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Review of the Refuge by Ann Gabhart   Leave a comment

When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, Darcie has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village. Marital relationships are considered sinful in this celibate community, putting Darcie in a unique–and lonely–position. Can the arrival of widower Flynn Keller and his headstrong daughter offer Darcie the hope of happiness . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family.

***

Darcie and William are fleeing a cholera epidemic and hope to escape the dreadful disease by taking shelter with the Shakers. When William is killed in an accident, Darcy is left alone in a community that forbids marriage and worse, is now pregnant—a visible sign as to the consequences of the ultimate “sin”. With nowhere to go and little money, she sees no other options left to her other than to stay with the Shakers and hope they have mercy on her.

Flynn Keller is still grieving for his wife and struggling to manage his headstrong daughter Leatrice who seems fixed on getting into mischief. After losing his wife because of that same impulsive behavior, he’s determined not to have his daughter killed because of some reckless act on her part. But he needs to give both of them a decent home to stay in and Leatrice needs to learn how to read and write. He doesn’t like it, but the Shakers are looking like the only people he can go to for help.

Honestly, the story turned out better than I expected. It was interesting to read about the Shaker community, even if you were left scratching your head as to how they could have accepted some weird thinking.
The characters Ann Gabhart introduced us to were solid and real. I liked the Shaker women who befriended Darcy, and it was wonderful to read how the birth and taking care of Darcy’s baby brought them even closer and softened the hearts of even the hardest person. A major point of the story is learning not to worry, to take each day as it comes and trust God to work it out, despite what the circumstances look like.

My only quibble is with the romance between the two main characters. I already suspected the author was going to rush it at the end when I reached the three-quarter mark in the book and there was still nothing going on. And then close to the end, a Shazam! is pulled. And you can guess the rest. 😛

While something more natural would have been preferred, this was still a great story to read and one I recommend if you’re looking for solid characters and writing, with a good plot that will keep you turning the pages.

Verdict: Definite buy.

(I received a free copy of the book from the publisher and author from the blogging program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.)

 

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