Book Reviews

Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings by Nell Iris at JMS Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance / Holiday
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 07-December-2019

Book Blurb

Young couple Ellis and Casey’s Christmas is set to be a lean one. Struggling financially, they’re only able to manage the most basic needs for their holiday celebration. They can’t afford luxuries like a turkey. Or decorations. Or presents. Between the recent death of Casey’s beloved momma, and Ellis’ estrangement from his family, all they have is each other.

When Ellis finds the saddest looking Christmas tree south of the Mason-Dixon line thrown outside his workplace and brings it home to Casey, things look up. Because what more do you need to have a Merry Christmas than enthusiasm, ingenuity, and someone to love?

First edition published by Dreamspinner Press, December 2017.

Book Review

Every single thing about the description for this story had me at hello. The sweetness that shone through the blurb and the obvious love had me yearning and settling down for a beautiful read.

Ellis and Casey are poor in a way I have never experienced so even though I can feel horrible for their situation, I can’t truly empathize. It didn’t mean I couldn’t respect the hell out of them for working as hard as they could and loving each other with every breath they had. Casey grew up poor like this, but this Christmas is extra hard seeing as his mom just passed away, and now they’ll never sit down for her holiday macaroni and cheese dinner, or open another gift of her hand knitted socks. I had tears welling up, trust me.

Casey thinks the scraggly tree Ellis brought home is the most beautiful tree he has ever seen. They don’t have decorations but they rummage up some popcorn kernels, Casey adds a little red food dye, and they decorate that tree with red popcorn strings. Ellis grew up in a home with more money but a lot more hate and bigotry, and he hasn’t spoken to them in over a year. They don’t talk about “that” - Ellis being gay - and they don’t mention Casey’s name. So Ellis is surprised to see his sister when he comes out of work. She’s there to invite him, and only him, to Christmas dinner since their mom is sick. It would appear that time and distance have not changed their ugly dispositions. Ellis gives a gorgeous rendition of “Aw, bless your heart,” that made my Southern heart proud.

I fell completely for Casey and Ellis, and the best thing this season would be if the author wrote them their own, longer story. I loved the ending and showcasing the true meaning of the holiday season. I’m just selfish and really want more of these two. *grins*





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Short Story, 12835 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 07-December-2019
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link