Romance Mini-Reviews: The Charm Offensive + The Missed Connection

Note: these reviews were originally posted on my Goodreads in June and July 2022 (oldest first)

The Charm Offensive
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: 07 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.

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 open up to 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.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Anxiety, panic attacks, mental illness (chronic depression), homophobia, OCD, racial micro aggressions

Dev and Charlie absolutely charmed me! 🥹 They have an almost instant connection that slowly develops into a heartwarming romance. My heart hurt for Charlie as he struggled to believe that he deserved love because all his life people have treated him as “less- than” due to his OCD and anxiety. I loved watching him slowly learn to not be apologetic for being who he is. Dev is a hopeless romantic who is scared to accept love out of fear of being abandoned or rejected. He puts on a “Fun Dev” persona pretending everything is fine despite suffering from chronic depression. Not only did I love the diversity and LGBTQIA+ representation in this book, but I thought the mental health, OCD and anxiety rep was also really well addressed and handled sensitively.

Their romance was incredibly soft and sweet with super swoontastic moments that had me reading with heart-eyes. 😍 There’s a forbidden romance element which really upped the stakes and increased the tension. I appreciated that they did what they needed to do for themselves first to have a healthy relationship. As much as I enjoyed this though, I admit that I expected to love it much more than I did. There were moments when I felt disconnected from the characters and romance. It was enjoyable enough but when I had to put it down, I also didn’t feel compelled to pick it back up again immediately! Still, I did enjoy this a lot and I would definitely love to read parts of it again because they made my heart very happy!

The Missed Connection (Airport Novellas #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: 21 June 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Two strangers share a romantic night together only to discover months later they’re professional rivals in this grumpy meets sunshine romance novella from the acclaimed author of How To Fail at Flirting.

Gia loves her job as a professor, even when it means dealing with an elusive rival academic who’s made it his mission to criticize her work. When she meets him for the first time, she’s shocked to learn they’ve met before. Months earlier, they shared a perfect New Year’s Eve together in an airport during a weather delay.

After months of working together, Felix still can’t believe the person whose research he’s been challenging is the same captivating woman he kissed that night. The two couldn’t be more different. Gia is bubbly, friendly, and extroverted and drives ordered, serious Felix nuts.

Now the two have been assigned to embark on a five-school tour for work. Gia and Felix can’t imagine a travel partner they’d enjoy less until they feel the sparks fly over their shared armrests, security mishaps, and a shared hotel room. They’ll need to decide if they can manage their professional tension, or risk missing the connection of a lifetime.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Workplace misogyny, sexism

This wasn’t anything particularly special but it was exactly what I wanted when I went in search of a fast in-between read this morning. This was my first Denise Williams book so I didn’t have any expectations going in but I’m happy to say that I enjoyed her writing and characters!

Gia and Felix are your typical grumpy-sunshine trope in a work-nemesis-to-lovers romance situation. Their meet-cute on NYE at the airport is like what those romantic dreams are made of only for those fantasies to crumble to dust a few months down the line when they meet again and realise they’re enemies in the professional field in real life. These two have a clear attraction to each other that I really enjoyed seeing grow as they spend more time together. Felix is a pretty closed book and I felt the win alongside Gia every time her sunshine personality managed to elicit even the smallest of grins from him. Despite their opposite personalities they clicked so well and I loved how Gia encouraged Felix to be more relaxed and open, and I loved the way he grounded her. They were so accepting of each other and it was really sweet!

I’d have loved to read more about them but even with this being a novella, I still really enjoyed seeing how they evolve and grow together. This also served big on that happy ending. Was it a little cheesy? Heck yes but it was so perfectly Gia but I loved that it was Felix who came up with the idea for her 😂 They’re so cute!

Have you read either of these contemporary romances or are they on your TBR? If you did, what did you think of them?

#WWWWednesday: 04 May 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve managed to finish six books. It was a bit of a mixed reading week with mostly “okay” reads and a few that I really enjoyed!

Gallant by V.E. Schwab ★★★★☆
I buddy read this with Leslie and sadly, she didn’t enjoy it like I did but I totally get why! This was very slow-paced but I connected with Olivia and was invested in what happens to her cousin and those living in Gallant. It’s beautifully written, haunting and bittersweet. Check out my review!

The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo ★★★★½
I get the hype! Nghi Vo’s writing was captivating. It’s lyrical, poetic, full of vivid imagery and flowed effortlessly off the page to hold me in rapture. This story was deceptively easy to read but is full of deeper meaning just below the surface. For how short this is, Vo still paints a stunning landscape of deadly politics and clashing cultures but also magic, fortune tellers, and mythology.

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#WWWWednesday: 27 April 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve managed to finish five books. It’s been a pretty great reading week with a good mix of genres and ratings. I’m so behind on my reviews (yikes!) but I’m hoping to get caught up soon.

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) by Hafsah Faizal ★★★★★
I buddy read this with Leslie & Julie and this had us feeling all the feels. Oof, why is the romance between Nasir and Zafira not talked about more often? Holy wow, it was so angsty, so swoony and ugh, I love them so much? 🥹 I still need to write my review but far out this was an amazing conclusion to the duology!

(ARC) Tanked (Eastside Brewery #3) by Mia Hopkins ★★★½
I’ve been keen to read Angel’s story and it didn’t disappoint. It was sweet, swoony and steamy and I loved how the stories are brought together for a great conclusion to the series. Check out my review!

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#WWWWednesday: 20 April 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve managed to finish four books. While one of them didn’t work for me, two were enjoyable and fun reads and one was a clear favourite for me!

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan ★★★½
I initially rated this 4 stars but brought it down cos even though there was a lot that I loved, the more I thought about it, the more the ending disappoints me. It was still a great read though and if you love Pan’s beautiful writing I’d still recommend it! Check out my review

Josh and Gemma Make A Baby by Sarah Ready ★★½
While this had a lot of elements I tend to love in romances, the execution was lacking and I ended up being sorely disappointed especially because as the story progressed, the “heroine” became increasingly unlikeable and I couldn’t find anything redeeming about her by the end.

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#WWWWednesday: 13 April 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Wow, since last week I’ve managed to read one book. I know I’ve spent more time with friends and gaming since I came to Bali, but I also didn’t realise I was barely reading! 🙈 Maybe I also didn’t realise it because I was reading something I was just doing it uncharacteristically (for me) slowly!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ★★★★½

I buddy read GoJaS with Leslie and I’m glad that I can finally knock it off my TBR. It was a bit of a rocky start (for both of us) but we ended up really enjoying it! The world-building was lush, the mythology was fantastic, the characters were compelling, and THE ROMANCE. OML talk about angsty but absolutely EPIC—it truly had me in a chokehold! It was swoontastic, heartbreaking and so forking good. 😮‍💨 I’ll be posting a gushing semi-coherent review soonish, lol!

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#WWWWednesday: 06 April 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve managed to read five books. March has ended on a high note and I’m hoping that means that April’s gonna be a great month for reading!

Kiss and Don’t Tell (The Vancouver Agitators #1) by Meghan Quinn ★★★★½
I don’t know what took me so long to read this one but I’m glad that I finally did because this was so good and this series is looking like it’s gonna be a favourite of mine! The banter, the chemistry, THE STEAM! 🥵 Wowow, so freaking good!

(ARC) Those Three Little Words (The Vancouver Agitators #2) by Meghan Quinn ★★★★½
This was slightly angstier than the first book but no less delicious when it came to everything I love in a romance. I wasn’t wrong when I said this series is becoming a favourite… I already can’t wait for the next one. This book is out now (and on KU btw) and my review will go up on Friday! 😉

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#WWWWednesday: 30 March 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve read five books. Romances continue to dominate my reads but I managed to finish two fantasies as well, one of which has become one of my favourites (so far) this year!

(ARC) One-Timer (Carolina Comets #3) by Teagan Hunter ★★★¾
Hunter never fails to make me laugh and gave me the good vibes I wanted when I read it. It wasn’t perfect but the overall chemistry and banter were fantastic! 👏🏽 Check out my review

The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard ★★★★☆
I saw Beauty and the Beast retelling and immediately scooped it up cos I’m a sucker for them! This engaged me right from the beginning and I was invested in both their stories. The chemistry between these strong-willed opposites was explosive—talk about steamy! 🔥

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#WWWWednesday: 23 March 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last week I’ve read four books. This past week has been hellacious and all I’ve wanted to do is take my sleep-deprived and anxious self and retreat into a cave and never come out. When I’m not playing my new Breath of the Wild save (what’s more de-stressing than slaying Lynels?) romances have been my go-to and even then my anxious mood has made it hard to fully get into the stories…

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★½
I buddy read this with Leslie and I’m glad that I finally read it. It’s very hyped and I can see why but it took a bit of time to warm up to it. It was also very different to what I expected which was both awesome but very much threw me off 😂 We’ll read the next book in May and I can’t wait!

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score ★★★★☆
This was my first book by Lucy Score and I loved it! This had so many tropes including hate-to-love, grumpy/sunshine, single parent with a dash of fake-dating and forced proximity, and all set in an awesome small town. I want more stories set in Knockemout, please!

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#WWWWednesday: 16 March 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Is it just me or are the days FLYING by?! Since last week I’ve read five books. Unsurprisingly, most of my reads were romances cos it seems to be the only genre I can happily read in my weird mood that I can’t shake. I admit it’s a little frustrating when I want to read the other books on my TBR and yet nothing else seems to catch! 😂

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal ★★★★½
This was a buddy read with Leslie @ Book Are the New Black & Julie @ One Book More! A good chunk of the beginning was quite a struggle to get through but we all ended up really enjoying the book and came up with some wild and exciting theories for book two! I’m so excited to read the sequel with them next month 😍

(ARC) Anything But Fine by Tobias Madden ★★★½
This was a well-written and engaging YA contemporary debut that sent me running down memory lane as I used to live in Australia and I’m familiar with many of the places mentioned in the book. It was fab! My blog tour review + journal spread is going up tomorrow! 😃

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