In the absence of any truly good romantic comedy movies coming out this year, I turned to a couple of Christmassy rom-com books that have gotten good reviews. The first one, The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss, was everything I wanted–set in a charming, snowy English village, two nice people at the center of a love story, some quirky side characters. Excellent Christmastime entertainment, and a book that would make a delightful movie. Kate, a designer for Liberty of London, returns to her hometown for Christmas, and her friend signs her up for a dating service that promises 12 dates before Christmas. But her life-long friend Matt is always in the picture–will they end up together? I bet you can guess. Sometimes a book needs an intriguing plot, but sometimes it just needs to envelope you in an atmosphere, which is what this book does.
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren also involves a will-they-or-won’t-they romance between two childhood friends. In this one, main character Mae is in a Groundhog-Day scenario at the cabin of her family’s friends. It’s not the greatest premise (it worked in the movie, but that doesn’t mean it will work in other plots), and the first chapter left me somewhat confused with the introduction of a large cast of characters. A few of the characters never really play any significant role, and I think the authors (that’s right, “Christina Lauren” is two people) could have cut two or three of them. There are some entertaining bits in the middle, but it is never entirely clear what Mae has to change to continue on in time (be herself? it’s really vague). It also seemed like the authors ran out of steam, because Mae suddenly gets it right and is able to avoid jumping back in time, but it’s not obvious how her last day was so different from the previous one, or how she had grown significantly. The worst part is that I finished this book a week or two before writing this review, and I had to think for a minute to remember what it was about. I’ll say this: if you found yourself in an airport or at a relative’s house and needed something to read, this wouldn’t be a bad choice. But I wouldn’t go looking for it.