The Charm Offensive by: Alison Cochrun

” 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 received a copy of this ARC, from Atria Books via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ***

Potential triggers…

  • OCD
  • Panic disorder/anxiety/depression
  • Alcoholism
  • Racism
  • Ablelism

This story was one of the rare ones that had me deeply feel connected to both love interests. Most books, if I’m lucky, I connect with and understand one of the love interests but rarely both.

First off we have Dev, the producer, who feels like he always needs to be “fun Dev.” From a young age, Dev would go through periods of crippling depression. Growing up he was fascinated and in love with the idea of happily ever after. Even though he “loves love” he hesitates to fully show himself, to those around him, because he fears that maybe he’s undeserving of love…due to his depression.

Charlie was diagnosed with severe anxiety and OCD at a young age which has caused him to be misunderstood and have trouble interacting socially. Charlie has never been in love and thinks true love doesn’t exist. Charlie struggle’s to connect to others…in his experience, no one has attempted to truly understand him and his needs…instead, others mercilessly made fun of him and ostracized him.

Growing up with depression and anxiety is hard and affects so many aspects of your life. It’s hard to feel comfortable around people…to feel like it’s okay to open up to someone. At times when you open up to people you really think you can trust…you’re rejected or demeaned because they don’t, or don’t want to, understand what you’re going through.

My favorite part of seeing Dev and Charlie fall in love was when they could see the other was struggling and instead of telling them to “get over it” or some other insensitive comment…they’d simply ask “what can I do for you? how can I help you?” Honestly, those lines were so romantic. I also loved that Dev never rushed Charlie, he let Charlie really feel comfortable and let him explore at his own pace.

I am so happy that Netgalley approved me for this ARC…it’s rare to find romance novels with such great mental health representation. I look forward to seeing what other stories Alison writes for us.

PS…this is a sweet romance that doesn’t graphically depict sexual scenes. Thought I’d put that in there since some people prefer sweet romances where as others prefer or explicit romances. ❤

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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