lot to take in. She is a whirlwind — chaotic, intemperate, brash. But she also is completely open to loving other people. She cares deeply. The chaos and her inability to censor herself would be something that might annoy me greatly — until I saw how caring she is. She wants to love so much that she opens herself up and is hurt again and again. And yet she keeps caring for others. And that is what makes her who she is.

She is desperately aware that people are attracted to her, but that she becomes too much and people expect (or want) her eventually to tone down. But she doesn’t. Although Hazel is confident in herself, she also doesn’t believe that she has any chance with Josh.  She dubbed him “Perfect” as in the model for the perfect guy. Her caring for him makes her want to be close to him, but because she doesn’t believe he can be for her, she instead wants to be his best friend.

Hazel and Josh begin a friendship that is funny and sweet at the same time. She brings color and imperfection into his life. Josh brings some order into Hazel’s. Josh, however, is always completely accepting of Hazel. He may not understand how her mind works, but he doesn’t criticize her or try to make her into someone else. Hazel is a force of nature and Josh is the calm in the storm.

The two end up on a series of terrible dates (with other people) which end up being an odd courtship between them. I loved the humor and the pure acceptance between these two.

This is the first Christina Lauren book I’ve actually read. I have a bunch on my TBR list and own a bunch, but I have always set those aside to read something else. Why did I decide on this one? Because the hero is Korean American. I thought the interracial romance was handled well.

My only complaint about the story was the ending and the epilogue. I’m not a fan of leaving obvious story points unfinished and them coming back in the epilogue to give answers. I love epilogues, but personally prefer that the story be complete without it and then have the epilogue as a bonus. But that is a quibble with what was a wonderful, light and fun romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: The story is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: JOSH + HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to help prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

four-half-stars

Review: Sweet Filthy Boy

Review: Sweet Filthy BoySweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons, #1) by Christina Lauren
Series: Wild Seasons #1
Published by Gallery Books on May 13, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 385
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: The story was okay, but didn’t grab me. I got tired of the characters who seemed to be stuck in a neutral position for most of the book. Just an okay read overall.

THE STORY: A crazy weekend in Vegas celebrating college graduation becomes something more when Mia Holland ends up following her one night stand to Paris. The summer spent with Ansel Guillaume is completely different from what the dutiful Mia is expected to do. But as the weeks of summer count down, Mia has to ask herself whether there is something between them that is worth fighting for.

OPINION: I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Christina Lauren until this book. This one was only okay for me. Both the beginning and ending of this book were good, but there was too much time in the middle when the characters didn’t seem to be going anywhere in their relationship.

And ultimately, I don’t know that the characters problems were really resolved. Instead, I felt like this book could have benefited greatly with an epilogue. Instead, I couldn’t help but feel that too much was left unsaid by these characters and replaced by sex. While sexual exploits are something I expect from a Christina Lauren book, I think in this book the sexual relationship was a diversion rather than something that brought the characters closer together. Perhaps because we never got Ansel’s point of view, I also felt that he remained too distant and unknowable throughout the story.

I did enjoy Mia’s journey and I was intrigued by the glimpses of her friend’s possible stories. I also liked Mia and Ansel growing in their relationship by the end.

WORTH  MENTIONING: This book sets up the next two books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SWEET FILTHY BOY is the first book in the Wild Seasons series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Beautiful Beginning

Review: Beautiful BeginningBeautiful Beginning (Beautiful Bastard, #3.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #3
Published by Pocket Star on November 19, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 208
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: The story of the marriage of Chloe and Bennett, getting to see the characters all in a happy place was nice, but I wasn’t as drawn into this story as much as the other novellas. The humor felt more forced and less exciting, but still a nice revisit.

THE STORY: Chloe and Bennett started out with arguing and angry sex, but now they are getting married and there is plenty of anger at family and no sex because Bennett wants to wait for the wedding night. A series of crazy capers happens when it is time for the wedding.

OPINION: I always enjoy seeing all the characters from the Beautiful series in situations that are not about their emotional turmoil but rather about enjoying their relationship. This novella is a cute episode with the crazy events surround Chloe and Bennett’s marriage. What I enjoyed most about the story is how we get to see Bennett’s intense love for Chloe. Definitely sigh-worthy. Although the story has a lot of humor, I wasn’t as engaged with the story as with the prior stories. I liked the story, but didn’t find it as hilarious as others.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is an adorable novella with all the cast and crew of the prior books in the Beautiful series. It clearly was designed to be an ending to the series although the authors continued the series a few years later.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING is book 3.5 in the Beautiful series. It should be read as part of the series as it assumes knowledge of the characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Beautiful Player

Review: Beautiful PlayerBeautiful Player (Beautiful Bastard, #3) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #3
Published by Gallery Books on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I enjoyed this one because I simply adored Will. Hanna annoyed me more than I would have liked, but watching Will completely fall for Hanna was worth my annoyance.

THE STORY: Hanna Bergstrom’s brother is concerned that she has become too obsessed with her work and doesn’t have a social life. He makes her promise to get out more and to call his best friend, Will Sumner, for help in getting into the dating scene. What Hanna’s brother doesn’t know is that Will starred in Hanna’s teenage fantasies and he is even more attractive now.  Will now finds a woman he can’t seem to get out of his mind and who tempts him to something more serious at the same time she doesn’t believe that anything with him can be permanent.

OPINION: I enjoyed this one primarily because I thought that Will was adorable. I loved how his stumbles and struggles with moving from a man who is happy to have relationships only about sex to wanting a relationship that is all about emotion and connection while the woman is keeping her distance.

This book continues the humor and sexiness of the series, but I got annoyed with Hanna for portions of the book. (Perhaps because the reader is privy to Will’s inner thoughts, Hanna’s actions seem harsh at times). I also don’t really like it when women won’t say what they want. Be a grown up and say what is on your mind!  On the other hand, I really loved the goofy side of Hanna who says the most inappropriate things.

The book was a really good read, but not up the excellent standards of the first two book in the series for me. But just by a little bit. The quirky and natural interaction between these characters was enjoyable and emotional.  The uncertainty and the fears that both characters give the book a sense of honesty that I especially enjoyed.

WORTH MENTIONING: My favorite moment in this story actually has to do with Max and Sara. Fans of the their book should definitely read this one.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL PLAYER is the third book in the Beautiful series. The romance here is a standalone, but there are overlapping characters from the other books in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Beautiful Bombshell

Review: Beautiful BombshellBeautiful Bombshell (Beautiful Bastard, #2.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #2.5
Published by Pocket Star on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 160
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Funny and sexy escapades with the two couples from the Beautiful series. An enjoyable add on to the series.

THE STORY: A bachelor party trip to Las Vegas is complicated when the women show up in interesting situations and Max and Bennett can’t seem to keep their thoughts on what is supposed to be a men’s only weekend.

OPINION: This is a fun little story with the Beautiful men intending to have a bachelor weekend in Vegas but finding that they would much rather be with the Beautiful women. But, of course, they have to hide their adventures.

Sexy situations and funny moments. This is a fun story for fans of the series. It is more a series of encounters and funny situations and really depends upon begin familiar with the characters and their relationships.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novella alternates the first person points of view of Max and Bennett.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BOMBSHELL is book 2.5 of the Beautiful series. It should be read as part of the series because it is really an additional vignette about the two couples in the series so far.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Beautiful Player

Review: Beautiful PlayerBeautiful Stranger (Beautiful Bastard, #2) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #2
Published by Gallery Books on April 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 345
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Whoa, this is a hot one. Sexy, a bit kinky with two characters who are charming and fun to read about.

THE STORY: After six years with a cheating jerk, Sara Dillon is starting fresh in New York. At a dance club she meets a sexy Brit and she is ready to be crazy for once. But a hot sex encounter gets complicated when Sara ends up meeting Max Stella who just happens to be good friends with her friend’s fiance. Sara and Max find that they can explore sex in unusual places and some other enhancements. Soon their no strings encounters turn to wanting to know one another and then a desire for a relationship. But Sara is wary of a man who seems to be a player after her fiance.

OPINION: I might have enjoyed this book more than the first in the series — and I really enjoyed that one. Sara and Max are an adventurous couple and the story is really one of self-discovery and acceptance. But the story never gets too serious and stays a fun, enjoyable read with lots of hot action.

Sara is finding herself after a bad relationship. Max’s life is going okay but he falls for Sara just when she is intent on keeping her distance and not taking things seriously.

I loved that Max is head over heels for Sara long before he can have confidence in Sara. I also enjoyed watching these two explore their sexual relationship in ways that are unconventional but consensual and honest.

A book that hooked me from the start. I just flew through the reading. I enjoyed the heat in this book but I enjoyed even more that this book is more concerned about the relationship between Sara and Max than sexual exploits.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book includes public sex but is monogamous.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL PLAYER is the second novel in the Beautiful series. Although there are overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Beautiful Bastard

Review: Beautiful BastardBeautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard, #1) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #1
Published by Gallery Books on February 12, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 305
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Funny, sexy and a joy to read. These characters kept me engrossed from the first page. I loved how their relationship began with angry and frustrated sex and ended up as something much more.

THE STORY: Chloe Mills is a hardworking intern working towards her MBA. Her boss, Bennett Ryan, happens to be tough, annoying, brilliant — and incredibly sexy. Bennett finds Chloe infuriating, but he can’t stop thinking about her. When the two cross the line between boss and intern, both want to deny what is between them, but can’t seem to stop. When angry and desperate attraction tempts both to want something more, the question is whether it is even possible for something more to exist between two demanding independent people.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book. The characters, the sexy, hot interactions between these reluctant lovers. The bickering, two independent and fierce people finding out that they are perfect for one another.

This is the only the second Christina Lauren book that I have read (although my review of JOSH AND  HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING is upcoming as of the date of this review). This book was so good that I immediately began reading the second book in the series.

I loved that these two characters are engaged in intense erotica type encounters, but that the book always remains rooted in the characters and not what body parts go where.

Bennett is kind of a jerk when the book starts, but by the end, I began to see him differently. These two are hot and fiery and I loved their battles.

Chloe is an independent business woman. And I really liked that the conflicts between her and Bennett respect her intelligence and her business acumen. The two have some serious bumps on the way to their HEA, but the story is never bogged down with stupid decisions or brainless encounters. These two are smart and hot and driven.

This book is just fun. The pages went incredibly fast and I devoured this book. I loved the turnaround of the normal story. Sex first and then the relationship. And yet, there is always something connecting these characters. Strong, vibrant people who have a deep passion for one another and fight their way to a happy ending.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BASTARD is the first book in the Beautiful series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars