The Refuge

Written by Ann H. Gabhart
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

1849. To avoid a cholera epidemic, Darcie and her husband take refuge in the Shaker village of Harmony Hill in rural Kentucky. But before they can move away, Darcie’s husband dies in a boating accident, leaving her penniless and pregnant with nowhere else to go. She stays with the Shakers, following their rules, even though she does not agree with much of their teachings, in particular the ideas that the husband-and-wife relationship is sinful and that everyone, including parents and children, should live as “sisters and brothers.” Darcie worries about what will happen once her child is born. Widower Flynn Keller lives with his father-in-law, Silas, and young daughter, Leatrice, near Harmony Hill. The men struggle with cooking and raising a girl without the aid of a female. Without talking to Flynn, Silas marries a horrible woman who causes more problems than she solves.

This is an interesting romance as the reader can see that Darcie and Flynn are perfect for one another. Both need a spouse; both are loving, faithful, righteous Christians. But how will they meet? The Shakers have strict rules keeping men and women separate. The Refuge is an enjoyable read with realistic and endearing characters, engaging conflict, and a fascinating setting. Much information is provided about the Shaker religion and community, in an honest and respectful way. Another enjoyable Christian romance by Ann Gabhart.