Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood might just be the author’s best work to date. Although, if we’re honest, it’s still a little hard to choose between it and The Love Hypothesis. Or even Under One Roof. Still, it’s an addictive, wildly joyful ride as her most academic book yet. Elsie Hannaway and Jack Smith are both well-rounded, complex, intriguing characters with zeal and a whole lot of gumption, even when they’re quiet.
In true rivals-to-lovers fashion, Elsie and Jack get off on the wrong foot, though rightfully so, with an odd meet-cute set beneath a twist on the fake dating trope. With this in mind, Jack Smith has two identities (sort of), and Elsie rightfully loathes one because of an article he published years ago that tarnished her mentor’s name. However, as the two grow closer and learn to understand one another better, Hazelwood uses honesty as a beautiful theme to reveal why and how the characters grow to trust one another.
Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood is for all the readers who consistently tell people what they want to hear and hide their genuine emotions behind fears of abandonment. Elsie is mostly on her own, working two jobs because the market is absolute garbage, which Hazelwood honors pristinely. She consistently tries her best every single time, doing everything in her power to make ends meet while showing up for others when they need her. The world of academia can be cruel (this Lit major can also attest), but as noted in her author’s note at the very end, the people in it love their jobs. And in more ways than one, this story feels like a love letter to academia. It’s a love letter to transparency and all the hard work that goes into making a difference in a field that matters tremendously.
Further, Elsie and Jack’s story progresses beautifully, with the two of them giving each other much about themselves in quiet gaps as they unravel the emotions within. It feels sudden, but this is simultaneously the one novel where a single point of view doesn’t bother me as much. It’s okay to be in Elsie’s head the entire time because we see and feel so much of Jack’s desires for her, too. We understand it all as Hazelwood shows us everything we need to know while simultaneously telling us what’s essential. There’s a wonderful balance that’s generally hard to achieve, but it feels entirely effortless in this story. The repetition of the word honesty and how it becomes their thing gorgeously represents what falling in love should look like. It takes time, but for it to last, it’s about finding the person with whom being your most authentic self feels seamless and safe. And through Elsie’s point of view, there’s a good chance many women will relate, which makes the story feel lovelier.
Like most of the men she writes, Jack Smith is similar, but there’s something innately vulnerable about him that’s so captivatingly wholesome to witness. He allows himself so much grace and vulnerability that it’s so rewarding to see him take care of Elsie, even while he deals with his own heartaches and demons. It was almost concerning whether a big misunderstanding would come in between them toward the end, but in Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood, the miscommunication trope is handled with the kind of thoughtful consideration we always appreciate here at Marvelous Geeks. It’s mature, honest, and entirely understandable.
Though the story starts a tad on the slower side, it picks up a perfect rhythm shortly after chapter three, making the progression of this relationship and these character arcs feel earned. Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood is the kind of rivals-to-lovers romance that’s full of gorgeous vulnerability, heart, fantastic intimacy, and a heap of engrossing banter that’ll make it impossible to set the book down.
Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood is now available wherever books are sold.