Another STEMinist romance that makes being in Academia desirable
After standing the test of time, one fact that remains is that romance novels will never get old. Despite the change of times with the introduction of AI, Robots and other facets of science and technology, a large community of Bibliophiles will have a soft corner for romance novels and the recently released Ali Hazelwood page-turner is one such story. After the record-breaking success of her 2021 novel, The Love Hypothesis, Hazelwood has released her third official novel, Love, Theoretically.
The 2023 story, like Ali’s other works, is a STEMinist tale that revolves around the life of Elsie, a young adjunct professor who is struggling to make ends meet. Due to her health condition and the lack of post-doctoral research job opportunities, Elsie has to work as an adjunct professor at various universities where she teaches thermodynamics in the hopes of landing a tenure-track position that will eventually change her life.
Till then, Elsie has to make do and she does so by using the fake-dating app – Faux. Using the app, Elsie transforms herself into the person that her dates want her to be. Although most of her clients aren’t very likeable, there is one person Elsie can picture herself being friends with – Greg Smith. However, the is one thing that keeps Elsie from concentrating on the job and it is Greg’s hot older brother – Jack Smith.
The novel is a quick read and is another ‘Woman in STEM’ romance. However, this story mostly revolves around academia and tells the truth about adjunct teachers. Love, Theoretically revolves around our female lead in her late twenties and our male lead in his early thirties and is said from the point-of-view of Elsie.
The novel is a typical Ali Hazelwood work and feels like an instant romance with the main characters falling in love too soon for their own good. Love, Theoretically is the classic enemies-to-lovers trope but has an interesting twist in the form of the ‘He fell first but she fell harder’ plot. The story is mature and includes a good chunk of spicy chapters towards the end. However, the final act has emotional scenes when the truth about Jack is finally revealed to Elsie.
Our main character Elsie is a people pleaser and it feels good to see this personality represented. Elsie created multiple personalities that make her forget who she is. She is not truthful about her opinions with people because she feels that if she is herself, people will not like her anymore. In being the best version for others, Elsie starts to lose herself. Jack helps Elise find herself again and that makes the novel really romantic.
Elsie has created a cage around herself and wants to protect her true self from the people around her which makes it interesting for Jack to peel her layers like she were an onion. The romance between Elsie and Jack seems destined from the get-go and there’s little to no doubt that they’re eventually going to find their way back to each other. The novel has a cameo from other Ali Hazelwood characters too, which fans of her novels will really enjoy, but we’re not about to spoil that here!
Fans of Korean dramas will understand how intense a game of Go can get and the sexual tension between Elsie and Jack during their first game is palpable, all thanks to the scene when Song Hye-kyo and Jung Sung-il’s characters from The Glory played Go on the show. Love, Theoretically is a well-written novel and there is very little representation of women in STEM.
Hopefully Ali writes more novels around Science and I would certainly enjoy a different approach to her stories. There are so many characters in this novel that can get their own spin-offs like Greg and his sexuality, Cece finding a quirky partner who will love her hedgehog or George and Dora’s lesbian romance, whichever comes first! Either way, Love, Theoretically, is another winner.
Verdict - 8/10