This book has been on my TBR for months, everyone kept telling me I had to read it, and when I won a copy as part of a giveaway, I decided it was time to finally sit down and see what all the fuss is about. And let me tell you - this book deserves all the hype and more! I am so in love with this book that I already want to re-read it. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me never want it to end. From the first scene where they have the cutest meet-cute ever to the last few chapters of happily ever after, I was in love with the characters. It's so rare that you see a great STEM heroine in a romance novel, and this one was written so well. She was smart, kind, determined to persevere in a male-dominated world, and she genuinely wanted to make a different for cancer patients. It was so inspiring that I do believe, had I read this before entering college, it would make me want to choose a different career path. Of course, you definitely see the downsides to entering this area of work, especially in academia, but there are the great parts too. Having that sort of passion in your work - it made me want all the best things for her future. I was completely invested in her as a character.
Working in academia as a young female scientist is stressful. Personal relationships? They can just make things more so. When Olive Smith lies to her friend that she's on a date, she never expects that said friend will show up where she's hiding out in the lab. She especially doesn't expect to be grabbing the nearest eligible bachelor and planting a kiss on him, to fool her friend into thinking she really was on a date. And when the bachelor turns out to be possibly the most hated professor in her department, well...that's just the cherry on top of a fantastically bad idea. When word gets around that she was seen kissing Dr. Adam Carlsen, things go from bad to worse. That's when she and Adam decide that perhaps a fake relationship can help them both - Olive needs to show her friend that she is in a romantic relationship and Adam needs to convince the college that he doesn't intend to abandon them for another job. Soon they are having fake dates, giving fake kisses, and having fake sex...wait, what? With everyone thinking they're sleeping together, the complications build until Olive has a particularly nasty encounter at a conference. And who is there to support her but Adam...and Adam's beautiful body. Fake relationships are hard, real ones are harder, and this was only meant to be temporary. So why does Olive wish it were real?
I adored Olive and Adam. So much, I don't have the words to describe it to make you fully understand. Olive was such an amazing woman, her drive and dedication were awesome to behold. She wasn't afraid of Adam, even though logic should have told her to be. He was different around her than other people - he was very clear that he, in fact, didn't like people. Except for her, apparently. She brought out a side of him that he didn't let others see. Over time, Adam's vulnerability was obvious, and although he was an extremely strong and capable person, he wanted something he felt he could never have. It was so clearly obvious that he had feelings for her for a long time, and the fake relationship was the perfect opportunity for him to have her for at least a little while. Every time he was reminded that it was fake, I could feel his disappointment. While we only get Olive's point-of-view in the book, Ali Hazelwood did a fantastic job making Adam's emotions and feelings quite clear. The way she wrote the two characters brought them to life, had me aching for more page time with them, and the chemistry between the two was off the charts. This is a slow burn romance, with every interaction feeling like foreplay until they reach the inevitable scene where things ignite. And when they catch fire, oh wow. So much steam.
I am floored by this book, making it absolutely one of my favorite books in 2021. I can't wait to read more by this author!