Tag Archives: Christina Lauren

Beautiful Player (Beautiful Bastard #3) by Christina Lauren

Standard
Beautiful Player (Beautiful Bastard #3) by Christina Lauren

Lauren, Christina. Beautiful Player (Beautiful Bastard #3). Gallery Books, 2013. ISBN 978-1476751405 432 pp. $16.99

***

Hanna, known to her close family and friends as Ziggy, is a scientist and self-proclaimed nerd who doesn’t get out much. Her older brother and dad descend upon her and challenge her to get a life and have some fun, and her brother Jensen tells her she should call Will–the friend from high school that he doesn’t know Hanna had a massive crush on. Will was always a stud (her last recollection of him is disappearing with not one but TWO bridesmaids at her sister Liv’s wedding. Liv, the sister Will made out with on another occasion.

Game for getting out of her rut, Hanna calls Will, who agrees to meet her for a run. She doesn’t run. He introduces her to two women in his circle of friends (Sarah and Chloe from books 1 & 2) who help her get not only a sports bra, but some lingerie that actually fits. Will finds Hanna, with her naivete and lack of guile and fascination with sex, refreshing; she realizes her crush never went away, even knowing that Will has scheduled sex dates with two different women once a week. Will enjoys being her tutor in all things running, and eventually, all things sexual.

The sex is detailed, consensual, safe, and hot, and when they opt to go to her family’s home for the weekend and have to hide their love away, humor ensues.

I’m a little late to this series and have unfortunately read them a bit out of order because they’re hard to get via public library–even in ebook format– because the books are deliciously smutty.

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Standard
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Lauren, Christina. Something Wilder. Simon & Schuster, May 17, 2022 ISBN 1982173408 384 pp. $22.99

****

This departure from Christina Lauren’s romantic comedy oeuvre is an unputdownable adrenaline-fueled rush. In typical fashion, a past flame reappears and the passion is reignited. Lily Wilder, daughter of a famous rancher, expedition leader and amateur treasure hunter, lacks the funds to buy back the old homestead. She was in love once, for five months, with a sweet city boy who returned home to care for his injured mother and never called, wrote, or returned. She fills her time with horses and hookups. Leo Grady, love of her life, shows up ten years later with three friends for a canyon trip she and her friend Nichole are leading, and both Lily and Leo are utterly shocked.

Lily puts on a good (staged) show, following in the footsteps of the infamous bank and train robber Butch Cassidy, with her clients solving puzzles and ciphers as part of the tour. Things go wrong when one of the party reveals he want to treasure hunt the missing fortune for real.

“I feel like we’re in The Goonies,” says one of the characters about halfway through. It’s an apt comparison: there is a property to be saved, a pivotal map, puzzles to be solved, a budding romance, two groups of loyal friends, Reddit-fueled incels instead of the Fratellis, a high speed chase, and a kidnapping and escape. The sparks between Leo and Lily are palpable, and the romantic bits will speed up your pulse as well. The canyons of Wyoming are rendered in wonderful sensory details and the ending is satisfying, if predictable.

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Standard
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Lauren, Christina. The Soulmate Equation. Dial Press, 2022. ISBN 400 pp. 978-0593379165 $17.99

****

I spent 2 years on Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Tinder and OKCupid just looking at profiles until I met my the love of my life. I was holding out for a 90% or better compatibility on OKCupid (and striking out) when I accidentally swiped UP (superlike!) on a not-yet-divorced man on Tinder (a site I barely used, because I was looking for long term, not a quick hookup). Tinder was a stopover for him while he was perfecting a J-Date profile. I’d like to think if we had completed all those tests on OKCupid, we’d be a solid 90% match.

In The Soulmate Equation, single mom statistician Jess has just sworn off dating. She and her best friend work from a local coffee shop, a place where you could set your watch by the attractive man who comes in at 8:24 every morning, face buried in his phone. When it turns out he runs a dating company that finds matches based on genetic compatibility across 200 genomes, Jess and her friend romance novelist Fizzy end up getting a tour, the pitch and send in a spit sample for a possible match; Jess ends up 98% compatible with the grumpy but hot owner, River.

The company, poised to go public, offers to pay Jess $30,000 to date River for three months; the match is too good not to share, and a real relationship for the two of them would solidify the data. Jess agrees, so long as her adorable 7-year-old Juno is kept out of the PR spotlight. River comes up with the clause they are under no obligation to get physical. Jess and River find themselves ordering the same meals, making similar gestures on their dates, and their chemistry is palpable. River shows up for Jess in all kinds of ways–picking up Juno at school, standing vigil at the hospital after the grandmother that raised her has an accident–but when Jess comes upon some information that could compromise the data, and the company, she can’t remain silent, even though she risks losing everything she ever wanted.

San Francisco is a strong presence in the book, and Jess’s grandfather’s love of crossword puzzles is one of the things that adds depth to the characterizations. Jess’s addict mother Jamie keeps everything a little too real. I completely geeked out over all the data science. My only complaint is I would have liked some remaining questions answered.

If my love and I were able to get a genome sequencing, like the characters in the book, would we come out with a strong match? I think so. Would we want to know the results? Again, I think so-it would just prove what I already know to be true.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #TheSoulmateEquation from #NetGalley

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Standard
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Lauren, Christina. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. Gallery, 2018. ISBN ‎ 978-1501165856 320 pp. $
*****

School teacher Hazel, with her menagerie of pets, variety of hobbies, and a history of zany adventures, has had a crush on slightly uptight Josh ever since their shared anatomy class in college (the novel opens with her puking on his shoes at a party—hardly a meet-cute). Fast-forward ten years, and Hazel, just hired to work at a new school, is shocked at an end-of-summer cookout to learn that her former TA is the brother of one of her best friend. Emily pushes them to hang out and a broken pipe disaster results in Josh getting talked into allowing Hazel to crash with him. She supports him through a breakup, and their friendship is solidified by their self-proclaimed “undatable” statues. Both single, they start setting one another up on (unpurposely bad) blind dates. Hilarity ensues, and their relationship deepens… and you know where this is going, right?

Shared in tandem voices, the story is replete with funny dialogue, excruciatingly awkward details, and well-drawn supporting characters like Hazel’s mom (who is equally and unapologetically eccentric in spite of it breaking her marriage). Hazel’s warm heart paired with inner dialogue that is sometimes hilarious and sometimes insecure hits just the right balance, while Josh is sweet and mellow and controlled and real.

The abrupt ending features a cliffhanger that requires an epilogue to predictably tie up loose ends. It feels like a bit of a copout to not show the gory details and allow the reader to see the characters working through a difficult situation. Still, that Hazel never needs to change her unfiltered authentic self and the satisfying conclusion of Josh’s complete, constant acceptance of her just as she is–to the point of ENCOURAGING her to be herself by wearing silly hats–makes this a not-to-be missed contemporary romance.