The debut novel by Ali Hazelwood, The Love Hypothesis, is a charming, descriptive narrative that will draw you in straight away and put a goofy smile on your face that will remain there until you have to say goodbye to these bright characters. Then you will be hoping for a sequel. I could not put this book down once I started which is always a delight.
We immediately meet the intelligent, yet insecure, Olive Smith who is a grad student at Stanford. Due to losses in her life, she has trouble with relationships. She is a focused, hard-working scientist whose life revolves around her love of biology. Immersed in trying to find a cure for pancreatic cancer and trying to find a lab to carry out her experiment, she doesn’t have much of a social life and feels alone in the world.
Olive is a quirky character who rambles often and doesn’t always make the best decisions. One of her spur-of-the-moment decisions leads her to randomly kiss the handsome, broody Adam Carlsen, a well-known professor, for being a highly regarded academic and a jerk.
These two intellectuals end up agreeing to “fake date” for different reasons (both being valid). They start to form a friendship during their weekly “dates” and these moments are the ones I love the most. The way Olive can bring out the best in Adam and his benevolence towards her makes you root for them. The banter between the two is hilarious whether they are bickering over the greatness of pumpkin spice lattes (Is it really “pumpkin sludge”?) or when Adam teases her about their PDA that has been encouraged by Olive’s friend Anh.
Adam is a reserved and methodical man. I found his supportiveness of Olive to be absolutely endearing. While she doubts herself multiple times, he reassures her about how smart and deserving she is, like when he tells her “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.” I also love how he lets her make the decisions and doesn’t force anything. He wants to be whatever it is that she needs. He has lost his heart to her and shows it on multiple occasions. He is protective, understanding, and everything you want in a male romance character.
The supporting characters in The Love Hypothesis add more humor and are well thought out. I loved Malcolm, Holden, and Anh. Malcolm is such an entertaining character. I wouldn’t mind reading a book about his love life.
Readers should be advised, however, that there is a sexual harassment incident that may trigger some as Olive is also then belittled by another professor.
I find it refreshing that Olive is still a strong female character despite her insecurities. She knows what she wants and doesn’t give up, even after a setback. Towards the end, when Olive acknowledges her past and how it has affected her, it truly shows character growth. She knows that she no longer wants to be the person who hides behind her defenses but work on the issues that have caused the behavior. In addition, having female characters involved in STEM isn’t something that you read every day.
The slow-burn plot is effectively done as Olive and Adam grow to trust each other. You can feel the attraction and chemistry as it continues to build the more they are around each other. It practically jumps off the page. There are times you may want to yell at Olive to confess her feelings as she falls head over heels. Adam plays things a little closer to the vest, but when they finally give in to their feelings, you will not be let down. I am still recovering a few days later.
I must mention that this lovely story started as a fanfic based on the Reylo relationship in the Star Wars sequels. This pairing was controversial, to say the least, but if you are a Reylo fan this will make your heart soar. I couldn’t help but picture Adam Driver as this story played out. However, while this may draw in some of us that hold a place in our heart for Reylo, this charming story will make anyone who loves a good romance with multiple tropes (fake-dating, slow burn, sunshine and grumpy) very happy.
The Love Hypothesis book is what romance dreams are made of. Silence your notifications, put on some sweats, and allow yourself to escape into a romance that will make you feel like you are far, far away.
Further Recommended Novels: Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood