The Refuge by Ann Gabhart, Book Review and Recipe

The Refuge by storyteller extraordinaire, author Ann Garbart, is a delicious serving of Christian historical romance.  Set in the Shaker Village at Harmony Hill, Kentucky in 1850’s, this 391 page paperback is wonderful!  I found it to be a page turning delight.

If you are not familiar with the Shaker religion, this book will give you a quick lesson.  I love fiction books that teach me new things.  However, this time I was well acquainted with the strange sect that believed in celibacy and did not believe in marriage.  I still shook my head in disbelief and was frustrated with them even though I knew what to expect.

Author Gabhart has a magical way with telling a tale.  Actually, it is a God given talent.  Her words are woven together and I am spellbound.  Within the first few paragraphs I am walking inside the book and captivated.  She teaches me things that I don’t know and always has a healthy dose of faith and inspiration included in the story.  These are two of my favorite things, actually must haves, in historical Christian fiction.

This book has been well researched.  The author knows a lot about the Shakers, and it is evident she has visited their historic village.  Characters are very well defined and easy to imagine.  I loved feisty Leatrice, daughter of widower Flynn.  Darcie caught my heart and my emotions.  At times I felt trapped like she did with the Shakers.  The variety of personalities in the Shaker sisters was delightful and true to life, I’m certain.

This is a book about romance, faith, trusting God, and friendship.  There are some twists and turns to keep readers on their toes.  Book Clubs will need to come up with their own discussion questions as it does not include any.

I highly recommend this well written novel.  Learning about the Shakers is worth reading it, but there is so much more to glean.  I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review.  These are my own, honest thoughts.



About the Book:


When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, 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 . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family.

About the Author:


Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, 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

Recipe Time by Nyla Kay:

My paternal grandparents lived near Shaker Town so I have many memories of going there to eat with them.  Among the recipes I accumulated is this one for Shaker Lemon Pie.  It is so tasty and very different.  The key is to slice your lemons extremely thin.

Shaker Lemon Pie

  • 2 lemons (about 9 oz. each), sliced paper thin (rind and all)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 double pie crust


Combine lemon slices and sugar in a shallow bowl; let stand until lemon slices are juicy, 4 hours or overnight. Remove any seeds that float to the surface.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir eggs into lemon mixture thoroughly.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with 1 pie crust. Pour lemon mixture into shell. Cover with top crust, and crimp edges. Cut decorative steam vents in top crust.

Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. Without removing pie from oven, reduce temperature to 350°F. Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cover pie crust edges with aluminum foil, if becoming too brown.



Find a Book Friday: River to Redemption by Ann Gabhart

River to Redemption was magnificent.  From the beginning pages I was enthralled.  Dishes piled up, chores went undone, but I could not put this masterpiece down.  I loved most everything about it.  Set in Springfield, Kentucky during 1833 the author tackles commoners’ views on slavery and abolition.  The fiction tale is rich with history, beginning with the tragic cholera epidemic.  Women’s rights, attire, and what society deemed proper were at times unbelievable, but rang true to stories I had heard from my grandmother who was raised in Kentucky.
The characters, both main and secondary, are fabulous.  We first meet seven year Adria Starr and quickly it is twelve years later and she is a young lady.  Adria is a feisty southern young lady with a mind of her own and a huge heart.  Two young men are after her hand, but Adria has many things on her mind as well as in her heart.  Prim and proper Ruth is a character that like Adria lost family to cholera.  They become a family out of necessity.  A new young minister comes and with him good instruction on praying.
Louis is the slave that rescues Adria at the beginning of the book and helps the entire town of Springfield.  His faith is as strong as his big heart.  His master is an old man and when he becomes ill things look grim for Louis.  Aunt Tilda is a sassy cook that brings life and laughter to the book.  She was one of my favorites along with a well-meaning match-making widow.  There are even more characters, some lovable and others not.
Everyone is thrown together through tragedy and need.  Faith in God and believing in prayer sustains them and they thrive.  There are bumps and bruises along the way, but that is true to life.  The absence of a pet was disappointing for me, but I loved that the characters baked a lot.  The author described the cakes, breads, and pies so that I could almost smell the cinnamon.
Author Gabhart has written a beautiful, captivating tale of love, disappointment, hope, loss, faith, freedom, and family.  There are so many inspirational messages in this book.  For me, that is the mark of a good Christian book.  This one had that and more.  Scripture, encouragement, life lessons, issues from the past and present are all found within these 319 pages.  It is full of emotion and thought provoking subjects.  In fact, it is so delightful I hate to give away any of the story.  You will revel in discovering it for yourself.
I very highly recommend this charming book.  In fact, I devoured it in one sitting.  You will be entertained, educated, encouraged, and enlightened.  There are no study questions at the back, but like I often say, this would be a nice book club selection.  It would be nice to have someone to chat over coffee about this page-turner.  I rated it 5 out of 5 stars only because I couldn’t figure out how to squeeze one more out to make it 6.  This should win awards and yes, be made into a Hallmark movie.   A copy was provided by Revell for my honest review.