Book Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Hey Everyone! I have been neglecting my poor blog, so I want to try to get back into the swing of consistently posting. I’m finally getting caught up on reviews, so I can’t wait to share with y’all what I’ve been reading.

Today’s post is dedicated to the debut novel: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun, which is available now! Spoiler alert, this will definitely be going into my top reads this year!

The Charm Offensive

Author: Alison Cochrun

Publication Date: 07 September 2021

Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary Romance

Length: 368 pages

Publisher: Atria Books

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.

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

Trigger & Content Warnings

Racism
Ableism
Bimisia
Homomisia
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Anxiety
Panic attacks
Alcohol consumption
Alcoholism mentioned
Emesis

It’s been a while since I have devoured a physical book in one sitting, but once I started The Charm Offensive, I literally could not put it down until I finished. I do also want to say that I was incredibly apprehensive of this book going in because I can’t stand reality TV, BUT this book surprised me in the best possible way.

Dev Deshpande is the most successful producer on the reality TV show Ever After (think The Bachelor but make it the fairytale version). He truly believes in love and happily ever afters, which he ensures that his contestants always get…even at the expense of his own love and happiness.

Charlie Winshaw is unlike any Prince Charming that Ever After has ever had on the show. He’s awkward, emotionally distant, has a severe touch aversion, has a lot of anxiety, and wants nothing more to just be able to return to working in the tech world. If a fake engagement at the expense of his mental heath gets Charlie back to work then so be it.

After Dev starts spending time with Charlie, it quickly becomes clear that Charlie has severe social anxiety as well as other mental issues, which precludes him from being able to interact with any of the contestants. Dev decides to create ‘practice dates’ with him to get Charlie to become more comfortable and to open up. But what happens when the practice doesn’t feel like practice anymore?

First and foremost, my boys need to be protected at all costs, and I will lay down my life for Charlie and Dev. Both of them were incredible characters that I immediately fell in love with.

What I thought would be a witty, banter filled rom-com sprinkled with the drama of reality TV was so much more than that. There are so many incredible conversations surrounding mental health and its importance. Also, Charlie is not out as queer, so there’s an entire conversation surrounding questioning and labels, which is so important to see on page. I loved that for Charlie and the fact that Dev and Charlie’s PR manager and best friend Parisa never pushed anything onto him.

The representation in this book really is fantastic. You have a myriad of characters of color as well as queer characters with different labels as well as characters that aren’t using labels. I genuinely couldn’t help but falling in love with all (ok, everyone except Maureen because she’s trash) of them.

I could go on gushing about this one, but honestly, pick this one up. It is so freaking amazing.

Thank you to Atria Books for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Grab your copy of The Charm Offensive here!

Photo credit: Hayley Downing-Fairless

Alison Cochrun is a high school English teacher living outside Portland, Oregon. When she’s not reading and writing queer love stories, you can find her torturing teenagers with Shakespeare, crafting perfect travel itineraries, hate-watching reality dating shows, and searching for the best happy hour nachos. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alisoncochrun.

Author Social Media

Website | Instagram | Twitter

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