Physicist by day, fake girlfriend by night—life seems to be in stable orbit until a new colleague swoops in comet-like.
Good to know
Enemies to Lovers
The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs.
Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet gig—until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Because Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and broody older brother of her favorite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And that same Jack who now sits on the hiring committee at MIT, right between Elsie and her dream job.
Elsie is prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but . . . those long, penetrating looks? Not having to be anything other than her true self when she’s with him? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice?
In my life I have experienced regret, embarrassment, maybe even a touch of agony. But nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me for the ignominy of finding myself in a bathroom stall, pressed against the arrogant older brother of the guy I’ve been pretending to date for the past six months.
It’s an award-winning, rock-bottoming low. Especially when coupled with the knowledge that Jack Smith is saving my ass. When he picks me up by the waist to maneuver me around the cramped space, gravity-defyingly strong, I’m not sure what’s worse: the fact that his hands are all that prevent me from crumpling like a scrunchie, or the mortifying amount of gratitude I feel toward him.
“Settle down, Elsie,” he says against the skin of my cheek, terse as usual, but also incongruously soothing. He’s close—too close. I’m close—too close. Not nearly close enough? The sweet oblivion of death. “And stop fidgeting.”
“I’m not fidgeting, Jack,” I say, fidgeting.
But after a second I just give in. I close my eyes. Relax into his chest. Feel the scent of him in my nostrils, anchoring me to sanity. And wonder which one, out of my millions of asinine life choices, led me to this moment.
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
The best parts of having a crush are the giddiness, the hyperactive joy, and the wondering of what will come next. Which is to say, if it’s possible to have a crush on a book, I have a massive one on Love, Theoretically. The latest from romance mastermind Ali Hazelwood delivers on all the sappy, giggly, and blush-worthy fun of falling in love, full of clever and science-filled twists.
Elsie Hannaway, a theoretical physicist and a fake-girlfriend-for-hire, should be good at handling abstract concepts like romantic feelings. But as she finds herself battling it out with stoic experimentalist Jack Smith for her dream job, it turns out she has a lot to learn. She’s not just figuring out how to stand up for herself in a toxic workplace, and be vulnerable with people in her life, but also maybe how to turn all those longing looks and flirty insults in the halls of MIT into something more.
Elsie and Jack are incredibly easy characters to love, even if they have to figure that out for themselves over the course of this story. But I can’t wait to see readers fall for them as deeply, and happily, as I did. If you enjoy screaming for characters to “just kiss already,” an intellectual battle of wits with hidden flirty subtext, or a heroine learning how to be her true self, this is the romance for you.
Member ratings (7,874)
Harrisville , UT
I absolutely love Ali Hazelwood’s books, but I truly think this was my favorite. I love Jack and Elsie, and I never wanted the book to end. The Olive and Adam part made my heart so happy! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Prairie du Sac, WI
Every time I open an Ali Hazelwood book, I think that I can’t possibly love one of her books as much as the last one. It’s just statistically unlikely. And yet, I always love it as much as the others!
Spring Arbor, MI
I have to admit it, Ali Hazelwood’s books may be more than a guilty pleasure for me at this point — I thoroughly enjoyed this one, especially with the humor and connection to T1D, it made it all real.
My favorite of Hazelwood’s STEMist romances! Make this the third I gobbled up in less than two days. Hazelwood’s writing is accessible, her plots are fun, and her romances are sexy and heart-warming.
LOVED. I don’t think I’ve read a book where the MC is a diabetic, so that was fun (as a T1D myself)! Ali Hazelwood crushes everything and I will read anything she writes. Her dialogue is just perfect!