REVIEW: Twelve Dates of Christmas by Charlee James
She’s fallen for her own fantasy…will a real future with him be enough?
Bored by years of underwhelming dating experiences, copywriter Grace McGovern combines her love of Christmas and her longing for romance into the ultimate romance novel—where the heroine is swept off her feet one Christmas by tender, thoughtful, romantic…and utterly unrealistic dates. When Grace has a chance meeting with an attractive man, she’s charmed by their conversation and fun dates…until warning bells jingle. He couldn’t be taking cues from her book, could he?
Engineer Owen Ellis has always been more comfortable with computers and coding than with women. After claiming he was boring and unromantic, his last girlfriend’s bitter parting gift was a cheesy romance book hurled at his head. When he meets a woman whose warm smile and conversation intrigue him, Owen is ready to try again but knows he needs to up his game. What’s the harm in borrowing a few ideas?
Can the Christmas magic last forever, or will their relationship dissolve into another ho-hum holiday fling?
Dear Ms. James,
Something about the blurb made me think this would be cute. And it was. “Twelve Dates of Christmas” is like a Hallmark movie in a book. It’s like drinking three super sugary, large mugs of cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles in a row. I would swear that by the time I finished it, I could feel my teeth cracking. But it’s charming and a nice quick holiday read as well.
Owen and Grace are two nice people who are nice together. I loved seeing Grace get to go first and be Owen’s heroine in the toy store, verbally goosing the sullen teen clerk into getting the last “gotta have it” toy that Owen needed for his nieces. Owen then responds with probably the first spontaneous date he’s ever managed to pull off. Seeing Grace enjoy his idea of cocoa sampling – plus not judging her for eating half of the tire sized cinnamon bun – ended in a date “win” for him. Daring to take a chance, he asks her out again and – wow! – she agrees.
Knowing he’s got to produce in the date department or be worried that bubbly Grace will find his engineering self boring, Owen resorts to reading the romance novel a former girlfriend chucked at him as she left. As the fun dates rack up, Grace starts to suspect what Owen is using as his inspiration. She’s enjoyed their dates and the time spent with him but hesitates to question him for fear of spoiling things.
As Grace and Owen laugh through a sleigh ride, glass ornament making, skating, and sledding – but okay, maybe not through Owen’s trip to the ER – I was waiting for the boom to swing, the penny to drop, the truth to come out. Up until then everything was so sweet and charming that I began to mentally urge the final conflict to rear its ugly head. I found I did need some rough patches after all to cut through all that sugar.
When the moment of reckoning arrived, it seemed to hit all out of proportion. Perhaps that was just because up until then, Owen and Grace had so few moments of any conflict. So it just WHAMMED the book upside its head. I do see Owen’s point and with his past nerdy history of social problems he jumped to the wrong conclusions. As the page count was dwindling down, hurrah for two people who talk plainly to both Owen and Grace offering to help and giving good advice. Thankfully Grace manages to convince Owen that she’s changed since she viewed uber romantic dates as the be-all, end-all of dating and that a man who sees to his girlfriend’s computer updates, invests in energy efficient lighting, and takes her car in for servicing is the kind of guy she can see forever with. B