Love, Theoretically released on 13th June 2023.
Rival physicists collide in a vortex of academic feuds and fake dating shenanigans in this delightfully STEMinist romcom.
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 arrogant older brother of her favourite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor's career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And he's the same Jack Smith who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing 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?
First off, this isn't a standard "fake dating" book. Elsie fake dates people as part of a service as she's broke and needs the income to make ends meet. At no point does she fake-date Jack and the "twist" that's not really a twist is that Jack's brother is one of her fake dating clients... That's why I dislike calling this book fake-dating as it's really not.
Apart from the "fake dating" marketing, this book is another Ali Hazelwood winner for me! She seriously doesn't seem capable of writing a book that doesn't chime with me.
The characters are well written, the relationship is awesome, the humour throughout the book is spot on and the drama is pretty minimal.
They are the perfect brain-soothing, soul hugging, novel a gal needs when the world is kicking her in the face.
A criticism I often see levelled at the author is that everything in her books is too "samey" and while I can see where people are coming from, I don't care. Not one little bit.
However, with Love, Theoretically I don't think the characters/plot is "samey" at all. It focuses on the more political aspects of STEM academia and that's quite different to her other books.
Elsie is different from Bee (Love on the Brain) and Olive (The Love Hypothesis) with the only similarity being her obliviousness to the guy right in front of her! And even on that point, she's nowhere near as clueless as Olive and Bee were.
Jack is a big, bulky, well rounded guy much like Levi (Love on the Brain) and Adam (The Love Hypothesis) but that's where his similarities end. He's more argumentative, his past is sluttier, he goes after what he wants (aka Elsie) and doesn't hide it. (Oh, and he has tattoos which... Yeah. They tick my boxes!)
It was a new dynamic that still held all the magic and tension of the other books.
All that's left to say is I really hope the next book from Hazelwood (after her NA entry later this year) focuses on Elsie's roommate Cece and the mysterious Kirk! I mean... He's STEM. It would fit the theme... But he's also rich from science (new) and Cece isn't STEM but a Lit PhD! (Also new...)
C'mon, Hazelwood... Make it happen!
Have you read this? What were your thoughts?