After my book club chose to read The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, I went on to read the rest of Hazelwood’s romance collection. Although none of these novels (and novellas) are perfect, I’ve found them all fun and interesting. Her female characters are women of STEM, something Hazelwood is herself. So they tend to be a glimpse into academia along with some steamy, heartfelt romance. Love, Theoretically (2023) is Hazelwood’s latest novel and had everything I was expecting. I devoured it quickly and genuinely enjoyed the story.
Elsie Hannaway is a theoretical physicist who has earned her Ph.D., and is now struggling to find a permanent position in academia. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at a number of different schools. This means hours of teaching, commuting between schools, dealing with undergraduates, no healthcare, and very little pay. The lack of healthcare is even more troublesome because Elsie is diabetic and insulin is expensive.
In order to supplement her meager income, Elsie begins to work at a dating service, where she goes out with men who need a date for functions, family parties, etc. (Her job does not include having sex with clients). This job is perfect for her because she’s a people pleaser and used to acting how people expect and want her to act. The job is going well until the brother of one of her clients finds her suspicious, asking her tons of questions.
At the same time, Elsie applies for a teaching job opening at MIT. It would be a fantastic opportunity, and she’s desperate. The application process is a tortuous week of dinners, meetings, teaching a class, and more. When Elsie arrives for the first interview dinner, she realizes that the difficult brother of her client is actually Jack Smith–an experimental physicist who disdains theoretical physicists and whose reckless actions denigrated her entire profession. Elsie is sure that Jack will sabotage any chance she has at getting her dream job at MIT.
However, as they spend more time together throughout the process, the two begin to get to know each other. Jack is the only person that sees how Elsie changes herself to please everyone she is around. He pushes her to be herself (sometimes in a bit of an annoyingly patronizing way). But he also respects her work and ideas, and he believes in her.
I definitely enjoyed reading this book. There was more than enough going on to keep me interested, and I liked the characters. I could feel how desperate Elsie was to get the job and really felt for her at times. I do not have a science-y background, but I appreciate reading about women who kick ass and help each other out. I’m looking forward to Hazelwood’s next book that is already coming out this November!
You can find all my reviews on my blog.