17 August 2011

Diana's Corner - The Blessed by Ann H. Gabhart









Book Review by Diana Flowers

4 1/2 stars~

Fascinating Read!





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 life-style, 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 her porch as a baby, but one Lacey loves as much as if she had given birth to her. 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, but hardworking group of people, with stringent rules and ritualistic type worship. Rachel is immediately taken from her, and she is separated from her husband also, 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 roof over his head. Isaac carries around a burden of guilt over the death of his young wife, and only when he meets the lovely Lacey, does the sun begin to shine in his life again. But for him, it is a futile attraction, for not only is Lacey married, but all interaction between the Shaker men and women are strictly forbidden. 

As Lacey and Isaac live amongst the Shakers, dark, hidden secrets begin to unfurl, and they both 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 visitations 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 the very married Lacey, when to leave the Shaker village behind means leaving her beloved little Rachel?



I was totally fascinated with this book...the 4th Shaker novel written by Ann Gabhart. It is not a series and can be read as a stand alone novel without reading the first three, although 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 on 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!


Giveaway: Leave a comment either here on Diana's review or on Carrie's interview with Ann (previous post) for a chance to win a copy of one of Ann's books (your choice in either Kindle or paperback!)  

28 comments:

  1. Welcome to OTT everyone! I am so looking forward to all of your comments and to see who will win one of Ann's books! A treat to be sure!

    Thank you, Carrie, for the beautiful cover image and the posting!

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  2. Thanks for the review, Diana. It's always interesting to hear what others think about your books. Glad you were able to give Lacey's story a thumbs up.

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  3. Thanks, Ann! I don't know where everyone is...normally I have lots of comments by now on a books this great.

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  4. Entering comment for sis-in-law who isn't able to...

    I would love to read this book! Thank you for the review and for the opportunity to win!

    Barbara Smith~

    thatoldgal@gmail.com

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  5. I love Anne's books.

    I would love to win a copy of her latest, The Blessed!

    Thank you for this review and giveaway.

    Blessings!
    judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  6. You're welcome, Judy! Good luck to you!

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  7. I guess everybody is trying to sneak one last big of vacation fun in before school starts or maybe school has already started and they're trying to figure out everybody's schedule. Been there, done that, but now my kids are the ones who have to do that for my grandkids.

    Hi, Judy. Thanks for coming over to leave a comment. Good luck in the drawing.

    And hi to you too, Barbara. Anybody with an email address like yours has to be a fun person. :)

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  8. It would be an honor to read any of Ann's books. The desolation of suicide hit our family just over two years ago when our 20 year old grandson hung himself. The questions never stop..the ones we ask God and of ourselves. Thank you for this giveaway and for the chance to win one of these wonderful books.

    A Christian Sister,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

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  9. Oh Barb, I am so sorry to hear about what happened with your grandson. It is so difficult when someone has severe depression. We just don't know. I am so grateful that a close family member is still with us (multiple hospitalizations). I pray for healing in your family, too, Barb.

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  10. Oh, Barb, knowing how I feel about my grandsons, my heart just aches for you. I'm so sorry. Many things we question, and we just won't know the answers 'til we reach the other side. Bless you, dear!

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  11. Hi Diana
    Once again you have done a superb job on this review. Sure would like to win this and now that I have a KINDLE (woohoo) I could get that version. LOL! tsmathews61@gmail.com

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  12. WOOHOO is right, Teresa! Now that is a direct answer to prayer; we prayed that God would make a way for Teresa to get a Kindle!! He promised to meet our needs, but He is so loving that He gives us our wants, too, at times, just to bless us!

    Oh, and thank you BTW.:)

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  13. I'm so sorry about your grandson, Barb. So many sorrows in life. May the Lord comfort you and the rest of your family as only He can.

    Thanks for coming by to leave a comment. And for sharing your sorrow. It's often hard for us to talk about such tragedies in our lives, but in sharing we can find support and healing.

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  14. Hi, Teresa.

    Thanks for reading the interview and congrats on your new Kindle. And the answered prayer. The Lord blesses us with so many good things.

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  15. Great review! Sounds very intriguing. We've visited a Shaker village in Kentucky back in 2000, that was the first time I ever heard of them. Interesting people.
    twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

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  16. Thanks, Pegg! Ann's Shaker books ARE very intriguing, and I'm sure your visit to a Shaker village was as well! I ran out of books as a young girl and went through my mom's, and found a fiction book of the Shakers. I was enthralled, as I had never heard of them either. So I was thrilled when Ann wrote her first Shaker novel!

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  17. Hi, Pegg. You might have visited the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. That's the one I use as the physical model for my Shaker village, Harmony Hill, but I researched all the Shaker villages spread throughout the East and KY and Ohio and Indiana.

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  18. I've heard so many wonderful things about Ann's books. I'm adding this one to my wish list!

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  19. Jill, it is so good to "see" you here! You are officially entered!

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  20. Grateful to be on your wish list, Jill.

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  21. This looks like a great book! I'm intrigued! shondaet@gmail.com (paperback)

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  22. All of Ann's Shaker books are so intriguing, Shonda. I think I got hooked with the first one which was The Outsider (I believe), and have read all of them! Thank you for your comment and good luck!

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  23. A writer always hopes to tell an intriguing story, Shonda and Diana. But really it's my characters who have to be intriguing and then they go out and live the story for me.

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  24. I was SO IMPRESSED and BLESSED by the Outsider that I'd LOVE to read another of Ann's Shaker books.
    Pam Williams
    cepjwms at wb4me dot com

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  25. Pamela, thanks so much. Your comment is a blessing to me. It's good to share blessings all around. Good luck in the drawing.

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  26. Welcome to Overcoming Through Time, Pamela! I'm with you on The Outsider! Even though, I have loved and read all of Ann's Shaker books, the thing I love about them as well, is that they can be read as stand alone novels. So you don't have to read the previous book to know what's going on, although I would strongly encourage everyone to do so...they're all great!

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  27. Congrats to Judy Strunk Burgi for winning a copy of one of Anne's great books!

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