Title: Physical Chemistry
Author: Jana Downs
Length: 17,604 words (87 pdf pages)
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: m/m contemporary
Nico Johnston doesn’t care that fellow chemist, Jin, is gorgeous, kind, and talented, Nico can’t risk getting professionally involved with a man like Jin again. Thrown together for a semester, Jin may be hoping that their shared research project will lead to more than just good test results.
This is a bit of a typical enemy to lovers story, although the enmity is all one-sided. Nico has been the star of his college faculty pretty much his whole university career, and when new-guy Jin shows up, it completely throws Nico off his game. Not only does the guy usurp Nico’s position as top student in the class, but he appears to be gorgeous and nice and everyone loves him, and Nico knows that’s just not possible. No one is that perfect, and he’s had the experience to prove it.
Nico comes across as a total jerk at first, but it’s not merely his arrogance at being the smartest most dedicated student in his faculty, there are some underlying self-esteem issues as well. A bad incident in high school has led him to believe that focusing on his studies is best, to the detriment of his social life. His sister tends to keep him grounded and not let him get too carried away in his rants, but he hides, in essence, behind his brilliance and school work.
Jin manages to get them on a project together, however is hurt to find out Nico hates him and sets about changing his mind. Only the nicer, more perfect, Jin is, the more it seems to annoy Nico, even though he’s starting to admit maybe they have something in common. I enjoyed seeing Nico’s insecurities under his “I’m a chemistry genius” exterior. While he could behave like a jerk, it came across to me, in part as a protection measure, especially where Jin was concerned. It was nice to see Jin revealed to be less than perfect, although he was confused that the fact made him more appealing to Nico.
I would have liked to see a bit more background on Jin. He was nearly 24 and I got the impression this was his undergraduate degree, which in North America generally takes four years, so most kids graduate at 22, or was it a Masters program they were in? So what did he do with those two years? He was a top student so he certainly hadn’t flunked out. You just don’t get to know much about Jin or his ‘imperfection’ (I’m being deliberately vague here as to leave it to the reader to discover in what ways Jin isn’t “perfect”).
A bit more time to flesh out Jin’s background would have been good, but on the whole, for those who like college student romances, it’s a good read and I liked seeing Nico’s very pre-determined life thrown off by Jin’s determination to forge a relationship of some kind, whether Nico liked it or not.