Monday, July 11, 2011
It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. Estranged from her own family, at age 16 she went to work for a preacher and his wife. When his wife died, the preacher convinced Lacey that the only decent thing to do was to marry him. That way she could continue to act as mother to the little girl who was left on his doorstop.
But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all off to a Shaker village. There she's still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. And to make matters worse, she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is only a forbidden dream. How will Lacey ever find true happiness?
Readers will find themselves engrossed in this heartrending tale of commitment and forgiveness, the latest from popular author Ann H. Gabhart.
Having worked in the home of a preacher for many years and being very close to his wife and caring for the child left on his doorstep, Lacey is unprepared when Preacher Palmer pressures her into marriage after the death of his wife. Her love for young Rachel pushes her into accepting his offer. When the preacher suddenly moves them all to a Shaker village, Lacey has no choice but to go along.
As she struggles to understand this new faith and what might have drawn the preacher into it, she meets others who touch her life in ways she never could have anticipated. Romantic love and marriage are forbidden by the Shakers, but Lacey and Isaac must find their own way and discover whether they should stay in Harmony Hill or if their path takes them away from the community. Like all of us, Lacey and Isaac must learn what purpose God has for them, individually.
I've enjoyed Ann H. Gabhart's Shaker series. This is a people that truly fascinates me. What I have appreciated most in these books, is that that she doesn't ever put down or ridicule the Shaker religion. There are many faiths that are misunderstood or feared (my own included) and writers of religious fiction often have a point or purpose that is to make readers judge or dislike those religions. They have their characters join a religion only to find that they ultimately don't believe it or want to follow it. Their experiences are always negative and the faith is criticized and put down. While Ann's characters often end up leaving the Shaker religion to go back out into the world, the religion itself is never ridiculed by her characters. They learn that they must follow their own path, but they always respect those whose path is different. This is so refreshing.
An enjoyable book and one I can easily recommend. While part of a series, all the books stand alone.
Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ann H. Gabhart here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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