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Twelve Dates of Christmas*

Second Chance During the Holiday Season

I have been reading quite a few Christmas romances lately because, as soon as the weather gets colder, I like to dig into holiday books! Unfortunately, so many have fallen shy of the mark of the types that I like. I want a Christmas romance to actually reflect the holiday season. Surprisingly, quite a few don’t integrate Christmas well enough into the storyline to make it feel like a true holiday romance. I also don’t really like ones that are too heavy. They can be a little serious if needed, but that Christmas spirit should lift a slightly serious story into something that is heartwarming. And yes, I do like a holiday romance that tugs just a little (or more) at the heartstrings.

Luckily, this book filled all of my requirements for what a good Christmas romance should be. It is written in the alternating perspectives of the hero and heroine, Derick and Ivy, who are six months into their trial separation. We first meet Ivy as she is scrambling to start her morning after waking up too late after not setting her alarms. On top of getting the kids to school, her best friend calls in a panic because the party planning firm in charge of the big town holiday events, starting with that night’s Christmas tree lighting and parade, has quit at the last moment. She desperately wants Ivy’s help to pull it off. Ivy is a party planner who wasn’t chosen by the city to organize the events. The author did an excellent job writing this initial scene, showing how frantic Ivy was and how she was struggling to keep it together on all fronts. I also loved the breakfast meeting scene, as the author slowly doled out bits of information that let us in on some of the reasons why Ivy and Derick had separated.

The main impetus for the plot is that Ivy’s estranged husband wants a second chance. He proposes to use the time before Christmas Eve to show her that he’s changed and that they can start again. I thought the author did a good job showing how the couple had problems in the past; it seemed believable and realistic. Both have grown and changed during their separation so that they could both better appreciate each other and bring more to their marriage—if only they can forgive the past and find their way back to each other. The way the children were written was excellent as well. Mallory in particular, the oldest, definitely acted realistically–both in her reactions and taking on more responsibility with her younger siblings—for a child in such a difficult situation with her parent’s marriage.

This book definitely brought the holiday romance feels with such nuanced, believable, and decent people at its heart. I particularly enjoyed the setup for all that this small town did during the Christmas holidays. Ten years ago, I lived in just such a small town that kicked off its Christmas season with a tree lighting and lighted truck parade, quite similar to what happened in this book. If you’re looking for an enjoyable holiday romance, this one fills the bill.