Love on My Mind
Love on My Mind is a unique contemporary romance where the hero has Asperger Syndrome and the heroine is a cross between Olivia Pope and CJ Cregg. Adam Bennett is a tech world wunderkind, but puts the future of his company at risk because of his complete aversion to public relations. In a bit of subterfuge, Adam’s COO hires Chelsea Grant to help prepare Adam for a huge product launch. The catch? She can’t tell him she’s in PR or that she’s been hired to help him. That’s where things get messy, sexy, and interesting.
Adam is no stranger to publicity. As the CEO of a major technology firm, he’s been part of his fair share of product launches and, unfortunately, has been the worst part of all of them. His Asperger’s makes social interactions difficult and press conferences are a hellscape of stress. He doesn’t understand why he has to answer questions about anything other than the product itself, despite everyone on his staff telling him that tech CEOs are public figures. They cite Zuckerberg and Jobs, but Adam isn’t buying it.
This leads to the aforementioned deception at the center of the story. When Chelsea is offered the job, she’s promised a promotion to partner of her firm and, essentially told all of her dreams will come true if she can just make sure that Adam does well at an upcoming launch. The product being launched, by the way, is a complete cultural game changer and so the pressure is really on to make sure the media coverage is about that and not about Adam melting down and behaving like a jerk in front of the press.
While the subterfuge makes her ethical hackles rise a little, Chelsea agrees to the brief and makes arrangements to insert herself in Adam’s life. Of course, things don’t go quite as she plans and the two of them have chemistry that practically melted my Kindle – which they act upon. And acting on that chemistry leads to love, which ensured I spent most of the book super nervous since Adam proclaims over and over and over again that he hates lying, hates liars, and places a premium on trust.
Thankfully, he also places a premium on loyalty, friendship, and logic. When the whole situation becomes known, Adam’s friends and colleagues help him navigate the social waters and he and Chelsea get their happily ever after. I can imagine that for some readers, the lie as the base of the story is going to be a huge problem. As I said above, I was nervous for most of the book, but the resolution is not what I expected and helped ease a lot of the frustration I felt at certain points about the duplicity of the heroine. I’m honestly glad I read this book and glad I got to know these characters.
I’m not an expert or someone who lives on the autistic spectrum, but the portrayal of Adam’s Asperger’s seems accurate. I would love to hear from someone who is either of those things to know if Adam rang true to them, but as far as I’m concerned, the character works. Ms. Livesay is careful to let us know what parts of Adam’s life are carefully managed by learned behavior and what parts are overwhelming for him. We learn the reasons for Adam’s trust issues, which are more difficult for him to process than someone who is not on the spectrum.
Additionally, Chelsea Grant is a black woman and I am not one, so please take my comments with sincere grains of salt. Her blackness is portrayed as more of an afterthought in most cases, but I could feel the undercurrents of tension when she spoke about her mother. Chelsea is exceptionally motivated by her mother’s life choices and alludes to her mother’s dependence on men as a serious problem. She is ruthlessly dedicated to achieving her goals and there are a few times I wondered if her inner monologue would allow us to see if she felt this more acutely because of her race or if her race was not a factor for her. Because the specificities of her identity around her race and her gender are never really explored, especially the parts of her where those overlap and intersect, i.e., being a black woman is different in society than being a white woman, the fact that she’s a black woman at all may escape notice of most readers and I do wish that Ms. Livesay had been a bit more explicit about it so I could get deeper inside Chelsea’s sense of self. That being said, I was also thrilled to be asking these questions because the characters weren’t straight-forward caucasian.
I would whole-heartedly recommend Love on My Mind to anyone looking to read a contemporary romance about diverse, real, authentic characters. Anyone wanting a story about tech or gaming, and who likes to read about people who are really good at their jobs is sure to enjoy it as well.