As I wing my way to Orlando to attend the 30th Romance Writers of America Conference, I thought I would leave you with a new review.
Author Ann H. Gabhart takes us into the Shaker Community Harmony Hill in Kentucky at the outbreak of the Civil War. This was the first time I had ever read about this community of believers and I have to say, it was very, very different for me. They did not believe in marriage or families which just baffles me given the scriptural dictates for such. They believed that we were all called to live as "brothers and sisters" serving the common good. The author has done extensive research to portray the sect believable and I think she is quite successful.
Charlotte Vance is a young woman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers--a religious group that does not marry--she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte's sister, it is more than she can bear. With the country--and her own household--on the brink of civil war, this pampered gentlewoman hatches a plan to avoid her new stepmother and win back her man by joining the Shaker community at Harmony Hill. Little does she know that this decision will lead her down a road toward unforeseen peace--and a very unexpected love. Ann H. Gabhart brings alive the strikingly different worlds of the Southern gentry, the simple Shakers, and the ravages of war to weave a touching story of love, freedom, and forgiveness that sticks with readers long after they have turned the last page.
Charlotte is a very determined young woman who has an intense need to control her world. When she feels she has no other choice, she runs away and joins the Shaker Community. While I was reading this novel, I came to understand that Ms. Gabhart uses the Shaker Community and all their rules as a device to break down Charlotte's outer wall and bring her to a closer understanding for the Father's love for her and the path He wants her to follow. She is challenged in what she truly believes. She seeks to be loved and accepted for who she is. She finally finds that acceptance in our hero, illustrator Adam Wade, of Harper's Weekly.
Adam is an artist who struggles with his belief in God or His precepts. He sees the world in a detached manor as his canvas and finds it's easier to remain distant in his relationships. He is drawn to Charlotte's feisty nature and her determined heart. While they are separated by circumstance, Adam comes to understand through their war time correspondence, the divine plan and seeks a relationship with God and his beautiful Charlotte.
The setting is stunning and the glimpse into daily Shaker life fascinating. The letters written between the two tug at the readers heart strings as they take us back to a time of great destruction and strife in our country's history. Ms. Gabhart's description of the devastating effects of war are heart wrenching and incredibly graphic and quite well done. She weaves the stories of slaves, politicians and Shakers alike into a tale of survival and perseverance.
I think this book is aptly titled. The characters are seeking a better life, peace for their towns and country, a true love as well as a relationship with God that does not waiver. Isn't it what we all seek?
Labels: Mary's Book Basket