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Book Review: Charlie, Love and Clichés by Ella Maise

Book Review: Charlie, Love and Clichés by Ella Maise

Charlie, Love and Clichés may just be my favourite Ella Maise novel yet, and not least because it seems to be following in the footsteps of The American Roommate Experiment to give romance readers everything they’re looking for in one, easily readable novel. With her fifth book, Maise gives herself over to the romance genre entirely, delivering a hopeless romantic heroine who is searching for the cheesiest, most clichéd love story possible and a hero who’s more than happy to play his own part. What follows is a swoony, slow burn story that’s packed full of romantic tension and happily delivers on the promise of its title and then some.

Charlie Davis knows it’s time to make some serious changes in her life. She definitely needs to leave her dad’s PR company, where she’s overworked and belittled by her dad and her cold, emotionally-distant sister, and she’s considering moving away from New York entirely too, needing to start over again in a new place, focus on herself and finally become the heroine in her own story. Then her dad hires William Carter to help manage Charlie and her team, and the last person that Charlie expects to see is the man that she’s been thinking about on and off for the last six years.

Coming face to face with her Mystery Diner Guy once again was definitely not in Charlie’s plans, especially when it looks like he doesn’t seem to remember her or their time together at all. But working together gives Charlie and William a second chance to reconnect, and it’s not long before the crush they each had the first time they met makes itself known once again. Charlie is determined not to put her life on hold for a man ever again, but William’s return has her questioning all of her best-laid plans. As they spend more and more time together, it looks like resisting their mutual crush isn’t something they can keep up for long.

When they really mean it, the cheesiness makes me happy. A cliché is a cliché for a reason. It works on those who have a romantic heart and even on some who don’t.”

If you’re looking for a joyful, romantic read that’s packed full of tension, mutual pining and knowing nods to romance tropes, Charlie, Love and Clichés is absolutely the novel for you. From the moment that Charlie starts quoting When Harry Met Sally, you know this is going to be a novel that fully embraces its genre, and everything that follows does not disappoint. From the close proximity, office setting and second chance romance, to Charlie and William’s constant run-ins, meddling co-workers and flirtation practice scenes, this is a book that was designed to leave readers feeling giddy and in love with love.

Individually, William and Charlie are both wonderful characters. Charlie, especially, is warm, kind and embarking on a new mission to prioritise herself. Every time she commits to her own goals and stands up for herself in small but increasingly confident ways against her awful family feels like just as much of a triumph as the romantic steps she’s taking too. Meanwhile, William is steady, supportive and always on hand to validate Charlie’s needs, defend her hard work to her dismissive father and encourage her to find her happiness. The connection between William and Charlie is made abundantly clear very early on, and it only grows deeper the more time they spend together as colleagues, neighbours and friends.

It does it so well, in fact, that Charlie and William’s slow journey from co-workers to friends to crushes to lovers feels like it flies by, even as it takes place across hundreds of pages. Together they have such a palpable chemistry that their relationship always feels easy, natural and, ultimately, inevitable. This novel only lets itself down a little bit in that regard by not exploring the initial meeting between Charlie and William six years earlier. Although the way in which Charlie and William unravel their previous encounter is well done and well structured, it would have been nice to have seen more of their first meeting and their feelings from when they first met to contrast with their present day chemistry and how it’s developed in the years since.

Despite all the delicious slow burn build up, Charlie, Love and Clichés struggles to maintain its momentum and the third act conflict and miscommunication in particular feels both jarring and unnecessary, especially considering both characters’ firm commitment to honesty at every other stage of their relationship. The final conflict of the novel reads like it was written purely for conflict’s sake and, as a result, the ending also feels a little rushed. You’re definitely left with the impression that these characters’ stories haven’t finished just yet (so here’s hoping we get to see William and Charlie again in a future novel soon).

Still, Ella Maise has firmly established herself as another TikTok sensation in recent years, and Charlie, Love and Clichés is another wonderful example of just why so many readers have already fallen in love with both Maise and her characters. This is a novel thats as entertaining and heartfelt as it is cheesy and romantic, and if youre in the mood for a sweet and swoony story with a little bit of spice too, Charlie, Love and Clichés will tick every box.


Charlie, Love and Clichés is published by Simon & Schuster on 11 May 2023

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