Gabbi Reviews: Sylvan by Jan Irving

Title: Sylvan
Author: Jan Irving
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 239
Characters: Multiple
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Sylvan Collection, Western, Contemporary
Kisses: 4


Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella.

The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected.

With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract.

A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves.

When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces.


Sylvan by Jan Irving is a collection of stories written about heroes who live in the same small town America. I admit, I’ve read these stories before and really enjoyed the characters Ms. Irving created, so I was very interested in revisiting these characters and enjoying a new short featuring these characters.

One of reasons why I enjoyed this book was the well-written and interesting characters Ms. Irving created. Each and every person really brings something special to the stories and it’s easy to get wrapped up into the story they have to tell.

In the first story, Sylvan, we meet Mal who is returning to Sylvan to mourn the death of his beloved grandmother. Due to an injury, Mal’s life has been turned upside down. Once a Olympic swimmer, Mal is grieving both over the loss of his grandmother and a dream that is now lost forever. When he meets, Leif, he is intensely attracted to the quiet and sexy man. But any kind of relationship with Leif brings complications. Leif is the main caretaker of his ill father and having any kind of future with him will bring a lot of complicated responsibilities that Mal isn’t sure he’s ready to deal with in his life.

What I liked about this story was the chemistry between the two heroes. Though they are really drawn to each other, they both know they come with baggage that they aren’t sure they want to share with the other person. I enjoyed watching these two men work through these issues and liked the way they soon began to fit each other into their lives. In some ways, I would have liked the story to have been a little more fleshed out, but that’s what we get with short stories. All in all it is a good and solid read and I really liked it.

3 out of 5 Kisses for Sylvan

Luke is a story about Luke Walker who is a young cowboy who suddenly has the custody of his baby daughter. In the beginning of the story, Luke is a more than a little lost as to what to do with his life. He wants to be a good father, but his financial instability and the suddenness of having another life under his sole responsibility has thrown him into a ball of worry and confusion. When Luke stumbles across the local doctor’s land, Morgan, he is immediately taken in and given the opportunity to work for him so he and his daughter will have a warm roof over their heads.

Luke is confused by the sudden attraction and feelings he has for Morgan. Morgan is a sweet man who has a big heart and Luke finds himself really drawn to him. But as Luke and Morgan continue to live together and a relationship develops, Luke soon has to decide what kind of life he wants to live for both him and his daughter.

Luke is one of the strongest stories in the series. It was easy to see the conflict both of these two men had as they struggle to see how they fit into each other’s lives. I really liked both heroes and enjoyed the heated chemistry they had together. These two men were heroes that I really wanted to find their happy ending together and I enjoyed the journey they had to achieve their happy ending.

4 out of 5 Kisses for Luke

Nathaniel is my favorite story in the collection. Nathaniel is a man who enjoys having a good time. As a cowboy, he both works and plays hard and in general loves life. When a quiet, conservative man, Aaron and his son, begin to work at the ranch, Nathaniel can’t help but take notice. Aaron has left his Mennonite community to start a new life for him and his mute son, and Nathaniel is both attracted and fascinated by the somber man.

When Aaron’s son is bullied at school, Nathaniel takes it on himself to help both Aaron and his son out. I really loved how these two men come together and truly develop a strong friendship and an eventual family together. Though they are very opposite of one another, they truly form a bond between them that was easy to see why they were made for each other.

5 out of 5 Kisses for Nathaniel

Luke’s Baby

In the last story, Luke’s Baby, we revisit Luke and Morgan. Luke’s daughter is in the hospital in critical condition and this puts Luke and Morgan’s relationship into an uproar.

What I really liked about this story was realistic portrayal of how sometimes we get wrapped up into our own life and problems, causing us not to always be aware of what our significant other may be going through. Out of all of the stories, I really enjoyed watching the growth Luke goes through and the way these two men form a bond that will not be broken.

4.5 out of 5 Kisses for Luke’s Baby

Sylvan is a collection of well-written, sexy stories that is a highly enjoyable read from start to finish. Ms. Irving really gets to the heart and soul of her characters and this collection of stories is real easy to recommend.


Reviewed By: Gabbi

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