With her typical STEMinist style, Hazelwood brings a very different type of romance to the page in Not in Love. What starts as a rivals-to-lovers story quickly becomes more as Rue and Eli navigate their personal and professional lives as they become more and more intertwined. Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood will resonate with both fans of Hazelwood’s romances, as well as those looking for something deeper than the normal rom-com fare.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This post contains affiliate links. That means we receive a small commission at no cost to you from any purchases you make through these links.

Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood

Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood

June 11, 2024

Read this if you want:

  • Office rivals-to-lovers
  • Diverse romantic and sexual rep in your romance
  • He falls first

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I’d never felt more beautiful than when he looked at me. Like I was the final prototype of someone’s entire fantasy life.

Rue thought she had her life figured out. She was making progress on an important patent at work, she had supportive friendships at work, her sex life was adequate. But when her latest planned hook up turns out to be the very same person involved in a financial takeover of the lab she works for, things get complicated. As her blind faith in her friends is tested and her relationship with Eli starts to mean more, Rue realizes she’s not in love: not in love with being kept in the dark, not in love with everyone keeping secrets, and not in love with the path she once thought was right for her. 

Right off the bat, it’s clear that Rue and Eli’s romance was not going to be your typical enemies-to-lovers story. For one, Rue is far from the main female characters I’m used to reading, especially from the big publishers. While Hazelwood doesn’t put a label on Rue in any way in terms of her sexuality, Rue could easily identify as a demiromantic, making her quite different from Hazelwood’s usual female main characters. This sort of sex-positive, romance-averse character type is definitely more common among male characters, so it was wholly refreshing to see Rue be unapologetically herself – no matter how hard Eli tried throughout the book. 

I thought Hazelwood gave this story a good balance between what was happening between Rue and Eli as well as what was happening in the larger plot. A lot of changes happened to Rue during the course of this story, most of them the uncomfortable kind of change. But Hazelwood crafted a character who needed more than a page or two to rebound, giving us one of her most realistic FMCs yet. Eli, likewise, couldn’t just cruise in the background to his happily ever after. I loved that Hazelwood gave both main characters dilemmas involving both romantic and platonic love; while, fundamentally, both Eli and Rue had to make some similar decisions, each character was affected in entirely different ways. 

The overall plot wasn’t anything super unique: office rivals-to-lovers, with Hazelwood’s typical women-in-STEM spin. But where Not in Love shines is Rue’s diverse sexual and romantic preferences and Eli’s beautiful ability to meet every single one of Rue’s needs. Not in Love gave us a wonderful FMC with diverse romantic and sexual preferences, and a MMC who was more than capable of meeting her needs. 

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