Alison Cochrun

Books: Romance | Queer

The Charm Offensive (2021)

The Charm Offensive (2021)

The Charm OffensiveI am having a really hard time writing this review. Because I keep diving back into the book and reading passages an getting sucked back in.

Charlie Winshaw was forced out of the company he helped found, and now he's hoping to rehabilitate his image by appearing on a reality dating show.

Any annoyance Dev feels about the vomit disappears when he looks up into Charles Winshaw's enormous eyes. He's like a terrified baby bird. Like a two-hundred-twenty-pound baby bird with crippling anxiety and a fairly intense germ phobia who can't navigate his way through a complete sentence.

Dev is good at his job–very good–but didn't expect to suddenly be the handler for the Prince after filming has already started.

Dev wants to call bullshit. A reputation of being difficult isn't enough to blacklist you from any industry when you're as white and male and traditionally handsome as Charlie, not to mention a certifiable genius.

Because Charlie is terrible at this.

But Dev and Charlie together?

"I don't usually sit still for this long."

"I haven't noticed that about you."

"Was that sarcasm? What, you're capable of sarcasm now?"

"My system must have upgraded."

But the best thing about this story is all the representation.

So much mental health rep.

"Plus this"— Charlie adopts Dev's frantic hand gesture—" this is for my mental health. All the exercise, I mean. I don't do it because I care what my body looks like. I do it because I care how my brain feels."

"Dev doesn't have depression," he corrects.

"Take it from someone who has been in a committed relationship with Lexapro and cognitive behavioral therapy since she was eighteen," Parisa says, "your handler is in the midst of a major depressive episode."

"How can I help when it gets like this?"

Dev folds himself tighter against Charlie, all those lovely sharp points digging in. "You can just stay," he says, at last. "No one ever stays."

And all the LGBT rep, PLUS asexuality rep.

"Not everyone who is asexual is. Asexuality is a spectrum." Parisa holds her hands two feet apart like she's measuring for a very small Ikea bookshelf. "On one end, you have allosexual people, or people who experience sexual attraction, and on the other end you have asexual people, who do not. But there is a whole range between those two things."

Part of the story are hard to read (because there are so many difficult subjects here) but the hard parts are so well done I keep rereading them because they are so real.

If you're looking for a comp for Boyfriend Material, this might be the book you're looking for.

And even if you're not, I still highly recommend it.

Publisher: Atria Books

October 2021 | Rating: 9/10