As a third-year PhD candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
Sexual harassment, and attempted sexual assault.
“I would never fake-date a dude who thinks that he has to pay for my coffee just because he’s a dude.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I doubt a language exists in which the thing you just ordered could be referred to as ‘coffee'”.Ali Hazelwood, The Love Hypothesis.
Did you know, there are theories that Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is a retelling (or fanfiction) of Jane Austen’s Emma?
It’s mostly discredited, but the fact the theory exists proves (to me at least) what those on Tumblr and AO3 have known for a while – some fanfics deserve to be full-length novels.
The Love Hypothesis started as a Reylo fic (Kylo Ren and Rey from Star Wars, in case you live under a rock) but quickly became an internet sensation – and it’s one of the few books I’ve read recently which deserves so much hype. Where do I start? How I love this book, let me count the ways.
The characters – first and foremost this is a character-driven novel, with a great understanding of nuance, dialogue, relationships and feelings. Whilst heavily influenced by fictional characters (and fictionalised portrayals of real people) Adam and Olive stand on their own as sexy protagonists, exploring fake relationships, real feelings, working in STEM, as well as having fully realised personal drama that they can work through together. It was wholesome throughout, the steamy scene (unfortunately only the one) was written well, and even then looked at the baggage these characters brought to the bedroom without it feeling oppressive. Now I know some readers aren’t a fan of the ‘miscommunication’ trope, and there is a little of this sprinkled within the novel. But it wasn’t offputting for me at all – it felt authentic, and worked for both the plot and the characters.
Pacing wise, this book snuck up on me. TLH wastes no time in establishing the fake relationship, the character’s motives behind their actions, and what their plan of attack is – and so the book moves incredibly quickly. I felt like I’d only been reading five minutes, and suddenly it was over and I needed more. A friend of mine (who is also a reviewer, check her out at Velvet Library) reread this book almost immediately (I think she waited two days?) and I can totally understand the compulsion.
It has me hankering for more romance novels set within STEM, please drop any recommendations you have in the comments! It didn’t shy away from shining a light on the more toxic elements of STEM – the hierarchies, the frustrations, and the predatory nature of higher ranking scientists. As you will have seen in the TW list above, there is a scene where Olive is sexually harassed, and at one point is grabbed by another scientist. This scene is handled with such care and authority, that unlike other instances I’ve read where it seemed to be just for plot sake this version of events felt just as relevant as the rest of the novel.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoyed Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Tahlia Hibbert, or Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann. I gave it ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I can’t wait to get my hands on Hazelwood’s next novel Love on the Brain, which is about a NASA scientist learning to work with her archnemesis. Sign. Me. Up.