Hazelwood, Ali. Love on the Brain. Berkley, 2022. 384 pp. ISBN 9780593336847 $17.00
Neuroscientist Bee worships Marie Curie, and has even created a WhatWouldMarieDo? twitter profile that address issues of women in STEM: dismissive men, men who take all the credit. It’s anonymous, and she connects with a like minded guy who amplifies her tweets as the intersect with his field of research. When she’s tapped for a gig with NASA working on a biofeedback type helmet that will assist with keeping astronauts focused and at the top of their game, unfortunately, her co-leader on the collaborative project with NASA and NIH is none other than engineering superstar: Levi Ward, who has gone to great lengths to avoid her for years. She doesn’t know why Levi just doesn’t seem to like her–leaves a conversation every time she joins a group, declined to work on a project with her, and won’t deign to speak to her. The miscommunication is neatly resolved.
While there are some similarities in Hazelwood’s stories (STEM setting, small female protagonists who run, tall broody men with big dicks), there is something nefarious going on in this story and a mystery to figure out. Emails aren’t reaching their destinations, lab equipment is missing and then a trial goes wrong. I am generally not a fan of suspense with my romance (unless it’s straight up WHY doesn’t he like her?) but this worked for me. The nerdy banter, introspective lead, and steamy sex scenes are highly appealing, but mostly, Hazelwood just writes smart books. I love the science career details, the competent female scientist protagonists, the feminist stance, the slam against JK Rowling, the discussions of feminism and misogyny, and the challenges of women in STEM. A subplot takes a stance against standardized tests and their bias against women, BIPOC, and people in poverty.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #LoveOnTheBrain from #NetGalley–but I let it expire because I hadn’t read any Ali Hazelwood books at the time and didn’t know the awesomeness of her writing, so I had to wait for a copy through OverDrive.