The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis

by Ali Hazelwood

Narrated by Callie Dalton, Teddy Hamilton

Unabridged — 11 hours, 51 minutes

The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis

by Ali Hazelwood

Narrated by Callie Dalton, Teddy Hamilton

Unabridged — 11 hours, 51 minutes

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Notes From Your Bookseller

There’s no denying the chemistry between Ph.D. candidate Olive and brooding professor Adam in this STEM-inspired romance. The bond pairing of a grump and sunshine is a surefire way to boost serotonin while accelerating the heartbeat of any science lover. Bonus points if you’re also a Star Wars fan!

Now see Adam pine for Olive in a special bonus chapter!

The Instant New York Times Bestseller and TikTok Sensation!

As seen on THE VIEW!

A BuzzFeed Best Summer Read of 2021

When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman's carefully calculated theories on love into chaos.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


Hazelwood debuts with a charming, offbeat rom-com pairing a somewhat awkward doctoral candidate with a hotshot young professor. Olive Smith, a third-year PhD student in biology at Stanford University, doubts that happily ever after exists, while her bestie, Anh, is a hopeless romantic. But Olive briefly dated Anh’s current crush, Jeremy, and now Anh’s refusing to act on her feelings because of “girl code.” In an attempt to prove she’s over Jeremy and alleviate Anh’s guilt, Olive impulsively kisses famously irascible professor Adam Carlsen and convinces him to “fake-date” her. But as attraction and chemistry grow, their relationship becomes more than pretense. Things further evolve after Olive is harassed and belittled at a professional conference and Adam provides a supportive shoulder. But can their relationship hold up in the real world? With whip-smart and endearing characters, snappy prose, and a quirky take on a favorite trope, Hazelwood convincingly navigates the fraught shoals of academia. The delightful supporting characters, especially Adam’s colleague Holden Rodriquez and Olive’s friends Malcolm and Anh, add flavor—and readers will love seeing the villain of the story dispatched in appropriate fashion. This smart, sexy contemporary should delight a wide swath of romance lovers. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Sept.)

From the Publisher

An Indie Next Pick!

"A literary breakthrough…The Love Hypothesis is a self-assured debut, and we hypothesize it's just the first bit of greatness we'll see from an author who somehow has the audacity to be both an academic powerhouse and divinely talented novelist."—Entertainment Weekly

Contemporary romance's unicorn: the elusive marriage of deeply brainy and delightfully escapist...The Love Hypothesis has wild commercial appeal but the quieter secret is that there is a specific audience, made up of all of the Olives in the world, who have deeply, ardently waited for this exact book.”—Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author

“Funny, sexy and smart, Ali Hazelwood did a terrific job with The Love Hypothesis.”—Mariana Zapata, New York Times bestselling author

“This tackles one of my favorite tropes—Grumpy meets Sunshine—in a fun and utterly endearing way...I loved the nods towards fandom and romance novels, and I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended!”—Jessica Clare, New York Times bestselling author

"Pure slow-burning gold with lots of chemistry."—Popsugar

"A beautifully written romantic comedy with a heroine you will instantly fall in love with, The Love Hypothesis is destined to earn a place on your keeper shelf."—Elizabeth Everett, author of A Lady's Formula for Love

"Smart, witty dialog and a diverse cast of likable secondary characters...A realistic, amusing novel that readers won’t be able to put down."—Library Journal, starred review

"Hilarious and heartwarming, The Love Hypothesis is romantic comedy at its best...a perfect amalgamation of sex and science, sure to appeal to readers of Christina Lauren or Abby Jimenez."—Shelf Awareness

"With whip-smart and endearing characters, snappy prose, and a quirky take on a favorite trope, Hazelwood convincingly navigates the fraught shoals of academia...This smart, sexy contemporary should delight a wide swath of romance lovers."—Publishers Weekly

Library Journal

★ 07/01/2021

DEBUT Science must be proved. That's why Stanford PhD candidate Olive Smith kissed the first man she found, to prove to her best friend Anh that she'd bounced back from a breakup. Fortunately, it worked. Unfortunately, the man was Dr. Adam Carlsen, the most arrogant, unapproachable, and downright mean professor in Olive's science department. He's not mean to Olive though, and he even agrees to be her fake boyfriend. As Olive spends more time fake-dating Adam, she sees another side to the professor who ruthlessly fails his students' dissertations. With Olive, Adam is kind. He smiles. He listens. Unfortunately, Adam is in love with someone else, and there's a looming expiration date on his fake relationship with Olive. This satisfying romantic comedy features smart, witty dialog and a diverse cast of likable secondary characters. Adam and Olive continually find themselves in awkward, adorable situations caused by their deception (and their meddling friends). The setting, in Stanford's STEM program, is essential to the plot and allows the author to write on the obstacles faced by PhD students, especially women in science programs. VERDICT A realistic, amusing novel that readers won't be able to put down. Highly recommended for all collections.—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood P.L., AL

Kirkus Reviews

An earnest grad student and a faculty member with a bit of a jerkish reputation concoct a fake dating scheme in this nerdy, STEM-filled contemporary romance.

Olive Smith and professor Adam Carlsen first met in the bathroom of Adam's lab. Olive wore expired contact lenses, reducing her eyes to temporary tears, while Adam just needed to dispose of a solution. It's a memory that only one of them has held onto. Now, nearly three years later, Olive is fully committed to her research in pancreatic cancer at Stanford University's biology department. As a faculty member, Adam's reputation precedes him, since he's made many students cry or drop their programs entirely with his bluntness. When Olive needs her best friend, Anh, to think she's dating someone so Anh will feel more comfortable getting involved with Olive's barely-an-ex, Jeremy, she impulsively kisses Adam, who happens to be standing there when Anh walks by. But rumors start to spread, and the one-time kiss morphs into a fake relationship, especially as Adam sees there's a benefit for him. The university is withholding funds for Adam's research out of fear that he'll leave for a better position elsewhere. If he puts down more roots by getting involved with someone, his research funds could be released at the next budgeting meeting in about a month's time. After setting a few ground rules, Adam and Olive agree that come the end of September, they'll part ways, having gotten what they need from their arrangement. Hazelwood has a keen understanding of romance tropes and puts them to good use—in addition to fake dating, Olive and Adam are an opposites-attract pairing with their sunny and grumpy personalities—but there are a couple of weaknesses in this debut novel. Hazelwood manages to sidestep a lot of the complicated power dynamics of a student-faculty romance by putting Olive and Adam in different departments, but the impetus for their fake relationship has much higher stakes for Adam. Olive does reap the benefits of dating a faculty member, but in the end, she's still the one seemingly punished or taunted by her colleagues; readers may have been hoping for a more subversive twist. For a first novel, there's plenty of shine here, with clear signs that Hazelwood feels completely comfortable with happily-ever-afters.

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940173164612
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,156

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Hypothesis: When given a choice between A (a slightly inconveniencing situation) and B (a colossal shitshow with devastating consequences), I will inevitably end up selecting B.

In Olive's defense, the man didn't seem to mind the kiss too much.


It did take him a moment to adjust-perfectly understandable, given the sudden circumstances. It was an awkward, uncomfortable, somewhat painful minute, in which Olive was simultaneously smashing her lips against his and pushing herself as high as her toes would extend to keep her mouth at the same level as his face. Did he have to be so tall? The kiss must have looked like some clumsy headbutt, and she grew anxious that she was not going to be able to pull the whole thing off. Her friend Anh, whom Olive had spotted coming her way a few seconds ago, was going to take one look at this and know at once that Olive and Kiss Dude couldn't possibly be two people in the middle of a date.


Then that agonizingly slow moment went by, and the kiss became . . . different. The man inhaled sharply and inclined his head a tiny bit, making Olive feel less like a squirrel monkey climbing a baobab tree, and his hands-which were large and pleasantly warm in the AC of the hallway-closed around her waist. They slid up a few inches, coming to wrap around Olive's rib cage and holding her to himself. Not too close, and not too far.


Just so.


It was more of a prolonged peck than anything, but it was quite nice, and for the life span of a few seconds Olive forgot a large number of things, including the fact that she was pressed against a random, unknown dude. That she'd barely had the time to whisper "Can I please kiss you?" before locking lips with him. That what had originally driven her to put on this entire show was the hope of fooling Anh, her best friend in the whole world.


But a good kiss will do that: make a girl forget herself for a while. Olive found herself melting into a broad, solid chest that showed absolutely no give. Her hands traveled from a defined jaw into surprisingly thick and soft hair, and then-then she heard herself sigh, as if already out of breath, and that's when it hit her like a brick on the head, the realization that- No. No.


Nope, nope, no.


She should not be enjoying this. Random dude, and all that.


Olive gasped and pushed herself away from him, frantically looking for Anh. In the 11:00 p.m. bluish glow of the biology labs' hallway, her friend was nowhere to be seen. Weird. Olive was sure she had spotted her a few seconds earlier.


Kiss Dude, on the other hand, was standing right in front of her, lips parted, chest rising and a weird light flickering in his eyes, which was exactly when it dawned on her, the enormity of what she had just done. Of who she had just-


Fuck her life.


Fuck. Her. Life.


Because Dr. Adam Carlsen was a known ass.


This fact was not remarkable in and of itself, as in academia every position above the graduate student level (Olive's level, sadly) required some degree of assness in order to be held for any length of time, with tenured faculty at the very peak of the ass pyramid. Dr. Carlsen, though-he was exceptional. At least if the rumors were anything to go by.


He was the reason Olive's roommate, Malcolm, had to completely scrap two research projects and would likely end up graduating a year late; the one who had made Jeremy throw up from anxiety before his qualifying exams; the sole culprit for half the students in the department being forced to postpone their thesis defenses. Joe, who used to be in Olive's cohort and would take her to watch out-of-focus European movies with microscopic subtitles every Thursday night, had been a research assistant in Carlsen's lab, but he'd decided to drop out six months into it for "reasons." It was probably for the best, since most of Carlsen's remaining graduate assistants had perennially shaky hands and often looked like they hadn't slept in a year.


Dr. Carlsen might have been a young academic rock star and biology's wunderkind, but he was also mean and hypercritical, and it was obvious in the way he spoke, in the way he carried himself, that he thought himself the only person doing decent science within the Stanford biology department. Within the entire world, probably. He was a notoriously moody, obnoxious, terrifying dick.


And Olive had just kissed him.


She wasn't sure how long the silence lasted-only that he was the one to break it. He stood in front of Olive, ridiculously intimidating with dark eyes and even darker hair, staring down from who knows how many inches above six feet-he must have been over half a foot taller than she was. He scowled, an expression that she recognized from seeing him attend the departmental seminar, a look that usually preceded him raising his hand to point out some perceived fatal flaw in the speaker's work.


Adam Carlsen. Destroyer of research careers, Olive had once overheard her adviser say.


It's okay. It's fine. Totally fine. She was just going to pretend nothing had happened, nod at him politely, and tiptoe her way out of here. Yes, solid plan.


"Did you . . . Did you just kiss me?" He sounded puzzled, and maybe a little out of breath. His lips were full and plump and . . . God. Kissed. There was simply no way Olive could get away with denying what she had just done.


Still, it was worth a try.




Surprisingly, it seemed to work.


"Ah. Okay, then." Carlsen nodded and turned around, looking vaguely disoriented. He took a couple of steps down the hallway, reached the water fountain-maybe where he'd been headed in the first place.


Olive was starting to believe that she might actually be off the hook when he halted and turned back with a skeptical expression.


"Are you sure?"




"I-" She buried her face in her hands. "It's not the way it looks."


"Okay. I . . . Okay," he repeated slowly. His voice was deep and low and sounded a lot like he was on his way to get ting mad. Like maybe he was already mad. "What's going on here?"


There was simply no way to explain this. Any normal person would have found Olive's situation odd, but Adam Carlsen, who obviously considered empathy a bug and not a feature of humanity, could never understand. She let her hands fall to her sides and took a deep breath.


"I . . . listen, I don't mean to be rude, but this is really none of your business."


He stared at her for a moment, and then he nodded. "Yes. Of course." He must be getting back into his usual groove, because his tone had lost some of its surprise and was back to normal-dry. Laconic. "I'll just go back to my office and begin to work on my Title IX complaint."


Olive exhaled in relief. "Yeah. That would be great, since- Wait. Your what?"


He cocked his head. "Title IX is a federal law that protects against sexual misconduct within academic settings-"


"I know what Title IX is."


"I see. So you willfully chose to disregard it."


"I- What? No. No, I didn't!"


He shrugged. "I must be mistaken, then. Someone else must have assaulted me."


"Assault-I didn't 'assault' you."


"You did kiss me."


"But not really."


"Without first securing my consent."


"I asked if I could kiss you!"


"And then did so without waiting for my response."


"What? You said yes."


"Excuse me?"


She frowned. "I asked if I could kiss you, and you said yes."


"Incorrect. You asked if you could kiss me and I snorted."


"I'm pretty sure I heard you said yes."


He lifted one eyebrow, and for a minute Olive let herself daydream of drowning someone. Dr. Carlsen. Herself. Both sounded like great options.


"Listen, I'm really sorry. It was a weird situation. Can we just forget that this happened?"


He studied her for a long moment, his angular face serious and something else, something that she couldn't quite decipher because she was too busy noticing all over again how damn towering and broad he was. Just massive. Olive had always been slight, just this side of too slender, but girls who are five eight rarely felt diminutive. At least until they found themselves standing next to Adam Carlsen. She'd known that he was tall, of course, from seeing him around the department or walking across campus, from sharing the elevator with him, but they'd never interacted. Never been this close.


Except for a second ago, Olive. When you almost put your tongue in his-


"Is something wrong?" He sounded almost concerned.


"What? No. No, there isn't."


"Because," he continued calmly, "kissing a stranger at midnight in a science lab might be a sign that there is."


"There isn't."


Carlsen nodded, thoughtful. "Very well. Expect mail in the next few days, then." He began to walk past her, and she turned to yell after him.


"You didn't even ask my name!"


"I'm sure anyone could figure it out, since you must have swiped your badge to get in the labs area after hours. Have a good night."


"Wait!" She leaned forward and stopped him with a hand on his wrist. He paused immediately, even though it was obvious that it would take him no effort to free himself, and stared pointedly at the spot where her fingers had wrapped around his skin-right below a wristwatch that probably cost half her yearly graduate salary. Or all of it.


She let go of him at once and took one step back. "Sorry, I didn't mean to-"


"The kiss. Explain."


Olive bit into her lower lip. She had truly screwed herself over. She had to tell him, now. "Anh Pham." She looked around to make sure Anh was really gone. "The girl who was passing by. She's a graduate student in the biology department."


Carlsen gave no indication of knowing who Anh was.


"Anh has . . ." Olive pushed a strand of brown hair behind her ear. This was where the story became embarrassing. Complicated, and a little juvenile sounding. "I was seeing this guy in the department. Jeremy Langley, he has red hair and works with Dr. . . . Anyway, we went out just a couple of times, and then I brought him to Anh's birthday party, and they just sort of hit it off and-"


Olive shut her eyes. Which was probably a bad idea, because now she could see it painted on her lids, how her best friend and her date had bantered in that bowling alley, as if they'd known each other their whole lives; the never-exhausted topics of conversation, the laughter, and then, at the end of the night, Jeremy following Anh's every move with his gaze. It had been painfully clear who he was interested in. Olive waved a hand and tried for a smile.


"Long story short, after Jeremy and I ended things he asked Anh out. She said no because of . . . girl code and all that, but I can tell that she really likes him. She's afraid to hurt my feelings, and no matter how many times I told her it was fine she wouldn't believe me."


Not to mention that the other day I overheard her confess to our friend Malcolm that she thought Jeremy was awesome, but she could never betray me by going out with him, and she sounded so dejected. Disappointed and insecure, not at all like the spunky, larger-than-life Anh I am used to.


"So I just lied and told her that I was already dating someone else. Because she's one of my closest friends and I'd never seen her like a guy this much and I want her to have the good things she deserves and I'm positive that she would do the same for me and-" Olive realized that she was rambling and that Carlsen couldn't have cared less. She stopped and swallowed, even though her mouth felt dry. "Tonight. I told her I'd be on a date tonight."


"Ah." His expression was unreadable.


"But I'm not. So I decided to come in to work on an experiment, but Anh showed up, too. She wasn't supposed to be here. But she was. Coming this way. And I panicked-well." Olive wiped a hand down her face. "I didn't really think."


Carlsen didn't say anything, but it was there in his eyes that he was thinking. Obviously.


"I just needed her to believe that I was on a date."


He nodded. "So you kissed the first person you saw in the hallway. Perfectly logical."


Olive winced. "When you put it like that, perhaps it wasn't my best moment."




"But it wasn't my worst, either! I'm pretty sure Anh saw us. Now she'll think that I was on a date with you and she'll hopefully feel free to go out with Jeremy and-" She shook her head. "Listen. I'm so, so sorry about the kiss."


"Are you?"


"Please, don't report me. I really thought I heard you say yes. I promise I didn't mean to . . ."


Suddenly, the enormity of what she had just done fully dawned on her. She had just kissed a random guy, a guy who happened to be the most notoriously unpleasant faculty member in the biology department. She'd misunderstood a snort for consent, she'd basically attacked him in the hallway, and now he was staring at her in that odd, pensive way, so large and focused and close to her, and . . .




Maybe it was the late night. Maybe it was that her last coffee had been sixteen hours ago. Maybe it was Adam Carlsen looking down at her, like that. All of a sudden, this entire situation was just too much.


"Actually, you're absolutely right. And I am so sorry. If you felt in any way harassed by me, you really should report me, because it's only fair. It was a horrible thing to do, though I really didn't want to . . . Not that my intentions matter; it's more like your perception of . . ."


Crap, crap, crap.


"I'm going to leave now, okay? Thank you, and . . . I am so, so, so sorry." Olive spun around on her heels and ran away down the hallway.


"Olive," she heard him call after her. "Olive, wait-"


She didn't stop. She sprinted down the stairs to the first floor and then out the building and across the pathways of the sparsely lit Stanford campus, running past a girl walking her dog and a group of students laughing in front of the library. She continued until she was standing in front of her apartment's door, stopping only to unlock it, making a beeline for her room in the hope of avoiding her roommate and whoever he might have brought home tonight.
It wasn’t until she slumped on her bed, staring at the glow‑in‑the- dark stars glued to her ceiling, that she realized that she had neglected to check on her lab mice. She had also left her laptop on her bench and her sweatshirt somewhere in the lab, and she had completely forgotten to stop at the store and buy the coffee she’d promised Malcolm she’d get for tomorrow morning.
Shit. What a disaster of a day.
It never occurred to Olive that Dr. Adam Carlsen— known ass— had called her by her name.

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