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

Royal Book Recommendations

Have you been gobbling up all the gossip since Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview? Are you looking for juicy stories and romances involving royalty? Well I have a few suggestions that might scratch that itch.

The Royal We and The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Cocks and Morgan do an amazing job of showing the toxcity of the Royal family and institution while also capturing the romance and reasoning for why someone would want to deal with all of the problems associated just to be with the person they love. Rebecca and Nicholas are heavily inspired by Prince William and Kate Middleton. Freddie is a stand-in for Harry in his earlier years. These books use the fictional Lyons dynasty, but you can see the resemblance. The Heir Affair is the sequel to The Royal We. Dealing more with Rebecca and Nicholas’s new marriage and struggle with infertility, while also adding on the pressure of being the future of the British monarchy.

The Royal We is a book I honestly still think about from time to time even though it has been over 5 years since I read it. If you are fascinated by the British monarchy, but don’t want a history lesson then I definitely recommend these books.

American Royals by Katharine McGee

American Royals is a bit of alternate history. What if America had a monarchy? George Washington was handed a crown after the Revolutionary War, and he accepted. Now the Washington family has sat on the throne for over 200 years. When this novel starts, Beatrice is on the cusp of becoming America’s first Queen Reagent. This book has messy family relations, high expectations thrown at all of the children, and forbidden romance.

This book is really enjoyable and a fluffy fun read with lots of drama. There is also a sequel called Majesty. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t quite recommend it, but if you enjoy American Royals I’m assuming you’ll like the sequel.

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

A queer romance for the ages. Alex Claremont-Diaz is the First Son here is the US. His long time nemesis is Prince Henry of the Royal family. To try and help smooth over tensions that could hurt his mother’s re-election campaign, Alex and Henry stage a fake friendship. This fake friendship turns into so much for them.

This is one of the best romance books I’ve read in the last couple of years. The juggling of a secret relationship and the tension of familial expectations keeps you on your toes. Alex and Henry’s relationship is the best and their chemistry is off the charts.

These are just a couple of my royal recommendations and I feel like the standouts in the genre. Let me know if you decide to read any of my recommendations! Or if you have recommendations of your own!

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Alex Claremont-Diaz makes up one third of the millennial marketing strategy called the White House Trio, and his mother just happens to be the first female President Ellen Claremont. They have become a fixture in society, and one duty is to attend the Royal Wedding of Prince Phillip. One downside of being a member of the White House Trio is that your every move is photographed, so when photos surface of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis, Prince Henry, at the wedding it becomes a threat to American/British relations.

So the White House PR team has a plan, stage a fake friendship between Henry and Alex. Alex has enough to worry about, with finishing his last semester of college, his mother’s re-election campaign, and his own political ambitions, he doesn’t have time to waste playing pretend with Prince Henry. However, as Alex gets to know Henry he realizes first impressions aren’t what they seem. Alex soon finds himself falling for the Prince. They soon begin a secret relationship that could derail his mother’s campaign and disrupt the British monarchy. Meanwhile, Henry is worried if Alex is worth all the trouble their relationship could bring.

REVIEW

Red, White, & Royal Blue was such a fun and entertaining novel. It’s an easy and romantic read that was perfect after reading a bunch of dark, suspenseful books. It’s filled with a cast of characters that make the book come alive. The White House Trio (made up of Alex, his sister June, and the Vice President’s daughter Nora) are all so well developed, that as you’re reading you want to become a part of their trio. It was really empowering as well, with Alex and Henry discovering themselves and what is worth fighting for in their lives.

I was sold on this book the moment that Alex and Henry bonded over Star Wars, since I’m still just a Leia looking for her Han. It was sweet, relatable, empowering, and somewhat stressful, but you can’t go wrong with this romance.

RATING: 10/10