It has been since May since I gave a book 5 stars, so please don’t take this review lightly. I thought I would never read another book that made me laugh, give me a punch in the gut, and warm my heart all at once. Alison Cochrun has done it with The Charm Offensive.
This is a review I knew I needed to write right after I finished the book (well, 10 hours later). I don’t want to risk forgetting the tenderness, the beauty, the overall..charm…of the story. These characters have been forever sorted in my brain with all of my old favorites (lookin’ at you, Lara Jean Covey, Peter Kavinsky and Monte Montague) and I am certain this book will float around in my brain for a LONG time.
Here are FIVE things I loved about this book:
- As someone who lives with mental illness, the depression representation in this book was perfection. I’ve never seen a character that felt like they were living my experience, but I got to see that in Dev. The, “I don’t know, sometimes I get into these moods, but I’m fine” bit? That’s me. And it was SO great to see it on a page. Reading a book about two men falling in love may not seem like something I can relate to, but I RELATED SO HARD to this aspect of the book (and it’s absolutely a good chunk of the story).
- The parallel to ABC’s The Bachelor tv show was what pulled me in in the first place. As an avid watcher of the show (that I definitely know is mindless trash television), it cracked me up to see it written out. The show is ridiculous, I know, but reading it? Even more ridiculous and I loved every second of it.
- Cochrun’s writing style was engaging from start to finish. While written in third person, we still can see into Dev and Charlie’s brains as the readers. We got a great picture of who they are as individuals.
- And while reading into Dev’s thoughts helped us get to know Dev (and Charlie’s thoughts helped us get to know Charlie), it also helped us learn about their love interest. Seeing Charlie through Dev’s eyes? Oh, my heart. Seeing Dev through Charlie’s eyes? Even better. Instead of only hearing someone think poorly of themself, we got to see their partners perspective, too. Cochrun nailed it.
- Romance often portrays love in unhealthy ways. This book did not. These characters were kind, compassionate, loving, and respectful. It was refreshing to see it portrayed this way.
I do want to urge readers that this book may not be a knock out of the park for everyone. The main reason this one touched me the way it did was the mental health portrayal, something that may not be as important to other readers. But ratings are subjective, and that’s why I gave this one five glowing stars.
Content warnings: vomit, biphobia, cracked door steam (not fully open, not fully closed, either), and descriptions of panic attack/depression. If these things are triggering for you, you may not want to read this book.