It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. Estranged from her own family, at age 16 she went to work for a preacher and his wife. When his wife died, the preacher convinced Lacey that the only decent thing to do was to marry him. That way she could continue to act as mother to the little girl who was left on his doorstop. But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all off to a Shaker village. There she's still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. And to make matters worse, she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is only a forbidden dream. How will Lacey ever find true happiness?
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Lacey Bishop was taken in by Preacher Elwood Palmer to care for his wife Mona and later baby Rachel when she was left on their doorstep. When Mona died the ladies of the Ebenezer Church didn't think it was right that Lacey and Rachel live with Preacher Palmer unless they were married. Lacey didn't love him, really didn't even care for him but she did love Rachel and she knew that if she didn't marry Preacher Palmer she would lose Rachel. They agreed to be married and Lacey would have some time before she would have to become a real wife to him.
In the mean time the Shaker's came to sell their seeds to the parishioners but they got into a deep discussion with Preacher Palmer, after coming back several days they soon had him convinced to move his family and as many church members that wanted to, to join the Shaker's. He did give Lacey a choice, but if she chose not to go with him, again, she would lose Rachel. Lacey did go with him even though she'd heard they would take Rachel away from her because they don't believe in families in the conventional way, everyone is called brother or sister. The children are kept in one house, the women in one and the men in one.
How is Lacey going to survive, will she ever come around to their way of belief?
I thought the book had a slow start to it, maybe it was just because I was upset with the way Lacey's life was going and when she went to live with the Shaker's it seemed to get worse. As I read I was figuring some things out and then needed to read faster to see if I was right. I am enjoying this series but I really don't agree with the Shaker's belief's, maybe that's what keeps me coming back to try to understand it. I know, at least I think I know, that I could not live the way they do. Anyway, I would recommend this book, this series, yes, please start with the first book, to others. The Shaker's I guess really do amaze me with their ideas.
Lacey Bishop life is in tatters. Alone in the world, she goes to work for a preacher and his wife, and so remains in their employ until the wife passes, her dear Miss Mona. Having no where else to go, she stays with the preacher and the little girl, Rachel that had been left on his doorstep years before. When the women in the parish raise a protest about the improper living conditions of a 20-year-old single girl living with the widowed preacher, Lacey is convinced that she has no other recourse. But even after their marriage, she cannot bring herself to be a true wife to Preacher Palmer. Distraught by his life falling into sin, Preacher Palmer follows the Shakers to their village in Harmony Hill, taking Lacey and Rachel with him. Once there, Lacey embraces the idea of a celibate life, but is confused by her feelings for a young brother named Issac. Will she ever be happy, or will she have to settle for just being blessed with the breath of life?
The one thing that I have to say I am relieved about in this story, is that despite the unnatural marriage of Lacey and the preacher it never truly came to fruition. I know it was due to the Shakers arriving at just the right time, and of course that is due to the writing of Gabhart. But it was a great relief when things turned out the way they did, and I have to admit this 4th installation to the Shaker series sucked me in just as hard and fast as the first three. This book breathes life to it's characters, and makes you feel as if you can take a little walk and simply go meet them. This is a story of a forgotten people in American history; and while we know that they are wrong in some aspects of their beliefs, we can appreciate what they contributed not only to history - but to every person they touched.
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Review 3 for The Blessed, Shaker Series #4
Enjoyed this Shaker story
Date:November 12, 2011
Enjoyed this Shaker story, loved the character of Lacey. Well written, interesting look into the Shaker village. This was my first book about the Shakers and I learned a lot about the community. Wonderful illustration of how important it is to keep grounded in God's Word-the only Truth. Looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
When Lacey was convinced that she needed to marry the preacher, a life style change was not in her plan. She never dreamed she would give up her husband and his child that she came to love. Little did she know that moving to the Shaker village would open secrets that would rock her world.
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 lifestyle, 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 his porch as a baby, but one Lacey loves as her own. 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, hardworking group of people, with stringent rules, and ritualistic type worship. Rachel is immediately taken from her, and she is separated from her husband as well, 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 room over his head. Isaac carries around a burden of guilt over the death of his young wife, and it's only when he meets the lovely Lacey, does the sun begin to shine in his life once again. But for him it is a futile attraction, for not only is Lacey married, but all interaction between the Shaker men and women is strictly forbidden.
As Lacey and Isaac live amongst the Shakers, dark, hidden secrets begin to unfurl, and they 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 visitatations 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 Lacey?...who not only is married, but leaving the Shaker village would mean leaving her Rachel behind.
I was fascinated with this book...the fourth Shaker novel written by Ann Gabhart. It can be read as a stand alone novel without reading the first three, but 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 around 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!
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Review 6 for The Blessed, Shaker Series #4
Date:July 29, 2011
I have never known anything about the Shakers . I love books that inform me of different religions such as Amish and Shakers. It's a very good book and the cover is so pretty.
Ann has done another fantasic job on her Shaker Series. This is book 4 and its amazing, This is one book you will reread over and over, It cover two people lives and their journey in life. You become apart of their lives. You share in their joys, laughter, tears, sorrow and love. Ann dose a amazing job with this series of presenting both side of the shaker community their faith and peace but also their strange religious beliefs and rules. Her writing always leaves you with a messagfe of hope and love. This is one author books are a must in any library or home. you want put this down. You are capture from page 1 till the end and it leaves youwanting more and more. Great job Ann.
The Blessed by Ann Gabhart is the fourth book in her Shaker series. The story covers two people, Lacey and Isaac, each trapped between a rock and a hard place, and living life without hope. Lacey's family was shattered with the death of her mother, and after her father married an abusive woman, she was sent to help out Preacher Palmer's family in another town. Lacey grew to see his wife, Miss Mona, as a mother figure, and when an infant girl was dropped off at their doorstep, the two women raised little Rachel together. But with Miss Mona's death, Lacey feels the preacher's eyes on her all the time until he coerces her into marriage so she can continue to raise Rachel, but she gets him to promise to allow her time before attempting to consummate the marriage. The preacher's frustration fills the house with tension and Lacey with the fear that this is all there is for her life. Isaac Kingston thought his wife Ella was just malingering when she told him that she would die if he took her away from her home. His dreams a life and fortune out West took them far away. Ella's words were prophetic, and Isaac brought his young wife home to be buried. Ella's father is an important judge who is angry at the "murder" of his only child and determines to destroy Isaac, making the young man hide in the forest, starving, homeless, and considering suicide until he meets Brother Asa, a young Shaker man who promises a full belly and a bed to sleep in if he comes to work at the Shaker commune, Harmony Hill. Lacey and Isaac are hurting and lonely and wondering if this is all that God created them for when they find each other. Gabhart has done a terrific job with this series of presenting both sides of the Shaker community, their deep abiding faith, work ethic, and desire for peace, along with the legalistic members and strange rules that seem almost crazy today. Gabhart really gives the reader the opportunity to get to know Lacey and Isaac, aching for their helplessness and hopelessness. Her writing is compelling and poignant and always has a message of faith and hope for readers.
Before reading this book, I can honestly say I didn't know much about the Shakers or their lifestyle. I knew how they got their name but that was about it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and Ann did a great job including the history behind the Shakers but not making it boring. It fit into the story perfectly.
This book is her 4th book in the Shaker series. After reading this one, I'm going to track down the previous 3 to read. The Blessed starts out in the year 184. Lacey Bishop has had a very interesting life which has led her to the point in her life where she has ended up married to the Preacher. However, this was not a marriage of love, but of convenience. After the Preacher was visited by 2 Shaker men, he decides that perhaps this is the life for him since Lacey considers her marriage to him as an abomination. Because Lacey wants to stay with Rachel, her kind of-adopted daughter, she goes to the Shaker village, as well. While there, she discovers Isaac, a man who has entered the Shaker community to find food and shelter. There's one problem, though. In the Shaker beliefs, they are not to marry. Can Lacey find happiness? Will she be able to stay a part of Rachel's life or will the Shaker women take over the raising of her?
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes fiction.
****Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group**** ________________ I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. In return, I was asked to write my honest opinion of this book.
The Blessed by Ann H. Gabhart was my first exposure to the group of people known as the Shakers. I have to say that I found their ideas and way of life pretty strange, but those oddities were an important part of this story set in the mid-19th century.
Isaac Kingston has lost his beloved wife Ella, and the guilt he carries over her death is so strong that he considers ending his own life. Lacey Bishop has had her share of struggles in her young life, and things get much more complicated for her after the death of her “surrogate mother” who taught her so much about God and the Bible.
Through very different sets of circumstances, Isaac and Ella both find themselves moving into a Shaker village, surrounded by strange people with unusual ideas about living, loving and worshiping. They both are hesitant to become Believers and sign the Covenant required for official status as members of the community. In the midst of their reluctance, both become more confident in what they believe and find a strong measure of healing and freedom from their past and present trials.
This is the fourth book in Ann Gabhart’s Shaker Series but easily functions as a stand-alone title. The story was very interesting and engaging, although it seemed to have something of a slow start. There were many intriguing characters who added richness to the story, although at times the cultural/historical information seemed to overshadow them. I did enjoy the book and would be glad to read another by this author.
Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
This book was provided to me free of charge from Revell for my honest review.
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Review 12 for The Blessed, Shaker Series #4
Date:July 14, 2011
I was very interested in reading this book because I wanted to learn more about the Shakers. However, I found it very hard to get into this book. I found it depressing, what with Isaac at a loss after losing his wife and Lacey not wanting to be married to the preacher but not having a choice. But on the other hand, this just shows how proficient the author is at setting the tone of helplessness that the two main authors are facing when we meet them. The Shaker village seems to be the only answer for both of them.
While reading about Lacey and Isaac's brothers and sisters, I was a bit shocked to see the author make some members of the Shaker village seem very nasty. One has to wonder if this is really true. If so, is there any religion that is free of the personality clashes and jealousies of normal human beings? I also was a bit dismayed to see the Shakers so eager to believe in angels, which pushed them more towards cult status in my head.
I really didn't wind up liking this book until the very end, when Lacey realizes that while the Shakers might not for her, she still does have God on her side and can depend up on Him. I like the message that ends this book: God has somebody special in mind for all of us and intends for us to be happy, even if it takes some struggle to get to that point.
Another message from the book that impacted me was that love for a child does not come from birth. While Rachel is not Lacey's child by genetics, in both of their hearts, they are mother and daughter. I greatly appreciated the author including this way of thinking in the novel.
As I said before, The Blessed is #4 of the Shaker Series by Ann H. Gabhart. While I may not go back to read the others, I will be looking forward to Gabhart's future novels.
I received this book in order to provide a review. This did not influence my opinion in any way. All thoughts are 100% my own.
Can you imagine being a young girl leaving your family filled with troubles only to meet new sorrows? We see the heart of a young girl as she leaves her family and moves in with Pastor Elwood Palmer and his wife? This is what happens to Lacey Bishop in the year of 1844. Lacey was caring for the pastor's children, when he loses his wife. The only answer the pastor has is for Lacey and he to marry. Lacey loves sweet Rachel is willing to do anything to stay near her. She has formed a bond with this child and although not her mother, they have a close relationship that connects them together forever.
More heartache seems to come, and Lacey is left with her heart being fond of another, Isaac Kingston. Forbidden love is what Lacey is facing. She is trying to fit into this community, kind of like us trying to fit in and feel accepted in everyday life. We see her heart filled with loneliness. All she wants is to be accepted and loved. Don't we all want that? We get to follow the life of Lacey as she is searching for God's truth. This book is filled with hope. We see the battle that goes on in the heart. We see the love and compassion that Lacey is willing to offer. Lacey is selfless. I admire her character and how she places others before herself.
This is book four of the series. They seem to just keep getting better. Ann H. Gabhart has brought the Shaker community to life for us. These people and their ways are so different and distinct. Can you imagine marriage being a sin? So many things are hard to understand about this community, but Ann gives us a glimpse into understanding a people often misunderstood. I loved this book just as I did the others. Ann brings joy and hope out of sadness and despair. The detail she brings to her writing style is unmatched. If you love Historical Fiction you will love Ann H. Gabhart and all she brings to the pages.
The Blessed is my first introduction into the world of the Shakers. Not what I expected, but author Ann H. Gabhart kept my interest throughout the complete book! Ann, as an accomplished writer, brought out characters that you can relate to in this historical romance. The sorrow, pain, joy, compassion, and love is palpable in each of the specific characters. The love between mother and daughter is so tender and joyful.
The secret, forbidden love interests were heartbreaking at one point and exciting on the other hand. How each character handled the issues is eye-opening, yet very human.
The truth-seeking on the part of the some of the characters is inspiring and encouraging. What makes one person believe and another doubt? It’s a question you will be asking throughout the story.
For a great historical romance, with a peek into the world of the Shakers, this is a book I would highly recommend!
This book was provided by Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant for the Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review and participation in this blog tour.
Lacey Bishop hasn't had an easy life and things get even more difficult when she marries Pastor Elwood Palmer in order to continue caring for Rachel. Though she did not give birth to Rachel, Lacey considers Rachel to be her daughter and would do anything to stay with her. As tensions in the parsonage mount, a move to the Shaker community, where all marital relationships are dissolved, seems like a relief. Unfortunately, the Shakers also believe in dissolving parent-child relationships. Lacey is compelled to stay within the Shaker community to be near Rachel. The strange rules and practices of the Shakers leave Lacey feeling isolated and desperate. When she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a widower living among the Shakers, Lacey struggles with to trust in God. Trapped by obligations, Lacey must fight to keep her faith and hope alive. Will she ever fit in with the Shakers? Can God deliver her and Rachel from this tangled mess? Will she find true love in this unlikely place?
Reading The Blessed by Ann H. Gabhart was an interesting experience for me. I've never read a book about the Shaker religion. Though I don't know much about the history of the Shakers, the book seemed well-researched and included Shaker songs. As a word of warning, this book is much more fiction than romance. Although romance is included, it reads more on the fiction side. I don't mind fiction, so this was okay with me, but I expected more interaction between Lacey and Isaac. Lacey and Isaac are extremely well-developed characters. The author takes the reader deep into their thoughts and feelings without boring the reader with a lack of action. Fans of historical Christian fiction will probably like this book.
Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseeller from Revell, a division of baker Publishing Group.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This book is excellently written. I enjoyed it from the very first page.
Young Lacy Bishop's life was a web of sticky mess that had her tangled in obligations she wanted nothing to do with. Would the Shaker Village be a way out of this mess?
As a young girl Lacy Bishop is sent to live with Mona and Preacher Palmer. There words of truth are spoken into her life and the scripture becomes her strong foundation. However, Mona dies just as Lacy is becoming a young woman and she and the orphaned girl (a baby that had been left on the door step of the Preacher's house) find themselves the center of church gossip. Preacher Palmer takes matters into his hands and convinces Lacy to marry him. Devastated and heartbroken but wanting to stay with the young child she has taken as her own she agrees.
On the other side is Isaac, the young widower of the judge's daughter. His life is turned upside down when his beloved wife dies. As they lay her body in the grave the judge vows to make Isaac's life miserable.
In the end all end up at the Shaker Village, searching for the truth and peace that will set them free. In that village truths are uncovered that rock Lacy's world. In the midst of the strange religion Lacy is pulled ever closer to God as the truth instilled in her by Mona echos in her heart. It is here that all those involved find a new life - and freedom from old things.
Truly an insightful story. I found it to be very eye-opening in regards to the Shaker religion and system of beliefs.
If you desire to learn about the Shaker ways, The Blessed will give you a deep insight into their way of life, beliefs and their views of the outside world.
Set in the mid 1840’s you are introduced to Isaac, a troubled young man. Coming from a broken home the death of his father weighs heavy on his shoulders. He also bares the burden of his wife’s recent death. Distraught and wanting his sorrow to end he encounters a kind Shaker brother who invites him to find peace in their Shaker ways.
Young Lacey’s troubles began when she was sent to live with a preacher to help tend his ailing wife who passes away. Her greatest joy has been to help mother and raise Rachel, an infant left on the preacher’s porch. But life’s twists and turns find Lacey reluctantly living among the Shakers, torn from her daughter because it is their way.
Isaac and Lacy find the Shaker ways unnatural and are unable to embrace their beliefs wholeheartedly. Their attraction to each other is forbidden. Will they ever find the peace they seek or will it slip through the cracks of the Shaker existence?
I found the characters well developed and their struggles realistic. The writing was clear and descriptions easily visualized. For my own personal taste there was too much Shakerism and not enough interaction between Isaac and Lacey to grow a believable relationship
I didn't know much about the Shakers before I read this book and found myself morbidly fascinated by their very different way of worshiping -- and their unique interpretation of the scriptures. At times appalled, amazed, dumbfounded and confused, 'The Blessed' fast became a compelling read.
Gabhart has created intriguing characters -- both hero and heroine are so vulnerable and earnest in their quest to find the Lord and understand His hand in their lives. And what bleak lives they are leading when we first meet them! So much loss and devastating circumstances.
I love Lacey's strength. Her stubbornness and spunk. She never lets go of her heart's desire despite the harsh realities in her life. Gabhart did a fantastic job of portraying that emotion and creating a unique bond between reader and heroine.
And Isaac -- in a way he's not as strong as Lacey. Or at least he thinks he isn't but he's honest about his reasons for being in the Shaker Village. It's his inability to understand the magnitude of forgiveness that has him fettered and I was moved by his journey towards understanding.
Gabhart has done her research and it shows -- especially in the dialogue. I love reading a historical book that carries me back in time and makes me feel like I belong to that other world. 'The Blessed' is an amazing and thought-provoking read that you won't want to miss this summer!
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".
The Blessed is a must read for anyone who wants to get right into the story, I was hooked on the very first page, Ann has a real talent and I really love her writing. The Blessed is a wonderful Christian book to read, I think everyone would enjoy this book and all of her Shaker series books.