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.
“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.
As you may or may not know, I’m still a relative newbie when it comes to the romance genre. I’m still trying to figure out which tropes do and don’t work for me. So I went into this fake dating rom-com with an open mind and, happily, it didn’t not disappoint!
In this book, we’re following a third year PhD student named Olive who has found herself in a pickle. In an effort to convince her best friend that she is completely over her ex, Olive ends up kissing a random man on campus. That random man, however, turns out to be a professor and known grump named Adam Carlsen. Olive is mortified but it turns out that a fake relationship might just be able to help both of them out of a tight spot. But will they come out of it with the feelings and reputations in tact?
This was such a cute and funny read! This is my second experience with the fake dating trope and I think I may love it? I just love how you get to watch the characters slowly fall in love as they spend more time together. The premise of the fake dating did stretch the imagination in this one, but I still enjoyed it! I also liked the fact that our heroine is in a very competitive STEM program. I don’t know if you get that a lot in romance, but it was nice to see and, for someone who works in a science-oriented field, fun to read. There are more serious moments (trigger warning for on-page sexual assault) but I think the author handled them well and it’s very true to what women in STEM have to deal with on a regular basis. I think my biggest gripe with this book is that I could have done without the CONSTANT REMINDERS about how big Adam was in comparison to Olive. Like… we get it. He’s a big dude. Let’s not mention it every. single. page, please.
Another aspect of this story that I loved is our two main characters! Adam is such a sweetheart when Olive takes the time to get to know him. He’s exacting and has high standards, but he truly wants what is best for people. I loved how gentle he tries to be with Olive and her feelings, as well. Olive is smart, funny, and has a huge heart. She also needs to learn when to just be honest with people! I mean, that would destroy the entire premise of this book if she was, but it was a bit frustrating watching her continue to dig herself into holes she didn’t need to be in. Still, she was a great character and the chemistry between the two of them was electric!
Final thoughts: This was a charming, funny, and quick romance that had me cheering for the main couple. They had incredible chemistry and I loved how much depth there was to both characters! This book does superficially tackle some darker subjects (please check trigger warnings!), but I think the author handles them with grace. Just be warned that you will never be in doubt about just how big Adam is. Ever. Overall, I had a great time with this book and would love to read whatever Ali Hazelwood puts out next!