ARC Review: The Charm Offensive by Alison Chocrun

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“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.”

REVIEW:

I received The Charm Offensive ARC from the publisher. This book was fun and romantic and had oodles of representation, which was incredible. If you enjoyed Red, White, and Royal Blue, or One to Watch then this book will definitely interest you.

The Charm Offensive follows Dev and Charlie. Dev is a producer and handler on Ever After, a successful Bachelor-esque reality show. Dev believes in fairytale romances and helps to craft these romances every year. This season is a bit rough for Dev, having just broken up with his long-time boyfriend who also happens to work at Ever After with him. Charlie is this year’s new bachelor. He’s a bit different than the normal Ever After bachelor, being that he isn’t a former contestant. He is looking to rehab his image after a bad split from his tech company. Dev and Charlie form a connection almost immediately, which is rare for Charlie. This follows the up and downs of love and friendship, and how falling in love on a reality show can happen but maybe not always with the people you intend.

Dev and Charlie’s romance and chemistry are spectacular. I really connected with Dev and his depression. Suffering from depression myself, it often feels like I have to put on a face for people. So, Dev’s journey of coming to terms with his depression, and that people can and will love all of him was beautiful. All of the characters are wonderful and fully fleshed out. The relationships and friendships feel real and authentic. I also loved the frank discussions of mental health and therapy throughout this book.

This book has a ton of representation! Dev is an Indian American, gay, and suffers from depression. Charlie comes to terms with his asexuality throughout this book and suffers from OCD and severe anxiety. These are things that aren’t found in your average romance and what I really loved about this book.

I definitely recommend you pick up The Charm Offensive when it comes out on September 7th!

RATING: 4/5

Review: A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and threatens to expose her as the Goddess of Spring.

Hades, God of the Dead, is burdened by a hellish past that everyone’s eager to expose in an effort to warn Persephone away. Things only get worse when a horrible tragedy leaves Persephone’s heart in ruin and Hades refusing to help. Desperate, she takes matters into her own hands, striking bargains with severe consequences.

Faced with a side of Hades she never knew and crushing loss, Persephone wonders if she can truly become Hades’ queen.”

REVIEW:

I love re-tellings of the Hades and Persephone myth, so when I read A Touch of Darkness last year I completely loved it. So I immediately added all of the series to my TBR. Then I read some of the mixed reviews of A Touch of Ruin, which made me hesitate.

A Touch of Ruin picks up right after the events in A Touch of Darkness. Persephone is coming to terms with her new powers and strength, dealing with her mother’s deception, and trying to juggle her life in the Upperworld and Underworld. Persephone and Hades’ relationship still has all the passion, but Persephone’s self-doubts begin to creep in and do damage to their relationship. A tragic event occurs that puts even more strain on their relationship and you wonder whether it will survive.

A Touch of Ruin is about Persephone’s journey accepting change. Overwhelming change can feel like a bad thing at times but Persephone realizes, by the end of this novel, that most of the changes have been for the better. This book is a rollercoaster. So much happens! Many of the reviews I read were that Persephone’s actions are incredibly frustrating throughout the book. They aren’t wrong. Persephone and Hades have horrible communication skills, and it is the root cause of every single problem. She feels like she is in an endless cycle of not understanding why Hades did something and instead of asking him, picks the worst way to solve the problem. Then doesn’t understand why Hades is angry with her. Then she gets mad at Hades because he is mad at her. Hades isn’t in the clear here either. If he was just upfront and honest about some of his actions, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It does feel like Persephone and Hades make the same mistakes over and over again in this book.

My biggest problem with this book is that the author doesn’t give anything time to breathe. This book evolves at an incredibly fast pace which makes it a quick read, but so much is happening and nothing has any time to settle. We are just jumping from one plot point to the next at a breakneck speed. Even with its problems, I still enjoyed this book. It has some wonderful smutty goodness and Hermes and Hecate are incredible side characters. I’m excited to see where this story goes because I think it is heading to some exciting places.

RATING: 3/5