Fake dating? Inspired by Reylo? Just go ahead and take all of my money, Ali Hazelwood. In all seriousness, The Love Hypothesis is charming, sexy, and filled to the brim with fun, relatable characters that you won’t want to let go of on the last page.
The Love Hypothesis
If you have spent any amount of time reading Reylo fanfics on AO3, then you will be familiar with some of the characteristics that Hazelwood has given her characters. Dr. Adam Carlsen is a broody jackass who is Jewish and raised by somewhat absent parents who were diplomats abroad. Olive Smith is a bright young Ph.D. candidate working to find a cure for pancreatic cancer which stole her mother and her childhood from her. She’s constantly eating and has underlying trauma from her time in foster care. She is also almost explicitly demisexual, which shocked me to my bones to see in a rom-com style story.
Unlike some romance novels that seem unaware of their origins, The Love Hypothesis is filled with tropes and is completely self-aware of them. To the point that Olive is even convinced that she and Adam will end up in a single-bed hotel room when they find themselves having to room together at a conference. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s get into why this story is just delightful.
One night, while working late in the lab instead of being out on a date, Olive spots her best friend Anh (who happens to be interested in Olive’s ex Jeremy) and decides it would be a good idea to kiss the first set of lips she happens to find. Those lips? Belong to a certain well-known jackass named Dr. Adam Carlsen. A quick-thinking kiss sends Olive and Adam headfirst into a mutually beneficial fake-dating scenario. Olive’s bestie feels comfortable pursuing a relationship with Jeremy and Dr. Carlsen seems settled enough at Stanford that the school might unfreeze his funding.
Of course, what would a rom-com be without misunderstandings, easily resolved conflict, and real feelings involved? There was a point near the end of the book, when it felt like Olive and Adam were falling apart, where Hazelwood actually had me tearing up at two in the morning, like I was binge reading a fanfic. But those emotions are to-be-expected with this type of book. You have to put readers through the wringer, before giving them the satisfying happily ever after. What was I not expecting? Smut.
The first two-thirds of the book is fairly vanilla, which is not a critique. They’re fake dating and not in a real relationship. Why would they be getting freaky? I was expecting a sweet fade to black when the pair finally sealed the deal and I was wholly unprepared for The Love Hypothesis to have one of the most steamy and erotic love scenes I have read all year. And I read the entirety of Ice Planet Barbarians this year.
The Love Hypothesis is a brilliant novel, jampacked with delicious tropes, badass women in STEM, steamy romance, amusing shenanigans, well-rounded characters, comeuppance for bad guys, and so much heart. I look forward to reading everything Ali Hazelwood gifts readers with in the future.
You can pick up The Love Hypothesis on September 14th 2021.