The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Print ARC + e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Atria!)
Summary: 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.
Every year there are a few standout releases that really set the book world on fire with all the buzz and excitement they generate. The Charm Offensive, a debut pitched as Red, White, & Royal Blue (one of my all-time FAVORITE novels) meets One to Watch, was one of those releases. When I received a review copy, it was all I could do not to ignore the world and dive into one of my most anticipated books of the year. …but when the time came to read it? I absolutely DID ignore the world to dive in.
Dev Deshpande has been a lifelong fan of the reality dating show Ever After. So much so, that after college he managed to score a job working as a producer for the show and for the past six years has made it his job to create fairytale romances for the lucky couples. His own love life, however, it about as far away from a fairytale as a person could get: he recently broke up with his boyfriend, also a crewmember, and the new season of Ever After will bring them face-to-face for the first time since they separated.
Charlie Winshaw is a tech wunderkind, a millionaire several times over, and movie-star gorgeous. It’s no wonder he was brought on as the newest Prince Charming. Behind closed doors, however, Charlie is an anxious disaster, overly awkward, emotionally distant toward the women with whom he’s meant to find True Love, and clearly doesn’t want anything to do with Ever After. With his job – and the show’s future – on the line, Dev is on a mission to help Charlie build a connection to the women, any of the women. The more time they spend together however, it becomes clear that it’s Dev who has more chemistry with Charlie than any of the female contestants.
Calling it right now: The Charm Offensive is a Top Read of 2021 for me. I absolutely loved everything about this one, the story, the characters, the fact that Ever After remained a part of the novel throughout the entire book. Inclusion and diversity is off the charts. I giggled, I swooned, I teared up. In the opening of this post I mentioned I originally wanted to immerse myself fully into this book and avoid the real world – and I did. I planned on savoring it over a long, holiday weekend. In reality, I inhaled this book in a single sitting.
Don’t sleep on this one or wave it away because everyone and their brother is reading it. Believe the hype. Give in to the hype. You won’t be disappointed. And this is a debut, y’all – I am beyond excited to see what Alison does next!