Christmastime at Papa Lee’s by N.J. Nielsen

leeTitle: Christmastime at Papa Lee’s
Author: N.J. Nielsen
Length: 27,000 words (77 pdf pages)
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: m/m contemporary

Blurb: RSVP by December 20th: You are cordially invited to attend a Christmas celebration at Papa Lee’s.

Casey Chambers isn’t used to kindness; being tossed out onto the street does that to a person. His life takes a turn for the better when he lands a job at Papa Lee’s. Not only does the Lee family give Casey a place to work, they give him a place to call home… And the opportunity to find love with one of their own. But Casey’s burgeoning relationship with Marty Lee is threatened when Marty withdraws after a vicious attack. It’ll take a miracle for Casey to convince Marty they’re meant to be.

Good thing it’s the season for miracles.

Review: This story reads very much like a Hallmark holiday movie, where despite rough times, everything works out neatly at the end, tied up with a Christmas bow. Marty has been crushing on goth boy Casey for the year Casey has been coming into Marty’s family diner. Finally he makes a move, but thanks to the sudden departure of an employee, rather than a date Casey gets roped into helping, which works out since he’s homeless and needs the work.

Before long, when Marty’s family find out Casey’s story, that his family tossed him out on Christmas when he was 16 because he’s gay, they’ve practically adopted him, have him move into Marty’s apartment and then warn Marty to keep his dick in his pants in case things go badly. This despite practically throwing Marty at Casey for ages. This confused me, and Casey once he found out why Marty went from asking him on a date, to shunning him like the plague.

Simultaneously, it seems Marty was gay bashed behind the diner a few weeks ago, and now it happens again, but much more severely and the police (and everyone) suspect there is more to it. As well, Marty is trying to reconcile Casey’s family and they feed the homeless every Christmas. Very much “lifetime movie” material.

In the end, the bad guys are caught, and to not spoil it I was rather raising an eyebrow at the motive, but … Casey is reunited with his family because now his step-mom goes to PFLAG so it’s fine now. Okay, I hold a grudge, but it would be a frosty Friday the day my spouse kicked my child out of the house, for any reason. I know it was supposed to be an “awwww” moment when Casey gets his dad back in his life, but the guy was a dick for letting his 16-year-old be kicked out, and then letting his wife poison other family members so the kid had nowhere to go. Casey has been on the streets homeless for 4 years, I think most would not have had the drug and prostitution-free live he had. I just couldn’t forgive his father for that. *shrug*

So if you don’t mind stories that take things to that perfect over-the-top place there you envision them all standing around the piano singing carols, all reunited with loved ones, bad guys in jail and true love fine, you’ll probably adore this. But I just found it a bit “too” much, but mostly the Casey family storyline left me cold because I didn’t think it was enough, even though he told his step-mom it would be fine, I put more of the blame squarely on his father, which Casey didn’t. But that’s me. :-) Others may find it terribly sweet and love the reunion.

3 thoughts on “Christmastime at Papa Lee’s by N.J. Nielsen

  1. Chris says:

    I just went to add it to my maybe list on GRs and discovered that the author’s one who gives herself 5-star ratings. Um, no.

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