Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Narrators: Vikas Adam, Graham Halstead, Cassandra Campbell
Length: 11 hours (358 pages)
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Content Warnings: panic attacks, depression, homophobia
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 love the amazing diversity and representation in this book on so many fronts: LGBTQ+, BIPOC, neurodivergence, and mental health. This book takes a real, raw look at depression, anxiety, and OCD. But it’s also such a cute and heartfelt romance!
Charlie is this season’s “Prince Charming” on dating show Ever After, and Dev is a producer on the show. While they initially clash, forced proximity leads them to develop a slow burn forbidden romance built on a foundation of genuine friendship and understanding of each other’s needs. Watching them fall for each other was so sweet, even when a long-term relationship seemed impossible.
I binged this audiobook in a day, but I wish I had taken more time with this book. I also am just not a fan of Bachelor-inspired storylines and the contrived situations they force. I do like how this book highlighted how much of “reality” TV is scripted and addressed homophobia in dating show.