I have never liked Valentine’s Day. I am all for sharing feelings of love and celebrating that, but for some reason, the commercialization of the holiday has always sat poorly with me. And as I’ve told my husband a million times, I would rather he give me a surprise chocolate on a random day – much more exciting that way! Even in high school, I wasn’t into it. And thankfully I was super weird and nerdy in high school (therefore my boyfriend was also super weird and nerdy), SO he was really supportive of my feelings on V-Day. In fact, senior year her brought me in a bouquet of asparagus instead of flowers, to celebrate. So adorably strange! And then my mom was able to cook it with dinner that night – useful gift, too. Anyways, all that being said, I was still very into reading a romance novel this month to celebrate. And as I learned last year (after loving Love and Other Words), anything by Christina Lauren would be perfect to scratch that itch. Bonus: this adorable cover.
Josh and Hazel met years ago, in college, when Hazel got drunk at a party and threw up all over him. And things didn’t go up from there…Josh also walked in on her having sex with his roommate and Hazel sent him a very embarrassing email post-surgery once. Hazel may have had a thing for him then, but she knew they probably weren’t compatible. Then, their paths separated after school and she hasn’t seen him since. Fast forward: Hazel just got a new job and runs into Josh at a get-together with her new colleagues. And she realizes that he is just as perfect now as he was in college. But he has a girlfriend now, and Hazel still thinks they’re incompatible (she’s eccentric and energetic and doesn’t want to have to hide that part of herself, while he is ordered and clean and always under control). So when circumstances bring them together again though, and Josh’s girlfriend breaks up with him, they decide to help each other by setting themselves up on double dates. As the dates get ever more disastrous though, they both start realizing that perhaps they are more compatible than they thought…
Well, this was the quick, adorable romance I was looking for. I was a little apprehensive to start, mostly with Hazel’s character. I am not always a fan of the overdone “manic pixie dream girl” type female character, which Hazel was kind of promising to be. However, as the story progressed, we definitely got to see her character develop and deepen, so it turned out to be ok. Other than that, I liked the way the “opposites attract” trope was used here. It was definitely central to the plot and relationship, but I liked that it wasn’t love at first sight at all. I appreciated that both Josh and Hazel realized that they were incredibly different and that it might make things difficult. Being friends first allowed them to learn about each other, how they work together, and let the other person be whoever they truly were without any added pressure. This made their declarations of love (and, more importantly, love with full acceptance of the other person, no modifications necessary) for each other, when they came, that much more believable. It was a really nice “twist,” if you will. Also, I liked the non-traditional way their real relationship started. No spoilers here, but it was great that they were so on the same page, comfortable with each other, and willing to take life as it came, no matter what. It was also a very modern road for the plot to take.
Overall, this was a great contemporary romance, with the right amount of tension building and moments of release (puns all intended). Although Love and Other Words was a bit…more, at least for me, this was still right on par for what I’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren – charming and sexy and fun and entertaining, with some bonus quirk. I definitely recommend it.