not me reading books because of that clock app 💀.there was so much hype around these two books on tiktok. for the most part I thought they were both…fine.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.
First of all, some of you owe this man an apology for making fun of how big heroes are described. He was right. The way that the hero is constantly described as gigantic in comparison to the heroine (who is 5’8) is wild. He’d have to be like 8 feet tall the way the book talks about him.
Stanford grad student Olive Smith is a bit of an insecure mess who will do anything to please the people around her. When Olive invents a fake boyfriend to prove she’s moved on from her ex; Dr. Adam Carlsen–Stanford’s sulky broody all-star professor–agrees to step in as the fake boyfriend.
The first half of this book has fanfic-y rom-com vibes as Olive and Adam are thrown into increasingly improbable situations at work and must act like a couple. You really have to be willing to suspend your disbelief because if there is one place you can be a couple and not have to act like a couple…it’s a workplace.
The second half was the stronger section for me. The fake relationship is complicated by Olive’s burgeoning feelings and a sexual harassment situation involving one of Adam’s friends. I liked when the close third-person slipped to Adam’s POV and we get more insight into him and how he sees Olive. It really fleshes out the character. I wish Hazelwood had done it earlier because for most of the book he felt unknowable.
As for the spice? Yes, there is one (rather long) sex scene in this book but a majority of the narrative isn’t about sex or sexual attraction. We are mostly in Olive’s head and (because it’s not said on page) Hazelwood confirmed Olive is demisexual. I was even reading Olive as asexual before I saw Hazelwood’s post. Sex is not really a thing for Olive and she struggles with it.
Callie Dalton is great on the audio, she’s one of my new favorites. She’s been doing indie romance for years and it looks like she’s breaking into traditionally published romance.
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that this book is a Reylo fic. I think its fanfic origins are why the characterizations feel a little sparse. Because in fanfic you already know the characters. I believe Hazelwood’s 2022 book is an original work and I’m excited to see what Hazelwood does outside of Reylo
I found a copy of the fanfic, Head Over Feet, and read a little bit. It was interesting to see how they edited and moved scenes around.
Content Warning: quid pro quo sexual harassment, cancer death as backstory
Neon Gods by Katee Roberts
Neon Gods is an erotic romance version of the Hades and Persephone myth that asks; What if instead of getting stolen by Hades, Persephone runs to him?
In the city of Olympus the names of the 13 major Greek gods are, essentially, titles held by the ambitious bloodthirsty rulers of the Upper City of Olympus.
When Persephone’s mother becomes the new Demeter, her first order of business is forcing Persephone into an arranged marriage with Zeus, the murderous leader of the city. Persephone flees to the Olympus’ lower city and discovers Hades is not the myth she was made to believe.
I think Roberts excels at blending the erotica and romance elements. Persephone and Hades form an alliance wherein Persephone will participate in Hades underground BDSM parties so that rumors will get back to Zeus and he will no longer be interested in her.
The plot was real repetitive at the beginning. For most of the book, Hades is getting his caretaker Alpha on as he nurses Persephone back to health and shows her around the city. I think a lot of people love this trope– but I needed more to keep me compelled.
Once the plot picks up in the latter third I was back in and finished it in one sitting. Roberts builds an intriguing world of deceit and power games and I can’t wait to see how the world of Olympus changes as the series goes on In this world Persephone’s sisters are Psyche, Erudicye and Callisto and I’ll be curious how Robets’ reimagines their myths.
I did try a little bit on audiobook. I thought narrators Zara Hampton Brown and Alex *checks notes* Moorcock had great voices but their interpretations of the characters were so wildly different I had trouble locking in on the audio. Brown’s Hades was gruff and growly while Moorcock was doing more refined aristocrats.