"Torn between duty and desire" is a hackneyed phrase, but there's nothing hackneyed about Ann Gabhart's newest Shaker novel, The Gifted. The compelling plot had me reading until I could no longer hold my eyes open.
Jessamine Brady has lived in a Shaker village since she was ten years old. She embraces their beliefs and ways of love, but as she approaches twenty-one, the age of decision, she longs to learn more about the world before she turns her back on it forever. Shakers believe in duty to God and one another, with no room for imagining or flights of fancy. Unfortunately, Jessamine's mind is often filled with both.
When she and another Shaker sister find Tristan Cooper wounded in the woods near their village, Jessamine helps him onto his horse and the two girls take him to a doctor in the village. As he recuperates, Tristan is intrigued by Jessamine, the beautiful girl with the cornflower blue eyes. However, the time comes for him to return to his obligations in the world.
The conflict that fills both Jessamine and Tristan's hearts makes for an absorbing story. They both have good reasons to remain apart forever. To say more would spoil the plot.
I enjoyed all the details about life in a Shaker village. Ann Gabhart is respectful and accurate in her recounting of a religious group that flowered in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Gifted is a book I’m happy to recommend.
My thanks to Revell for providing my review copy.