It has been awhile since I read one of Ann Gabhart’s books about the Shakers. I always enjoyed learning about their history and customs in her earlier books. I liked the way she always managed to point out the errors of their religious practices through the story and the experiences of her characters. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed her latest offering.

The Refuge features Darcie Goodwin who feels trapped at Harmony Hill when her husband dies in an accident. She and two other “sisters” share their hopes for being able to live in the outside world again in the future but make the best of things and work hard at the tasks they are given. Two new babies threaten to upset the peaceful life of the community but may actually soften the hearts of more than one leader. The story of Flynn Keller, his young daughter, and his father-in-law is also told as the book progresses and it is interesting to watch as both worlds intersect.

The Refuge has a little of everything I love in a book – plenty of interaction between characters that is both positive and negative, a bit of drama and mystery, a strong emphasis on faith, and of course a bit of romance. I loved seeing their world through the eyes of Gabhart’s characters and found myself hoping for happy endings for all of them. I can truthfully say that I was quite pleased with how everything ended.

Ann H. Gabhart is a very skilled author who brings her characters to life amid vivid settings that spark my imagination. I also must mention the gorgeous cover. Revell’s artists outdid themselves on it. Readers who love historical fiction should pick up a copy, especially if they have not read a book by this author.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Can the power of love and the bond of family triumph in a community that cannot accept either?

With the threat of a cholera epidemic at their heels, Darcie and Walter Goodwin join the Shakers, whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be temporary, but when Walter is killed in a riverboat accident, destitute 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?

Read an excerpt here.


Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, The Innocent, and The Gifted–as well as other historical novels, including Angel Sister, These Healing Hills, and River to Redemption. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dog, Frankie. Learn more at