ROMANCE

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Putnam. Oct. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780593085387. pap. $16. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
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DEBUT In this charming first novel from British author Bayliss, fabric designer Kate Turner has settled into the tiny village of Blexford to help take care of her aging father. Wholly unmotivated to seek romance, Kate is persuaded by a friend to sign up for the Twelve Dates of Christmas, a speed-dating for singles program where she will go out with a different man for 12 nights. Despite having a dozen chances at love, something goes wrong on each date (no-shows, man tears, and sleazeballs are among the most memorable disasters). Kate begins to realize she’s not clicking with her dates because she’s harboring feelings for her childhood friend Matt, the owner of the local Pear Tree Café. Descriptions of Christmas baking and Kate’s artistic process as a designer give the novel a cozy, grounded feel, even if the main romance, disappointingly, doesn’t materialize until the end.
VERDICT This slow-burn rom-com set in a small British village at Christmas will be the perfect cup of tea for fans of Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding.

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