The Gifted

Written by Ann H. Gabhart
Review by Liz Allenby

Set in 1849, this novel provides another addition to Ann Gabhart’s Shaker series. This narrative continues to follow the lives of various young women as they adjust to the customs within a Shaker Village. Jessamine Brady is accustomed to the restrictive lifestyle in Shaker society. She dreams about life outside the village and is curious about it. She enjoys the dancing at services, minds her superiors, and succeeds in following religious celibacy. That is, until she and her fellow Shakers discover a wounded man in the woods. In the process of rescuing him and tending his wounds, she rides him home behind her on her horse, his body embracing her own. From that moment she cannot stop thinking about Tristan Cooper, and he is also captivated by her.

Although the introduction seems slow, the pace quickens after the encounter between Jessamine and Tristan. The author is deliberate in her placement of historical detail, and she displays a meticulous knowledge of Shaker life and customs. Ann Gabhart succeeds in bringing to life a love story between two people from very different worlds indeed.