Rating: 4.25 stars
Length: Novella

“When one notices a chemical fire the immediate reaction is to douse it with H2O. This is bad…
…The proper reaction is to use a neutralizing agent”

Nico Johnston hates Jin Rodgers, although Nico doesn’t really know him. Jin is a transfer student and has unknowingly walked into a GPA battle with Nico. Not only that, Nico is convinced that Jin is a stuck up, manipulative, know-it-all. Jin is quite the opposite; he has had a crush on Nico since he first laid eyes on him, but Nico’s stand-offish attitude is intimidating and has kept Jin from asking him out.

When Nico and Jin are paired together by a professor to work on their thesis project, sparks fly – and not just the good kind. Arguments and awkwardness seem to fill the air when they are together, but still the attraction can’t be ignored for long. Confusion and past hurts keep Nico from pursuing anything with Jin. But Jin refuses to give up when he knows that he and Nico would be perfect together. He just has to figure out how to break though Nico’s barriers.

Jana Downs has created two fantastically quirky and vulnerable characters with Nico and Jin. Nico is competitive and judgmental, but I had the feeling while reading that both were a defense mechanism to keep people away. Jin is pretty open and honest, but after all Nico has put him through he fears that his biggest weakness will give Nico the opportunity to walk away. These two characters both hold high standards to the men that they choose to date, but whereas Jin does it because he is looking for a committed relationship, I think Nico’s high standards are another defense mechanism used to protect himself from being hurt.

The chemistry between Nico and Jin is a work in progress throughout the story. The attraction is there, although it takes Nico a little longer to realize it. Trust has to be built, but that trust is the foundation of their relationship. I really liked that these two didn’t immediately jump into bed together. They took time to create a bond and build on that – get to know one another and learn to trust each other. And once all the dirty laundry is out in the open, their love making becomes something special within their relationship.

There is only one minor issue that I can only describe as a possible timeline discrepancy. It is mentioned that spring had just started in the first chapter. Then in the final chapter, Nico is thinking about asking Jin to go home with him for Christmas break. The length of the story only lasted a matter of weeks and I was confused as to why, if it was spring, Nico was already thinking about Christmas break as opposed to maybe a summer break. Like I said, it is only minor, but the timeline in my mind was a little thrown off.

Overall, Physical Chemistry is an adorable college-age story with quirky characters and a happy ending. It is a light read that I truly enjoyed and recommend it to anyone who likes college themed romance and chemistry… in both senses of the word.

Physical Chemistry is available as a free download from Jana Downs’ website.  Enjoy!