The cover. In case you're wondering, the two books behind them are titled "Space" and "Brain Theory" which made me laugh.
In honor of my PhD-toting sister getting married this week, I’m reviewing Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood, a STEM romcom (I don’t care if that’s not an official sub-genre because it is now). Main character Bee is a neuroscientist at NHI who gets chosen to lead an exciting team-up with NASA. Well, co-lead. And her co-leader is her nemesis from grad school, the giant and quiet NASA engineer Levi. As Bee tackles sexism in the workplace and general research chaos, she and Levi grow closer and he reveals secrets about their time in grad school together. As feelings grow, their project comes under threat, and they must dig into the past to save their research.
I liked a lot about this book. The romance was believable, even if a few details were not, and I liked the side characters, especially Bee’s research assistant. I loved the Marie Curie tie ins, even if Bee wasn’t studying radiochemistry like Dr. Curie did. An interesting thing the book also did was make both the MC and her LI vegans. Most books I read with a vegan at all make only the woman vegan, and often the butt of jokes. (I’m not vegan. I love meat and cheese too much.) It was refreshing to have a new take on that.
Ali Hazelwood also wrote The Love Hypothesis, which is another enemies-to-lovers type STEM romcom. I found a lot of similarities between the two MCs and the two love interests from the books. (Also a lot of similar plot moments, like hooking up at a conference.) I got rather frustrated about the enemies aspect of this romance, since it seemed easily resolvable before the events of the novel. There was also a very large sub-plot that went from being in a really bad, un-fixable spot to suddenly resolved in the epilogue with no explanation how. Another issue is that the book really focused on how Bee was often the only woman in a situation, including college and grad school, but she worked in neurobiology. Biology, and neurobiology, were more than 50% women in my college and grad experiences. Even though I have had some instances like Bee’s, it was not as universal as the book makes it sound.
You’ll enjoy Love on the Brain if you enjoyed The Love Hypothesis, like brainy MCs, and want your romcoms to have a strong dash of feminism. It’s not for you if you don’t like enemies to lovers (or are picky about the definition of enemies), didn’t enjoy The Love Hypothesis (or want a romcom that’s completely different), or don’t want sex scenes in your romcoms.
Have you read Love on the Brain? What did you think? Have you read Hazelwood’s controversial interview where she discusses how the book came to be? (Maybe it was only a controversy among writers on Twitter.) Let’s discuss in the comments!