Review of 12 Gifts of Christmas

(All links are my Amazon Affiliate links.)

About the Book:

Genre: Christian Romance/ Christmas

Malcolm MacGregor is a descendant of Scotland’s Clan MacGregor and a successful young businessman in Fort Worth, Texas. Alanza Cantalamessa works at a gourmet pizzeria owned by her Brazilian artist mother and her Italian Poppa. Both of them are smitten with each other but Malcolm is too reserved to do much more than make small talk—until a promotion at work that will send him away to Australia for six months. It’s December and he has to do something—fast.

Praying about the situation, Malcolm decides to give her twelve gifts leading up to Christmas. Their families and friends think they are moving too fast. And a gold-digger who tossed Malcolm aside in the past has now decided he’s the man of her dreams.

Can Malcolm and Alanza overcome their obstacles before he has to go abroad? Or is it really not meant to be?

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About the Author:

Leena Dooley author

Multi-published, award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, her local chapter in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, the Christian Authors’ Network, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Her forty-plus books have sold more than 875,000 copies. Lena’s books have appeared on the CBA, ECPA, and Publisher Weekly bestseller lists, as well as some Amazon bestseller lists. She also writes a popular blog, A Christian Writer’s World, that features other authors’ books. The blog received the Readers’ Choice Blog of the Year Award from the Book Club Network.Lena is a three-time finalist in the Carol Awards ACFW contest. Her 2010 release, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, won the 2011 Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western Fiction. Her next series, McKenna’s Daughters: Maggie’s Journey appeared on a reviewers’ Top Ten Books of 2011 list. It also won the 2012 Selah award for Historical Novel. The second, Mary’s Blessing, was a Selah Award finalist for Romance novel. Catherine’s Pursuit, released in 2013, was the winner of the NTRWA Carolyn Reader’s Choice contest, took second place in the CAN Golden Scroll Novel of the Year award, and won the Will Rogers Medallion bronze medallion. Her book, A Heart’s Gift, won RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice Award in July 2017.

Lena is also the host of The Lena Nelson Dooley Show on the Along Came a Writer blog talk radio network. She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs, and currently serves on the board of directors of Higher Ground Films. She has been featured in Christian Fiction Online MagazineACFW JournalBook Fun MagazineCharisma Magazine, and Christian Retailing.

Guest Post from Lena

She took the pan off the burner, dropped tiny marshmallows into the waiting over-sized mugs, and filled them with the fragrant hot chocolate. “Do you want to drink it here, or would you rather go in the living room? The sofa is more comfortable.”

“Whatever you want to do.” His honeyed tone wrapped around her like a warm blanket.

She handed a mug to him, picked up her own, along with coasters and two napkins, and headed into the living room. He followed.

Alanza’s Best Hot Chocolate


4 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder

3 tbls. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 dark chocolate bar

1 can real whipped cream

Maraschino cherries


Heat milk over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until milk starts to bubble slightly (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, mix sugar and cocoa together until well blended. When milk is ready, gradually add in sugar, cocoa, and honey, stirring constantly. Put heat on low and add shavings of chocolate bar and vanilla. Continue stirring until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and pour into mugs. Add whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries on top, as desired.

Blog Stops

blog tour banner of 12 Gifts of Christmas

The Power of Words, October 9

Two Points of interest, October 9

Among the Reads, October 10

A Diva’s Heart, October 10

Luv’N Lambert Life, October 11

Baker Kella, October 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 12

Britt Reads Fiction, October 13

Texas Book-aholic, October 13

Susan Loves Books, October 14

Proud to Be an Autism Mom, October 14

Splashes of Joy, October 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 15

Creating Romance, October 16

Bigreadersite, October 16

Mary Hake, October 17

Janice’s Book Reviews,October 17

Maureen’s Musings, October 18

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 19

Bibliophile Reviews, October 20

Pause for Tales, October 20

More Of Him, October 21

Carpe Diem, October 22

A Baker’s Perspective, October 22


To celebrate her tour, Lena is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbuck’s Gift Card and a surprise Christmas gift!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Lila's Opinions:


The setting was great, a contemporary romance set in Texas, but it was not a western. The contemporary worship services were refreshing, as were the mission/community service activities mentioned.

Main Characters:

I had a little trouble connecting to the characters, because neither Malcolm nor Alanza had any flaws. They were both richer than I've ever been, Alanza wearing designer jeans and daughter to successful restaurant owners, and Malcolm being a high-paid executive and son to a wealthy family.

This probably should have been marketed as a billionaire romance, a trend in contemporary romance right now. It's not my cup of tea, but if you're into that, this is a cute rendition of the trend without the steamy cover. (I loved the cover!)

quote from  12 Gifts of Christmas , a contemporary Christian Christmas romance

quote from 12 Gifts of Christmas, a contemporary Christian Christmas romance

Supporting Characters:

Bella caught my interest the most because I really liked how passionate and emotional she is, just jumping heart-first into loving Alanza after her brother Malcolm explains how much he loves her.


Alanza makes the emotional journey from mere infatuation with Malcolm to full-blown love. Malcolm takes a quick journey from not knowing Alanza to wanting to marry her and wooing her.

I thought that the two-week time frame in this book was too unrealistic. I didn't think it was plausible for not only a girl but also her parents and his parents to all approve of such a whirlwind romance. They hadn’t even talked before this. I'm sure it must really happen; it's supposed to be based on a real-life romance.

But their attraction seemed to be so shallow, based on physical looks only until after Malcolm already decided to marry her. I'm getting really tired of heroes and heroines all being so beautiful and handsome that everyone just fawns over them. Another thing that I didn't relate to.

At least Alanza needed to see his character in several different situations before she allowed herself to think about marriage. It still seemed a little too sudden for me, though.

Writing Quality:

The writing style is good, descriptive without being literary and with the perfect perspective. (No sign of head-hopping, yay!)

The proofreading was good until Chapter 17, then I noticed a few things but nothing major. However, I thought there were too many cliches and unrealistic thoughts and even melodrama towards the end. It began to feel contrived.

There were a few little jokes here and there, though it's not enough for me to say it was a defining characteristic.

Spiritual Truths:

I'd say the main themes were trusting in God's timing and listening to Him, having personal conversations with a personal God.

I recommend this book for those who like contemporary romances and don't mind a little cliché, those who love billionaire romances, and those who love a strong faith thread.

Anyone looking for merely a clean romance but can't handle religion will not like this book. God, church, Jesus’ birth, missions, and prayer are all mentioned regularly without any apology, which I love.

Because characters are the most important aspect of a story to me but I didn't connect with these characters, I had to rate it only a 3-star. The unbelievable aspects took it down even further for me. I may read it again, but I may not. That means it's just okay for me.

(I received this book for free from CelebrateLit. The decision to write a review, as well as the opinions expressed in it, are all my own. I was not compensated for this review.)