“The Charm Offensive: A Novel” by Alison Cochrun
circa 2021, Atria $ 17.00 / $ 23.00 Canada 368 pages
Applause is on you this time.
It’s deafening, really – maybe because there’s a standing ovation below. All the work you’ve done, the emotion, the emotions, you know how much your fans appreciate it. So say hello. Drink in love. As in the new novel, Alison Cochrun’s “Charm Offensive”, it is something that is sometimes lacking in life.
Dev Deshpande was good at his job. He knew it, his colleagues knew it, it was a fact. He may be personally very bad at love – for example: he was still suffering from a breakup three months ago with her boyfriend, Ryan – but Dev was a pro at his job as a producer for the show. reality show, Forever. In fact, he had been tasked with making dreams come true for six beautiful years Forever competitors; it helped him believe in fairy tales.
Maybe one day he would find his own Prince Charming.
But not this season.
This season, her senior manager made her manage the “prince” instead of the usual “princesses”, and that was a challenge.
Charles Winshaw was twenty-eight, devastatingly handsome, extremely wealthy, and a nervous, introverted nerd who rarely dated anyone. Geek, clumsy and prone to panic attacks, he sincerely had no idea how to be romantic. The truth was he was only there because his best friend and agent had put him Forever to counter a reputation for being weird.
Still, Charlie was weird, and it was up to Dev to make him work for the show.
Building Charlie’s confidence didn’t work, and neither did a pep talk. He couldn’t just play a role without panicking and it was becoming obvious. By the time Dev’s assistant suggested having a few practice dates, Dev was ready to try anything.
He took Charlie to dinner. He spent time doing puzzles with him, and he allowed Charlie to relax a bit. If there were sparks, well, it was one-sided: Charlie was completely straight.
You know what’s going to happen at the end, don’t you? Of course you do. You will find out on page thirty, step by step, with virtually no surprises, which leaves a long way for the last sentence of “The Charm Offensive”.
Now, it’s true that this novel is cute. It has its slightly humorous moments and writer Alison Cochrun gives it a good cast, from the contestant to the show’s creator. There is no lack of details; in fact, reality TV watchers will feel right at home here. It even has the ubiquitous array of exotic locations for the “challenges” that competitors face.
The problem is the length of this book. There are too many, too many crawling shirts, too many mentions of vomit, too much unnecessary drama, too much will-he-not-will, when you know very well he will be. This supplement does not increase blood pressure, it slows things down. And so: cute story, familiar scenes, good characters in “The Charm Offensive”. But if tense is what you want in a romantic comedy, quit this book and bow out.