I love a book, especially romances that focus on women in STEM. I’ve spent my entire career in the Technology arena, and I generally am the only female on my teams. I’ve been lucky to have always worked with a great group of engineers who treat me as an equal, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Because of this I love to see women in STEM represented in books. I love reading about smart women and think this really encourages women to get into these ‘men dominated’ fields. I get off my soap box now.
Elsie Hannaway is a people pleasers. She’s always found it easier to mold herself into what people expect her to be, rather than who she actually is. As a struggling postgraduate, her talent of molding herself into others makes her the perfect fit for her side gig at ‘Faux’, a fake dating site that pays her to pretend to be someone’s girlfriend. All is well until she gets an interview for a facility position at MIT and one of the members of the interview board, Jack Smith, happens to be the brother of her favorite Faux client. Jack also happens to be the reason her mentor was discredited and Elsie’s simmering anger over Jack’s actions might just overflow. As Elsie tries to navigate not just the interview but also her interactions with Jack, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Is it the anger manifesting or is the way Jack sees through Elsie’s people pleasing ways that has Elsie contemplating letting herself love again?
To start – the fake dating while apart of the original plot, is not the central theme/trope in this book. The main romance trope is a miscommunication and enemies to lovers. I saw a bunch of reviews and comments based on the synopsis (which I loathe anyone who posts ‘reviews’ based on a synopsis) highlighting the fake dating as an exact replicate of The Love Hypothesis, which is just not the case. Our Love Hypothesis main characters do make an appearance in this book, which Hazelwood uses to highlight how small the academic world is, but beside Elsie’s side gig through Faux, there isn’t any overlap in the plot.
Ali Hazelwood, as a certified neuroscientist, is all about writing women in STEM, and I AM HERE FOR IT. This was my third book from Hazelwood and I have yet to read a book from her I don’t enjoy. Does she use the same formula in her books? Yes. Do the characters have similar traits? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely not! I read her books because I know what I’m getting into. I read her books when I need a smart quirky leading lady in my life or when I want a steamy romance. So while Hazelwood gets quite a bit of negative feedback saying her books are too similar, why change the formula when it’s working. Also, while they might be similar – the science involved in each of her books is distinctly different, and it blows my mind that she is incredibly intelligent and knows so much about so many different areas of science. So now that that is out of the way, on to the actual story!
I didn’t immediately love Elsie. I’ve never been a people pleaser, so it’s hard for me to relate but I ended up adoring her! Once she stops doing what other people expect from her, she is a force to be reckoned with. She is brilliant, funny, and her banter with Jack and her roommate are hilarious! Speaking of her roommate, Cece is hysterical. Would love for her to get the next book but atlas she is in professor in humanities and not in science.
Our male lead Jack is great! I loved that he was sweeter than brooding. It was a nice change to have an easy going lead rather than such an intense love intense. It made the book lighter and more fun!
In terms of the chemistry, I didn’t immediately feel it between our leads, but once I did, it was palpable. As all Hazelwood books do this one brings the steam and isn’t for fans of closed door romances.
Something I wasn’t expecting and had very little insight too is the policies around academia, especially in the scientific community. It is crazy competitive and INSTENSE. I loved the way Hazelwood bought this into the book and especially highlighted the extra struggle women encounter in that sphere as well.
My only comment on this book is that it has A LOT of science. I felt extremely dumb occasionally. In my defense physics was where I hardcore struggled in school, and it goes completely over my head. Ali Hazelwood is 10000% smarter than me and I skimmed some of the physics parts but to me that’s okay. This is a romance, not a textbook and I love that Hazelwood includes all the science instead of dumbing it down. Flaunt those brain women! Hazelwood does have an author’s note highlighting why she chose to include it as well.
Originally, I thought that I still liked Love on the Brain the best, but the more I think on it, the more I think Elsie trumps Bee. The witty banter, the chemistry, the supporting characters, and Elsie’s not avoiding the hard questions really seals the deal for me. Yet another great STEM romance from Hazelwood you don’t want to miss.
Love, Theoretically comes out June 13, 2023. Huge thank you to Berkley Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.