Love on My Mind

Tracey Livesay

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.


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Book Details

Reviewer :      Kristen Donnelly

Grade :     B

Sensuality :      Hot

Book Type :     

Review Tags :      | |

Recent Comments


  1. Dabney Grinnan
    Dabney Grinnan July 19, 2016 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    This sounds really interesting. I have a thing for heroes “on the spectrum.”

  2. HBO July 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Kristen, I am confused by your terminology “straight-forward Caucasian” Is that a white person who isn’t straightforward? Or is the term a new phrase that Romanceland bloggers/reviewers are now using to refer to diverse books that feature hero/heroine of colour, or of mixed race/races?

    • Kristen Donnelly
      Kristen Donnelly July 21, 2016 at 9:56 am - Reply

      HBO, perhaps “generic” would have been a better word than “straight forward”, as that’s really what I meant. Does that help?

  3. HBO July 21, 2016 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I know tastes in books (in all art, for that matter) is subjective. But once again, Kristen, you lost me. So no… I do not understand the term “generic” Caucasian either.

    Then again, I was lost once the review delved in to the heroine’s ethnicity. In all my years of being on-line within the romance community, I have never seen a review ANYWHERE where a “white” heroine’s “whiteness” is an afterthought, and is up for critique/scrutiny.

    The latter part of the review was tone-deaf, if not out-right racist, and only reinforces negative stereotypes against WoC/PoC. imo. And, yes, you prefaced the latter part of the review with saying “I’m white.” But “White” ignorance, imo, is not an excuse for racial profiling.

    • Kristen Donnelly
      Kristen Donnelly July 21, 2016 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the comments, it was absolutely not my intention to be racist or to engage in racial profiling and I am sincerely sorry if that is what this comes across as.

      My review, as clumsily worded and awkwardly presented as it may be, was an attempt to delve into intersectionality of a character and ask some questions. It appears from your comments that I miserably failed at that and for that I am sorry.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan July 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply


      I think “I failed miserably” is an extreme overstatement.

    • Caroline Russomanno
      Caroline Russomanno July 21, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      To me, the term “generic” or “straight-forward” Caucasian is a character who is white, and whose racial and ethnic identity does not affect the character or the plot.

      Here are some counterexamples: The heroine of the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding is, in US census terms, white, but her strong ethnic identity is essential to the way the character behaves and the way the story unfolds. Deborah Smith has some US-South set novels in which the character are strongly grounded in and make decisions based on their Southern white identity. Her When Venus Fell involves a heroine of mixed ancestry (Italian and Japanese and, if I recall correctly, Swedish) and a hero of Appalachian Scottish descent. Even though the heroine has at least half white ancestry, her white culture (urban, Yankee, and Catholic on her Italian side) is portrayed as very different from the hero’s white culture.

      This is not an official term used anywhere that I’m aware of, but I certainly could tell what the reviewer meant.

      • Blackjack1 July 22, 2016 at 5:07 pm - Reply

        Yes, I read it that way too. Romances reviewed here mostly feature Caucasian characters, and from what I’ve discerned in the entire genre, it’s the case that white characters constitute the vast majority of main characters in a romance novel. To say that the character is not a generic Caucasian is not a troubling observation. Race is not invisible, as much as some want to suggest.

    • Blackjack1 July 22, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      But whiteness is normative, HBO, just as heterosexuality, for example, is presumed unless an author indicates clearly otherwise. Just pointing out otherwise is not engaging in racism. If an author makes an informed decision to deviate from the norm, good for him/her, but like the reviewer, I would want to have indications of what that deviation entails.

  4. HBO July 21, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Dabney, tell that to the author of the book in question, and to the many authors of colour who called out this review out on Twitter. And who were hurt by this review.

    As a white woman, I was cringing, and embarrassed. And that is me being polite.

    You, Dabney, have erased Kristen’s sincere attempt to say “yes, I got it wrong” by your interference, and for what, “free speech?” Sure. Yep, all cheer for the 1st Amendment, but once words out out there, they are open to interpretation. Moreover, they are open to critique. This review failed., and you know it!

    I am not sure where you, Dabney, now AAR’s chief editor, are taking this once revered site. But a mesh-mash of DA & SBTB is not one I want as my go-to site for reviews.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan July 21, 2016 at 7:33 pm - Reply

      Well, all opinions are welcome here, including yours. At the end of the day, I believe most of us are striving for a better world. We do the best we can and it’s often not enough.

  5. HBO July 21, 2016 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Ok, Dabney…you just attended the RWA16 convention. And your reply to me tells me that, when it comes to diverse romance, authors of colour still are fighting an uphill battle in the publishing world, from agents to publishers to bloggers.

  6. HBO July 21, 2016 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    And it must be nice, Dabney, to have the power to edit your own posts, so it reflects better on you.

    I am SO done with this site!

  7. Eliza July 22, 2016 at 12:42 am - Reply

    I too was embarrassed and troubled about this review because of the racial portion of the review. I think this comments thread should have stopped with a sincere apology from the reviewer because the damage was already done, “When in a hole, stop digging” is the best way I can think of to say it.

    I was also offended by “straight-forward” white comment both in the review and as addressed here. Apparently some people aren’t “wholly” or are only “partly” white? I’m disappointed because I wouldn’t have expected that kind of explanation here in these times where we already have heightened sensitivity to immigration around the world in and in this country.

    Then there’s the editing issue, which I’d been told hasn’t been enabled but apparently it is to “staff”? I’ve seen editing done multiple times now, and the answer I received when I first asked now seems disingenuous to say the least..

    This review and the one for Wagon Train Sisters tells me not to bother reading reviews here any more. I had taken a break from reading AAR reviews, but came back for a fresh look. with the launch of the new site, but that’s done now. I hear enough of these kinds of things from the political arena now to want to read the same insensitivity here now too.

  8. Blackjack1 July 22, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    I may have interpreted this all a little differently. Whiteness is normative in America and is normative in most romance genre writing, or at least the romance writing reviewed at AAR as far as I’ve been able to discern over the years. An interracial couple in a romance is not normative. For a review to call attention to the fact that a main character is not white does not seem problematic to me. The reviewer mentions race in the context of “tension” between a mother and daughter and so perhaps there was some question about how the main character’s race informed the mother-daughter tension or even the main character. I guess I come from a place where race is openly discussed in novels and about novels and so questioning the lack of racialized discourse in the text that features a minority as a main character is not really a bad thing. I assumed too that when Kristen wrote “the characters weren’t straightforward caucasian” she was referring to the absence of minorities as main characters in romances? That is generally true – again, in the romances featured on this site. I didn’t interpret the comments as racist if that is the accusation. I realize of course that mentioning race is challenging in and of itself, but I think it’s worthwhile to work through it, especially if a romance features an interracial couple.

  9. Eliza July 22, 2016 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    You probably haven’t read any of or the many offended readers of this review on social media then, I take it. . What may seem normative to you or not or to those in the area you live, it certainly was not received well at all to a wider audience., The reaction varied from dismayed to disgusted to rage.

  10. Blackjack1 July 23, 2016 at 2:20 am - Reply

    @Eliza – I’m only responding to the discussion posts here on this thread. As far as whiteness being the norm in American writing or our general society in this country or in romance genre fiction, that’s not really a personal perspective or related to just one state in the U.S. White people do represent the norm and minorities make up, well, the minority. I think too that when an author constructs an interracial couple, she/he is going against the norm, but that’s not a value statement necessarily. It just means that it’s not the norm.

  11. Eliza July 23, 2016 at 5:12 am - Reply

    I was talking about how _real_ _ individual_ _human beings_ reacted to this review, and not about a bloodless survey or table of statistics, The closest I can come to stating what I read and feel is that the review made the characters the “other”. I’m not sure than any individual human being of any race (religion or ethnicity) would be delighted to be told whether or not s/he fits ” the norm.” I guess this is one of those things one _gets_ or just doesn’t..

  12. Blackjack1 July 23, 2016 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Oh, I get the “otherness” of the debate. But is difference a negative thing even though our society tends to want to push homogeneity on all of us, real or imagined. I don’t see anywhere in the review where the reviewer suggested anything discriminatory, and if I were reading this book I would probably question too how constructing an interracial relationship impacted the relationship. There is not a value judgment in such questioning. I completely get too how race is challenging to discuss, but I don’t think pretending it doesn’t exist is the answer.

    • Keira Soleore
      Keira Soleore July 27, 2016 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      This! “I completely get too how race is challenging to discuss, but I don’t think pretending it doesn’t exist is the answer.”

      We need to talk more not less about race. How can we understand each other if we don’t talk to each other. You cannot know my background growing up if I don’t bring up its joys and sorrows.

  13. Eliza July 23, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    “Oh, I get the “otherness” of the debate. But is difference a negative thing”

    Yes otherness is.

  14. Blackjack1 July 23, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Addressing difference is not the same thing as “othering” a person. The author of the above romance chose to construct an interracial romance, which is wonderful and I applaud that.. Speculating about how the interracial aspects are or are not developed in a work of literature is not othering or discriminating. It would be impossible for anyone to discuss the role of race in any work of literature if it’s considered racist simply to question how race functions in a literary text.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan July 23, 2016 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      It would be impossible for anyone to discuss the role of race in any work of literature if it’s considered racist simply to question how race functions in a literary text.

      I struggle with this idea as well.

      • Blackjack1 July 24, 2016 at 3:35 am - Reply

        I think many people do as racism is a big problem in our country. I object to the idea that race can’t be discussed at all though, especially when it is integral to a story as it seems to be from the review above.

  15. Eliza July 23, 2016 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Keep right on a’diggin’. A hole is still a hole.

  16. Eliza July 24, 2016 at 7:08 am - Reply

    The responses _here_ _to this essay_ depress me as much as Trump supporters failing to understand, Read. what. WoC. had. to. say. about, this. book. review. if..you. truly.. want, to. understand, Truly. Otherwise it’s all empty rhetoric.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan July 24, 2016 at 8:10 am - Reply

      I have read what WoC said and have had email exchanges with two about the review and how we can do a better job.

      Eliza, you are welcome to post at AAR. That said, I believe making the inference that myself and others are akin to Trump supporters crosses a line. If you post another such politically accusatory thing, I will pull your comment.

  17. Eliza July 24, 2016 at 9:53 am - Reply

    It would have been helpful to hear about the email exchanges with WoC than what appeared to be a continuing round on the review without that information. Sharing either what happened or will happen to prevent such a thing would have helpful too, Please note, I didn’t call anyone a Trump supporter or anything else of the kind.. I said what _I_ myself felt like, that is,I felt shut down, out.

  18. Blackjack1 July 24, 2016 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I don’t like the insinuation at all that if a reader questions how race functions in a novel, they are therefore a racist. That is absurd and incredibly offensive and wrong-headed thinking. Based just on the review, I did not see anything that the reviewer stated that should cause offense and I could well imagine having similar ideas.

  19. Renee W July 26, 2016 at 12:35 am - Reply

    The main character is an African American woman. The author is an African American woman. But I didn’t feel that she was obligated to discuss race. I have met people who struggled with insecurities and race was not the reason. I felt the heroines insecurities were related to growing up in the foster care system. Funny thing I saw a review of a book that the person did not read because the heroine was black. She could not relate. It appears Ms. Livesay did not make race enough of an issue.

  20. Lena July 27, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Interestingly enough, the author’s own website lists her as an “interracial romance” author, and her blog header is a black woman and white man that says “Love in black and white”. Seems like race was important to her writing.

  21. Keira Soleore
    Keira Soleore July 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Yes, the author was not obligated to discuss race in her novel. The author is not obligated to mention any detail of the hero or heroine’s personalities, characters, histories, etc. if the author felt it was not relevant to the story. Her story, her characters, her choices.

    However, the reviewer may question the author’s choices. If the reviewer felt that perhaps an exploration of any topic should’ve been relevant to the story, the reviewer’s right to bring it up in her review.

    Just as the author has the right to make her story be about what feels appropriate to her, the reviewer can take that story that is now in the public space and critique it the way she feels is appropriate to her.

    Discussion of issues or lack thereof in literary space should not raise immediate calls for subject-matter taboos.

    • Blackjack1 July 27, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      I completely agree that subject-matter taboos are not appropriate, and in fact, are rather dangerous. The author has freedom to construct any story she wishes, and readers and reviewers can interrogate and examine any author’s choices once the writing is public.

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