The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun was one of my most anticipated reads since I love the chaos of reality TV, and I am always on the lookout for a fresh takes on the rom-com genre. Following the star of a dating show who falls for a producer instead, this original and uplifting read contains its fair share of drama and two lovable main characters. What I especially enjoyed is the way the author calls out some of the harmful aspects of dating shows, specifically their disregard for mental health. This is a moving and unexpectedly powerful book that fans of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch will love.Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Publisher: Atria Books
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
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.
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 open up to 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.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
As a big believer in happily-ever-afters, Dev has earned his position as the most successful producer in reality dating show Ever After‘s history. However, when tech genius Charlie is cast as the next Prince Charming in a final opportunity to fix his image, Dev finds himself with a lot on his plate. Once the cameras start rolling, Charlie gets anxious and has no idea how to interact with the women competing for his heart. In order to save the show, Dev becomes Charlie’s handler, coaching him through his interactions with the contestants and out of his shell. The more time they spend together, however, the closer they become, and Charlie starts to realize that he is more interested in spending time with Dev than any of the show’s contestants.
❀ Well-Written Characters
Dev and Charlie are both well-written characters, and they each grow throughout the book. I loved reading about every moment they share, from the joyful experiences in the show’s gorgeous filming locations to the heavier, more vulnerable conversations. Their connection is so heartwarming, and I was really rooting for them. Both Charlie and Dev also face their own struggles with mental health–Charlie has OCD and anxiety, and Dev has depression–and I appreciated how the story never takes the direction of love being a “cure.” Instead, the book explores the importance of taking care of yourself first, resulting in a nuanced read that will make readers both laugh and cry.
❀ Powerful Commentary
One of my favourite parts about this book is its commentary on some of the ongoing issues in reality TV in a way that feels genuine. Mental health never had a presence on dating shows, and the story exposes the way these programs only ever portray straight, neurotypical people as the ones capable of finding love. As Cochrun takes us behind the scenes of Ever After, she brings this problem to the foreground, and the way the story provides queer representation in a dating show while destigmatzing mental health is so powerful.
❀ A Complex Rom-Com
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrunis a complex rom-com that revises the reality dating show genre in an impressive and much-needed way. I loved the concept of the lead of a dating show falling for a producer instead, and I was really rooting for the main characters. This book also tackles heavier topics like mental illness meaningfully, and I am sure that many will fall in love with it just like I did.