Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: September 7th, 2021
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.
I immediately fell in love with Dev and Charlie when reading The Charm Offensive – romance fans, Bachelor Nation fans, and m/m romance fans need to read this book ASAP. There is not only a lot of queer rep, but it’s diverse in terms of race, neurodivergence, and mental health. The depictions of each are amazing, though there are moments of homophobia so there’s a trigger warning for that.
Dev is a producer on Ever After (the Bachelor but in fiction) and Charlie is the newest “Prince” who is trying to recover his image after having a breakdown during a board meeting of his tech company. Dev is assigned to handle Charlie, as Charlie has a panic disorder and OCD (though this isn’t known immediately) and is having a difficult time on a show that triggers his mental illnesses. Over the book, Dev and Charlie get closer and have to confront their feelings for each other before it’s too late.
I actually swooned reading this book at times, the romance is SO well done and well written. I flew through it without noticing time passing, it was fast paced and had a lot of information packed in without it feeling overwhelming. I related to Dev so much with his struggle with depression, the depiction is exactly how I feel when in an episode and it was handled amazingly. Every character was fantastic (except the “villain”, but obvi) and I wanted to give all of them hugs throughout the whole book.
Seriously, read this book. I have nothing even remotely shaped like a critique to give to this book, it is a clear 5 star read and was from the very beginning.
Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Happy reading, folks!