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The Charm Offensive

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Romance (2021)
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.

354 pages, Paperback

First published September 7, 2021

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About the author

Alison Cochrun

4 books1,989 followers
Alison Cochrun is a high school English teacher living outside Portland, Oregon. When she's not reading and writing queer love stories, you can find her torturing teenagers with Shakespeare, crafting perfect travel itineraries, hate-watching reality dating shows, and searching for the best happy hour nachos. You can find her on Instagram or at her website www.alisoncochrun.com.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,259 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,508 reviews30.9k followers
August 15, 2021
i want to start off by saying charlie is one of the most precious characters i have ever read and he deserves the entire world.

now that thats out of the way, plot wise, i think this story is pretty formulaic. it follows the typical plot progression of a contemporary romance, so the story itself is quite predictable. however, where this book excels is the characters! the representation! and the overall feels!

mental health is such a huge topic for this story. it almost made the romance take a back seat, its discussed that often. but i appreciate how the two of those things are connected, driving home the message that just because you might be dealing with things most people arent (anxiety, OCD, depression), it doesnt mean you arent capable, or even worthy, of love.

overall, a really funny, charming, and downright adorable story with meaningful intentions.

thank you so much to atria books for the ARC!

4 stars
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,041 reviews47.6k followers
February 28, 2023
so i DID in fact revisit this book and finish it. hold the applause please.

this is one of the most confusing books i've ever read. because i loathed the first half and then by the time the ending rolled around i found myself getting MILDLY teary. which ya know, is rare for a heartless bitch like me.

what i disliked/was unsure about: the characters. Charlie and Dev were a fucking mess. and sure, mental health rep is important. hell, i had to set this book down for the first time because i have mental health issues myself and found this triggering. but basically the whole time i was reading i found myself wondering if people like this really exist. neither could function for the majority of the book and it made me question why romance was something either was seeking.

they do help each other thru their mental health stuff. they do technically go on journeys of self discovery and therapy for one of the characters. but it was a weird choice imo to have SO many on page breakdowns with only a chapter or two of growth for both characters.

but did i love the idea of a guy discovering his sexuality while on a bachelor-esque show and get emotional when he had his gay happily ever after? yeah. so idk. i will remain confused and i suppose grateful that this book connects with so many people.
Profile Image for Chaitanya Srivastava.
199 reviews69 followers
February 20, 2022
EDIT (II) Sept 09, 2021: To reiterate, by no means I am trying to imply that the 'only' way to make this book more culturally/racially apt is to have to go into depths about the surname (and its legacy) or the state that Dev comes from. Hell, NO! The idea was to give people, especially non-Indian readers, a little background. This need not have been done actively as a part of the subplot but maybe in the passing? in the subtext? in the context?

Also, Please also note that there can be different opinions amongst Indians, India-Americans, Indian-Diaspora or Maharashtrian readers. The thoughts and opinions are mentioned here are personal.

EDIT Sept 02, 2021: I have been seeing awfully glowing reviews for this book on Bookstagram where white reviewers (especially queer) have described it as 'best interracial romance' that they have EVER read and here I am just wondering how on earth is that possible? The interracial part here is a big JOKE!

There is no socio-political or cultural correctness in this biracial representation. White authors trying to write people of colour is appreciated, but when done without research and awareness, and in 2021, is just a shame. The Charm Offensive is just one example of it.

Since this is pitched as 'Perfect for the Fans of Red, White & Royal Blue', please go read that once again to see how Casey not only focused on the main plot and sub-plot but also had an active plot with Alex's biracial representation -Mexican-American in the subtext. That is is an interracial romance. This? Not so much!

UPDATE: The author has apologised for the 'unintentional harm' that she has caused in the process of writing this book to me on Bookstagram Direct Message. However, there is NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT on her part on any public platform. She continues to promote her book happily by selling the whole - "An Indian-American guy Dev meets..." narrative. Simply shameful!


This book is a little problematic?! I feel it misrepresents Indians/Indian-Americans. A few people can think that some representation is better than none. But, sadly, I do not share such views. We have come such a long way in terms of representation, own voices and just cancel culture in general, that I refuse to accept misrepresentation as something that I should just be 'okay' with because "hey look a white queer author thought of Indians! How encouraging!" (PUN INTENDED)

When I came across this title, I was really excited. After all, it’s rare to come across Indian rep in Queer fiction from international authors. However, take it from me - a brown 21-year-old Indian queer guy - THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING INDIAN ABOUT DEV APART FROM HIS NAME. And it sucks big time!

I think this was like 2.5 stars, and I am genuinely being generous with the book/author.

I am all in for the cute and palpable romance and adorable moments, but not at the cost of promising an Indian-American rep whilst spending ABSOLUTELY ZERO minute to consider how culture PLAYS an incredibly BIG part of who you are.

It’s outright unfortunate to see authors trying to be diverse for the sake of being diverse. PLEASE DONT MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS of a nationality/ethnicity/culture/religion when your book doesn’t even stop to have a basic conversation or introduction about any of those aspects. None. Zero. Nada.

You can call DEV, DEVON (or whatever the hell you like), and the plot will still make sense. His brow-desi identity just hasn't found its way to the story and here I am wondering how is that even possible? If I were to really call Dev, Devon, say a white guy, The Charm Offensive would still basically READ THE EXCAT SAME as it does now. It would not alter the story in any way, shape or form. This just goes on to say that the author really has very little knowledge about Indians/Indian-Americans. THERE ARE SO MANY CONTEMPROARY PROBLEMS THAT INDIAN AMERICANS HAVE TO DEAL WITH DESPITE BEING 2ND / 3RD GENERATION CITIZENS but obviously that's not a part of the book or Dev's identity.

EDIT (Sept 9th 2021): As pointed out by a few readers, even if Dev's parents wanted to cultivate American values/cultures and move away from the Indian-ness, as argued by challengers, it should have been expanded briefly or at least touched upon a little bit! So, I let those who are reading this be the best judge of what you think is right.

To provide non-Indians with a little context, Dev's surname 'Deshpande' is uniquely Mahrastrian - a person whose roots are from Maharastra, a western state in India. Since India is so culturally diverse, each state has its very own unique and district values, traditions and ideologies. There is NO MENTION OF MAHARASHTRA (culture, thoughts, etc) and or where exactly Dev/his family is from- which makes sense because India is basically mentioned like what three times in the entire book?!

I really, really thought that this would be that book that would finally be the kind of rep I had been looking for and kind of deserve but sadly it’s anything but that. 1 star for the romance and cute stuff. 1 star for character development. Half star for trying but failing miserably.

The Charm Offensive is charmingly offensive to me as in Indian and while I did enjoy the equation between the leads, Dev and Charlie, everything else including the reality show details and format was a bit meh for me. The premise was really fun, but the book was painfully predictable! I honestly had to skim read it towards the end because of how much to and fro kept happening!

If you are not an Indian and enjoyed this book - I am not trying to attack you or anything. But please know that representation is important, and it should not be this shallow!!

A lot of cancelling happens all the time. I am not here asking you to cancel the book. Just know about this and the fact that there's more to Indians, SO MUCH MORE than what you'd get out of this book because it basically offers next to nothing.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,209 reviews26k followers
July 23, 2021
THIS WAS SO STINKING CUTE AND IT BROUGHT ME SUCH JOY! This is an adorable m/m romance where this guy Charlie is the star of this dating show that is very much like The Bachelor, and instead of falling for any of the girls on the show, he falls for the male producer, Dev. This book brought me the same giddy joy that Red, White, and Royal Blue did. It’s just so cute and made me smile so hard the whole time.

I really appreciate the discussion of mental illness in this book, because one of these characters deals with severe anxiety and OCD, and the other deals with clinical depression and I think it’s so great to see these things normalized in a romance novel, and it’s important to see this kind of representation and spread awareness.

The Bachelor is a guilty pleasure of mine and I kind of love to hate-watch it 😅🤣 I just really enjoy the drama and the chaos of the show even if it is all fake and so it was super fun to see the behind-the-scenes of a show very similar to The Bachelor and see the struggles that the producers have to deal with. I found it all to be very entertaining.

But wow, these two were hella cute together. It’s been a over a week since I finished it and I still find myself thinking about them and smiling. 💞 Huge thanks to Atria for the ARC, please pick this book up when it publishes in September!!!! :)
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,473 reviews19.2k followers
November 3, 2021
My feelings about this one are complicated! I ultimately ended up enjoying this book, but I didn't *love* it the way that I had expected to. I really liked Dev and Charlie and the whole secretly-dating-the-producer-of-a-reality-show thing, but something about the tone of the writing never really quite worked for me? Like I really enjoyed the dynamic between them and the tension of them having to date behind the scenes, but I feel like that ended up getting really repetitive and dragged on a little bit too long in the second half. I think if this book was like 75 pages shorter, it would have been perfect for me. But with all that being said, I feel like I could really love something from Alison Cochrun in the future and I'm excited to read what they publish next!

CW: depression, panic attacks, racism, homophobia, severe anxiety
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
570 reviews1,759 followers
August 18, 2021
rep: Indian American gay mc with depression, gay mc with generalised anxiety disorder, OCD & a panic disorder, Chinese American bi side character, lesbian side character, Black ace bi side character with anxiety, gay side character, Muslim pan side character, Black bi side character
tw: panic attacks, biphobia, homophobia, vomitting


Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher.

You know when you’re hanging out with your best friend, having the time of your life, understanding each other completely & not a single worry enters your mind? That’s how reading this book feels.

It’s primarily a romance. You shouldn’t be expecting groundbreaking plot-twists or action scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Instead, what you get are two wonderful main characters just doing their best to live life, who also happen to fall in love. Now, here’s the kicker. Romances don’t actually work if the protagonists aren’t incredibly well fleshed out, if they aren’t basically real people put on paper. Luckily, though, this is definitely a romance.

There’s also something to be said about keeping the readers interested in the book without all those Big Events and with a simple story-line instead. Well, as simple as a dating reality show & all its backstage drama can provide.

The magic, I think, hides in the fact that the characters grow. They do feel like actual people; they have flaws, they make mistakes, they make bad choices. But they learn from all of that – and the narrative shows it. They learn by themselves or with a a help of a friend or, indeed, the person they love. It’s never portrayed to imply that it’s love that allows them to change for the better. The Charm Offensive is very clear that love doesn’t fix a person. It can only make them feel seen & understood. Which is an idea even more important in a book like this, where both the main characters struggle with mental illnesses.

The side characters form a beautiful found family, always there ready to support. All of them made even more beautiful by the fact that basically not a single one of them is cishet… We can have that sometimes in books, as a treat! Not only is it obviously believable, but it also gifts the reader this feeling of absolute comfort and a safe space. It’s a book for us and we can tell.

All in all, The Charm Offensive is charming in every way possible. A perfect read for a slightly chilly autumn day. Or really any day when you need some extra love in your life, with a side of fluff.
Profile Image for danerys.
450 reviews201 followers
February 24, 2022
ok HONESTLY i loved this to pieces imma need a minute l 95%

i can’t deal with how much i liked this book. i. can’t. deal. with. it.

i read this so fast it’s a problem, i was literally glued to the story for like 2 business days; no thoughts head empty except this book.

i had similar feelings reading this as i did when i was reading love & other disasters, and this gay romcom thing is really working for me huh

this book appealed to me so much in every single way and i loved the way it dealt with mental health and personal growth. i feel like romcoms have been getting less toxic and more focused on healthy relationships and self-love and i am 100% here for it.

also reality shows as the plot of romcoms is becoming such a thing and i love it sm. i couldn’t stop reading this book, it ate and left zero crumbs & i ate that shit up

guys the chokehold this book has me in 😫✋

♡︎the plot♡︎

so basically one of the mcs is a producer of a bachelor-type reality show, and the other mc is the “bachelor.” except for that he’s super awkward and doesn’t know how to act on camera (charlie) so the other guy has to coach him on what to do and say and also tries to help him fall in love (dev).

it doesn’t sound like anything super special, but the way it’s executed is absolutely perfect and it feels original and creative. i didn’t know exactly what was going to happen the entire time. there were definitely tropes in this, but it wasn’t a shove-it-in-your-face type of tropes, like what most mainstream straight romcoms do.

i didn’t know how everything was going to turn out until the very end, and during the whole story i was 100% along for the ride. and i enjoyed every second of it. i loved how they moved from place to place while filing the show, i love everything that happened and how everything progressed, and every scene just felt so tangible and made me feel so much.

i also enjoyed the scenes of filming the actual show, i found it very interesting the concept behind these reality shows that all of us watch. (given, this is fictional but there’s definitely some truth to it)


charlie: ok LITERALLY the softest most precious character ever. words cannot convey how much i adore him. from the first page of his pov and the first time we met him he was just so lovable. i swear i live for characters like him. he was so kind and caring and generous and i felt awful for how everyone would treat him, he was so precious and deserved to be treated as such. he was wholly imperfect and thats one of the things i loved about his character the most, he was flawed and had so many struggles but he overcame so much and grew so much as a person and i’m so proud of him. and he tried so hard. i loved how he would try to communicate his feelings and open up even when it seemed hopeless, he was such a brave and strong character i swear.

dev: dev was a very flawed character, and it definitely showed in this book. i don’t think he always dealt with his issues in the best way but he grew so much and learned so much about himself and his growth as a character was astonishing. he definitely made mistakes but everything turned out well in the end and he was overall a very lovable character. i loved in the beginning how he would take care of charlie and be so understanding even while he had his own problems. he also had some pretty great humor and i bet he kins alex from rwrb.

side characters who were simply the best:
❥ angie
❥ skylar
❥ jules
❥ parisha
❥ alex
❥ daphne

♡︎the romance♡︎

you know what’s relationship goals? the way that dev and charlie care for each other and respect each other’s mental health and support each other no matter what and love each other for everything that they are.

their relationship was literally so beautiful. even from the beginning, the way that they supported each other was so heartwarming and seeing their relationship develop was just skdjdjdkdkjdj amazing. i really liked how they were friends first, they both needed someone to be there for them and then they found each other and i loved their dynamic so much. they had problems, because everyone does, but the way that they loved and supported each other through everything was so refreshing to read amid all of the other toxic relationships in romance novels.

the whole thing with dev promising charlie that he would fall in love by the end of the show—— LIKE OKAY FORSHADOWING

i swear in the beginning when they hadn’t gotten together yet i savored every single conversation they had and there was so much there, guys there was so much there. i’m trash for all the little details that are the whole development of the romance and this book did not disappoint.

there was definitely a lot of angst, and it hit me really hard (maybe i shed a tear ok shut up) but it was fine because it balanced out with ~healthy supportive relationship stuff~ and i was rooting for this couple the whole time. i honestly believe they were good for each other and they seemed to make each other really really happy so we love that.

(also maybe the reason i liked the angst is because i need to feel something and my favorite fanfic trope is hurt/comfort ok shut up)

♥︎the writing♥︎

the writing was perfect because it wasn’t too much or too little or trying to be something that it wasn’t. it fit the story and it did it in a way that was flawless so i have no complaints.

i thought it did a tremendous job of portraying the character’s emotions, mental health, and identities, and that was so, so important and i’m sure it made so many people feel seen and understood.

the dialogue was also immaculate, (obviously)


this book is important and beautiful and entertaining and funny and romantic and it literally means so much to me, so please pick this up it’s so worth it


5 stars


✔︎ gay indian american mc with depression
✔︎ gay ace spec mc with OCD, generalized anxiety, and a panic disorder
✔︎ pan muslim sc
✔︎ black ace bi sc with anxiety
✔︎ chinese american bi sc
✔︎ nb sc
✔︎ lesbian sc
✔︎ gay sc
✔︎ black bi sc

tw for homophobia, biphobia, depression, panic attacks, etc
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
December 19, 2021
If you've ever wondered how dating shows like The Bachelor could be different (and better), check out Alison Cochrun's upcoming rom-com, The Charm Offensive . If only dating shows could be like this!

I couldn’t have loved this book more if I tried.

Dev believes in true love and fairytale romance. As a producer of Ever After , a popular reality dating show, he’s helped engineer some happy endings—it doesn’t matter that not all of them last (or they’re not all genuine). And even though his six-year relationship with fellow producer Ryan recently ended, he still is looking forward to another season of the show.

He’s got his work cut out for him this season, though. The new bachelor, Charlie, is a gorgeous former cologne model and tech mogul who (very) reluctantly agrees to go on the show in the hopes of resurrecting his tech career. The thing is, for someone who looks as suave and commanding as Charlie, he couldn’t be more awkward—in everything he does.

But Dev quickly learns it’s not disdain or ego that causes Charlie to act this way, it’s severe social anxiety, among other issues. As he tries to help Charlie loosen up and try to become more comfortable with being around people and interacting with the contestants, they realize they have more in common than they think.

Dev is determined that Charlie will find love and propose to one of the contestants by the end of the season. But why do the “practice dates” that they have been going on seem more intense than Charlie’s dates with the women? And amidst all of the chaos Charlie is experiencing, why is Dev the one whom he looks forward to seeing?

I was expecting a sweet gay love story—and boy, was this great—but I wasn’t expecting the deeper conversations about mental health, sexual identity, and self-esteem. I cried like a baby and smiled like a lunatic. The Charm Offensive was just amazing.

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

The Charm Offensive publishes 9/7!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for drew ~hiatus-ish~.
212 reviews96 followers
September 13, 2021
4.5 rounded up.

well, it got me. i made it through nearly the whole book without shedding a tear, but man, that last third gave my tear ducts a workout.

i was expecting this book to be a bit of fluff; something i’d enjoy in the moment but not really get too invested in or really dwell on after i’d finished. i was wrong. there was a surprising amount of depth to the story that i really was not expecting.

Dev and Charlie were both interesting and very well-developed mcs. they were both inherently good people, but still flawed and still made mistakes - some big, some small. i liked that they always tried to understand the mindset of the other whenever they had issues or disagreements and actively worked to try and talk things out; it was such a nice change of pace compared to the plethora of misunderstandings and forced plot drama that i’ve come to expect from this genre.

the book wasn’t perfect, though, and it still followed some well-worn tropes i don’t particularly love, but i understood why certain actions were taken by certain characters, and they felt in service of the character rather than plot - which is very often not the case, i find.

as a debut novel, this was fabulous and was such a compelling and satisfying read for me. i’ll def be checking out whatever this author releases next!
February 5, 2022

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DNF @ 25%

I really wanted to love this book and it had really high ratings from my friends, but I couldn't get into it at all. The fact that Charlie so obviously had anxiety made me wonder how he made it through the screening process, and it was honestly pretty sadistic how he kept getting forced in all these uncomfortable situations. Which I guess is a well-placed blow at the reality TV industry, but it's not super fun to read about. Despite that, I think I still could have gotten into this book if the writing weren't so flat. It reminded me a little of RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE with its forced quirkiness, so if you liked that, you might like this.

2 to 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Ishika .
198 reviews517 followers
January 13, 2022
“That’s okay.” Dev reaches over to touch his knee. “Sexuality isn’t always a straight line from closeted to out-of-the-closet. You can take time to explore and evolve and figure out exactly what kind of queer you are, if that even matters to you.”

The concept of the show is shitty. No one finds true love when they are forced to love someone. Also the toxicity in that show burned my brain so much that I'll do anything to Maureen without even feeling bad." Maureen wheels around to face her and scoffs. “I’ve already told you we are not going to have a bisexual win this season.”" Things hate- women being misogynistic, homophobic people. And yes the ones who disprespect someone else's mental health. If you are reading this and you are one of these type of people then I don't feel sorry for you at all.

I love how nicely sexuality is mentioned in this book. And how their friends are all supportive of each other. I'm gonna ignore the fact that she's literally twice my age.I wish we met in real life. I wish she was younger. I wish she was real. I wish there was a book from her pov.

Charlie hasn’t met many people like this—people who don’t make assumptions about you when they discover your brain doesn’t work like theirs; people who don’t judge you; people who simply stay with you and ask what they can do to help. People who trustingly hand you all of themselves in PDF form.

Charlie is the cinnamon roll we never knew we needed. This is what the blurb says about him . 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. Ok so Charlie wasn't cold. Like at all.Idk when I started reading the book I thought he was going to be one of those asshole rich men who believe the world revolves around them but then it turns out that they were not assholes at all. I don't if anyone gets it but basically I thought he was going to act rude. But guess what? Charlie is the sweetest person you've ever read about. I love him so much.

“You’re one of the funniest, smartest, kindest, most passionate motherfuckers I’ve ever met, Dev. And you deserve a happily ever after, too.”

Dev is our other nerdy character who loves the idea of fairy tale endings though his last break up was the total opposite of the endings he was in love with. Ryan- Dev's ex was a total douchebag but I don't hate him. Atleast he apologized at the end and tried to act in a more civilized way but I still don't like him. Dev too suffered from clinical depression and like I said this book really depicted mental health in a very good way.

All RWARB fans I think you'll love this book. I know this book is totally different from rwarb apart from the fact that we have two boys unexpectedly falling for each other. That's it. But I'm still gonna compare Charlie with Henry and Dev with Alex. Stop me if you can. And if you haven't read rwarb then what are you waiting for? Go read both of these books and drown in the gayness.
Profile Image for any .
290 reviews50 followers
August 18, 2022
Playlist: dev + charlie.

I think I’m good now (after one month) to do a review.

I was sobbing in several parts of this. so of course is a 5 stars book.
I was not expecting this book being so good and complete, I thought it would be more of a cute story with no plot and a lot of fluffly. and yes it was cute but they dealt with such important issues and in such a right way. It just made me love the book and the characters even more.

Speaking of the characters Dev and Charlie are great characters, very well developed, with a story that doesn't just revolve around the relationship and with real problems. I loved them both so much even though they made me suffer.
I got to say that the description of dev’s depression hit a little too close to home. so yes was a crazy ride being able to finish this book.

"Charlie hasn’t met many people like this—people who don’t make assumptions about you when they discover your brain doesn’t work like theirs; people who don’t judge you; people who simply stay with you and ask what they can do to help.”

If you are a fan of red, white and royal blue I promise you will love this.
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
454 reviews300 followers
September 4, 2021
Warning: This review and the book are 18+ because there’s lots of steamy scenes, so if you’re under 18, maybe skip this review.

Thank you to the publisher and Goodreads for allowing me to read an advanced reader’s copy of this book. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, but that in no way impacts my thoughts on this book.

The Charm Offensive is a wonderful queer rom-com that’s filled with a surprising amount of mental health representation. I had no expectations going into this book. It involved a dating show and those aren’t really my thing, but the gay twist to this story caught my attention and I’m so glad I read this one. I was blown away after just the first chapter. The chemistry between Charlie and Dev was undeniable. I was so filled with joy during every moment they were together. From their first awkward interactions to their vulnerable moments together, I was enjoying every second and rooting for their happy ending. I almost cried at some points because this is how all couples should be; so madly in love with each other and desperate to be with each other. I’m not even talking the physical stuff here because I’m asexual and physical stuff just isn't my jam. They truly had chemistry that extended beyond the physical aspect of their relationship and it was beautiful.

The mental health representation was wonderful in this book. It wasn’t overwhelming or triggering for me at all, which is often the case for me when I read about mental health struggles in books. This author found a way to slowly yet beautifully introduce OCD, anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder into this novel. I was awed by the way that it was talked about so maturely. So many conversations about mental health were really important in this book. I have OCD, anxiety, and depression and while these illnesses impact people in different ways, from what I know from my experience and my research, the portrayal is pretty accurate. Media portrays mental health a lot based on purely stereotypes, but this book delved so much deeper into these mental health issues. You get to see the uncomfortable and somewhat more “embarrassing” parts of mental health in this book. These are things I know about all too well and to be able to relate to these characters in this way means a lot to me. Speaking of representation, there’s also asexual rep, non binary rep, biromantic rep, and sex-repulsed asexual rep (which is me, I finally feel comfortable saying that!).

I want to talk about the steamy scenes for a second. I normally don’t like talking about this type of stuff given that I’m asexual so I lack sexual attraction, but this book made me realize that the reason I hated steamy scenes in the past is because a lot of the hyped books with steamy scenes, especially “young adult” books, glorify toxic relationships. Everything in this book was consensual and sweet. Why is it that the books with bad relationships are the ones that keep getting hyped up? This book is singlehandedly making me want to give more books with steamy scenes a shot because I know that they aren’t all a disgusting, cringe fast to read. And reading a book with an ace spectrum character engaging in those scenes also helped with my hesitation with reading steamy books.

The universe really said “we know your life has been crappy these past couple of years, so we’re going to bless you with a book that makes you feel seen.” It’s an amazing feeling and you know what else is blowing my mind, the fact that Alison Cochrun lives near me. Like Powell’s books, she’s right near you, go get her for an author signing after the pandemic is under control please! This was Alison Cochrun’s debut novel and I’m thoroughly impressed by both her writing abilities and her character development. I can’t wait to read everything that she publishes in the future. I also want to note that I read every word in the acknowledgements, so seeing Alison’s personal connection to her writing warmed my heart and made me understand how writing can be so life changing. We always hear about how books help readers, but getting that glimpse into how writing helped an author is extremely inspiring.

Oh, and lastly, bonus points to Alison for including a character with the same name and spelling as my name. She was a small character but I may have screamed when I saw that.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,166 reviews2,235 followers
January 21, 2023
You, yes you book! You book book! I love you with all my heart. You made my Christmas special 💖 I freaking love my frustrating fictional characters. Frustrating not because of who they are or how they are. BUT because they are so freaking adorable and so damn clueless 😭 like how clueless I am on how to write the review of this book. Book, stay loved. Yes, you are so loved. Charlie and Dev. You two. I am so going to miss you.
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
642 reviews5,579 followers
August 25, 2022

I’M SORRY!! This just wasn’t for me. I don’t get the hype but I know that I am the odd man out.
Charlie was over the top with his depiction of OCD but then was seemingly cured when there was a romantic moment between him and Dev.
Charlie as a character frustrated me because it was too dramatic. He’s a blubbering idiot who literally pukes on Dev more than once. Like…I’m not seeing the appeal tbh. Also, the second they show feelings toward each other it’s all “love” and “babe” and “honey” and it kinda made me want to vomit, not gonna lie.
I love that so many people adore this book but I couldn’t vibe with it at all.
Also the audiobook is so bad. The way the narrator voiced the female characters is abominable. Ew.

A pass for me but could definitely be a winner for you. 🤷🏻‍♀️
Profile Image for Christine .
583 reviews1,104 followers
July 24, 2021
When I received a widget for Charm Offensive, I stuck it in my “not now, later” (i.e., “forget about it”) file. I love the LGBT genre but am not really drawn to rom-coms, which generally don’t hold enough depth for me. I also saw that it was based on a famous reality dating show that I watched faithfully for years before deciding it was kind of fakey. There it sat until I saw the high ratings that kept coming in. That led me to my LGBT-genre-star reviewer Larry’s shelf where I saw 5 stars and his statement “I couldn’t have loved this book more if I tried.” Well, fine. I rescued my widget from the “forget about it” file and dived in. And yeah, I couldn’t have loved this book more if I tried!

After a few pages of setup, I started to smile. Not long afterwards the “laugh out loud” moments started in and then later I ended up teary-eyed. This book really caught me off guard with some serious themes. Rejection, self-doubt, self-identity, mental illness, sexual identity, morality, acceptance, and multiple aspects of love are all there in spades. And, oh my heart! For a debut novel, Ms. Cochrun really knows how to bring out the feelings! What a wonderful character Dev is. He pretty much rescues Charlie’s broken life in this book, and in turn, Charlie rescues Dev. The side characters enhance the story nicely, especially Jules, Parisa, Daphne, and Angie. The plot is much more substantial that I had expected, and the reveal near the end is an unexpected surprise.

What more can I say other than I loved this book and am anxious to see what Ms. Cochrun writes next? I recommend Charm Offensive to anyone interested in a funny yet serious, very human story with a large dose of heart.

I would like to thank Isabel DaSilva of Atria Books, Net Galley, and Alison Cochrun for an ARC of this novel. Opinions stated are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,085 reviews30.1k followers
September 11, 2021
Love love love! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

What a gem! The Charm Offensive is romance but so much more. It addresses mental health, morality, self-acceptance, and identity in such a warmhearted way. I loved every bit of it!

The Charm Offensive is Dev and Charlie’s fairy tale, somewhat like The Bachelor, with a reality show backdrop called Ever After. It didn’t start out as their love story, though. Dev is the producer of the show, and he’s the one pushing Charlie to open up and find love with the contestants. Little did he know they would fall in love.

This one is receiving well-deserved raves. It pulled out every emotion from me, and I loved that. It’s about so much more than the love between Dev and Charlie, though that was beyond fun to watch develop. Alison Cochrun is one to watch, and The Charm Offensive is one to read, savor, and hug!

I received a gifted copy from the publisher.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for booksandzoe.
246 reviews1,623 followers
October 3, 2021

First of all I related to the main characters struggles with severe anxiety SO MUCH. Like,, it was very well written. I absolutely loved the mental health rep in this story as a whole. I grew very attached to the main characters very quickly. They were super likable, and both very charismatic and charming in their own ways. The writing was witty, the storyline was a bit trope-y but still unpredictable, original, and fun to read.

I can definitely see this book get tons of hype on social media. I know I, for one, will be posting about it all the time. It's every aspect of a rom-com that we love, and overall just so *chefs kiss* Dare I say... a new all time favorite book? I literally read the entire thing in 8 hours.
Profile Image for Brittni Kristine.
176 reviews107 followers
February 24, 2022
I first heard about this book from a booktuber I watch. She was explaining how it was about a man who goes on what is essentially the bachelor only to discover he’s gay, and how it wasn’t ultimately for her. As she spoke, I tripped over myself to get to Libby and place a hold because everything about that IS for me.

Now, I’ve read books like this before where the premise is some warped, modern version of the bachelor and they aren’t inherently winners. One to watch comes to mind. It was fun, but it was also tropey and cringy at times. The Charm Offensive, however, is perfect. It’s clever and funny and emotional and truly charming. I highlighted more of this book than I didn’t. I read it for free but I’m going to buy a copy for my personal library.

If you’re a begrudging fan of the bachelor franchise like I am, into great romance and hilarious writing, I’d give this one a shot.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,839 reviews4,671 followers
July 13, 2022
The Charm Offensivehas been on my radar for a while. I devoured this book in one day via audiobook. There were quite a few elements of the book that I enjoyed including the mental health representation. However, there was a certain element in this book that I struggled with.

The Charm Offensive is a contemporary romance novel that focuses on two characters Dev and Charlie. Dev is the producer for a dating reality show extremely reminiscent of the Bachelor while Charlie is the lead for the TV show. Through the course of the novel the two characters spend a lot of time getting to know each other as Dev attempts to help Charlie find true love while also navigating the ups and downs of being on a reality TV show. Cochrun does an excellent drop developing the chemistry between both of the characters. Charlie and Dev not only get along extremely well, but they end up being supportive of each other. Charlie struggles with a series of mental illnesses in addition to attempting to figure out his sexual identity. And Dev struggles with his own mental health issues while also learning how to care for himself instead of taking care of everyone else. I appreciated that Cochrun utilized Charlie as a gateway to discussing the wide spectrum of asexuality. There is a discussion about all asexual individuals being sex repulsed and this thought is quickly corrected. In many ways, Cochrun attempts to normalize mental health through both of her characters. They both live in fear of confronting their mental health struggles because of the pain and ridicule that comes with getting others to attempt to understand their experiences. The path to recovery for both characters is fair from easy, but it is a path that unites them and clearly illustrates the safety that they have found in each other. The openness that they develop with each other is how they slowly begin to fall in love defying the expectations of the heteronormative culture that exists around reality TV shows based on love. I appreciated this solely because a lot of reality TV shows still focus on heterosexual, cis-gendered contestants and end up excluding a wide range of individuals who also deserve to be loved.

Cochrun has strong writing skills that leave the reader immersed in the world and the character development. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this book and automatically assumed it was be just like every other contemporary romance with a "reality TV" element. I was surprised to find the emotions that were not only exuded on every single page, but also the emotional connection I felt to the story and the characters. These two men struggled with so much and to say that I related to some of their struggles is the understatement of the year. Cochrun connects readers to her characters and their experiences ultimately pulling on the heartstrings of all readers. The pacing was great and while there were some aspects of the book that were predictable, there were a few elements that came as a surprise.

While there were so many elements that I enjoyed in this book, there was one glaring problem that I found with this book. Dev is described as being Indian-American; however, there were no defining characteristics or cultural references that would have given the reader any idea that this was his identity. To be honest, I forgot that Dev was Indian-American until the very end of the book when his parents came into the picture. As a result, Dev can be read as any race which may not seem like an issue; however, it grinds my gears when characters are given certain racial and/or ethnic backgrounds for the sake of diversity. This may be coded as a interracial romance, but it doesn't read like one if both characters read as White. I don't know if the author stayed away from delving too much into Dev's background for the fear of getting something wrong, but as a result readers get a character that doesn't truly have a solid, stable identity. I'm not questioning the integrity of Cochrun, but it does read as diversity for the sake of diversity.

Outside of the main issue with the book, I did find the The Charm Offensive to be entertaining, heartwarming, fast-paced, with great discussions. I didn't expect to get through the book so quickly, but the storyline was designed to keep the reader entranced. Overall, this was a solid reader and I look forward to seeing what Alison Cochrun writes in the future.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,044 reviews13k followers
January 1, 2022
Okay, this was SO CUTEEEEE. I really loved how Dev and Charlie slowly fell for each other, but also that this book really focused more on the behind the scenes of the show and rarely showed us the actual show itself. Dev truly cared for Charlie and would do anything to protect him from the girls on the show and anything the producers tried to have Charlie do. We got to see Dev and Charlie grow as friends and then Charlie's attraction slowly grow into something more for Dev. They were seriously the cutest and I loved all of the dates they went on. There was also so much discussion about mental health and anxiety and OCD and I loved the open discussions our characters had about that. There was a lot of talk about therapy and so many emotions with all of our characters. Yes! Give me all of the emotions!! I also loved the side characters we had and our supportive they were for our main characters. And the ending?? So adorable. I loved every second of reading this book!
Profile Image for Snjez.
717 reviews350 followers
January 2, 2023
2.5 stars

I struggled a bit with the beginning, mostly because I'm not a fan of reality shows, but it didn't take me long to start enjoying the story. And for a while I really did.

I liked Charlie's character and I liked how his OCD and anxiety were portrayed here. His and Dev's relationship was sweet most of the time, even though I wasn't always happy with how Dev acted. His character didn't really click with me.

I didn't buy Charlie's reason for taking a part in the show nor why they couldn't be together, but I was willing to suspend belief for the sake of the story. What ruined my enjoyment of the whole thing was the last 20% or so. I didn't like how Dev handled things, I found it unrealistic, and the resolution was so cliché.

Edit: Rating rounded down
Profile Image for jenn.
172 reviews83 followers
August 4, 2022
“charlie is a mess, but so is dev, and he can’t believe they found each other on this ridiculous show about fairy-tale love.”

you deserve love. you deserve love and laughter and nights spent puzzing and closeness and understanding. you deserve a happily ever after. to me, this book held my gaze, and continually told me that i, just like dev and charlie, will have an ever after of my own. an after to the before. an after to the ongoing and the concurrent, but a happy one. dev is romance’s biggest fan on the dating show ever after that he’s a producer on, but in reality, is coming out of a long term break up. charlie is an anxious tech guru trying to prove that he is capable of handling… things, and for being the bachelor, he’s really not a fan of feelings. charlie, the charm, and dev, the entire basis for the offensive. dev and charlie: two puzzle pieces in a match, if you will, the compliment to the others stresses.

“have you considered just letting yourself love him?”

the romance set around the dating show is just unexplainable beautiful and kinda sad at times, but it makes so much sense. dev and charlie make so much sense. charlie, being “difficult” to comply with the show and be romantic, is put under the responsibility of dev to help him. and dev is all for it. there is so much chemistry between the two, but there’s also so much concern and fear and longing, because they both know that if anything gets out, the show will be messed up. they are bound to contracts for gods sake. so, they fall in privacy and in stolen time and dev calming charlie and charlie staying with dev. they fall into a pattern, travelling the world with the show, in their “practice dates” to get charlie to open up.

“charlie wishes he could tell dev it’s okay to flicker out sometimes. it’s okay to tend to his own flame, to keep himself warm. he doesn’t have to be everything for everyone else all the time.”

all this given, there is also the show, ever after. we all know that reality shows have an aspect of fakeness to them, but dev really does believe in the love. he wants to help people fall in love, but ever after… it doesn’t really care about love. there’s a reckoning with how toxic it can be, creating villains and isolating contestants, and yeah, this is so hard for charlie, stuck in the middle of all of it, but for dev? charlie opens his eyes to this, and it’s soul crushing. he’s watched this show since he was a wee lil lad and he counts on this love, even if he doesn’t have the safety of a romance of his own. i love dev. obviously. there’s so much of dev that struggles to feel like he deserves any of what he is giving others. dev has depression. and while he tries to present himself as “fun dev”, it takes a toll. i just wanted to hug him. sit with him and tell him that he doesn’t have to be fun or outgoing all the time, that he needs to rest. the depression rep was so well done. just… you deserve rest! you don’t have to be anything or everything. you can be sad, dev.

“‘i… i’m terrified of letting you see me.’ dev knows charlie is handing him something important, something he’s never trusted anyone else to hold before.”

besides dev, there is also some of the best mental illness rep i ever will read in charlie. charlie reveals to dev that he has anxiety and ocd, manifesting in his mind getting stuck on a thought he must fix, in an uncomfort of physical touch (to dev’s surprise, considering charlie is on a dating show) (also charlie is demisexual! i love the demi rep!), in his struggle to be around people sometimes as to feeling overwhelmed, feeling unsteady. obviously, people experience anxiety and ocd in so many different ways. but charlie? he was me. i saw him getting anxious at a restaurant and that’s me. i hate restaurants. the way his brain works, his getting stuck on thoughts and not letting him loose, that’s how i feel. so besides a cute romance, i think the reason this book is so important to me is charlie. i loved him as a character, but i also loved him as me.

“i don’t think happily ever after is something that happens to you, dev. i think it’s something you chose to do for yourself.”

i hope i’m not saying too much, or too little. i can’t put into words how much this book means to me, how much utter joy it brought me, and comfort. how i want to fall into this story forever. i feel seen and safe reading this book. there’s so much i needed to hear and so much that made me grin. it’s so rare i read a book that rocks me, that feels like i’m floating. it’s everything i needed it to be and everything i didn’t know it’d be. i cried a lot, but i also just felt at peace reading this. i know this book will live in a prime spot in my brain, will be in my thoughts always. i love charlie and dev so much. now i kind of just wanna do a puzzle.

thank you meilin and naomi for putting up with me on this one, i know i annoyed you guys so much with all my feelings. i have a lot of feelings. i’m an emotional person, and i feel so strongly it hurts. that’s what this book was.

content warnings: depictions of anxiety, panic attacks, depressive episodes, ocd, conversations on mental illness stigmas, alcohol consumption, discussions on alcohol dependency, brief references to homophobia and racism (all challenged), non-explicit sexual content
Profile Image for sam w.
140 reviews4 followers
April 11, 2022
I don't know if I maybe missed it at the start of the audiobook but this book clearly needed a trigger warning for the descriptions of OCD, anxiety and panic attacks and depressive episodes because they permeated the entire story and it left me feeling distinctly uncomfortable and anxious myself. I have an anxiety disorder I think I wouldn't have been so upset if I had been prepared for some of the content here.

I also can't speak to the issues with the South Asian Rep in this story but I do urge you to seek out and read the own voice reviews on that topic because I find myself agreeing with them. (Also the audiobook narrators both pronounced Dev as "Dave" and the irony of that was not lost on me.)

I'll start with what I liked because it'll be short: the asexual rep was probably my favourite part. That’s it. I clocked Charlie as someone on the ace spectrum early on and I think that gradual reveal was done nicely.  I loved that he didn't have it all together right away and stood his ground when he realized he wasn't straight, despite Dev constantly trying to invalidate his sexuality.

Everything *else* was a hot mess.

There's always a level of suspension of disbelief when it comes to romance books but there's suspending my belief and then there's the plot of this book.

Nothing makes any sort of logical sense: why Charlie even does Ever After, why Dev is so adamant the show is about true love despite LITERALLY coaching the contestants through the scripted endings, the fact that Charlie is so incompetent the show can't splice a good edit together of him....it was quite clear from the start that the author hates the shows Ever After is modeled after and I don't understand why she thought it necessary to even write this book in a setting like this if she hates it so much.

Charlie is a tech billionaire who doesn't *need* to work again but when he was fired from his own company for having a panic attack at a board meeting that somehow has blacklisted him from working at all in the tech world. Literally all of it. Charlie is both super mysterious but every person in Silicon Valley knows he had a panic attack so the plan is to rehab his image by....making him go on a trashy reality TV dating show.

Yeah. Okay. Big reality TV buffs, those tech geniuses, I guess.

The handling of Charlie and his OCD and panic disorder throughout the whole book was pretty upsetting to me. Multiple characters clearly know he's dealing with flare ups of his OCD in a high stress situation and there's *nothing* done to help him solely it seems to set up the idea that ~only Dev~ can handled Charlie's moods. A lot of little things rubbed me the wrong way but the scene that upset me the most and is when I really should've DNF'ed the book was when Charlie had a panic attack about kissing one of the contestants and it somehow led to Dev and Charlie having a sexually charged moment in a bathroom.

I can pretty confidently say the last thing I've ever been after a panic attack is *horny*. Sexing up the vulnerability of a panic attack was pretty distasteful imo and killed any hope I had for enjoying this book after that.

The story continues to push the idea that Dev and Charlie can never be together because of the numerous imaginary roadblocks Dev makes up in his head: that Charlie is straight, that Charlie is in love with Daphne, that Charlie- who has never slept with anyone besides Dev- is going to have sex with Daphne on the show he doesn't want to be on despite Charlie telling Dev he has feelings for him, that Charlie needs the publicity from a hetero engagement of all things to work in tech again???

It just gets more and more bizarre the longer the relationship goes on and while I did feel for Dev and his struggle with his depression, he'd been such an ass the entire time that I didn't want him and Charlie to get together at all.  It all comes to a head with a confrontation with the revelation that the cartoonishly evil head of the show has been trying to set Charlie off so she can blackmail him into....getting engaged under the threat of giving him a bad edit? All this for....that?

But none of THAT nonsense matters because Dev's response to *Charlie* (and Daphne) being blackmailed? Is to JUST LEAVE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and go no-contact with Charlie, with his friends on the crew and basically everyone he knew besides his parents. Because he's putting himself first apparently.


Dev is absolutely allowed to prioritize himself and his mental health but the fact that he abandons his friends in this way, at this moment in time was so upsetting and cruel, the ending doesn't feel like a happy ending. Charlie takes Dev back on the finale Ever After (which gets adapted to tell Charlie and Dev's love story after Maureen's homophobia gets revealed) and I was just thankful the book was over by then.

And I will never trust another booktok/booktwt recommendation again.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jules.
106 reviews148 followers
June 29, 2022
This book? Masterpiece, perfection, unbelievably astonishingly amazing. SO GOOD I CRIED. My mind can’t think of words right now but I will never shut up about this book and I will be making it my personality for the next week, thank you.

Profile Image for Rosabel.
688 reviews155 followers
October 1, 2021
Don't let that cutesy cover fool you, this book will fuck you up! IT WILL DESTROY YOU!!!! 🥲🥲

I had a lot of doubts about this:
- First: it happens in a program like the bachelor, this setting always gets me doubtful, but I tried If The Shoe Fits, so I was willing to try this one.
- Second: One of the main characters believes, he actually BELIEVESSSS that people can fall in love in this programs, say what?? I mean, I agree that it COULD happen and maybe a lot of the contestants that get "married" feel infatuation or something, BUT, two months and then bum: love? Every single season? I don't believe that and since one of the main characters does, I thought that I was not going to connect with him from the start.

If you have this doubts or others, let me tell ya: Don't, just DON'T! This book is not like the blurb says or like that cutesy cover implies, is more than that so GO READ THIS SHIT! 😫😫

This story covers so much stuff that I don't know where to begin, it talks about mental Illnesses, about how a lot of workplaces are not prepared to help people with mental illness when they are spiraling, about how people with mental illness sometimes don't like to talk about their problems or just deny them, about seeking help, healing, letting your partner see that part of you....

AND THAT'S JUST IN THE MENTAL HEALTH TROPE!! We have love, friendship, family or lack there of, sex, understanding... And so much more!!

I loved this story and I loved this book, it was a roller-coaster of emotions, one moment I'm laughing and the next I'm crying, but that's what awesome books do.

So yeah, THIS WAS AWESOME!!!! Please read it. 🥰🥰🤗
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