The Love Hypothesis
by Ali Hazelwood
Published by Berkley Books
Book 1 in the Love Hypothesis series
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn't believe in lasting romantic relationships--but her best friend does, and that's what got her into this situation.
Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor--and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford's reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive's career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding... six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
This gif made me laugh.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is the first book in her Love Hypothesis series. It centers around Olive, a third year Ph. D. candidate, who finds herself forced to prove to her best friend that she is happily dating - by panicking and kissing the first man she sees. That man being the incredibly successful, and brutal young professor - Adam. Adam is a known ass, so Olive is surprised when he agrees to pretend they are in a relationship. Everything is going well - except for those pesky feelings Olive is developing for the man. When events at a science conference go down, putting Olive's professional dreams in danger, she is unsure how to move forward. But when the truth comes out, she is surprised by the support Adam shows her, and that maybe she isn't the only one who fell in love.
The Love Hypothesis easily made it on to my TBR with the sheer amount of recommendations and praise it gets on #booktok. And since I'm currently trying to get through Go Tell The Bees That I'm Gone, and I tried rereading a book I once loved, only to discover some MAJOR problems this time around, which ruins it for me, I needed something to perk me up a little. So I bought The Love Hypothesis - and it worked. It totally invigorated me, and I ended up putting Outlander down for a day, because I couldn't stop reading. Listen - I love a grump/sunshine trope, and while The Love Hypothesis is a known fake relationship trope (and even pokes fun at itself for it), the grumpy Adam had me at the get-go. And I liked Olive too. The chemistry between these two characters was great, they conversations were lovely, and the side characters added a nice balance to the story. The plot didn't feel cheesy, and was truly entertaining.
One thing that I couldn't help but notice - and this is more with the #booktok community, and not the book itself - is the steaminess of this book. More often then not, The Love Hypothesis is listed as super steamy. And I won't lie, there is one part in the book that IS steamy and intense. Adam's enthusiasm was absolutely delicious. But I argue that The Love Hypothesis isn't as steamy as it is reviewed to be. There is exactly one sex scene in this book. I mean, it's a night, and its multiple times - but it's actually a rather small part of the book. And while it was steamy, I don't think it sets itself apart from other contemporary romances when it comes to the sex. The romance in this book is where its at. But yes ... that sex scene is hot.
I wouldn't go into The Love Hypothesis thinking you are about to read some hot smut. I did, because of all those reviews from #booktok, but luckily, I do LOVE romance, so I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't disappointed at all. Ali Hazelwood wrote a wonderful story, with both plot and characters being huge winners for me. The romance and sex was top notch. And honestly, this book saved me from entering that dreaded book slump us readers hate.
The first time they meet
Olive proposing they fake date - and Adam's joke about having a wife and kids
Olive sitting on Adam's lap
The kiss after Adam helped pushed a truck off the road
Adam and Olive's talk in the break room
The flu shot
Holden telling Olive about the prom
Adam offering to help Olive with her talk
Their dinner at the all you can eat sushi place
OH MY GOD THEM HOOKING UP AND THE ENTHUSIAM *cue drooling*
Holden and Malcolm <3
The Uber driver
How the truth comes out
Olive telling Adam she loves him in dutch
Adam: "Academia’s a lot of bucks for very little bang. What matters is whether your reason to be in academia is good enough. So, why the Ph.D., Olive?”
Olive: “I have a question. A specific research question. Something that I want to find out. Something I’m afraid no one else will discover if I don’t.”
Adam: “A question?”
Olive: “Yes. Something that’s important to me. And—I don’t trust anyone else to do it. Because they haven’t so far. Because . . .”
Because something bad happened. Because I want to do my part so that it won’t happen again. Heavy thoughts to have in the presence of a stranger, in the darkness of her closed eyelids. So she cracked them open; her vision was still blurry, but the burning was mostly gone. The Guy was looking at her. Fuzzy around the edges, perhaps, but so very there, waiting patiently for her to continue.
Olive: “It’s important to me. The research that I want to do.”
He nodded but said nothing as he straightened and took a few steps toward the door. Clearly leaving.
Olive: “Is mine a good enough reason to go to grad school?”
Adam: “It’s the best one.” Anh: “Listen, do you remember last spring, when I held your hair back while you projectile vomited the five pounds of spoiled shrimp cocktail you ate at Dr. Park’s retirement party?”
Olive: “Oh, yes. I do.”
Olive cocked her head, pensive.
Olive: “You ate more than me and never got sick.”
Anh: “Because I’m made of sterner stuff, but never mind that. The point is: I am here for you, and always will be, no matter what. No matter how many pounds of spoiled shrimp cocktail you projectile vomit, you can trust me. We’re a team, you and I." Anh: “Is he blackmailing you?”
Anh: “Carlsen. Is he blackmailing you? Did he find out that you’re an aberration and pee in the shower?”
Olive: “First of all, it’s time efficient.”
Olive: “Second, I find it oddly flattering that you’d think Carlsen would go to these ridiculous lengths to get me to date him.”
Anh: “Anyone would, Ol. Because you’re awesome. Except when you’re peeing in the shower.” Adam: “Ground rules?”
Olive: “Yes. You know. What we are allowed and not allowed to do. What we can expect from this arrangement. I think that’s pretty standard protocol, before embarking on a fake-dating relationship.”
He tilted his head.
Adam: “Standard protocol?”
Adam: “How many times have you done this?”
Olive: “Zero. But I am familiar with the trope.”
Adam: “The . . . what?”
He blinked at her, confused. Olive: “For this to work we should probably . . . do things together. Every once in a while.”
Olive: “Things. Stuff.”
Olive: “Yep. Stuff. What do you do for fun?”
He was probably into something atrocious, like cow-tipping excursions or Japanese beetle fighting. Maybe he collected porcelain dolls. Maybe he was an avid geocacher. Maybe he frequented vaping conventions. Oh God. Olive: “I would never fake-date a dude who thinks that he has to pay for my coffee just because he’s a dude.”
He lifted an eyebrow.
Adam: “I doubt a language exists in which the thing you just ordered could be referred to as ‘coffee.’ ” Olive: “Yes, I’m Olive Smith, the—”
Tom: “Girlfriend I’ve heard so much about?”
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. She swallowed.
Olive: “Um, actually I—”
Adam: “Heard from whom?”
Dr. Benton shrugged.
Adam repeated. He was scowling now.
Adam: “In Boston?”
Adam: “Why are people at Harvard talking about my girlfriend?”
Tom: “Because you’re you.”
Adam: “Because I’m me?”
Adam looked perplexed.
Tom: “There have been tears. Some hair-pulling. A few broken hearts. Don’t worry, they’ll get over it.” Anh: "You’re taking up space we don’t have, and it’s only logical that you use Carlsen as a chair. I would, but he’s your boyfriend, not mine.”
For a moment, Olive tried to imagine what Adam would do if Anh decided to sit on his lap, and figured that it would probably end up involving someone being murdered and someone doing the murdering—she wasn’t sure who’d be doing what. The mental image was so ridiculous that she almost giggled out loud. Then she noticed the way Anh was looking at her expectantly.
Olive: “Anh, I can’t.”
Olive: “Because. This is a scientific talk.”
Anh: “Psh. Remember last year, when Jess and Alex made out for half of that CRISPR lecture?”
Olive: “I do—and it was weird.” Olive was here. Sitting. On. Adam. This.
Yep, this. This was her life now. Adam: “This is dull.”
Olive: “Maybe you should ask a question. To liven this up.”
Adam turned slightly to her.
She angled her head to speak in his ear.
Olive: “I’m sure you can come up with something. Just raise your hand and make a mean observation with that tone of yours. Glare at him. It might devolve into an entertaining outbreak of fisticuffs.”
His cheek curved.
Adam: “You are such a smart-ass.” Olive: "See you Wed— Hey, what about the picnic?”
Adam: “The— Oh.”
Adam rolled his eyes, looking a little more like himself.
Adam: “Right. That fu— That picnic.”
Olive: “It’s on Monday.”
Adam: “I know.”
Olive: “You’re still going?”
He gave her a look that clearly stated: It’s not like I have a choice, even though I’d rather have my nails extracted one by one. With pliers. Olive laughed.
Olive: “Well. I’m going, too.”
Adam: “At least there’s that.”
Olive: “Are you bringing Tom?”
Adam: “Probably. He actually likes people.”
Olive: “Okay. I can network with him a bit, and you and I can show off how steady and committed we are to the department chair. You’ll look like a wingless bird. No flight risk whatsoever.”
Adam: “Perfect. I’ll bring a counterfeit marriage license to casually drop at his feet.” Olive: “What are they even playing?”
Anh: “Ultimate Frisbee, I think? I don’t know. Did you put on sunblock? You’re wearing a tank top and shorts, so you really should.”
Olive: “You Americans and your fake sports.”
Anh: “I’m pretty sure there are Canadian tournaments of Ultimate Frisbee, too. You know what’s not fake?”
Anh: “Melanoma. Put on some sunscreen.” Anh: “Olive has way too much and was wondering what to do with it. She’ll put some on you!”
No. No, no, no.
Olive: “I can’t. It would be highly inappropriate.”
Anh: “Why? I put sunscreen on Jeremy all the time. Look”
—she squirted lotion on her hand and haphazardly slapped it across Jeremy’s face—
Anh: “I am putting sunscreen on my boyfriend. Because I don’t want him to get melanoma. Am I ‘inappropriate’?”
Olive was going to murder her. Olive was going to make her lick every drop of this stupid sunscreen and watch her writhe in pain as she slowly died of oxybenzone poisoning. Olive: “Hey, you want half of this? Since I fully plan to eat what’s left of your chips.”
Olive: “You sure?”
Adam: “Can’t stand chocolate.”
Olive stared at him, shaking her head in disbelief.
Olive: “You would, wouldn’t you? Hate everything that is delicious and lovely and comforting.”
Adam: “Chocolate’s disgusting.”
Olive: “You just want to live in your dark, bitter world made of black coffee and plain bagels with plain cream cheese. And occasionally salt-and-vinegar chips.
Adam: "They are clearly your favorite chips—”
Olive: “Not the point.”
Adam: “—and I am flattered that you’ve memorized my orders.”
Olive: “It does help that they’re always the same.”
Adam: “At least I’ve never ordered something called a unicorn Frappuccino.”
Olive: “That was so good. It tasted like the rainbow.”
Adam: “Like sugar and food coloring?”
Olive: “My two favorite things in the universe." Olive: “I do get what you’re saying. About not wanting to form a new generation of crappy millennial scientists.”
Adam: “I don’t believe I’ve ever used the expression ‘crappy millennial scientists.’ ”
Olive: “But FYI, I still think that you don’t need to be that harsh when you give feedback. We get the gist of what you’re saying, even if you give criticism more nicely.”
He looked at her for a long time. Then he nodded, once.
Olive: “Are you going to be less harsh, then?”
Olive: “You know, when I have no more friends and everyone hates me because of this fake-dating thing, I’ll be super lonely and you are going to have to hang out with me every day. I’ll annoy you all the time. Is it really worth being mean to every grad in the program?”
Adam: “Absolutely.” Olive: “Aww.”
He pinned her with a withering look.
Adam: “Don’t aww me.” Adam: “Please.”
He looked pained.
Adam: “Don’t make me.”
He was so adorable.
Olive: “It’s for your own good. And for the good of the elderly people who might come in any proximity to you. Even more elderly than you, that is.”
He sighed, defeated.
Olive: “Come on. Maybe we’re lucky and the chair will spot us. And I’ll buy you an ice cream sandwich afterward.”
Adam: “Will I be paying for this ice cream sandwich?”
He sounded resigned now.
Olive: “Likely. Actually, scratch that, you probably don’t like ice cream anyway, because you don’t enjoy anything that’s good in life.”
She kept on walking, pensively chewing on her lower lip.
Olive: “Maybe the cafeteria has some raw broccoli?”
Adam: “I don’t deserve this verbal abuse on top of the flu shot.” Olive glanced at her gloved hands, and then back at her mouse, who was still holding on to the wire.
Olive: “Dude, stop trying so hard.”
She kneeled until she was at eye level with the cage. The mouse kicked around with its little legs, its tail flopping back and forth.
Olive: “You’re supposed to be bad at this. And I’m supposed to write a dissertation about how bad you are. And then you get a chunk of cheese, and I get a real job that pays real money and the joy of saying ‘I’m not that kind of doctor’ when someone is having a stroke on my airplane.”
The mouse squeaked and let go of the wire, flopping on the floor of the testing cage with a thud.
Olive: “That’ll do it.”
Text: Adam: My arm hurts.
Olive: From the flu shot?
Adam: It’s really painful.
She giggled. She truly had not thought she was the type to, but here she was, covering her mouth with her hand and . . . yes, giggling like a fool in the middle of the lab. Her mouse was staring up at her, its tiny red eyes a mix of judgment and surprise. Olive hastily turned away and looked back at her phone.
Olive: Oh, Adam. I’m so sorry.
Olive: Should I come over and kiss it better?
Adam: You never said it would hurt so bad.
Olive: As someone once told me, it’s not my job to work on your emotion regulation skills.
Adam’s answer was one single emoji (a yellow hand with a raised middle finger), Olive: “How could this happen? I am not like this. This is not me. How could I—and Adam Carlsen, of everyone. Who is into Adam Carlsen?”
Malcolm: “Everyone, Ol. He’s a tall, broody, sullen hunk with a genius IQ. Everyone likes tall, broody, sullen hunks with genius IQs.”
Olive: “I don’t!”
Malcolm: “Clearly you do.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and whimpered.
Olive: “He’s really not that sullen.”
Malcolm: “Oh, he is. Just, you don’t notice, because you’re halfway gone for him.”
Olive: “I am not—”
She smacked her forehead. Repeatedly.
Olive: “Shit.” Holden: “You’re leaving for Boston tonight, right?”
Adam: “Yeah. Can you still give Tom and me a ride to the airport?”
Adam: “On what?”
Holden: “Is Tom going to be gagged and tied up in the trunk?”
Holden: “I’ll allow him in the back seat, but if he doesn’t keep his mouth shut, I’ll ditch him on the highway.”
Adam: “Fine. I’ll let him know.” Holden: “Picture this, Olive. Early two thousands. Preppy, ridiculously expensive all-male DC school. Two gay students in grade twelve. Well, two of us that were out, anyway. Richie Muller and I date for the entirety of senior year—and then he dumps me three days before prom for some guy he’d been having a thing with for months.”
Adam: “He was a prick,”
Holden: “I have three choices. Not go to the dance and mope at home. Go alone and mope at school. Or, have my best friend—who was planning on staying home and moping over gamma-aminobutyric acids—come as my date. Guess which?”
Olive: “How did you convince him?”
Holden: “That’s the thing, I didn’t. When I told him about what Richie did, he offered!”
Adam: “Don’t get used to it,”
Holden: “Can you believe it, Olive?”
That Adam would pretend to be in a relationship with someone to get them out of a miserable situation?
Holden: “We held hands. We slow-danced. We made Richie spit out his punch and regret every single one of his wretched choices. Then we went home and played even more Final Fantasy. It was the shit.” Olive: “Adam. There will be only one bed.”
Adam: “No, as I said it’s a double—”
Olive: “It’s not. It won’t be. There will be only one bed, for sure.”
He gave her a puzzled look.
Adam: “I got the booking confirmation the other day. I can forward it to you if you want; it says that—”
Olive: “It doesn’t matter what it says. It’s always one bed.” Olive: “How likely is it that your feedback will cause me to cry under the shower?”
Adam: “That depends on the quality of your slides.”
Olive: “Don’t feel like you have to hold back.”
Adam: “Believe me, I don’t.” Adam: “Should I buy you that disgusting”
—Adam gestured toward the register—
Adam: “pumpkin sludge now?”
Olive: “Oh, yes. I mean, if you want to.”
Adam: “I’d rather buy you anything else.”
Olive: “Too bad.” Adam: "How are you?”
Olive: “Good. Fine. I mean, I wish I were dead. But aside from that.”
He laughed silently and moved closer.
Adam: “You’ll be okay.”
She had thought sweaters were a good look for him, but only because she’d never seen him wear a blazer. He had a secret weapon all along, she thought, trying not to stare too hard. And now he’s unleashing it. Damn him.
Olive: “Agreed. After I die.” You just had to go and make me fall for you, she thought, blinking against his skin. You absolute ass. Olive: “Awesome. We could chat about how nice this place is—”
Adam: “It’s appalling.”
Olive: “—or the taste of the sushi—”
Olive: “—or the best movie in the Fast and Furious franchise—”
Adam: “Fast Five. Though I have a feeling you’re going to say—”
Olive: “Tokyo Drift.”
Adam: “Right.” Adam: “You are not mediocre, Olive. You were not invited to speak because people think that you are my girlfriend—there is no such thing, since SBD’s abstracts go through a blind review process. I would know, because I’ve been roped into reviewing them in the past. And the work you presented is important, rigorous, and brilliant.”
He took a deep breath. His shoulders rose and fell in time with the thudding of her heart.
Adam: “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.” Olive: “You’re so big.”
He groaned into her neck. His entire body was vibrating with tension.
Adam: “You can take it.” The truth, Adam, is that your friend, your collaborator, a person you clearly love and are close to, is horrid and despicable. He told me things that might be truths, or maybe lies—I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore, and I would love to ask you, so badly. But I’m terrified that he might be right, and that you won’t believe me. And I’m even more terrified that you will believe me, and that what I tell you will force you to give up something that is very important to you: your friendship and your work with him. I’m terrified of everything, as you can see. So, instead of telling you that truth, I will tell you another truth. A truth that, I think, will be best for you. A truth that will take me out of the equation, but will make its result better. Because I’m starting to wonder if this is what being in love is. Being okay with ripping yourself to shreds, so the other person can stay whole. Anh: “I don’t hate you.”
Olive: “You . . . don’t?”
Anh: “Of course not.”
Anh was indignant.
Anh: “I low-key hate myself for forcing you to do all that stuff. Well, maybe not ‘hate,’ but I’d write myself a strongly worded email. And I’m incredibly flattered that you’d do something like that for me. I mean, it was misguided, and ridiculous, and needlessly convoluted, and you’re a living, breathing, rom-com trope machine, and . . . God, Ol, you’re such an idiot. But a very lovable idiot, and my idiot.” Adam: “I’m going to kill you. If you say another word about the woman I love, if you look at her, if you even think about her—I’m going to fucking kill you.” Adam: “I am going to take care of this. And then I’ll come find you, and I’ll take care of you.” Adam: “I’m not having dinner out,”
Adam: “I have better things to do.”
Holden: “Like what? Olive’s coming, too.”
Adam: “Leave Olive alone. She’s tired, and we’re busy.”
Holden: “I have access to your Google Calendar, asshole. You’re not busy. If you don’t want to hang out with me, you can just be honest.”
Adam: “I don’t want to hang out with you.”
Holden: “You little shit. After the week we just had. And on my birthday.”
Adam recoiled slightly.
Adam: “What? It’s not your birthday.”
Holden: “Yes, it is.”
Adam: “Your birthday is April tenth.”
Holden: “Is it, though?”
Adam closed his eyes, scratching his forehead.
Adam: “Holden, we’ve talked daily for the past twenty-five years, and I have been to at least five Power Rangers–themed birthday parties of yours. The last one was when you turned seventeen.”
Malcolm attempted to cover his laugh with a cough.
Adam: “I know when your birthday is.” Olive: “Ik hou van jou, Adam.” Olive: “May I kiss you, Dr. Carlsen?”