Title: Love on the Brain
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: The Love Hypothesis
Content Warnings: misogyny, sexism, death, grief, medical content, gun violence
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.
Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.
Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.
But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.
But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?
I was instantly sucked into Love on the Brain, flying through pages and staying up too late reading, so I applaud this book for being unputdownable at the beginning of a new school year when making time for reading is especially difficult. The writing is so easy to read, and Bee is a funny and entertaining narrator. I love her obsession with Marie Curie, her bold personality, and of course her status as a confident and groundbreaking woman in STEM. The dialogue is hilarious, I love how passionate the characters are, and I especially how supportive the women are of each other, especially in a male-dominated field.
However, I found the story to be incredibly predictable (aside from an overdramatic wtf scene at the end) and basically The Love Hypothesis 2.0, just with different jobs in a different setting. You cannot convince me that Levi is a different character from Adam, the incredibly large and attractive black-haired love interest whose grumpy and standoffish nature is actually a cover for the fact that he’s been pining for the FMC for years and hasn’t been interested in another woman since he first laid eyes on her even though they never had any type of relationship. And can we not have adult men do the elementary school “I’m mean to you because I love you” thing? Levi has some toxic tendencies, yet all his behavior is ultimately excused to depict him as The Perfect Man.
I’m also over female characters being so willfully oblivious about the love interest’s true feelings toward her and refusing to believe that he could actually care about her. As much as I liked Bee, she had some very immature and borderline unprofessional moments. The chemistry between Levi and Bee was intense and I was here for it, but I thought the story placed too much emphasis on the physical side of their relationship over the emotional side. And some of the spicy scenes (one in particular) were just gross.
I know I just ranted a lot, but I truly enjoyed this book overall and it made me laugh out loud a lot! Ali Hazelwood clearly has a formula that works for her, but I hope to see her evolve as a writer in future projects.