Friday, March 11, 2011


Title: Nathaniel
Author: Jan Irving
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL:
ISBN: 978-1-61581-724-5
Genre: {M/M} Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Nymphs
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Rose Nymph

Aaron King is at his wit’s end, trying to unravel the bonds that son Samuel has tied himself up in since the tragedy that forced the pair to leave their strict Mennonite community. Luckily, he’s been able to find a place for them both at the Rocking M ranch, serving food to the cowboys and tending to the garden. It would be a lonely existence, if it wasn’t for the glimpses of Happy Nathaniel dancing in the dust and living up to his name every day. Nathaniel can see the sadness in the father’s eyes and instinctively wants to do whatever it takes to soothe the man’s pain. As Nate and Aaron work hard to free young Samuel from the ties that bind, the men start to realize that they can help each other, in more ways than one.

Nathaniel, a spin off from the author’s titles Luke and Sylvan, focuses on Happy Nathaniel’s evolving relationship with ranch cook Aaron and his son Samuel. The characters in this story are really strong. I felt the anguish in poor Aaron’s increasingly desperate attempts to reach out to his son, and the fact that he would deny his own wants and needs to insure his son’s happiness really tugged at the heartstrings. Nathaniel was the perfect gentleman who was patient and understanding of the father’s situation, but still passionate and able to make Aaron feel wanted, which were all very endearing traits.

However, I couldn’t help but get mixed messages about the genre of the book. The writing seemed a little confused, as if this was meant to be a historical piece. Rather than coming across as one Mennonite character having difficulty adjusting to life away from his community, the style of writing created a sense of all the characters living in the past. Most of the time, I forgot that this was contemporary, which made the few occurrences of modern sayings seem out of place and awkward. That being said, the sweetness of the story was more than enough to keep my interest.

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