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?


5 stars

“Because it’s not your character arc, Elsie. More like a … character bump.”

Reading Ali Hazelwood’s books is like eating comfort food: you know what to expect and you crave it.

This is my third Ali Hazelwood books and I can say that the main arc is always the same:

-He Falls First

-She is Clueless

-They both work together in STEM

-There is a betrayal from someone you trust or has power over you

-The heroine has flaws, insecurities and quirkiness that make her adorable

-Sex at about 80% of the way

We get the same main tropes and yet, she always delivers them with finesse thanks to very relatable characters who don’t feel like a rehash of the previous ones. And with lots and lots of great banter!

I know what to expect and that’s oddly comforting!

In Love Theoretically, Elsie is a brilliant young theorist physicist who is struggling to make ends meet, juggling lots of teaching classes, hoping to have enough money to treat her diabetes when she has no health insurance all while dreaming of doing research.

To pay her student loans and put food on the table, she is renting her service as a fake girlfriend through the Faux app.

Her current client, Greg, is a cinnamon roll and she keeps meeting his brooding older brother Jack at family gatherings.

Elsie knows that Jack does not like her but when she’ll meet him on her turf while applying for a position at MIT, things will get complicated!

Not only does she fear he’ll reveal who she is to the hiring committee but worse, Jack is her arch nemesis! The one who destroyed her mentor’s career and ridiculed all theorists!

Needless to say that sparks will fly by 😉.

Jack is like a blond lumberjack among physicists. He is broody, unreadable and Elsie’s nemesis for ridiculing her profession. But he also is very observant and notices everything about Elsie. “Jack sees me – a puppet who maybe, just maybe, is a real girl after all.

He will help Elsie to grow and ask for what SHE wants.

He has all the qualities I love in a hero: smart, strong, attentive, dedicated to the heroine, supportive yet not smothering.

Elsie is a heroine you’ll love!  She has a deep fear of being abandoned if she shows her true self and is like a chameleon, a people pleaser, giving them the Elsie they want.

“Somewhere along the way your wires got crossed. Your brain decided that you are not worth people’ time and effort and if you ask for anything, they won’t just say no, they’ll also leave you.”

Greg even compared her to Barbie!

“But you’re cool. Like… a Barbie.”

“A Barbie?”

“You’re not blond. But there’s one of you for every occasion.”

With her roommate and friend Cece they were a hoot! I loved their banter and Cece’s evil hedgehog.

Both are so busy trying to juggle work or studies while earning the bare minimum that their dating life has been nonexistent so far.

“We don’t talk about sex for the same reason we don’t talk about stock dividends: we have very little of it.”

I also appreciated that Ali Hazelwood portrayed Elsie as suffering from diabetes. In her acknowledgement, she said she used sensitivity readers so I trust people suffering from diabetes will find this accurate and relatable. I don’t have diabetes but it made Elsie even more “real” and approachable to me.

I frankly also adored the humor and the sarcasm in that book. This might be the greatest asset of Ali Hazelwood’s writing: her wit!

I will from now on use one of my favorite expressions: “Easy peasy, photons squeezy”. 😊

And let’s not forget Ali’s gift for her fans: Adam and Olive’s little cameo.

I read that book in record time, never wanting to stop reading and having just a wonderful time! It’s a perfect and smart summer read!

Thanks for reading!


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  1. I have not read this yet, but I agree with you about getting some comfort. It’s nice to know what you are going to get when you read an Ali Hazelwood book. All I can say is that I am throughly entertained and amused by them.