by Ann H. Gabhart
Elizabeth's Mother has been dead a few years, her Father was very healthy, but after going to town feeling fine he comes home later that day and dies before daybreak. That leaves Elizabeth to care for her younger brother and sister. The family lived on Colton Linley's property for no charge, Colton lost his first wife and child during childbirth, his second wife took off shortly after marrying him and went back home. He gave her the chills whenever she saw him, she was very afraid of him. Colton confronts Elizabeth the morning after her Father dies, jumping in the grave as she is digging and tells her that her Father owed him money and she has to marry him to repay that debt. Colton gives her two days to grieve her Father, then he will claim her as his wife.
Elizabeth has some quick decisions to make, after reading in her Father's Bible she finds some seeds he'd bought from the Shakers to plant in the spring. She remembered him telling her how peaceful and nice the people were when he'd seen them. She took the seeds as a sign, knowing they'd take the three of them in. Against her siblings wishes, they left in the middle of the night, trying to escape Colton so he couldn't find them. As they were leaving, Payton, her brother, said that he forgot something and ran back to the cabin, when he returned he smelled like smoke and Elizabeth and Hannah, her sister, looked back and saw their cabin on fire. He knew it was wrong but he didn't want Colton to have anything of theirs, they left with the clothes on their backs and everything else, what little it was, was in the cabin.
As they were going to the Shakers, they were found by two Shakers on their way to town, Brother Issachar and Brother Ethan. They gave them food and told them to wait and they'd pick them up on their return from town and take them to their community. This isn't the first time Brother Issachar has saved someone, he saved Brother Ethan when he was a young boy. Ethan was being raised by some people his Mother left him with until his real Dad came and kidnapped him. As they were floating down the river, Ethan waited for his Dad and two criminal buddies to fall asleep and slipped out of the rope he was tied up with and slid into the water. Brother Issachar found him and took him to the Shaker village. Brother Ethan had just recently turned 21 and signed the covenant to be a Believer, Shaker.
Hannah had the hardest time trying to be a Shaker, since Elizabeth was having a hard time she promised Hannah they would leave in the spring. That doesn't keep Elizabeth from developing feelings for Brother Ethan, which is forbidden, Hannah running away, fires being set in the village, etc. In other words, when the three Duncan's came to the village, lots of bad things started happening.
Some of the problems are because Colton does find them, he brings a group of men to kidnap Elizabeth but is stopped by the Brothers and Sisters. He continues to 'haunt' their community and even tries again to kidnap Elizabeth, but gets stopped. After Brother Issachar dies from a stab wound he got while on a trip to sell Shaker Goods, Elizabeth and Hannah decide to leave, Payton stays as he is settling in well even though he was the one most determined not to go there. Brother Ethan takes Brother Issachar's death very hard, then when Elizabeth leaves he has to decide whether to 'listen to his heart' as Brother Issachar told him, or to stay behind.
You'll have to read the book to find out what he does, if Elizabeth and Hannah find a safe place to hide from Colton, if Colton finds them and if he forces Elizabeth to marry him.
I would suggest to you to read this book. After reading this I almost feel like the Shakers are more of a cult, and they are supposed to be peaceful, but it appeared to me that there was a lot of anger in them. They separate the men from the women, they are not allowed to marry or have any kind of special feelings for anyone, not even their blood relatives whether it be parent, child, sibling spouse (which could only happen if they were married before they joined the Shakers). You can not show any emotion, such as tears. I found myself getting very upset with the older Brothers and Sisters, I just wanted to "smack them" as a good friend of mine used to say all the time.