A Shaker romance sounds like a nonstarter idea for a novel, since the Shakers, a socially revolutionary religious sect, practiced celibacy. But therein lies the tension in this historical romance, Gabhart's second Shaker outing (after The Outsider). Raised by Shakers since the age of six, when he ran away from his river rat father, Ethan Boyd is a Believersomeone who has signed a covenant to join the Shakers. But he's thrown into emotional turmoil when Elizabeth Duncan and her two younger siblings, following the sudden death of their father, seek refuge in 1833 at Harmony Hill, the Shaker community in Kentucky where Ethan lives. Elizabeth is also escaping from a predatory landlord with designs on her. A number of supporting characters are well drawn, including Elizabeth's siblings Payton and Hannah and the kind Shaker, Issachar, Ethan's benefactor. Other characters are more like caricaturesElizabeth's landlord is an Oilcan Harry, mustache-twirling kind of villain. On balance, the book rings with researched authenticity and will appeal to Amish romance fans. (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.