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    2.5 stars- Rounded up to 3

    Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings was one of those shorts I thought I’d like more than I did. As much as I love a heartwarming story filled with sweet moments, I’ll fully admit I’m choosy about what level of sweet I can handle. Once a plot gets cutesy, I tend to disengage, and I think that’s what happened here. Ellis and Casey are two younger men struggling to make ends meet. Though they don’t have much in the way of physical belongings, it’s clear they share a pure love and have hearts overflowing with Christmas spirit. And yet, I found this story a little lacking. I liked Ellis and Casey quite a bit and found their love wholesome and fairly endearing. The stories of their childhood friendship were incredibly sweet and it was obvious their feelings for one another ran deep. However, the cheese factor and some of the interactions between the two felt artificially cute, rather than simple and sweet, and it took me out of the story. There was definitely a good amount of steam in this story, especially compared to the other advent stories I’ve read thus far, so I’m sure many readers will be happy with the sexy scene. Unfortunately, I felt so removed from the story at that point that it left me feeling more “meh” than wowed. Simply put, Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings wasn’t my style and would be better suited for those looking for low conflict, toothache-inducing sweet holiday stories. Because it was more about my personal preference rather than the writing style or characters, I’m rounding up for my rating. *Reviewed for Alpha Book Club*

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