The Love Hypothesis: Smart Romance

The Love Hypothesis is a feel-good fake love affair gone wrong, but it’s also a detailed look into the cutthroat world of higher education in the USA.

Ali Hazelwood is a neuroscientist and professor and is already a published author on brain science. She uses the age-old advice “write what you know” to great effect in The Love Hypothesis.

The Plot

Olive is a PHD student at university trying to change the world of pancreatic cancer diagnosis. In an attempt to convince her best friend that she’s got a boyfriend Olive kisses the first guy she comes across. This just happens to be Doctor Adam Carlson, faculty celebrity, and arsehole. They agree to fake date so Olive can convince her friend they’re dating, and he can convince the university that he’s not a flight risk. Both of them are terrible at real and fake relationships and the hilarious, and endearing mishaps ensue.

The Review

The university and doctorate systems are a fully-fledged character in Hazelwood’s novel. The descriptions are hilariously dark and desperate. Doctorate students eke out a starving existence while professors lord it over them. The campus undercurrents are complicated, and the characters struggle with the questions of if they are in it for the right reasons.

Hazelwood also addresses some of the less favourable sides to higher education. Our heroine is one of the only females in the classes and she bears the brunt of condemnation for having a relationship with a professor (even though it’s fake).

One of the villains of the piece is there to highlight the specter of sexism that is still a large part of the old boys club of institutional education. Our heroine is almost lucky to have the sexism directed at her so obviously. Most of us know that it’s usually slippery and elusive enough to make it almost impossible to report.

The fake lovers to actual lovers trope has been done many times, but Hazelwood acknowledges this in a tongue-in-cheek way throughout the novel. An example of this is when the fake lovers have to share a room and our heroine is morosely convinced that there will be only one bed, as that’s what always happens. Unfortunately, for the obviously pining pair, there are two double beds.

I enjoyed the characters and the simmering romance between the two leads (which is obvious to everyone except themselves). Some of the drama at the end seems a bit dramatized for the sake of adding drama, and I found it a bit awkward, but this was only minor to the overall enjoyment. Also word of warning, there are casual references to animal testing for cancer research.


The Love Hypothesis is a funny and smart romance that you’ll have fun losing yourself in. The higher education world that Hazelwood’s story is set in is interesting, funny, and upsetting, and I’m excited for her next novel in the same world.

— Bliss
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Hi, I'm Bliss, the reader and writer behind Books For Bliss. Discover book reviews, lists for your next great read, or a story to make you feel great. It's all right at your finger tips; happiness on a page. Read More