The Love Hypothesis pairs a 26 year-old grad student/researcher with a 34 year-old faculty member/researcher in a fake dating relationship for the ages. I flipping loved this book. Everyone told me I'd like it, but I couldn't stop picturing the male love interest, Adam Carlsen, as Adam Driver (this book started as Reylo fic) and I knew, just knew I wouldn't like it because of that. I was so wrong.
This is somehow a debut novel. It doesn't read like a debut novel. It reads like a romance author at the top of their game and gave me all the feelings I want from a romance. I laughed, I cried, but most of all I was swept up in the love story. I read so much romance that it's rare I really feel the romance anymore, but this single POV story had me convinced that love is real and these two people are in it.
I read this mostly on audio, but when the BOTM copy I had ordered at 2 am showed up a week before publication, I finished the book in print just so I could race through those last 80 pages. And now I'm bereft, having not only no more pages to read but no more books from Ali Hazelwood either. This book is nerdy and queer and funny and fresh and *ugh* I loved it.
Adam is determined to have Olive's consent at every step of the way, and Hazelwood manages to make it hot as hell. It's a slow burn which makes sense for the plot and characters, but it's definitely a burn. Turns out, this author can write great sex, too! Miracle of miracles, we get character development, plot that makes sense, quality sexytimes and a whole range of feels from a single book.
One note - Olive is pretty clearly demisexual, but I don't think the word ever appears on page and it's clear she's struggled with her lack of sexual attraction in the past. On page, she says things like "I realized I could only be attracted to people if I had an emotional bond and trust with them, and even then not often" or "I wondered why I didn't seem to experience attraction, especially sexual attraction, like normal people". So this language may be off-putting to ace-spec readers, but it also feels natural for the character given her general dense-ness when it comes to caring about herself and not just science.
I received a copy of this audiobook for review, but also purchased a print copy from Book of the Month.
Content warnings: sexual harassment and coercion by a potential supervisor (Olive's), past parental death from pancreatic cancer which is frequently mentioned because Olive's work is in pancreatic cancer detection, past parental neglect, past emotional abuse by a supervisor (Adam's), mentions of misogyny and racism in academia