The Innocent By Ann H. Gabhart

The post-Civil war period was one of the most difficult times in history, not only for surveying soldiers, but also the families they left behind. This novel gave me an even deeper glimpse into how hard it was.
In 1865, young Carlyn Kearney was one of those facing the aftermath. Her situation was complicated by the fact that her beloved husband, Ambrose, was reported missing 2 years ago. The last time she had heard from him was in 1863. Was he dead? Was she a widow? How long did she wait for him to return. She loved him and didn’t want to give up hope, but this was only a small part of the hardships she faced. I cannot imagine being a widow during that time. Tending the home was more than cleaning and paying the electric bill. There were animals to care for, a garden, and much more.
Unable to pay the loan on their farm, Carlyn was being harassed and threatened by her repugnant and cruel landlord, Curt Whitlow. All she had for protection was her gun and her very capable dog Asher, whom she loved deeply. Finally the day came when Curt and Sheriff Mitchell Brodie, gave her a deadline to be out of her home. Sheriff Brodie was immediately taken with her courage, beauty, and vulnerability.
Everything looks hopeless for the young widow but a saying of her mother’s continues to come to mind, “Pray anyway.” And that she does!
She decides to join the local Shaker Community where she will receive food and shelter while she waits for word of Ambrose. She does not believe as they do, but she feels she can live with them for her needs to be met. Not allowing dogs, she is forced to give Asher to the Sheriff. Mitchell is fine with that as it gives him a way to keep in touch and feed his growing attraction to her.
I knew little about the Shaker’s beliefs and practices other than their simplicity in living and ban against marriage. I was shocked and how far they took their strict behavior and lifestyle. It seemed a sad life built around rules and legalism. From how you spoke, to what you wore, and how you ate, their guidelines were extremely unyielding. Caryln found herself in a different kind of suffering and questioned if her decision to join was the right one. Strange things began to happen after Caryln arrived and of course the Shakers blamed her.
This book is filled with many surprises and lots of excitement! Woven right through middle of all the action is a beautiful story of 2 people learning to love again, and strong faith in the midst of harrowing trials. What really left an impression on me was Caryln’s mother’s spiritual teaching, “Pray anyway.” It has come back to e many times since I read the book, and know it will continue to.
I received this book free from Revell Reads Blog Tour Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I stated are my own.

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