Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Posted August 1, 2022 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Contemporary / 0 Comments

Review:   Love on the Brain by Ali HazelwoodLove on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
five-stars
Published by Sphere on August 23, 2022
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
amazon b-n
Goodreads

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.
Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.
Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.
Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?


 

I absolutely adore these nerds in love books by Ali Hazelwood.

This story centers on Bee Königswasser.  Bee is a neuroscientist and an obsessed fan of Marie Curie.   She posts on Twitter under @WhatWouldMarieCuriedo focusing on concerns of women in STEM.

Bee passed up on a perfect position, post doctorate, since it would mean working with her cheating ex-fiancé and her former ex-best friend.  Bee has been wallowing under a bad boss until she is given an opportunity to lead a team on a project for NASA.   Even when she finds out that she will be co-leader with her arch-nemesis, Levi Ward, her excitement doesn’t diminish.  Okay, yes it does but to co-lead a NASA project will  create opportunities Bee feared she would never see again.  Levi will just have to deal with seeing her again, even if he does find her repulsive.  See Bee isn’t your typical nerdy, button down scientist.  Bee likes to dye her hair (currently purple).   She has several piercings and tattoos and she prefers business really casual over suits.    If Levi can’t stand to work with her, that’s his problem.

At least she thought it was his problem, but right from the start, Levi hasn’t provided the lab equipment for Bee and her assistant, nor does he even bother to respond to her many, many emails.  Jerk!  Obviously, he is trying to make working together very much Bee’s problem.

Okay, maybe there was some kind of server problem.   And maybe, just maybe, there was some kind of funding problem going on with internal politics standing in the way of scientific progress, but admitting that Levi might not be such a bad guy after all doesn’t seem to make it hurt less that he still seems to hate Bee for nothing more than being herself.  Or maybe, just maybe, like some of the other issues.  Maybe there is more to Levi’s attitude toward Bee than even she realized.

I got a very strong Pride and Prejudice vibe with this story.    Levi stares at Bee a lot, and Bee isn’t the only one to interpret his constant stares as dislike.  Her whole graduate class thought Levi hated Bee.  The first time Bee’s assistant sees them together, she comments how Levi does really hate Bee.   Of course, we know that Levi fell head over heels for Bee the first time he meets her.  His awful family upbringing made discussing feelings difficult.   In fact, the only other person who correctly interpreted Levi’s staring for what it was was Bee’s ex-fiancé who warns Levi off and fans Bee’s dislike of Levi.

I have to admit that most of the neuroscience in this one was above my head, but I could certainly understand Bee’s stances on how women in STEM are treated, even move than 100 years after Marie Curie help break the male only barrier in science.   The author mentions how Marie Curie was invited to give a talk but then no one could listen to her little girly brain talk about science and her husband had to present her findings.  Yet, women in STEM still face having their work belittled and how while Bee appreciated Levi’s standing by her work, and how it wasn’t until Bee received Levi’s support that the other male colleagues acknowledged Bee’s suggestions.  She called this “sausage referencing”  needing the backing of a person with a penis to get your point acknowledged.  It is sad that woman still have such an uphill battle to be accepted by the men in STEM.

Bee is such a fun character and I really enjoyed her story.   This is another fabulous story from Ali Hazelwood and I am looking forward to many, many more.

 


Favorite Scene:

“What’s your favorite animal?”

“Will you be disappointed if I don’t say bees?”

She mulls it over. “Depends. Not if it’s a good one.”

“Okay. Are cats good?”

“Yes! They’re Levi’s favorite, too. He had a black kitty!”

“That’s right,” Levi interjects. “And Bee has a kitty, too.   A see-through one.”

I glare at him.

My favorite animals are spiders,” Penny informs me.

“Oh, spiders are, um”–I suppress a shudder–“cool, too. My sister’s favorite animals are blobfish. Have you ever seen one?”

Her eyes widen, and she climbs on my lap to look at the picture I’m pulling up on my phone. God, I love children. I love this child. I look up and notice the way Levi’s staring at me with an odd light in his eyes.

“Is your sister a child?” Penny asks after making a face at the blobfish.

“She’s my twin.”

“Really? Does she look like you?”

“Yep.” I scroll to my favorites and tap on a picture of the two of us at fifteen, before I started what Reike calls my “journey of softcore body modification.” “Wow! Which one are you?”

“On the right.”

“Do you get along?”

“Yeah. Well, we insult each other a lot, too. But yeah.”

“Do you live together?”

I shake my head. “I actually don’t see her in person much. She travels a lot.”

“Are you mad that she’s gone?”

Ah, children. And their loaded questions. “I used to be. But now I’m just a bit…sad. But it’s okay. She needs to travel just as much as I need to stay put.”

“My friend said that if you’re a twin, your children will be twins, too.”

“You have a higher probability, yes.”

“Do you want twins?”

“Penny,” Lily reprimands her gently, “no grilling guests on family planning before lunch.”

“Oh, that’s fine. I would love to have twins.” I used to dream of it, actually. Even though at this point I probably won’t. For obvious reasons. That I won’t bother Penny with.

She smiles. “That’s good, because so does Levi.”

“Oh. Oh, I–” I feel myself to crimson and look at Levi, expecting to find him just as embarrassed, but he’s staring at me with the same expression from before, only about twenty times more intense, and–

“Does anyone want sherbert?” Lily asks, clearly picking up on this weirdness.

“Mother,” Penny says darkly, “must you torture me?”

“I got special ice cream at the store for you.” Penny’s eyes widen and she runs inside the house. “Poor girl,” Lily mutters as we follow her inside. “Keto ice cream’s probably disgusting.”

“You underestimate how desperate she might be,” I tell her. “There are things I used to find appalling after going vegan that I started loving out of–“

“Bee! Bee! Look, I want to show you something!”

“What’s that?” I smile and crouch to her height.

“This is shaggy, my–“

My eyes fall on the stuffed tarantula plush toy in her hands, and sound recedes. My vision fogs. I’m hot and cold at the same time, and–all of a sudden, everything does dark.

***

“THAT WAS SO COOL! Levi, I love your girlfriend sooooo much!”

“I know the feeling.”

“Goodness. Should I call 911?”

“Nah, she’s fine.” Everything’s foggy, but I think I’m in Levi’s arms. He’s patiently holding my head up, no concern in his tone. In fact, he sounds weirdly charmed. “This happens to her every other day.”

“Slander,” I mumble, fighting to open my eyes. “Lies.”

He smiles down at me, and–he’s so handsome. I love his face. “Look who’s gracing us with her presence.”

“Is it low blood sugar?” Lily asks apprehensively. “Can I get you anything to–“

“Bee is like me!” Penny is saying, clapping her hands excitedly. “She has the same bursts of electricity in her brain! She has seizures!”

“It’s a bit like seizures,” I say, straightening up.

“Bee has a useless parasympathetic nervous system, which is an endless source of entertainment,” Levi explains to Penny.

“Excuse me.” I scowl. “Some of us don’t have the luxury of stable blood pressure.”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t cute,” he murmurs inaudibly against my temple. The scratch of his stubble against my skin is rough. His lips, soft.

Penny seems to be a fan, too. “Does your twin faint, too?”

“Nope. She got all the best things.” Like the ability to burp the French National Anthem.

“It’s so cool!”

“It’s actually a very maladaptive autonomic response.”

“Can you do it again?”

“Not really, sweetie. Not on command.”

“When do you do it, then?”

“It depends. Sometimes it’s highly stressful, surprising situations. Other times it’s just seeing things that I’m afraid of, like snakes or spiders.”

Penny’s eyes widen. “So if I show you Shaggy again–“

Levi and Lily yell, “No!” at the same time, but it’s too late. Penny whips the toy back out from behind her back, and everything goes black again.

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