Love, Theoretically
Grade : B+

I giggled, chortled and laughed my way through this wonderful story. It’s a STEM romcom with terrific characters and lots of smart, snarky humor and I enjoyed it immensely.

Elsie Hannaway is a theoretical physicist working as an adjunct professor trying to get a research position with benefits. She is also diabetic and in desperate need of health insurance. She teaches nine classes at three different colleges but barely makes enough to get by. To make extra money she and her roommate hire themselves out for fake dates on an app called Faux.

Faux creates the meet cute this novel builds on. Elsie first meets Jack when she goes to a family gathering as a fake date with his brother, Greg. Greg’s mother has been pressuring Greg to find a partner so he hires Elsie to go with him to a family party. She tells his family she is a librarian and she thinks Jack is a PE teacher because she mishears Greg when they are introduced. Elsie and Jack play a game of Go and it ends in a tie which surprises everyone at the party because Jack always wins.

The second time Elsie meets Jack is with Greg at his family’s Labor Day Party. Everyone is in the pool swimming but she can’t hide her insulin pump in her swimsuit so she decides to sit on a blanket and have a piece of cake. But she miscalculates the insulin she needs and when Jack notices she’s having trouble, he comes to her rescue and carries her into the house. Jack and Elsie are each riveted by the other.

Elsie applies for a tenure track position (with health benefits) at the physics department at MIT and–yay!–is one of two finalists for the position. She is at a dinner to meet the hiring committee when in walks Jack Smith (Greg’s brother) aka Jonathan Smith-Turner, the head of the MIT Physics Institute. Elsie thinks Jack is a total bae–he’s wonderfully big and strong with broad shoulders and all, but she is wary because he’s part of the group that will decide whether she gets her dream job. Jack finds himself attracted to Elsie, which concerns him because he thinks she’s his brother’s girlfriend and he also wonders why she said she was a librarian when he met her with Greg.

Elsie is a people pleaser–she bends her personality to get along with everyone. She often puts other people’s needs before her own. She’s the kind of friend who will watch a Belgian movie about cannibalism instead of her favorite movie, Twilight, just to make her roommate and best friend happy. She wants Jack to like her but he is hard for her to read and she’s not able to figure out what he wants. Of course, he just wants her to be herself and challenges her to speak her mind and be honest. He makes her happy and they were great together and I think this is her spiciest book so far.

There are hilarious emails from her students that are sprinkled throughout the book and had me laughing out loud. In one email a student asks her to draw a map to class because she can’t find the room or another where the student confuses her with another teacher and asks for help with a paper on a Shakespeare play. The student writes to thank her for her help when she gets an A for her paper comparing Twilight to A Midsummer Night’s Dream:)

Some of the academic politics and physics language was over my head like a side plot involving Elsie’s Ph.D. advisor and a paper Jack wrote that discredited him. Or that Elsie has become an expert in Liquid Crystals, a hot topic in physics because of their practical uses, like the light in our monitors, light delivered drug release for cancer treatment and their possible importance in the building blocks of life. But the wonderful cast of characters kept me immersed in the story. I liked how the women in STEM encouraged each other, like when Georgina, another physicist, meets Elsie after she’s done teaching a class, tells her they should be best friends and takes her to lunch while sharing ideas and advice. It is impressive to see a main character like Elsie who is a brilliant physicist, funny and a devoted friend. I can see why Jack is attracted to her. Fans of Olive and Adam from The Love Hypothesis will be happy to know that they have a cameo appearance in this story.

This book was full of my favorite things, a terrific romance, women in STEM, lots of humor and good friendships, both weird and wonderful.

Reviewed by Kayne Spooner

Grade: B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : June 13, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

Recent Comments …

  1. I read Ulrich’s book several years ago,it was excellent. American Experience on PBS did an adaptation of the book, it…

Kayne Spooner

Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers.
Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments