I always enjoy reading books by Ann Gabhart. “The Innocent” is no exception. I have read her Shaker novels and enjoyed reading each one. This particular book is full of romance, tenderness, and drama. Carlyn had nowhere else to go. Her husband had not yet come home from fighting in the Civil War, her landlord evicted her from their house, had no way to earn money to live or eat. The Shaker village down the road seemed her only hope. The sheriff took pity on her, agreed to house her loved pet since the Shakers did not see the need for keeping anything that didn’t produce work for the good of the community. My husband and I visited a Shaker village in Kentucky some years ago and I had really never learned their ways. However, in this book, since the elder sisters are trying to teach Carlyn how to be a part of the Shaker life, I was introduced to their many, many rules. I shuddered at the thought that had I lived that life, I would always have to start walking upstairs with the correct foot first. Too many rules for me!
I enjoyed reading about her indoctrination and the way of life of the Shakers, but history tells us that the communities did not thrive or survive. It could be that the “sin of marriage” precluded men and women even talking to one another, much less procreating. However, I wearied of reading the elders preaching to Carlyn and the others. I wanted Carlyn to steal away in the night and leave the community just to get away from the incessant preaching. This book is very good in that it shows the ways of an old and vanished society. I recommend reading it.
Carlyn Kearney has spent two lonely years not knowing whether to mourn or to hope after she receives word from the Union Army that her husband is missing. The war ends without further word. Now penniless, in debt, and forced from her home, Carlyn seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill, only to discover that they will not allow her to keep her beloved dog, an animal that has been her faithful companion since her husband went off to war. Sheriff Mitchell Brodie has pity on the lovely young woman and agrees to take the dog. Carlyn is just settling into life as a sister in the Shaker village when she receives a devastating letter confirming her worst fears. As she wrestles with whether to commit herself fully to the Shaker life, mysterious deaths begin to occur, and Carlyn comes under suspicion. Can Sheriff Mitchell help her expose the true culprit?
Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart invites fans back to Harmony Hill for a story laced with intrigue, romance, and heart.