Desert Isle Keeper
Love on the Brain
Love on the Brain is Ali Hazelwood’s second full length romcom starring women in STEM and I devoured it. It’s an utter winner!
The heroine, Bee, is a neuroscientist who just got offered her dream job to work on a project at NASA. There’s just one little problem. She’ll be co-leading the project with Levi Ward, an engineer and her nemesis from her grad school days.
Bee is a petite vegan with purple hair, a septum piercing, and is brilliant in her field. She’s not interested in love – she sees it as just something to cause pain. Her parents died young and she and her twin were bounced around between different extended family members. Added to that, two years before, her best friend had an affair with Bee’s ex-fiancé right when she was graduating. She’s so relationship averse that though she loves cats, she’s afraid to get one of her own because she doesn’t want to risk losing a creature she’d love. She limits herself to loving other people’s cats while living a loveless and thus risk free life on her own. Plus she loves her work. She says she’s like Marie Curie after the death of her husband, Pierre.
“What never ever abandoned Dr. Curie in all her years? Her curiosity. Her discoveries. Her accomplishments.Science. Science is where it’s at.”
When Bee and her assistant, Rocío, arrive at NASA it’s a disaster. None of her equipment was ordered, she doesn’t have access to the lab or emails and the staff ignores her. She decides to ask Levi to work with her to discover what is going on. They are working on a project called BLINK, designing a new helmet for astronauts. I loved this part and couldn’t wait to find out how their work would turn out. Their banter is funny and flirty and their attraction is smokin’ hot.
Levi grew up with a cold family who wanted him to go into the military. He used to struggle with his communication skills but that has improved with therapy. He has a knack for solving problems and is popular with his team and his boss. He just struggles around Bee, giving the impression he dislikes her. But everything is not as it seems. He is a big guy – in body and heart – who finds he enjoys rescuing Bee when she faints when she sees spiders or roadkill and – this is funny – when he knocks her out of the way of toppling boxes in the lab. He also helps her with her couch to 5k training program but, really, the wonderful thing Levi does is support Bee professionally.
Bee is the best. She uses her talents and voice to advocate for other women in STEM by creating a community through an anonymous Academic Twitter account, @WhatWouldMarieDo. It becomes a place where women can go to discuss concerns and share advice. She also develops an online friendship with a popular account on Academic Twitter, @Schmacademics, who is a guy that’s supportive of women in STEM. Everything about Bee worked for me – she’s smart, funny, and determined.
I really enjoyed the humor in this book, especially about the cats! Levi has to manually express his cat, Schrödinger’s anal glands (Levi’s pretty sweet) and then there’s a mysterious cat that visits Bee in her office. I love science and I liked how Bee intertwines telling Madame Curie’s story with her own. I was also intrigued by the mystery of who is sabotaging the BLINK project. The tension in the story is perfect and, wonderfully, I was surprised by the villain.
I had a few quibbles. Bee’s hesitance to commit to a relationship with Levi drags on too long. There’s also a love scene where they don’t use a condom. Wait. What, really? Her fainting at roadkill and spiders becomes over the top after a while.
But these are niggles. Overall, the story is super creative with funny dialogue and fabulous quirky side characters. I loved that it’s a STEM romcom and showcases how scientists like Bee are able to find solutions and make a difference. This was my first book by the author but it will not be my last. I look forward to picking up The Love Hypothesis next!
Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers. Follow her at: TikTok @kspoonerfish.