Review by Kayleigh

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I don’t blame my parents: my brother Lance did eventually flunk out of school (and now makes an excellent living as an electrician), just like Lucas did end up being arrested (albeit behind a Shake Shack, and for possession of drugs that are now legal). Mom and Dad were tired, overwhelmed. A little poor. They’d hoped for a break, something easy for once, and I was truly sorry I wasn’t it. To make it up to them, I’ve tried to make my health issues – and any other subsequent issues – as ignorable as possible. 

I find that people like me better if they don’t have to expend emotional energy on me. 

Love, Theoretically has Ali Hazelwood at the top of her STEM romance game. 

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 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 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?

This is my favourite Ali Hazelwood to date: Love Thoerteically is funny, smart, sexy and delves into the fascinating world of academic jobs, politics and the pettiness that some of the world’s smartest thinkers can sink down to. Now, full disclosure, I work at a university with theoretical and experimental theorists, so I think I loved the STEM aspects of the book because it mirrored some of my daily life. I’ve seen people online saying “is this any different from Ali’s other books?” The answer is yes – ok so Ali writes STEM romances, so there are obviously similarities. And she definitely has a big man fetish (seriously all of her leading men are these hulking men who could probably pick me up with one hand. It’s frankly hot). But this book delivers – it dives deep into our main characters life and work and explores the fascinating (to me anyways) politics behind academia; all the while delivering some seriously scorching sexy times. This needs to be on your summer reading list.

Jack and Elsie are so funny and real. Elsie is a poor adjunct professor who is trying to make ends meet. There is a fascinating fake-girlfriend story line at the beginning of the relationship that pulls Elsie and Jack together (and involves Jack’s delightful brother, Greg). It isn’t the main focus of the whole book and I enjoyed it as it structured their relationship. What I really liked was how the book explored Elsie’s pathological need to please other people – to the point that she had lost her complete identity and didn’t actually know herself. Enter Jack: he’s kind of an anti-hero at the beginning of the story but holy crow does he worship the ground Elsie walks on. He falls first and watching him work to show Elise how much she deserves in life and how far he’s willing to go to show her how amazing she actually is warmed the cockles of my heart. Watching the two of them explore their own identities, complicated histories and their own desires and needs (both in bed and out of it) makes for a really satisfying romantic arc in the novel. And good god, Jack could teach men a thing or two about pleasure…ladies get your men to read this book!

There is a delightful amount of backstabbing academic politics and university research discussions. However it isn’t boring: Love, Theoretically has a strong supporting cast of characters who really round out Elise and Jack’s story. There’s also a slew of very funny physics jokes that I plan on using in my day job.

Love, Theoretically is funny and smart STEM romance that is a summer must read. 

Thank you to Penguin for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.