The Blessed by Ann M. Gabhart is a fascinating look into the Shakers, a religious sect particularly active between the 1830’s-1860’s. Since the Shakers believed that Christ’s earthly return was going to happen in their lifetimes, the Shakers forbid their community to marry and have children. With such a practice in place, it is no wonder that Shaker movement, for the most part, died out in a generation and a half. In the fourth of her Shaker-inspired books, Gabhart not only offers a great deal of fascinating history, but a pressing question—what happens when you fall in love with the Shaker guy or gal of your dreams? That, my friends, is called “plot tension.”
However, this plot, though well-written, doesn’t have a lot of tension. The steamy looks and wonton desire between Lacey Bishop, a pastor’s wife (in name only) and widower Isaac Kingston don’t really classify this as a “romance,” which might tick off some readers. However, I was just fine with Lacey and Isaac’s relationship and found the history and cultish practices of the Shakers to be even more interesting. Fans of pre-Civil War historical fiction will undoubtedly enjoy this book as much as I did. (The Blessed is set in the mid-1840’s).
Gabhart is a fantastic writer, and I am eager to read more of her work, particularly Angel Sister. If you want to learn more about the Shakers and don’t feel like picking up a dusty old history book, The Blessed is well-researched, fascinating, and a good read—just don’t expect a lot of romance.
*With thanks to Revell for my review copy. Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*