Cover of Love on the Brain, featuring a dark-haired man carrying a pink-haired woman in his arms in front of a pink background

About the Book

Title: Love on the Brain
Published: 2022
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

First Impressions: Drunk on Love
What’s Your Type? Work Adversaries, Oblivious to Love, Huge Guy/Tiny Girl, Unrequited Love, Sworn Off Relationships, Coworkers with Benefits, Grumpy vs. Sunshine, Dear God Girl, You’re Obtuse
Meet Cute: Weird Science
The Lean: Darcy Hand Flex.gif
Dirty Talk: Real Spicy, But Not Real Spicy
We Need to Talk: Approaching Single White Female Territory
Was it Good For You? Love on My Brain

First Impressions: Drunk on Love

This cover fits right in with the rest of Hazelwood’s books, which is both good and bad. Good: the cute characters, the bright colors, the inclusion of scientific elements, the cohesive Hazelwood “brand.” Bad: It’s too familiar. It looks like so many other rom-com novels that it completely loses any impact. Yes, I do like it, but it’s ultimately a cover that won’t stick in my brain.

What’s Your Type?

  • Work Adversaries
  • Oblivious to Love
  • Huge Guy/Tiny Girl
  • Unrequited Love
  • Sworn Off Relationships
  • Coworkers with Benefits
  • Grumpy vs. Sunshine
  • Dear God Girl, You’re Obtuse

Dating Profile

Dr. Bee Königswasser has recently accepted the project of a lifetime: working on hardware for astronauts at NASA. It’ll take her away from her role at the National Institute of Health, but also take her away from her lump of overworked mashed potatoes of a boss, Trevor. Bee knows she’s meant to do bigger and better things, and this project could be the first step into getting her own lab. She knows that her idol, Marie Curie, would have jumped at the chance. (And Bee, as the person behind the anonymous @WhaWouldMarieDo Twitter account, knows that for certain.)

Dr. Levi Ward is Bee’s nemesis and—of course—her co-lead on the project, which she only finds out after she accepts it. Levi, a hulking “Victorian mansion” of a man, has hated Bee since they crossed paths in grad school, where he often spoke publicly about his dislike for Bee. (Or so she thought.) He’s determined to continue his hatred by making her time on the project difficult (or so she thinks), but Bee’s not going to let him ruin her chances at something better.

Meet Cute: Weird Science

Bee and Levi initially met in grad school, when they were working under the same Ph.D. advisor. Their initial encounter was on a day when Bee was slated to give her first academic talk and dressed up for the occasion. Annie, Bee’s grad school best friend, asked Levi offhandedly what he thought about Bee’s outfit, and after he “stared at me from head to toe for several moments,” he said nothing and walked away. Bee took it as hatred, especially when she later overheard (part of) a conversation between Levi and their Ph.D. advisor when he was telling her he couldn’t work on a project because Bee would be involved. All subsequent encounters were always just as uncomfortable; his demeanor came off at best as sullen and at worst as seething with hatred.

Bee’s determined not to let their status as nemeses (nemesi?) ruin the NASA project, though. Not even when, on her first day, she’s nearly crushed by falling boxes in a hallway and Levi body checks her into a wall to save her from being crushed. He only did it to protect himself and NASA, right?

The Lean: Darcy Hand Flex.gif

Semi-spoilers, but y’all are just as smart if not smarter than me, so you’ll find this as obvious as I did: Levi does not hate Bee. Not even a little bit. All of his awkwardness was just that—awkwardness at being around a woman he was immensely and uncontrollably attracted to. Bee, for as smart as she is, is painfully oblivious of this, and it’s the one element of the book that really stuck out to me as an issue. (Then again, I might feel the same were I in her position and not reading about it like a creeper omnipotent being.) 

But even when she thinks he’s in hate with her, and vice versa, their chemistry is palpable. She talks about his eyes and their unique shade of sparkling green very often, and although she sees hate seething there, I see Mr. Darcy levels of conflicting feelings and near overwhelming lust. The man has it bad, y’all. And when they actually get down to business—though Bee still thinks it’s just some casual sexytimes between people who used to hate but now only semi-dislike each other—he shows her just how much.

Dirty Talk: Real Spicy, But Not Real Spicy

Like I mentioned above, when things finally reach a climax (why is innuendo so easy sometimes?) between Bee and Levi, it’s obvious that he’s been thinking about this for a while—and not in an “I hate this person but the sex would be explosive” kind of way. That said, the sex scenes aren’t super explicit, and they’re actually more “realistic” than other books I’ve read. (Although Levi’s huge pulsating member is a little suspect, and—after reading all of the STEMinist Novellas—me thinks there’s a theme in Hazelwood’s writing …)

He shushes me, and it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m totally okay with him staring at my small breasts as though they’re something wondrous, with him kissing them until his lips are plump, until I have to pull at his hair, until I’m so wet, I feel it trickle down my thigh. I’m okay with being told ridiculous things: I’m a good girl. I’m perfect, I’ve been driving him insane, when he first saw me I changed the chemistry of his brain.

He makes me laugh when I roll us around, push him underneath me, his elbows smacking against the hard wall. He mumbles a few obscenities, but when I bend down to kiss him again he forgets all about it. “You’re too big for the bed,” I tell him between giggles, peeling his shirt from his skin.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

As much as I enjoyed the spicy scenes in this book, there was a bit of giggling when I read certain passages. Because we are all, at heart, thirteen-year-old boys when it comes to some of this, right?

He stares at me like he doesn’t know where to settle his eyes. Then he finds the place where we’re joined and starts touching me there, slow, wet strokes of his thumb on my clit that soften me and help me take him all the way. His hip bones press into the undersides of my thighs when he bottoms out. I feel my channel clench and grip him, and his groan tells me that he does, too. He’s in me to the hilt, and I collapse on top of him.

“Levi,” I stutter into his mouth. “You are really big.”

Something vibrates between us. Not physical—a feeling. It resonates in my body and in my brain.

“You’ll get used to me,” he gasps against my temple, pushing my hair back from my forehead with trembling hands, and then I am so full, I cannot be still anymore.

We Need to Talk: Approaching Single White Female Territory

Although I’m not a scientist, I 1000% appreciate that Hazelwood, who is a bonafide doctor of neuroscience and a professor, makes science a vital and important part of her romance novels. Science and sex don’t have to be mutually exclusive things, and she shows that delightfully well through her writing. I was equally fascinated by the project Bee and Levi were working on as I was by their budding relationship. (Full disclosure: That might be because I wanted to be an astronaut back in the day.)

But my favorite part of Hazelwood’s books, having now read two novels and three novellas by her, are the small comments, references, and character remarks that make me think she and I could easily be best friends. From the Reylo aspects of The Love Hypothesis to the mentions in this book of Guy Fieri (who I adore, wholly unironically), naming Bee’s mother Maria DeLuca-Königswasser (I caught that reference* immediately), and the various terms/phrases she’s come up with for the sausage fest that is STEM (“WurstFestTM,” “the well-known Meatwave,” “a Dicksplosion in the Testosteroven,” “good old Brodeo,” “CockclusterTM”), there’s something about Hazelwood’s writing that makes me feel like I’m reading a book written by a close friend. A close friend who has a much better sense of humor than I do, but it’s never bothered me to not be the funny friend.

*Please forgive us for not having coverage of the real Roswell to link to here. It’s on my list.

Was it Good For You? Love on My Brain

Wilmer Valderrama as Fez from That 0's Show draws a heart in the air and mouths "I love you"

Hazelwood’s an auto-buy author for me already, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed Love on the Brain. The fact that we’re BFFs hasn’t colored my Very Objective Opinion at all.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Berkley, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Love on the Brain is available now.

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Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.