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

If you're searching for a steamy, romantic comedy, you'll love Christina Lauren's Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating. It's a quick and enjoyable read that's perfect for a summer book list.

The main characters, Josh Im and Hazel Bradford, have known each other since college, but are reunited seven years later when they discover Josh's sister is Hazel's coworker and good friend. Josh and Hazel are complete opposites — he is an even-keel, loyal and reserved physical therapist. Hazel is an authentic, free-spirited and eccentric third grade teacher.

In an effort to help Josh move on after a devastating break-up, Hazel and Josh decide to set each other up on double blind dates. Through a series of dates, ranging from bad to worse, Josh and Hazel discover their relationship is more than just friends -- both emotionally and physically. But, their past romantic experiences, coupled with their stark differences in personality, challenge the notion that they form and maintain a long term relationship.

Then, Hazel and Josh find life coming at them fast and in unexpected ways. Both of them must overcome their fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities to forge a committed future together. As a reader, I felt a deep satisfaction and pride in Hazel and Josh's growth during their months of "not dating" until the final pages of the book. As always, Lauren's character development and dialogue drive the story from start to finish. I loved the main characters even when I found them frustrating and unreasonable -- a true sign of strong writing.

This is a fun and fast-paced read that will have you swooning, smiling and laughing out loud. One of my favorite scenes is during one of their first double dates when Hazel and Josh, along with their blind dates, play the trivia game at the bar. The characters' quick wit and banter had me laughing until I cried.

So, as you're making your beach and pool book list for 2021, you'll definitely want to consider Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating!

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