4 Stars Out Of 5
August 2, 2011
Ann H. Gabhart takes us on a fascinating journey into the world of the Shakers, a religious sect in the 1800s, who believed in a utopian type of lifestyle, communal living, visitations from angelic beings, and no marriage or family ties. Lacey Bishop agrees to marry her widowed preacher, almost twice her age, to help her take care of Rachel, a child who was left on his porch as a baby, but one Lacey loves as her own. Immediately, Lacey realizes her mistake, but knows she must keep her vows to the elderly man, even if those vows take her to a nearby Shaker village. There Lacey encounters a strange, hardworking group of people, with stringent rules, and ritualistic type worship. Rachel is immediately taken from her, and she is separated from her husband as well, as Shakers did not believe in family ties and regarded marriage as a sin.
Isaac Kingston, a widower and a victim of circumstance as well, finds himself in the Shaker village also, but only to put food in his stomach and a room over his head. Isaac carries around a burden of guilt over the death of his young wife, and it's only when he meets the lovely Lacey, does the sun begin to shine in his life once again. But for him it is a futile attraction, for not only is Lacey married, but all interaction between the Shaker men and women is strictly forbidden.
As Lacey and Isaac live amongst the Shakers, dark, hidden secrets begin to unfurl, and they must find their way to the one true God, a God of grace and not of rules, a loving God who ordained the sanctity of marriage and family.
Who is Sister Aurelia, who supposedly receives visitatations from the angels, and what does she have against Lacey? What dark secrets are exposed in this seemingly peaceful, loving community? What does the future hold for Isaac and Lacey?...who not only is married, but leaving the Shaker village would mean leaving her Rachel behind.
I was fascinated with this book...the fourth Shaker novel written by Ann Gabhart. It can be read as a stand alone novel without reading the first three, but I highly recommend those as well. Ann stayed true to the reality of a Shaker's life and therefore the romance was downplayed between Lacey and Isaac, and centered more around the drama of living in a Shaker's world. Beautifully and realistically written, Ann has given us a fair look at the Shaker lifestyle...the good AND the bad. Beautifully done, Ann!