The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun | Book Review

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun is a gloriously fun and heartwarming story about fairy tale love and how it’s perfectly scripted for prime time television…it’s also a love sick smile inducing story about what happens when you accidentally fall in love with the star of the TV show you are producing while trying to help him fall in love with another woman.

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I received an advanced reader copy of The Charm Offensive via NetGalley to review, all thoughts and opinions are my own. The Charm Offensive is available for preorder and goes on sale September 7, 2021. If you don’t want to read the full review I’ll just say it now: go order it.

pin showing the book cover and title at the top.

I stumbled upon this title on Amazon when I was searching for books similar to Boyfriend Material and Red, White, & Royal Blue. By whatever chance the fates were looking out for me because this one is freaking brilliant.

Alison Cochrun really knocks it out of the park with this story and these characters. I couldn’t be more in love.

What is The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun about?

The Charm Offensive has two main characters, Dev Deshpande and Charlie Winshaw. Dev is a producer on Ever After, a reality TV show reminiscent of The Bachelor and Charlie is a tech world wunderkind with a somewhat tenuous grasp on social interactions.

Charlie agrees to go on Ever After as the shows newest Prince Charming thinking that he can show the world that he’s got his life under control. He’s secretly struggling with OCD, anxiety, and a past full of traumas and disappointment. Thinking that Ever After will help him fix his image as someone prone to outbursts and “little quirks” he embarks on a journey he is in no way ready for.

Dev is the best producer that Ever After has ever had. He’s so good at handling contestants and talent for the show that when Charlie presents as a potentially show ruining Prince Charming, Dev is tasked with helping him along.

Over the course of 9 weeks Dev has to teach Charlie the seemingly obvious parts of dating and personal interactions. Dev quickly realizes that Charlie isn’t being difficult, he’s struggling with some mental health roadblocks that are being inflamed by 20 million viewers and 20 strange women fawning all over him.

Dev is really great at his job and Charlie is willing to do anything to rehabilitate his image so he can go back to working in the tech world, of course everything will be fine! Charlie is going to find love and Dev is going to make sure that it makes for excellent television along the way.

Neither expects to find love in quite the way we see it unfold.

What did you love about The Charm Offensive?

I loved SO MUCH about this book. I loved the characters. Charlie and Dev are amazing. Charlie is so smart and kind, truly generous and open. Dev is every bubbly, Type A, over achiever, who has ever felt guilty for having mental health problems. They’re so fucking lovable.

Along with our two MC’s we have their best friends. Jules to Dev and Parisa to Charlie. They’re just what our mains need but they bring so much to the table on their own. Jules is always there, she might not know exactly what to say but she’s so dependable and she just made me think so much of my best friend who knows just when to show up with a breakfast burrito and a snarky remark. Parisa is the fierce and unrelenting friend that anyone who has ever felt let down by their parents needs. She loves SO HARD and she really carries Charlie through some shit here.

I’m not going to lie I would LOVE to read a spinoff about Jules and Parisa because I got some serious vibes from these two after their meeting…read it and let me know if I’m alone in this.

Another thing I really loved about The Charm Offensive was the conversations surrounding mental health. We have been seeing so much more open and honest discussions about mental health in contemporary fiction lately but to have our two mains struggling with issues like OCD, depression, and anxiety while maintaining careers, relationships, etc. It was a breath of fresh air.

I felt like Alison Cochrun did a wonderful job of not pulling punches when it comes to the ugly truth about mental health. I know (much like sexuality…which has its own excellent representation here) everyone’s journey is different but these characters and the work they were doing (and sometimes avoiding) was so relatable and real. In the end the only thing that really works is putting in the work.

It was truly amazing to see that play out on these pages, sometimes life, even on the set of a reality TV show, or as a super intelligent, exceptionally young millionaire, is fucking hard. Give me all the romances about characters who aren’t always able to be 1000 watts of sunshine.

Finally, because I could go on forever, I’ll say that I really loved seeing characters in their actual adult stages of life exploring their sexuality and realizing that maybe what they thought was true all along is not the whole truth of it.

featured image showing the charm offensive with front cover.

Overall opinions of this book:

Here’s my social media blurb about this one or a quick rundown of my feelings if you didn’t feel like reading all of that previous rambling adoration…

I’m not crying…you’re crying! I just finished The Charm Offensive and I do not say this with any amount of hesitation: go preorder this book, reserve it from your local library, add it to your TBR, plop that sucker onto your Amazon wishlist, do it all. 

This book covers so many topics that are near and dear to my heart. Not only is it a beautifully real and meaningful queer romance it’s also a heartbreakingly gorgeous look at mental health. I read Blade of Secrets recently and that was another book that just tore my heart out. These are the kinds of stories I wish I could have been reading 10 years ago when I was devastating myself emotionally and mentally because I just didn’t understand how to even START working towards a healthy life for myself. 

Dev and Charlie and the struggles they both face in this story build up their romance, sure, but they also examine the things we hide, the way we censor ourselves in order to please the people around us, and ultimately keep ourselves from the love we truly deserve. 

I know I say this a lot but I LOVED these characters. They are beautiful, broken, funny, charming, and so perfectly lovable. If you read this book and can’t find a character that reflects something of yourself back to you I’d be shocked. Our two MC’s are incredible on their own but they’re surrounded by a truly magnificent cast of supporting characters as well. 

At the end of the day I am all in for the queer romances and even more here for characters who are open about their mental health struggles. Who among us couldn’t benefit from being more honest about our mental health needs?! Ughhh this book. Honestly, I have never been happier to give a book 5/5 stars. I’m devastated the book is over. I could have gone on living in this world for 37 more seasons. 

Where can I buy this book for myself?

You can get this one on Amazon with the links below or wherever books are sold! Reach out to your local libraries and see if they have copies on order of this most excellent romance.

Mine does, because they’re amazing, I’m a bit fan of libraries. In my area they’re resources for so much more than media and entertainment. Support your local library!

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans
front cover of The Charm Offensive.

What else has this author written?

This is Alison Cochrun’s debut novel and good grief I can’t wait to see what else we will get in the future because this book is stunning. You can keep an eye on her author page for more / updates.

As someone who studied to be an English teacher but rather loves to write she feels like a kindred spirit.

back cover of The Charm Offensive.

Looking for more reviews to check out?

Check out these other book reviews and bookish posts. I think you’ll love them! Make sure to let me know in the comments what kinds of books you like to read and what you’d like to see more of.

I’d love to hear about your favorite books, I’m always adding to my TBR (to be read) pile so leave those suggestions below!

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