Thursday, April 14, 2022

Love on the Brain - Ali Hazelwood

This doesn't come out until August and normally I wouldn't even mention it at this point, but I was first to grab a reading copy at work, there's no chance I'll see it again now I've thrown it back into the pile and it's been snapped up by someone else, and I'll have forgotten most of what I want to say by the time it comes out.

I have a soft spot for The Love Hypothesis, it's one of the few Book Tok titles I've clicked with, and I read it fairly early on in my current bookselling career so I've had the fun of watching it really take off whilst being able to share some of the enthusiasm of the hundreds of girls who have bought their copy from us. 

I like a good romance, but struggle to find the right kind of romance for me. Normally I fall back on Georgette Heyer, sometimes a Mills & Boon. I was going to claim that I'm not snobbish about M&B but that wouldn't be entirely honest, the quality is extremely variable, sometimes they're unintentionally funny, but mostly they're fairly throw away - the reading equivalent of an afternoon made for tv film. And sometimes that's close enough to what I want to do.

I really don't like romances where the heroines have cute little jobs in shops or as wedding planners or running cafes. I've done plenty of those things, the reality is not romantic and the books like this I've cast an eye over have all lacked the humour to get me past that - also, each to their own. Escapism doesn't work so well when the setting is a highly rose-tinted version of your own reality.

What Ali Hazelwood has is a sense of humour I enjoy, she also has the balance of smut right in these books - enough to satisfy younger readers who have grown up with a lot of very explicit fan fiction, not so much that this middle-aged woman blushes or otherwise feels uncomfortable about the tone of the content. She also does a really great job of bringing STEM academia to life. My favourite bit of 'Love on the Brain' is the discussion and plot points that revolve around funding for research - which I don't think counts as a spoiler.

I like the science background too, it's Hazelwood's day job, and it shows when she writes about what it's like as a woman making her way in a male-dominated field. It's also the source of her best jokes. Something else that intrigues me is these books' beginnings as Star Wars (specifically Reylo) fan fiction. There are jokes about this in the books too. Writing fan fiction increasingly looks like a pretty good way of finding and learning your audience. Hazelwood is a decent writer and I think she's very clear about who she's writing for - there's a confidence about what she does that's also very appealing to me.

All I'll really say about 'Love on the Brain' is that if you liked 'The Love Hypothesis' you'll enjoy this one every bit as much, maybe even more. I don't doubt it'll be every bit as successful, and it deserves to be. It's silly, and fun, but with genuine heart - which is exactly what I want from a romance.


  1. What cruel teasing with that distant publication date! I'm looking forward to this after enjoying The Love Hypothesis so glad to know it will be worth the wait.

    As a fellow hater of cute jobs for women in books, I think I have just found the most ridiculous one: airport dog groomer. That seems even less economically viable than small town cupcake maker.

  2. Good god! If it helps I think there's a drip feed of Hazelwood novellas coming out over the summer. This one hit all the same buttons as The Love Hypothesis - colleagues opinion has confirmed mine, and late summer when it's hopefully hot and you can't be bothered with more serious books is just the time for a bit of smart romance.