Could you even think of a rom-com LGBT genre incorporating a severe issue like mental health? Well, before you think, Alison Cuchron is here with her debut novel, The Charm Offensive. Alison definitely knows how to bring out the feelings, and the book can catch you off guard with its serious themes of rejection, self-doubt, mental illness, morality, sexual identity, acceptance, self-identity, and multiple aspects of love.

This post will briefly introduce The Charm Offensive book and its author, Alison Cuchron. We will discuss the novel's plot, themes, and messages and pave the way for reading The Charm Offensive PDF from your comfort. So, let's get started for an entertaining read.

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Introduction to the Author: Alison Cochrun

Alison writes rom-coms about queer nerds finding love, and The Charm Offensive is her debut novel, published on September 7th, 2021 by Atria. Her second novel, Kiss Her Once for Me, is a sapphic Christmas romcom published on November 1st, 2022, and her third novel, Here We Go Again, will come out in Spring 2024. Alison has strong writing skills, immersing the reader in the world and the character development. With excellent pacing, she connects readers to her characters and their experiences, ultimately pulling on her readers' heartstrings.

Alison Cochrun is a high school English teacher, born in the United States and currently living outside Portland, Oregon. When she is not reading or writing queer love stories, you can find her annoying teenagers with Shakespeare and crafting her travel itineraries. However, Alison does not like watching reality dating shows. You can find her on her Instagram or at her website: www.alisoncochrun.com.

Summary of The Charm Offensive

The Charm Offensive Book Cover

The Charm Offensive book is a heartwarming rom-com with strong characters who challenge you to see love in a new light. The book makes it quite clear that love doesn't fix a person; it can only make them feel seen and understood, which is an idea even more important when both the main characters struggle with mental illnesses.

The Charm Offensive is a contemporary romance book that focuses on two main characters, Dev and Charlie. Charlie is a tech billionaire who doesn't *need* to work again. However, he suffered a panic attack at a board meeting and was fired from his own company, leaving him blacklisted from the tech world. Charlie is super mysterious, but every person in Silicon Valley knows he suffered a panic attack. So now the plan is to rehab his image by making him go on Ever After, a reality TV dating show.

Meanwhile, Dev is the producer of Ever After, who believes in true love and fairy tale romance. He is tasked with handling the twenty women cast as potential love interests for Charlie. But soon, he is reassigned to be Charlie's handler and to prep Charlie for the grueling weeks ahead, getting him into Prince mode and at the center of attention.

The more time Dev and Charlie spend together, the more their lovely chemistry and connection grow, posing challenges. Charlie suffers from debilitating panic attacks, social anxiety, and OCD to barely keep things together when he's under stress. Dev himself deals with recurring depression, but his preferred persona is “Fun Dev,” so he is always upbeat and on when he's around his cast and crew members, not wanting anyone to see beyond the surface.

Charlie and Dev are lovely together, sharing moments of vulnerability and honesty. While Charlie's contract with the reality show demands that he continue playing out the romantic fantasy and date the women competing to be his princess, Dev's career is on the line if he lets himself act on his feelings for Charlie.

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Key Takeaways from The Charm Offensive

In recent years, many authors have begun to strive for accuracy and nuance in stories about mental health and neurodivergent. However, positive representation isn't as simple as accurately describing symptoms and diagnostic criteria, and many romances with “positive” representation stop short of telling genuinely affirming stories.

The Charm Offensive has been praised for its positive mental health representation., where one main character, Charlie, has OCD and a panic disorder. The other main character, Dev, has depression. Multiple side characters in the book also note that they are in therapy and taking medication due to mental health issues.

The Charm Offensive is often touted as having good mental health representation because of the primary reasons:

(1) OCD, anxiety, depression, and other neuro-divergences are treated as normal and common, as are therapy, antidepressants, and antianxiety medication; and, 

(2) The book portrays OCD without resorting solely to stereotypes about what OCD is like, and the other characters don't think less of the character with OCD for having impairments and triggers that require accommodation.

The book clearly distinguishes between “healthy” Charlie and “unhealthy” Dev. According to the plot, Dev is unhealthy because he's not receiving any treatment for his depression, and the evidence of his unhealthiness is that he's recently experienced a depressive episode that impaired his ability to function at work and in his personal relationships.

Later in the book, Dev takes steps to “become healthy,” including quitting the show, moving home, starting therapy, and taking medication. He feels he has made significant progress after only a few months. Specifically, he says that he's healthy because he now “takes medicines for the depression, and he's focusing on his own career, and he's doing the hard work of learning to love himself.” The latter includes identifying and moving away from people-pleasing behavior, believing in the worthiness of his dreams for the future, and no longer using alcohol to self-medicate.

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Monica has accumulated more than three years of experience in writing tech products. Now she works as an English columnist for this website. With her extensive experience, Monica has offered many helpful and feasible recommendations.