Are you a fan of Amish fiction? Especially if there's a hint of romance in the stories? If so, you will like the Shaker series by Ann H. Gabhart. If you have never experienced Amish fiction, I suggest that you check out one or both of these great books as your introduction to the genre.
The Outsider, the first in the series, was nominated for a Christian fiction award in 2009. It's about Gabrielle, a Shaker girl who has the gift of premonitions. She has grown up in the Shaker community, learning their ways and intending to spend her life there. But, the need to bring in a doctor from "the world" turns her life on end as she begins to fall in love with him. For Shakers, marriage is not allowed. How will she resolve the conflict between the rules of her faith and her budding love for the doctor? Read part of the first chapter here.
I like historical fiction because I can learn about other times and cultures while also being entertained with the story. This book was of interest to me because I love Shaker furniture, and I have visited the restored Shaker community, Pleasant Hill, in Kentucky. Gabhart does a superb job of making the reader feel part of the story. Since she lives near the restored Shaker village, she can go there herself to experience the setting and let her writer's imagination take flight.
The second book in the series is The Believer. The primary male character in this story is Ethan Boyd, a young man who was rescued by one of the Shakers as he attempted to escape from the "care" of his dastardly father. Elizabeth Duncan, the heroine, came to the Shakers with her younger brother and sister after their father died leaving them no way to take care of themselves. While Ethan has taken the vows of the Shaker faith, he still finds himself attracted to Elizabeth.
Again, I admire the author's skill in taking me back to the 1830s Shaker village. She manages to educate me about Shaker beliefs while spinning a fascinating story. Sample chapters from The Believer are available here.
Gabhart is a prolific Kentucky writer whose work has been published by several companies. Visit her Web site for more information. She will be teaching fiction workshops at Kentucky Christian Writers Conference next June.