As much as I wanted to like this one, I feel compelled to give it only two stars, because I really couldn't recommend it unless it was a free or 99c ebook (I think I got it as a Kindle freebie).On the plus side:- The unique focus on the Shaker sect. The descriptions of the worship/prayer practices and day-to-day life were vivid and kept me reading to the end. The author treated this misunderstood faith community with respect, never devolving into a movie-of-the-week treatment. The emotional and spiritual impact of communal living were especially well done. - The characters' beliefs and motivations were a key part of the story - their emotions and thought processes were entirely believable and compelling.- The hero/heroine both were complex and conflicted, but still likeable. It was a love-at-first-sight scenario, but it wasn't the dopey lightning bolt version, and the happily-ever-after was hard-won after serious soul-searching and growth on both sides.- Secondary characters were also a strong point, with great reciprocal impact between them and the main characters; the H/H were profoundly influenced by the people around them. Gabrielle's disintegrating relationship with Sister Mercy was really poignant, as was Brice's tentative friend/mentor role with Nathan and Seth.- The themes of faith vs trust and personal vs communal faith were woven seamlessly throughout the narrative, without a hit-you-over-the-head MORAL OF THE STORY, SEE WHAT I DID THERE? in the last chapter. - Scenes of death and grief were extremely moving. Ex: "Yea, you are right, Sister Gabrielle. Becca is not there in that cold grave. I am. I feel as if every clod of dirt fell on my face. They didn't bury Becca. They buried me." Pass the kleenex, please.... On the negative side:- The names of the main characters. I'm not one to insist on Biblical names in inspirationals, and a quick googling shows that they were probably historically authentic, but Gabrielle and Brice were just WAY too YA/chick-lit for me. "Gabrielle" seems much more plantation belle than backwoods Kentucky, and "Brice" just triggers a mental vision of Animal House Frat Boy. - The disjointed flow. This nearly killed it for me. I was invested enough in the story to finish, but it wasn't a smooth ride.Much too often the tenets of Shaker theology were forced into the mouths of the elders. Yeah, I know that's what the elders are supposed to do. However, the elders frequently mentioned that the heroine was a long-time member (six years, ages 13-19) and well-versed in Shaker beliefs, and yet they lectured her like a newcomer simply to info-dump for the reader.It would have worked much better to have those critical explanatory passages as dialogue between Gabrielle and Nathan, Gabrielle and Brice, or Gabrielle and an adolescent Sister, as they examine or explain their beliefs, or provide plot points with specific actions in which the theology would be applied.In addition, numerous short flashbacks interrupted internal monologues, making for some forced and awkward transitions.- The abrupt change in tone halfway through. I didn't mind the change in focus/POV, because the story required it at that point, but switching suddenly from the eerily quiet (aside from the worship services, of course) Kentucky countryside to bloody northern battlefields was pretty jarring. No clue how this could be resolved, but it did kick me out of my reading trance several times.- More info-dumping regarding military maneuvers. It's great that the author did her research, but inspie readers don't need regurgitated factoids about feuding generals, skirmish dates and field positions. If I wanted that, I'd read one of those overstuffed Civil War sagas. Keep to your strengths as a writer by focusing on the main character's struggles to retain his humanity, and the atmosphere of the battlefield and medical area.The bit about the porcupine was pretty funny, though :-) I need to look that up to see if it really happened....On the fence-sitting I WANT MORE:- Sister Helen was intriguing, because we ALL know someone like that , but she was oddly one-dimensional considering the depth of the other characters. Her backstory was hinted at, making me want more than the "bitter, envious spinster" angle, which was in danger of becoming a caricature.Some emotional development or change would have been a good addition, along with an explanation of how the elders could be so blindingly oblivious to her beady-eyed, nostril-flaring, steaming-from-the-ears jealousy. And I know a comeuppance at the end would have been wildly misplaced and contrived, but I still wanted it to happen!On the other hand, I loved Gabrielle's internal turmoil during the suffocating Close Supervision, and her one "you GO, girl!" moment of defending herself against Helen's relentless backstabbing.- Or maybe I wanted less... The length seemed wrong somehow; it would have worked better as a shorter, tighter novella, or expanded to really build the H/H relationship even more. The angst level wasn't overwhelming, but more true drama would have provided some balance.The hero's glossed-over backstory as a former child captive was a huge missed opportunity - it seemed to be wedged in only as a device to get Brice and Gabrielle's father together.On the whole, not bad - worthwhile for the characters and especially the glimpse into the Shakers. But definitely not one I'd recommend to my literary-snob friends.