Dash and Lily met through a red moleskin notebook filled with dares. They egged each other on, two strangers galavanting around New York at Christmas time. They got to know each other through their writing, until their bit of fun turned into romance.
The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily picks up a year after our couple met in Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, and after an initial courtship straight out of a Rom-Com the real world has slammed into them, hard. Lily’s beloved Grandpa has had a heart attack, and though he pulled through, he’s not the same. Lily is struggling with her feelings about this, and other changes, and while Christmas is usually her favourite time of year, she’s just not feeling it. Dash is at a loss. As Lily would say, he’s ‘snarly’ at the best of times, so not the best person to rekindle her Christmas spirit. His attempts are well meaning but miss the mark. Perhaps they’re not meant to be, after all?
It pains me to say I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as the first book. I found that so lovely and enjoyed Dash and Lily’s back and forth. But it’s been a while since I read it and so maybe I’m forgetting any issues I might have had. And I suppose romances in sequels always suffer since they have to tear down the couple in order to build them back up again, but the first half of this book is kind of a downer. Dash and Lily aren’t communicating at all, and it’s a wonder they’ve lasted as long as they have. Thankfully it picks up a little in the second half and becomes more fun to read, but I struggled to connect with the characters as well this time.
I read Dares before any other Cohn and Levithan team up and loved it, and once finished I eagerly sought out their others, ready to be charmed again. But each one was more disappointing than the last. They were filled with obnoxious, selfish, know-it-all characters who didn’t quite seem believable, in situations that are often absurd (this carries on here with a ridiculous ‘duel’ and an ice-skating catastrophe). I think my dislike of those books has seeped into my enjoyment of this one. I like their writing style, just not their characters, which is of course a massive issue.
I also found Lily problematic in ways I’m not sure I did in the first one. She’s so childish and coddled, but sweet and good-natured (she doesn’t like to swear, how cute!) and positively manic-pixie-dreamgirl-esque at times that it was off-putting. And Dash is frustrating. There’s this whole subplot (ish) with his relationship with his dad that doesn’t really go anywhere. It might as well not exist. Then there’s his best friend, Boomer, who I imagine is meant as sweet natured comic relief but who comes across as someone who wouldn’t possibly function in real life, let alone have a job and a girlfriend. How do they talk when he misunderstands 99% of what is said to him?
Anyway, it’s short and fun enough and you can easily tear through it in one sitting (unless you have two babies demanding your attention). But if you’re a fan of the first, maybe skip it and remember them at their most daring.