Ann H. Gabhart invites readers to return to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in her newest novel The Refuge, an emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family. When a recent outbreak of cholera sweeps through their area, Darcie and Walter Goodwin are determined to escape the epidemic by joining the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. Their stay was meant to be temporary, but the best laid plans don’t always work out. When Walter is killed in a riverboat accident, Darcie, with no family and no money, has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village.
Widower Flynn Keller is struggling to raise a headstrong daughter. When things spin crazily out of control at his home, he sends Leatrice to the Shaker village to go school with the hope that having to abide by the Shakers’ strict rules she will find structure and learn discipline. As Darcie reaches out to help Leatrice and becomes acquainted with the young girl’s father, she begins to wonder if there is still hope for happiness and a family in her life. Can love live again in spite of rules and in a community that doesn’t believe in marriage?