Cover of The Love Hypothesis, featuring two people kissing in front of a science lab setup

About the Book

Title: The Love Hypothesis (The Love Hypothesis #1)
Published: 2021

First Impressions: For Science
What’s Your Type? Fake Dating, Grumpy/Sunshine, Slow Burn, Mutual Pining, Mutual Misunderstanding, Meta, Reylo Shipping
The Lean: Like a Boulder
We Need to Talk: Feeling the (Force) Dyad
Was it Good For You? I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight

Content Warning: The Love Hypothesis includes elements of emotional and mental abuse, including bullying and gaslighting, and an attempted kiss without consent, that might be triggering for some readers.

First Impressions: For Science 

When the influx of cartoon-like illustrated covers started, I really liked them. They allowed for more diversity than the standard stock models. But they’re the norm, now, and while I like this one a bunch—the people on the cover are actually what made me first want to read this book, but more on that below—it’s getting hard to really distinguish from one book to the next. (Especially in the rom-com world.)

I do appreciate the inclusion of the scientific gear and the woman in her lab coat, though. Very story on-point.

What’s Your Type?

  • Fake Dating
  • Grumpy/Sunshine
  • Slow Burn
  • Mutual Pining
  • Mutual Misunderstanding
  • Meta
  • Reylo Shipping

Dating Profile

Olive Smith is a rising third-year grad student in the biology department at Stanford. She’s passionate about her work—she’s doing research into pancreatic cancer detection—and doesn’t feel the need to have much of a life, other than spending time with her best friends Anh and Malcolm. But when a chance encounter brings Dr. Adam Carlsen into her life—the Dr. Carlsen who is the bane of most undergrad and grad students in the department’s lives—she suddenly finds herself juggling more than she can handle.

Especially when the encounter is part of a lie, a lie Olive staged to protect someone she cares about. And even more so when Adam agrees to be complicit in said lie, as it just so happens to help him out, too.

Meet Cute

Olive and Adam have been a part of the same academic department for a couple of years, but it isn’t until The Night that Olive accosts him with a semi-consensual kiss to back up a lie about being on a date that they do more than cross paths in the hallway. The kiss leads to a fake dating situation, which Olive’s in to make sure her friends are happy and Adam’s in to make sure he gets the funding he needs to complete his research.

The Lean: Like a Boulder

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

Adam has a reputation amongst the biology department for being a complete hardass. He’s made more than a few people cry but doesn’t seem to care that he’s hated. Olive kicks herself at first for Adam being in the right place at the right time—she barely had a moment to realize who she was kissing before she did it—but soon she begins to realize that his outward stony exterior’s not actually all there is to him. He’s completely set in his ways, sure, but he’s also caring and supportive and delightfully sarcastic and kinda sexy with that extremely (surprisingly) fit physique and the somewhat exaggerated facial features that would look strange on anyone else, but there’s something about them on him …

Dirty Talk

For a romance book, there’s actually not a whole lot of romance, if you get my drift. Olive and Adam only share one very heated night of passion before plot gets in the way, but damn if it isn’t a supremely sexy night. Adam’s a caring and attentive lover, great for Olive who doesn’t have much experience—and who I believe is demi-sexual, although it’s not labeled in the book—but isn’t afraid to ask for what he wants in a sexily crass way.

Then Adam pulled out, pushed back in, and they annihilated the no-sex rule. In the span of a few seconds his thrusts went from tentative, exploratory, to fast and all-eclipsing. His hand slid to the small of her back, lifting her into him as he plied in, and in, and in again, rubbing inside her, against her, forcing pleasure to vibrate up her spine.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

This is the first book of Hazelwood’s I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. I love her mix of wit and angst—two things any good rom-com should have in spades—and how realistic her characters are. Her writing is not at all flowery, unless you count the passages in which Hazlewood gives a close look at what’s happening in Olive’s brain:

In the span of a microsecond Olive’s entire brain burst into flames—and then crumbled into a pile of ashes. Just like that, one hundred billion neurons, one thousand billion glial cells, and who knew how many milliliters of cerebrospinal fluid, just ceased to exist. The rest of her body was not doing very well, either, since Olive could feel all her organs shut down in real time. From the very beginning of her acquaintance with Adam there had been about ten instances of Olive wishing to drop dead on the spot, for the earth to open and swallow her whole, for a cataclysm to hit and spare her from the embarrassment of their interactions. This time, though, it felt as though the end of the world might happen for real.

Our girl is a … tad … bit dramatic.

We Need to Talk: Feeling the (Force) Dyad 

If you followed the discourse about this book around its release, you might know that it’s based on a Reylo (Rey and Kylo Ren from Star Wars) fanfic. Which is honestly one of the reasons I wanted to read it—no shame in my ‘ship game—I can’t get enough of that problematic relationship. However, lest this turn you off from reading, The Love Hypothesis doesn’t read like a Star Wars fic and, unless you’re familiar with the characters in the movies, you’ll likely not even pick up on the small nods, which mostly remain with the characters’ looks (see my vague note in First Impressions), personalities, and relationships. Whatever the story started as, it was obviously a total AU (alternate universe) story—Rey and Kylo certainly aren’t biology researchers who go to/teach at Standford, respectively—and Olive and Adam, while being reminiscent of others, completely stand on their own. 

Hazlewood’s grasp of actual science is an added bonus, too. I’m not a scientist, but I trust that she, someone who is, got all the bits and bobs right about the depictions of research in academia and what comes with it.

Was it Good For You? I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight

Gif of Kylo Ren smiling at the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I really couldn’t have asked for more from a rom-com. I’m still a novice when it comes to romance books, so easing into the genre with books like this—books that make me smile long after I’ve finished reading with just the right amount of HOTTness—is exactly what I look for when I know I need a specific kind of pick me up. And I promise that you won’t feel like you’re reading a Star Wars story, but if you want any fic recs, you know where to find me.

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought a copy of this book with my own funds and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Love Hypothesis is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband and their dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.