The Charm Offensive

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Dev, a hopeless romantic who works as a producer on The Bachelor-esque dating show, Ever After, is tasked with being the handler for the show’s latest Prince Charming, an awkward millionaire tech geek named Charlie. Though Charlie doesn’t believe he’ll find love in the show, Dev is determined to help him find the one. As the two work together, the show goes off-script when sparks fly between them. Will the two find their happily ever after with each other, even as Charlie is contractually obligated to find love on the show? 

This is a fun and heartwarming romantic comedy filled with witty banter and thoughtful examinations of mental health and self-care. There were parts of the novel that I absolutely loved and other parts that weren’t for me, which leads me to a pretty middle-of-the-road feeling about the book overall. 

First, what I loved. My absolute favorite parts of this book were the women. Both Dev and Charlie have really wonderful, queer, female best friends who are super smart and thoughtful. I loved watching them care for their friends and be supportive as the two men explored their feelings for one another. I also loved the women who were competing in the reality show. Though of course there was “the villain” of the show, like all reality shows must have, the rest of the women were supportive of each other and incredibly kind. I was also really pleased with the way that the book explored how women are vilified on television in order to manufacture drama. It was a refreshing take and made me think more about how women are portrayed in the shows I watch. 

I also enjoyed Dev and Charlie’s relationship. It was fun to see how they started building trust together and turned their friendship into something more, despite both of them denying their feelings for a long time. Charlie has severe anxiety and OCD and Dev lives with depression, and it was really wonderful to see how they learned to support each other through their symptoms. At the same time, I personally thought the book became a little too after-school-special-y in its discussion of mental illness. There were several moments where I could hear the Full House heart-to-heart music overlaid with the scene. That said, as someone with severe depression and anxiety, it is nice to be seen in romance novels. I just thought it was a touch over written. 

I also felt like the premise of the book and the ending were pretty improbable. It boggles my mind why someone who gets severe panic attacks when they’re touched would come on a reality dating show. Charlie says it’s to improve his reputation so he can work in tech again, but it seems like any reality show would’ve done that. I’m just not sure why it had to be this show. And the ending, while incredibly heartwarming, felt unrealistic. 

Though I think there were some stumbles in this book, it is a fun read with great representation. I especially think it’d be fun if you’re a fan of reality dating shows. If you’re looking for something amusing, warm-hearted, and a bit steamy, this might be great for you. 

CW: depression, anxiety, OCD, homophobia, ableist language, emetophobia

Published by Kristi

Hi there! I am Kristi, a book obsessed human with strong opinions. Join me as I read across genres and do the work to find you the best of the best books.

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