The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs.
Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet gig—until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Because Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and broody older brother of her favorite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And that same Jack who now sits on the hiring committee at MIT, right between Elsie and her dream job.
Elsie is prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but…those long, penetrating looks? Not having to be anything other than her true self when she’s with him? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice?
Title: Love, Theoretically
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Publication Date: June 13, 2023
Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
If you’ve read Hazelwood’s previous novels, then you know what to expect from this one. STEM main characters, guy falls first, academic rivals, and all the romance that comes along with it.
True to Hazelwood’s writing, this book was funny and witty. She has a way of making even people who are way smarter than me feel relatable and charming. I was smiling and laughing through multiple parts of this book particularly anytime cheese was mentioned (spoiler alert: a lot). And, like her other books, she does a great job of making the relationships, characters, and their conflicts feel real while still being obscenely romantic.
Jack was a character that was a bit mysterious, but also so loveable that I found I didn’t even care what he was hiding. I love that we saw a little bit of grump from him in the beginning then saw his true, flirty, understanding personality come out as misunderstandings were clarified.
Elsie was a character that felt fairly original and pretty relatable. She struggled with being herself around others and not lying about this or that just to please them. I loved seeing how Jack worked with her from where she was instead of trying to change her completely. And seeing her blossom into her awesome theoretical physicist self was a transformation worth waiting for.
I have a complaint about this book which is crazy considering I’ve only ever gushed about her other novels. This book was shaping up to be better than her others which I was thrilled about. Then the second half came. The second half lacked a few things the first half had like romantic angst, a good conflict, and witty banter. It was lovely to see Jack and Elsie’s relationship advance how it did, but it took away some of the magic.
Also, the conflict at the end was kinda trash. The conflict at the beginning was fire and I was so excited to see how everything shook out. And then once things did shake out I was left…dissatisfied. I think it could have dragged on longer or morphed into something else instead of leaving us with that dumpster fire conflict at the end.
One last thing, the cameo had me DECEASED. As in, please send help. I never want to move forward from this chapter.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable STEM novel from Hazelwood that I’d recommend. If you love Hazelwood’s previous novels and love her formula, then you’ll like this one. If you’re looking for something entirely new from her…this isn’t the book for you.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed a gifted and advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.