Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Number of Pages: 358
From Goodreads: Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. My apologies for the late review.
I buddy read The Charm Offensive with two of my friends, and though we haven’t discussed it yet, I think it was a great choice for a buddy read. I thought The Charm Offensive was a cute romance that offered an interesting take on reality television with some great discussions about mental health and lots of excellent LGBTQIA+ rep.
The Charm Offensive follows Dev and Charlie. Dev is a contestant handler for Ever After, a show similar to The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and Charlie is the newest Prince Charming on Ever After. What makes Charlie stand out is that he’s not like the previous Prince Charmings that the show has had; he’s an awkward mess who is only on the show in an attempt to fall back into good graces with Silicon Valley. However, as the show’s season goes on, Charlie starts to feel more comfortable with Dev than with any of the women on the show, and sparks start to fly. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
Overall, I thought this book was cute. I like romance books in general, and happily ever afters make me smile. I didn’t find the romance in this book to be overly memorable or mind-blowing. Still, I enjoyed it, and I like it when the characters have awkward moments and eventually get a happily ever after.
What made this book stand out to me was the discussions about mental health. Charlie has OCD and anxiety. It was nice to see Charlie explain to Dev what these conditions mean to him, how he copes with them, and how they’ve affected his life. Dev deals with depression, and in this book, he goes through a few depressive episodes, and it was nice to see those on the page. I can’t comment on how accurate the representation was in this book, but it felt authentic, and it was nice to see.
I also liked how many LGBTQIA+ characters were in this book. I liked the representation, but more so, I liked reading about some of the characters trying to figure out their identity. There were a few scenes in this book where one of the characters is trying to figure out their identity, and he’s talking to other characters about it. These other characters explain to this character what being bisexual means, or what being asexual means, and how sexuality is a spectrum and how there might not necessarily be a simple singular label for them. I liked reading about this, and I liked these discussions.
I also liked that this book brought the reader behind the scenes of reality dating shows. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never watched The Bachelor/Bachelorette or any shows like that, but I’m familiar enough with the concept. It was nice seeing behind the scenes and the discussions of just how toxic they are. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m looking forward to discussing with my friends about how powerful editing can be when it comes to pushing a certain agenda or storyline.
As far as the characters go, I liked Dev and Charlie. They both felt like real people that I could root for. They had their moments that left me a bit frustrated, but most romance books have moments that leave me a bit frustrated. I also liked most of the side characters in this book, and I wouldn’t mind reading a spin-off story featuring some of them.
I had a few minor issues with this book, and there were moments when I had to suspend my disbelief. I had a difficult time visualizing Charlie, and I had a difficult time imagining someone like him being cast on a show like Ever After, however, I’ve never watched anything like Ever After, so I wouldn’t know. I also got mildly frustrated with Dev at times, but that’s okay because overall, he was a sweet character.
Overall, I thought The Charm Offensive was cute. It’s not going to end up in my top 10 romances or anything like that, but it was an enjoyable read, and it brought me joy.
Rating: 3.5 Stars!
If you’re interested, you can purchase a copy of The Charm Offensive from Amazon* here.
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