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Reviewed by Vickie McDonough
The Outsider by Ann H. Gabhart
"...a fascinating journey into the everyday life of an unusual religious community that many know little about."
A young woman from a Shaker community is content to look upon all men as her brothers—until a doctor from the outside world shows her what true love is
Gabrielle Hope has lived in the peaceful Shaker community of Harmony Hill so long that she barely remembers the outside world. Though she rarely sees her mother, who also is a believer, she’s content to live in the chaste community where matrimony is a sin, and all men and women are treated as brother and sister.
When an accident occurs to a dear friend, a doctor outside of the community is brought in to help. From the first moment Gabrielle lays eyes on the interesting man, something within her is stirred. She later repents for allowing Dr. Brice Scott to distract her from her peaceful lifestyle and tries to rid him from her thoughts by penitence and prayer. Several other brief meetings with him open her eyes and help her to understand how other believers have been pulled away by the forbidden love between a man and a woman. Gabrielle strengthens her battle to cleanse her mind of all thoughts of the outsider.
When Dr. Scott goes off to war, Gabrielle is certain that she will finally be able rid her system of his unwanted intrusion. Several other events occur that make her question her beliefs in the Shaker lifestyle, leaving her confused and feeling alone for the first time in her life. Is she truly evil and unrepentant as the elder sisters have told her, or is it possible that she has been led astray by her brothers and sisters? When the time comes to make a choice, will she cling to the only life she knows? Or will she step out and trust God that He has an even better future for her than she could have imagined?
The Outsider is a fascinating journey into the everyday life of an unusual religious community that many know little about. Gabrielle is a young woman fully committed to her family of brothers and sisters until an outsider challenges everything she has believed in for so long. Her struggles are realistic and show how someone can be confused and led astray from Biblical truths when isolated from other Christians. The story is heart-tugging, interesting, and makes you wonder how so many people could willingly sacrifice marriage to live chaste. The book is heavy on the narrative side, which sometimes slows the pace, but the unique storyline and Gabrielle’s inner battles, as well as those of Dr. Scott’s, will keep readers engrossed and turning the page. As both Gabrielle and Brice struggle to find true faith, their journey brings them closer together, but will Gabrielle forsake all she knows for an uncertain future?
Vickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has written four Heartsong novels and five novellas. Her stories have placed first in several prestigious contests, such as the ACFW Noble Theme, the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest, and the Texas Gold contest. She has also written books reviews for nearly five years and enjoys mentoring new writers. Vickie is a wife of thirty-one years, mother to four sons, and a new grandma. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. Vickie loves hearing from her readers via e-mail.