Book reviews: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Dear friends,

Here are a couple of cute and fluffy “chick-lit” books you might enjoy.  Both are by the writing duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings (pen name Christina Lauren):

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Josh and Hazel first met in college, and run into each other again a few years later in the “early career” stage of life. Josh was very handsome (and, to Hazel, unattainable) in college, and when they meet again, he still takes her breath away. Hazel is a quirky, bumbling, “Bridget Jones” type character who embarrasses herself all the time and doesn’t have a very good handle on her life. She calls herself “undateable” for those reasons.

Josh and Hazel become good friends, but agree they aren’t romantically suited to one another. However, they’re both single and looking, so they make an agreement to set each other up on dates, and then to go out as a foursome. These blind “double dates” are meant to ease the pressure of going out with a stranger for the first time … but they don’t work very well for Josh and Hazel. Neither of them can seem to connect with the partners the other has chosen for them.

I’m sure you can imagine where this is going.

I enjoyed it, but had a couple of issues along the way:
1 – Hazel – the “manic pixie dreamgirl” stereotype. Her bumbling is cute for a while, but there came a point where I just found her annoying. Nobody is THAT far off her game, and she started to become unlikeable to me.
2 – The ending – which I won’t spoil here – has a “twist” that I wasn’t wild about.

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I loved this one!  Read it in a day and a half, and it was so much fun.

In this book, we meet college professor Millie and her four male faculty friends, who consider her “one of the guys.”  Millie’s best friend in this group is Reid, with whom she’s always had a close and tender relationship, but neither has allowed themselves to think it could be more.  Millie often gets together with the guys to drink beer and play Monopoly, and one night after getting tipsy, she and Reid “do the deed.”  When she wakes the next morning, he has already left.

Millie learns that such an encounter is called a “half-night stand.”

Of course, their intimacy complicates everything, even though they both tell themselves it’s a one-off.  Then, they learn that an important speaker is coming to campus, and it’s going to be a black-tie affair for which they will need dates.  Rather than going as a group, or one of the guys taking Millie, they all agree that they need to find “real” dates.  Group member Ed suggests they sign up for online dating.

Millie creates an alter-ego, Catherine, for her profile, and lo and behold, she’s a 98% match with Reid.  She begins corresponding with Reid as Catherine, and the two become very close (meanwhile real-life Millie is feeling more and more self-conscious around Reid).  When Reid finally asks Catherine to meet in person, everything comes to a head.

This is a very sweet story, and I truly felt for these characters.  All of Millie’s “Catherine” messages to Reid were true and authentic, so he has fallen in love with the real girl, just under a different identity.  Millie agonizes over having gotten what she wanted, but under false pretenses.  If she tells Reid the truth, will he understand, or will he be unable to forgive this deception?

Very cute.  Please read this one!

Blessings,

Winnie and the Professor

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Book review: Matchmaking for Beginners

Dear friends,

This one is light, romantic, and lots of fun!

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Matchmaking for Beginners centers around two women:  Marnie, who at the start of the book is about to marry Noah, and Blix, Noah’s quirky great-aunt.  At the party celebrating Marnie and Noah’s engagement, Marnie gets caught up in a strange and magical bond with Aunt Blix, a bond that will last through many life changes.

Aunt Blix is a self-styled matchmaker, who can see colors and auras around people who are destined to be together, and she gets a “read” on the Marnie/Noah relationship right from the start.  Marnie herself has seen colors and auras around others, but has never understood what they meant.  Through Blix, Marnie learns that perhaps she, too, is meant to be a matchmaker.

With the help of Blix’s odd friends and unusual neighbors, Marnie begins to see that her life could take a new direction, much different from the one she’s planned.  Her life with Noah is destined to be buttoned-up and upper class, whereas Blix’s world is bohemian and strange and very intriguing.  Marnie ultimately finds herself at a crossroads where she must make a choice between the life she’s planned, and the new direction that’s tugging at her heart and imagination.

A great read!

Blessings,

Annette