Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy of The Charm Offensive
If you’ve been around my page for a minute, you know I love The Bachelor and all things Bachelor adjacent – especially Bachelor inspired books. When I was offered a copy of The Charm Offensive, I was thrilled – it was a new kind of Bachelor inspired book – an LGBTQ+ story focusing on the lead of the show falling for 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 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.
I loved, loved, loved the dual POV in this book – having both Dev and Charlie’s POV really helped to inform the state of their love story. Where Dev was a confidently out gay man, a lot of the book followed Charlie questioning his identity and slowly coming to terms with it. I think without his POV, it would have been more difficult to understand his emotional journey and his side of their love story. With that being said, Charlie’s journey to figuring out and accepting his identity felt like one of the most honest and realistic coming out stories I’ve ever read. I loved that the awkward and the questioning moments weren’t omitted – they helped fully realize the story.
Charlie and Dev together were the cutest couple – even before they started falling for each other and they were just star and producer, they were cute. When they slowly started getting interested in each other (despite their own individual hesitations), it took no time for their sparks to start flying. I also appreciated that they started from a deep sense of friendship – they connected deeply on an emotional level long before they connected on a physical level.
I also really appreciated the discussion of LGBTQ+ folks in Hollywood – specifically that Hollywood big wigs are willing to profit off the ideas and labor of queer people but not willing to tell their stories. This line of discourse was fascinating and very, very relevant in today’s climate. I also appreciated the honest discussions about mental health – Dev’s depression wasn’t rug swept – though his journey to taking his own mental health seriously was a long one.
The Charm Offensive was definitely one of my favorite romance reads of the summer – and definitely one of my favorite Bachelor inspired books. Between the excellent coming out story, the story about the treatment and abuse of LGBTQ+ in Hollywood, and the super cute romance, this book has it all. What an excellent debut by Alison Cochrun – I can’t wait to read more of her books in the future! 5/5