Lacey Bishop was taken in by Preacher Elwood Palmer to care for his wife Mona and later baby Rachel when she was left on their doorstep. When Mona died the ladies of the Ebenezer Church didn't think it was right that Lacey and Rachel live with Preacher Palmer unless they were married. Lacey didn't love him, really didn't even care for him but she did love Rachel and she knew that if she didn't marry Preacher Palmer she would lose Rachel. They agreed to be married and Lacey would have some time before she would have to become a real wife to him.
In the mean time the Shaker's came to sell their seeds to the parishioners but they got into a deep discussion with Preacher Palmer, after coming back several days they soon had him convinced to move his family and as many church members that wanted to, to join the Shaker's. He did give Lacey a choice, but if she chose not to go with him, again, she would lose Rachel. Lacey did go with him even though she'd heard they would take Rachel away from her because they don't believe in families in the conventional way, everyone is called brother or sister. The children are kept in one house, the women in one and the men in one.
How is Lacey going to survive, will she ever come around to their way of belief?
I thought the book had a slow start to it, maybe it was just because I was upset with the way Lacey's life was going and when she went to live with the Shaker's it seemed to get worse. As I read I was figuring some things out and then needed to read faster to see if I was right. I am enjoying this series but I really don't agree with the Shaker's belief's, maybe that's what keeps me coming back to try to understand it. I know, at least I think I know, that I could not live the way they do. Anyway, I would recommend this book, this series, yes, please start with the first book, to others. The Shaker's I guess really do amaze me with their ideas.
Lacey Bishop life is in tatters. Alone in the world, she goes to work for a preacher and his wife, and so remains in their employ until the wife passes, her dear Miss Mona. Having no where else to go, she stays with the preacher and the little girl, Rachel that had been left on his doorstep years before. When the women in the parish raise a protest about the improper living conditions of a 20-year-old single girl living with the widowed preacher, Lacey is convinced that she has no other recourse. But even after their marriage, she cannot bring herself to be a true wife to Preacher Palmer. Distraught by his life falling into sin, Preacher Palmer follows the Shakers to their village in Harmony Hill, taking Lacey and Rachel with him. Once there, Lacey embraces the idea of a celibate life, but is confused by her feelings for a young brother named Issac. Will she ever be happy, or will she have to settle for just being blessed with the breath of life?
The one thing that I have to say I am relieved about in this story, is that despite the unnatural marriage of Lacey and the preacher it never truly came to fruition. I know it was due to the Shakers arriving at just the right time, and of course that is due to the writing of Gabhart. But it was a great relief when things turned out the way they did, and I have to admit this 4th installation to the Shaker series sucked me in just as hard and fast as the first three. This book breathes life to it's characters, and makes you feel as if you can take a little walk and simply go meet them. This is a story of a forgotten people in American history; and while we know that they are wrong in some aspects of their beliefs, we can appreciate what they contributed not only to history - but to every person they touched.
Enjoyed this Shaker story, loved the character of Lacey. Well written, interesting look into the Shaker village. This was my first book about the Shakers and I learned a lot about the community. Wonderful illustration of how important it is to keep grounded in God's Word-the only Truth. Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
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!