Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Published October 13th 2020, 320 pages

Author: Jenny Bayliss

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. . . .

Christmas novels are perfect for putting anyone in a good mood, especially in these difficult times. They make excellent escapes and this cover caught my eye as I went through my collection. I also love the idea of transforming the song The Twelve Days of Christmas into a romantic theme with The Twelve Dates of Christmas, although twelve dates seems like a lot. This story had great potential as a debut novel, yet it just didn’t quite get there for me. It did pique my curiosity for this author though and I’d be interested in the ones she releases in the future.

Kate Turner is a single woman in her mid-thirties. She designs fabrics for a company called Liberty in London and works remotely in Blexford, a small English village. To give her love life a shake-up, she signs up, and pays a lot of money for, an online dating service ran by the company Lightning Strikes. Through their new venture called the Twelve Dates of Christmas, Kate will go on twelve dates with twelve different matches in the twelve weeks leading up to Christmas. It was a fantastic concept that I was extremely excited to read, but Lightning Strikes Company is seriously not good at their jobs if they are taking any match-making factors into consideration. If I were Kate, I would’ve seriously requested a refund many times whether it be the matches, the organization, or events. Kate goes through with all twelve dates though with twelve different activities.

The dates themselves were really great in theory and I would gladly participate in many of them. The men are hits and misses, but that happens in general with dating anyway given that not everyone perfectly matches with everyone else they come across. Whether they are characters in the background or our main-ish set, there are many that all seem to be in love with their exes. That just seemed like too many at times as it just didn’t seem that realistic that people would still be in love with their exes. Every man that Kate both gets set-up with and sees at each of these events are all super successful and handsome so it made me seriously wonder where any of the average guys were at (either they didn’t sign-up or they weren’t accepted into the program). Even the other females were all pretty and there weren’t any average ones mentioned.

The small town of Blexford shines in this novel as the coziness of the different shops, the community feeling, and the general festivity, especially for Christmas. Our main character fits into the town well and she was just enjoyable all around. She was a very likeable and well-written character where I found her to be delightful even when things weren’t going her way. She has a great time on her dates as she goes with the flow and tries to make the best out of every situation. She has great banter with her best friends Matt and Laura.

Although this novel is predictable and I guessed the ending early on, it was still an enjoyable read. (I’ve talked to others though who didn’t fully guess until much later, so it really depends on the reader.) As each chapter centers on each date, you eagerly anticipate what type of guy and what type of activity Kate will experience next. I loved reading about each experience and it brings in the holiday spirit as you are surrounded by snow, gingerbread, mulled wine, etc. I love the recipes at the end of book and I actually can’t wait to make them! Overall, it’s a nice easy read to put you in a happy holiday mood. It has its flaws, but it was still a great read. It’s also perfect for those that have either done online dating or have just done dating in general as its very relatable how each experience goes. I loved many of the activities that Kate signed up for and I actually jotted a few of them down to do in the future (once places actually open up again).  It follows through with its promise to be a holiday read as you feel the Christmas spirit as you go through the chapters. A great debut novel and I will add her next novels to my TBR list in the future.

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