The Charm Offensive is a sweet, funny queer romance about an awkward tech wunderkind on a Bachelor-type dating show who goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer. And it is my one of my favorite books so far this year!
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.
Let me start off by praising Alison Cochrun for including ALL the rep in The Charm Offensive. I am talking mental health, neurodivergence, race, and most of the letters in LGBTQIA+. There are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and most importantly asexual people in this book. Why most importantly asexual? I have never read a mainstream book with an ace protagonist, let alone a book that gets it right. Not only that, but The Charm Offensive includes a conversation discussing asexuality and its spectrum. Move over Casey McQuinston, there is a new queen in town!
Cochrun manages to not only include all this representation but does it in a way that it just another normal part of the characters’ identities. They are not major plot points. It is hard to explain how refreshing this is. The Charm Offensive discusses sexuality and mental health in an honest manner. There is no challenging people about their identity. There is only love and acceptance.
I will stop revealing in all of that to tell you about the rest of the book. Cochrun get so much right. The Charm Offensive quickly sucked me in, and I stayed up until 3 am to finish it in one sitting. The realistic portrayal of mental illness spoke to me. The characters were well-developed in a manner that they were both flawed and loveable. As someone who is not a fan of the Bachelor/ Bachelorette, I enjoyed Cochrun’s satire of the show and ones like it.
Overall, I loved The Charm Offensive and will be recommending it to everyone on the planet.
The Charm Offensive
September 7, 2021