Poor Justin. Nothing has gone right for him in a very long time. His dream of pursing art in college came to a screeching halt when his dad was diagnosed with cancer and he had to take over the family hardware business. Then a mega store opened right down the street, taking the few customers that were once faithful to the small business, making it sink into the red and causing Justin to worry over the store’s future. If all that was not enough, coming home to find his boyfriend with another man put the final nail in the coffin. Now, Justin must go to Christmas festivities with the family and pretend everything isn’t falling apart. It’s there, at his family home, that Justin is confronted with a painful reminder of his past, the boy he once loved and imagined he would spend the rest of his life with, the one who never returned his emails or calls and cut him out of his life.
Isabelle Adler has given us a novella of hope and second chances with the release of her Christmas story, Irises in the Snow. Admitting you have failed to keep the family business afloat is one thing, but Justin not only failed at that, but at just about everything else in his life. To say he is at an all-time low is not exaggerating. But when he sees that his mother has invited an old friend—once his boyfriend—to Christmas dinner, Justin can hardly contain the hope that surges inside him. Perhaps he and Elliot can reconnect and have what they once wished for—a life together with each other. Then reality comes crashing in and Justin must face his anger at Elliot, who refused to speak with him after the sudden death of his parents, firmly closing the door on their love forever. Alongside that was the realization that being a part of the art world he once loved was just no longer a possibility. Justin is trapped and Elliot has a life miles away and will soon be out of reach once more.
There were some wonderful elements in this story. The idea that both Elliot and Justin have never really forgotten their deep feelings for each other and still dream about being together was very nicely done. The author allows reality to guide those expectations and it feels like the time for those dreams has come and gone, but then the story twists and brings about an unexpected ending that is really lovely. I do think the swift resolution to what seemed like some insurmountable problems was a bit unrealistic, but this is a Christmas story and miracles are to be expected, after all.
Irises in the Snow is a sweet Christmas novella that I think others may enjoy. The idea that love can survive despite time and distance gives this story such a hopeful bent and will satisfy the romantic in us all.