The cover of Love, Theoretically
Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood is a STEM romcom, which is Hazelwood's signature subgenre. It's been heavily advertised to me because I read two of her other books (The Love Hypothesis and Love on the Brain.) Her other book is a trio of novellas collectively titled Loathe to Love You and she has a YA coming out later this year called Check & Mate.
Love, Theoretically focuses on recent PhD grad Elsie's hunt for a job in academia as a theoretical physics professor. She has three adjunct positions and no health insurance, and with her glitchy insulin pod, time is of the essence to find stability. Let's not forget her side hustle as a girlfriend-for-hire (not for sex.) She's invited to interview at MIT but upon arrival learns the tricky politics involved in filling the position. One of the interviewers is Jack, an infamous theoretical physics critic who Elsie has hated for about a decade. Will they be able to get over their rivalry in order to get together or at least get Elsie the job? Find out.
I enjoyed the way Hazelwood calls out the bullshit in academia (as she does in every book) this time focusing on the way department politics can cost applicants time and money, the horrible adjunct system (why yes, I was also an adjunct and no, I didn't get health insurance either), and the way that PhD advisors have way too much power over their students' lives. I liked Elsie's growth as a character--in fact, if you're a writer struggling with writing character arcs, Elsie is a super easy study because you can see her flaw from miles away and it's easy to keep an eye on how that flaw changes with the story beats.
Alas, I didn't enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. I think Jack was too much like Adam and Levi (the male leads from the other two novels by Hazelwood) and he felt very flat. The dynamic of the couple was also too similar--giant quiet man, farther in his career and considered more successful than the female MC, is accused of hating the female MC so she hates him and is also small and quirky. After the second or third chapter I correctly predicted every "twist" in the book because it was so similar to the others.
This book is for you if you loved The Love Hypothesis/Love on the Brain/Loathe to Love You and want more of the same, if you want an MC who is in physics or has diabetes, or if you want an academic-HEA (happily ever after) for an adjunct. It's not for you if you don't enjoy enemies/rivals-to-lovers, if you didn't enjoy Hazelwood's other books or want something new, or if you are not in the mental space to read about someone's academic job hunt.
Have you read Love, Theoretically or any of Ali Hazelwood's other books? What do you think? Which STEM career do you hope her next MC has? Let's discuss in the comments!