Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings by Nell Iris

Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings by Nell Iris
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short story (46 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Christmas is coming, and young couple Casey and Ellis are very much in love. Unfortunately, they’re also the definition of dirt poor, and they don’t have the money for nonessentials like decorations. Or a turkey. Or gifts. Between the recent death of Casey’s beloved momma and Ellis’s 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 away outside his workplace and brings it home to Casey, things look up. Life is still a struggle, but wealth isn’t always measured in money, and what seems worthless to others is often invaluable to the people who love it.

Casey and Ellis might be practically broke, but for the first time in Casey’s life, they’ve managed to get a Christmas tree – something that Casey is eternally grateful to Ellis for. They string red-dyed popcorn to decorate the tree and both Casey and Ellis use their ingenuity and buckets of love to find Christmas presents for each other.

This is a really sweet and heart-warming Christmas story. It reminded me strongly that a lot of the Christmas season really is your attitude and how you work with what you have. Ellis and Casey might be skint budget-wise, but they have so much love and joy in each other, and their simple gifts to each other has so much thought and love soaked into it that I can’t imagine anyone would think they are anything but emotionally rich. All too often the consumerism consumes Christmas and I found this short story to be refreshingly different and a good reminder that one doesn’t need a stack of money to enjoy the holiday.

While at times bitter-sweet, this emotional story was just so delicious I read it all in one sitting – desperate to know what happened next in the lead up to Casey and Ellis’ Christmas Day. While the two men have a very loving and committed relationship, there’s only one sex scene – the focus of the story being more about Casey and Ellis’ day-to-day life and their lead up to Christmas. I found the whole story interesting, emotional, romantic and best of all a lovely representation of two men who adore each other but have no money and find ways to still celebrate Casey’s favorite holiday of the year together.

Full of lovely warm-fuzzy feelings and two interesting, layered characters this is a great short story and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Recommended.


  1. Thank you very much for this lovely review!! 🙂

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