Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📺 Q: have you ever been on tv?
[Review CW: I’m sharing some of my own mental health experiences.]
Several years ago I learned the word Obsessive & how it was one that could be used to better understand myself & the seemingly endless refrain of thoughts I couldn’t let go of—irrational or not.
Alison Cochrun’s lovely The Charm Offensive has a funny Bachelor-type premise that’s sometimes satirical, sometimes appreciative. It also focuses on mental health—on OCD & depression in particular.
Mental health rep matters—especially in romance—because everyone deserves unconditional love & acceptance *&* because the way characters and their struggles are written can change not only what readers think about things they haven’t personally experienced but what they have.
Charles Winshaw is a hot nerd & the latest star of Ever After. He’s also not doing so well as a dating tv star. He’s only there as a publicity stunt so he can get a job back in the tech world he once rocked.
Dev Deshpande is an utter romantic who believes he’s actually helping people find HEAs as producer on the show. He’s assigned to be Charlie’s handler & help bring him out of his awkward shell for viewers.
But somewhere along the way Dev’s overtures help Charlie feel more comfortable with him & also with others…& Charlie’s newfound confidence & awareness of his feelings for Dev give him the strength to reach out to Dev in return.
Often sprinkled with moments of humor—especially in the beginning of the book—Cochrun takes on dating shows & contestants & cargo shorts & puzzing & it doubtless had my lips quirking.
As the book progresses & Charlie opens himself up more emotionally, I wanted more of Dev’s reticence to be explored & for there to be more time with him settled into his feelings & for them to be settled longer together. The ending feels somewhat rushed.
But the consideration of mental health in this book, of OCD & depression, is valuable & touching, & the realizations both Charlie & Dev come to about the actions & risks they need to take for ultimate happiness are hard-won & admirable.
The Charm Offensive is not a light read but it is one that can speak to a lot of people. I’m really looking forward to Cochrun’s next read!
Give me that HEA, please.
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