‘Tis the season for me to binge-watch and read other people’s holiday romance stories. The first festive book of the season I read was The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss. I’ll admit, this is my second-holiday romance book to ever read but it certainly isn’t the last—in fact, I’ve already started on more as I write this.
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas Book Review
Last year I heard about this book. It was all the rage across social media and seemed to be on everyone’s Goodread’s “Want To Read” list. Feeling inspired, I made a list of holiday books I wanted to read and decided to get a head start on requesting them at the library. To my surprise this one was available. Thank goodness, because it was the first I wanted to read on my list.
When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?
Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . .
Where To Buy The Twelve Dates Of Chrismas
My Review Of The Twelve Dates Of Christmas
Format & General Writing
The book is a contemporary romance (“chick-lit”) and a British rom-com, written in the third person. The story is told from a single perspective—the main character, Kate Turner.
Set in contemporary England, The Twelve Dates of Christmas follows the life of Kate, who navigates life in Blexford, England—her small hometown village. After university and years of traveling, she moved back home and created a quaint and meaningful life.
There are mentions of sex and intimacy but there is nothing on the page. If the mention of this is not within your reading boundary, this is not the book for you.
Kate is such a strong female character. I adore that the author wrote about a female with strong boundaries who still has room for improvement. Kate wasn’t full of herself or annoying. There were moments that annoyed me because as the reader I was given more information about the story than the character had at the time. For example, one moment I yelled at Kate “don’t do that” and “go!” as if she could hear me. On each of the dates Kate went on, she was firm yet herself. She didn’t pretend to be someone else and was honest about her expectations for the experience and what she was searching for in a relationship.
There were quite a few things within the book that worked. Specifically, with the characters, Kate’s motivation for dating, and the seasonal ties.
Why The Characters Worked
They all served a purpose. There was not one point where I thought “this is so boring. Who cares about you.” The author did a fabulous job setting Kate up (literally) to meet new people while maintaining the relationships and acquaintances in her life. I was able to learn who she interacted with in a way that didn’t jam-pack details into the story or make my eyes glaze over.
The setting and time of the year. I felt like I was in Blexford during Christmas. I could imagine each of the twelve date’s locations, the hill, Matt’s coffee shop, Laura’s home, and work, plus all of the other details. The visuals were strong because the descriptions showcased what Laura was experiencing versus thinking. It allowed me to smell what she did and imagine the shades of holiday decor.
The Believability Of Kate’s Motivation For Dating
I appreciated that we also had moments where her job was woven into the story. This book featured a successful woman that was encouraged by her friend to give the dates a chance, but it was ultimately Kate’s decision to sign up for the dates experiences. She did it because she wanted to see what else she could build in her life not because she felt as if she were not good enough. Kate chose to open herself to love and she experienced normal emotions of doubt and leaned on her friends for support. It’s scary to be vulnerable. Instead of her friends telling her to quit or to continue because he “needs a partner”, Laura listened and helped Kate uncover what the anxiety and fear stemmed from.
How The Christmas Was A Part Of The Story
The holiday theme runs through without being cheesy or cringe-worthy. All of the components of the picturesque Christmas shone through—snow days, cold weather, festive activities, sweaters, bakery items, etc. I appreciated that these elements were woven into the book without being loud. What I mean by that is the author didn’t draw extra attention to one element or make it seem so unique or play it up to the point where it was annoying to read about. The holiday details wove in nicely and felt purposeful to the plot. Overall, it made sense in the writing and each scene and gave me major Christmas feels.
What Didn’t Work?
The concluding love story. This for me, felt a bit underdeveloped. I wasn’t a fan of how the final couple need up together. It felt a bit like “what else?” for me. I wanted romantic moments. But, between the two, the romance wasn’t there. I felt more chemistry with some of the rejected dates than who Kate was paired with. I think the duo makes sense but it felt a bit rushed and lacking I would have loved to see another chapter worth’s of romantic moments that were spread through the book. That small amount I believe would have really brought me to that “YES! I see it,” point.
Overall, I thought it was a nice book. I found the first chapter a bit slow but it picked up—despite this being more of a slow-burn style romance. I found the plot around the twelve dates to be creative, fun, and entertaining. However, I did struggle to get on board with the ending. Kate and her love interest did not seem to be in love or as believable as I would have preferred. I liked them, of course, but they felt a bit flat for my personal preference. There were many moments with them but I wasn’t at the edge of my seat or gripping the book.
Each holiday-themed date sounded incredibly fun. There were times when I wished I could have jumped into the book and into this fictitious world. Kate’s best friend, Laura was my favorite to read about. I need a spinoff book/series all about her!