The Bride Backfire (Prairie Promises Series #2)

The Bride Backfire (Prairie Promises Series #2)

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by Kelly Eileen Hake
     
 

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Come on down for a real family feud in this witty romance, the second novel in Kelly Eileen Hake's Prairie Promises series. In the Nebraskan Territory of 1857, the longstanding feud between their two families makes Opal Speck desperate to save the life of the Grogan who once pulled her from a burning building. Will her big white lie-that Adam is the father of her

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Overview

Come on down for a real family feud in this witty romance, the second novel in Kelly Eileen Hake's Prairie Promises series. In the Nebraskan Territory of 1857, the longstanding feud between their two families makes Opal Speck desperate to save the life of the Grogan who once pulled her from a burning building. Will her big white lie-that Adam is the father of her unborn child-land in enemy territory for the rest of her life? Find out how Adam and Opal deal with the repercussions of their shotgun wedding in The Bride Backfire!

Editorial Reviews

ROMANTIC TIMES - PATSY GLANS

The second book in the Prairie Promise series is a fun-filled, roller-coaster love story with witty, charming, well-thought-out characters. Hake is a gifted writer who knows readers of historical novels expect romance, adventure, family sagas and a twist; she delivers on all counts.
COFFEE TIME ROMANCE - CHEROKEE

Kelly Eileen Hake composes an enjoyable read as the action spins a refreshing yarn that packs a punch.
Romantic Times
The second book in the Prairie Promise series is a fun-filled, roller-coaster love story with witty, charming, well-thought-out characters. Hake is a gifted writer who knows readers of historical novels expect romance, adventure, family sagas and a twist; she delivers on all counts.
Patsy Glans
Coffee Time Romance
Kelly Eileen Hake composes an enjoyable read as the action spins a refreshing yarn that packs a punch.
Cherokee
ROMANTIC TIMES

The second book in the Prairie Promise series is a fun-filled, roller-coaster love story with witty, charming, well-thought-out characters. Hake is a gifted writer who knows readers of historical novels expect romance, adventure, family sagas and a twist; she delivers on all counts.

— PATSY GLANS

COFFEE TIME ROMANCE

Kelly Eileen Hake composes an enjoyable read as the action spins a refreshing yarn that packs a punch.

— CHEROKEE

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602601765
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Series:
Prairie Promises Series, #2
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Bride Backfire


By Kelly Eileen Hake

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Kelly Eileen Hake
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-118-4


CHAPTER 1

Nebraska Territory, March 1857


"Not again!" Opal Speck breathed the words on a groan so low her brothers couldn't hear her—a wasted effort since the entire problem lay in having no one around but Larry Grogan.

Even Larry, despite having the temperament of a riled skunk and a smell to rival one, kept the oily gleam from his eyes when the men of her family were in sight. No, the appraising leers and occasional advances were Opal's private shame. Hers to handle whenever he tried something, and hers to hide from everyone lest the old feud between their families spring to life once more.

"Figured you'd come by here sooner or later, since Ma and Willa are making dandelion jelly." Larry levered himself on one elbow, pushing away from the broad rock he'd lounged against. He gestured toward the abundance of newly blooming dandelions bordering Speck and Grogan lands, but his gaze fixed on her as he spoke. "Let's enjoy the sweetness of spring."

"No." Opal kept her voice level though her fingers clamped around the handle of her basket so tightly she could feel the wood bite into her flesh. Letting Larry know he upset her would only give him more power, and false bravery to match. Lord, give me strength and protection. "Not today."

"Look ripe for the plucking to me." Larry sauntered closer, but Opal wouldn't give an inch. Everyone knew that when animals sensed fear, they pressed their advantage.

"Dandelion jelly may be sweet, but it takes a lot of work to make it that way. Do it wrong, it'll be bitter."

"I like a little tang." He reached out and tweaked a stray strand of her red hair as he leaned closer. "Keeps things interesting."

Opal fought not to wrinkle her nose as his breath washed over her. Instead, she tipped her head back and laughed, the note high and shrill to her ears as she stepped away. "Then I'll leave them to you, Mr. Grogan."

"Wait." His hand snaked out and closed around her wrist, but it was the unexpected note of pleading in his voice that brought her up short. "Won't you call me Larry?"

"I—" Opal couldn't have found any words had they been sitting in the clearing. She and Larry both stared at where his hand enfolded her wrist. "I don't think that's wise."

"We can't always be wise." With a wince, he used his other hand to trace the long, thin scar bisecting his cheek. His hand dropped back to his side when he noticed her watching the motion, but something softened in his face. "You must like me a little, Opal. Otherwise you would've left me to die like everyone would expect a Speck to do."

Not really, no. She didn't speak the words, her silence stretching thin and strained between them. Larry's sly innuendos were a threat Opal expected, but Larry Grogan looking as though he cared what she thought of him ... How could she be prepared for that? Why didn't I notice his advances only began after his accident—that Larry must have interpreted me helping Dr. Reed patch him up as something more than kindness?

Surprise softened her words when she finally spoke. "I would have helped anyone thrown from the thresher." Opal's reference to the incident didn't need to be more detailed. The man before her would never forget the cause of his scar, just as she'd never forget it was his animosity toward her father that caused him to mess with that machine in the first place.

"Even a Grogan?" He shook his head. "I don't believe you."

She would've backed away at the desperation written on his face if she could. "Believe it, Larry."

"What if I don't want to?" His grip turned painful, bruising her arm. "I know you'd do anything to protect your family. Even deny your own feelings." Larry moved closer. "And I can prove it with one kiss."

"My family would kill you." She tried to tug her wrist free, only to have him jerk her closer.

"We both know you wouldn't tell them." Darkness danced in his eyes. "This is between you and me."

Panic shivered down Opal's spine at the truth of his words. The one thing she could never do was put her family in danger, and if she told Pa or her brothers, blood would flow until there wasn't a Speck—or a Grogan—left standing. She stayed still as he leaned in, his grip loosening slightly as his other hand grabbed her chin.

"No!" Exploding into action the second she sensed her opportunity, Opal sent a vicious kick to his shins with one work boot. A swift twist freed her wrist from his grasp, letting her shove her basket into his stomach with all her might.

She barely registered the crack of wood splintering as she sprang away, running for home before Larry caught his breath enough to catch her.

* * *

"Pa ain't gonna like this." Nine-year-old Dave poked his head around the stall partition like a nosy weasel sniffing out trouble.

"That's why you're not mentioning it to him." Adam didn't normally hold with keeping things from one's father, but telling Diggory Grogan that another one of their milk cows had fallen prey to the strange, listless bloat that had plagued their cattle for the past few years without explanation would be akin to leaving a lit lantern in a hayloft. The resulting blaze would burn more than the contents of the barn.

"But didn't he say that the next time one of those Specks poisoned one of our cows he was goin' to march over there an—"

"We don't know that anyone's been poisoning our cows, Dave." Adam pinned his much younger brother with a fierce glower. "But we do know the Specks have had sick cattle, same as us. The last thing either of us needs is to start fighting again."

Confusion twisted Dave's features. "When did we ever stop fighting?"

"There's different kinds of fighting, squirt."

"I know!" Dave scrambled after him as Adam left the barn to go find the meanest rooster he could catch. "There's name-calling and bare-knuckles and knock-down drag-outs and slaps—"

His list came to an abrupt end when Adam rounded on him. "That's not what I meant." He squatted down so he could look his little brother in the eye. "There's fighting for what you believe in, fighting to protect what's yours, and there's fighting just because you like fighting. That's never a good enough reason, understand?"

"Kind of." Dave squinted up at him when Adam straightened once more. "How come we fight the Specks, then?"

"A mix of all three." Willa's voice provided a welcome interruption. "Our granddaddies both thought the east pasture belonged to them. Then each of our families believed the other was wrong, and now we're so used to fighting that we blame each other when anything goes wrong."

"Like the cows?" Dave processed their sister's explanation so fast it made Adam proud.

"Yep." He didn't say more as the three of them each chased down a chicken, ignoring the angry squawks and vicious pecks as best they could. When everyone's arms were loaded down with feathers and flailing spurs, they headed back to the barn.

"Then I guess it's a good thing Pa and Larry are out hunting today." Dave spat out a stray feather. "So we can scare some of the bloat out of Clem before he finds out and blames the Specks?"

"That's right." Willa set her jaw. "Because no matter what Larry says or how Pa listens, the Specks aren't poisoning our cows. And the last thing we need is for him to stir things up over nothing!"

That was the last any of them said for a while, as everyone knew it was useless to try to talk over the sounds of a cow belching. Since Dr. Saul Reed had first tried the treatment two years ago on Sadie—when the bloats began—the Grogans had perfected the process to a fine art.

If a cow grew listless, went off her feed, stopped drinking water, and generally gave signs of illness, they watched for signs of bloat. When baking soda didn't help, the last hope for expelling the buildup of gas before it stopped the animal's heart was to get it moving at a rapid pace. On the Grogan farm, that meant terrorizing the cattle with riled roosters.

Dave darted toward the stall and thrust his bird toward the back, spurring Clem to her feet for the first time that whole morning. She rushed out of the partition, heading toward a corner plush with hay, only to be headed off by Willa, whose alarmed chicken made an impressive display of thrashing wings to drive the cow out the barn door.

From there it was a matter of chasing her around the barnyard and up the western hill—the theory being that elevating her front end made it easier for the gas to rise out—until the endeavor succeeded or the entire group dropped from exhaustion. Thankfully, they'd yet to fail.

To an outsider, Adam Grogan would be hard-pressed to explain why leading a slobbering, stumbling, belching cow back to the barn would put a smile on his face, but Willa and Dave shared his feeling of triumph. Sure, Clem might not look like much of a prize at the moment, but she'd been hard-won. Better yet, they'd averted having Pa and Larry ride over to the Speck place with fired tempers and loaded shotguns.

Much the way Murphy and Elroy Speck were riding toward them right now. Adam tensed, taking stock of the situation. With Pa and Larry out for the day, it was up to him to take care of things.

"Stay here." He snatched the shotgun from the wall of the barn and rolled the door closed, pushing Dave back inside when he tried to squirm out. "I said stay. And don't go up in the hayloft either, or I'll tan your hide later." With the door shut, Adam slid the deadbolt in place, effectively locking his sister and younger brother in the barn ... and hopefully out of trouble.

He strode to meet the Specks, intent on putting as much distance from their stopping place and his family as humanly possible. While Adam didn't hold with the idea of a feud and did everything in his power to maintain peace, he wouldn't stake the safety of a single Grogan on any Speck's intention to do the same.

"Ho." Murphy Speck easily brought his horse to a halt, followed closely by his second-eldest son. The two of them sat there, shotguns laid across their saddles, silent as they looked down on Adam.

Adam, for his part, rested his firearm over his shoulder, vigilant without being hostile, refusing to offer false welcome. Specks had ventured onto Grogan land; it was for them to state their business. Adam wouldn't put himself in the weaker position by asking, and only a fool would provoke them by demanding answers.

Good thing Larry's not here. The stray thought would have earned a smile under any other circumstance.

"Where's your brother?" Murphy's gaze slid toward the corners of his eyes, as though expecting someone to sneak up on him.

Not a good beginning. He sure as shooting wasn't about to tell two armed Specks he was the only grown Grogan around the place. Adam just raised a brow in wordless recrimination at the older man's rudeness.

"What Pa means to say," Elroy's tone held a tinge of apology, though his stance in the saddle lost none of its steel, "is that Pete's seen your brother on our land a few times this past week."

"Oh?" I knew he'd been up to no good when he hadn't been helping fertilize the fields. Something else stank. Adam's jaw clenched.

"Some of our cattle have the bloat." Murphy's statement held accusation, though his words didn't. The man walked a fine line.

"Ours, too." Adam lifted his chin. "Must be a common cause."

"Common cause or no, seemed maybe a reminder was in order." Elroy's level gaze held a deeper meaning.

His father wasn't half so diplomatic. "The next time a Grogan steps foot on Speck land without express invitation, he won't be walking away from it."

Adam ignored the sharp drop in his stomach at the irrefutable proof tensions were wound tight enough to snap. "Good fences make good neighbors." He gave Speck a curt nod.

"Fences and family, Grogan." Murphy's parting words came through loud and clear. "Watch yours a bit closer."

CHAPTER 2

"What did you see, Pete?" Opal fought to keep her voice steady when she tracked down her younger brother.

"When?" At fifteen, Pete had shot up to top her by a solid two inches, his limbs long and coltish as he turned to face her.

"Whenever it was you saw Grogan on our land." Opal chose her words carefully. As of now, all she knew was Pete had seen Larry skulking around this week and diligently reported it to Pa, who'd gone over to Grogan land this afternoon to address the issue. Her heart skittered at the thought of Pa and Elroy riding onto Grogan lands for any kind of confrontation, but since she'd only found out after they returned home safe and sound, there were more urgent things to focus on.

Like whether Pete had seen Larry following her or had heard their exchange by the clearing that morning. If so, why he hadn't told Pa about it? And how can I keep it that way?

But these were questions Opal couldn't fire at her brother outright—not if all Pete had seen were glimpses of Larry hanging around. As long as none of the Speck men knew the real reason for Larry Grogan's visits, she could keep their blood safely in their bodies. So she didn't say another word, just waited for Pete to spill what he'd seen and what he'd said about it.

"Two days past I saw someone in the brush bordering the southeast field but couldn't make him out. He beat it too fast for me to get a good look, but this morning I saw him again." Pete's young face hardened, making him look older. "Caught a glimpse of his face, and it was Larry Grogan. Like I told Pa, I could tell he was spoiling for a fight and he'd made it past the meadow."

He followed me. Opal sucked in a sharp breath, drawing an approving nod from her younger brother.

"He turned back when he saw my gun, but that's too close to the house." Pete jerked his chin toward their soddy. "We don't want the likes of Larry Grogan getting anywhere near you, Opal."

A humorless rasp of laughter scraped her throat. He doesn't know. They can stay safe as long as I don't tell them. She closed her eyes for a precious second as the knowledge flowed over her. Thank You, Father, for protecting them. Thank You, too, for having Pete see just enough of Larry to make Pa warn him away....

"You did well to put a stop to it." She stretched out to net Pete in a swift hug before he squirmed free. "I'm so relieved Diggory and Larry didn't try to start something when Pa and Elroy went over to discuss it." Another not-so-minor miracle to add to her praise list that night.

"You and me, both." The martial light in her brother's eyes took her aback for a moment. "I didn't like it when Pa told me to stay home in case things went sour. If it wasn't for him saying he needed to know one of us was here to protect you, I would've followed 'em."

I can take care of myself! The fierce need to make the men in her life understand she didn't need their protection—particularly not when it endangered them—welled up with such force she choked on the resentment before she could say so. Another blessing.

"Thank you." Opal said the words so Pete could hear, but in her heart they went to God. The important thing was Pete stayed home when he could have been in danger. She'd swallow every ounce of pride she possessed in exchange for his safety. But what a pass we've come to, when we're all so busy protecting each other we don't talk about it first.

The familiar wash of regret pulled at her, almost making her miss Pete saying the Grogan men hadn't been on the farm.

"What do you mean Diggory and Larry weren't there?"

"We figure they must've been out hunting or something." Pete shrugged. "Course, now the problem is once they hear that Pa and Elroy went over and gave that warning, they might get furious enough to make everything worse."

Cold swept from Opal's ears to her fingertips, making even her lips numb as she registered the danger. "Tell me they didn't speak to Lucinda!" Surely Pa knew better than to deliver bad news to Mrs. Grogan in the absence of her husband—any harsh words had to be spoken among men. "You know the Grogan men would take that as a threat to their women!"

"I dunno. She's Larry's ma and should keep him in line." Pete's sudden, mischievous grin dissolved when he saw the look on her face. "Naw, don't fret, Opal. Everyone knows this is a matter among men. They talked with Adam."

"Adam," she whispered his name. Her blood started moving again, warming her cheeks, making her lips tingle. It was a mark of how distressed she'd been that she could ever have forgotten about Adam Grogan.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Bride Backfire by Kelly Eileen Hake. Copyright © 2009 Kelly Eileen Hake. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Kelly Eileen Hake received her first writing contract at the tender age of seventeen and arranged to wait three months until she was able to legally sign it. Since that first contract a decade ago, she’s fulfilled twenty contracts ranging from short stories to novels. In her spare time, she’s attained her BA in English literature and composition, earned her credential to teach English in secondary schools, and went on to complete her MA in writing popular fiction.

Writing for Barbour combines two of Kelly’s great loves—history and reading. A CBA bestselling author and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she’s been privileged to earn numerous Heartsong Presents Reader’s Choice Awards and is known for her witty, heartwarming historical romances. A newlywed, she and her gourmet-chef husband live in Southern California with their golden lab mix, Midas!

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Bride Backfire 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
rebecca_herman More than 1 year ago
In Nebraska Territory, 1857, there is a longstanding feud between two neighboring families, the Specks and the Grogans. When Opal Speck's father discovers Adam Grogan on their property, he threatens to kill him. Opal saves Adam's life the only way she can think of: by lying that he is the father of her unborn child. Thanks to her lie, Adam's life is saved, but it also results in Opal and Adam being forced into a shotgun marriage. From the start, Adam doesn't want a real marriage. Not realizing that Opal made up the entire story to save his life, he believes that Opal is pregnant with another man's child, and her purpose in lying was to give her child a name. He is frustrated that Opal continues to refuse to tell him who the child's real father is. Opal doesn't know how to tell Adam that what he is believing is wrong, that she isn't pregnant and only wished to save him from her angry father. When she begins to fall in love with her husband and longs for their marriage to be a real marriage, but she doesn't know if Adam, who was forced to marry her, could ever love her for real. Can she manage to set things right with him? The Bride Backfire is an enjoyable western romance for readers who like inspirational romances or clean love stories that don't have graphic adult content. At times I got frustrated with Opal and wished she'd just tell Adam the truth already, but that didn't keep me from enjoying the story, and I would give other books by this author a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wfnren More than 1 year ago
3 Grogan's in love with 2 Speck's, the rest of each opposing family all hate each other The Specks and the Grogans are still feuding but things could really go from bad to worse if Larry Grogan has his way. He has hidden a threatening note from his Dad for the Specks with a 'special' addition he wrote to make it more threatening but he doesn't plan on Adam finding the note first. When the Grogan milk cow doesn't show up for the morning milking Adam goes searching hoping Marla didn't make it onto Speck property. As he follows the trail he discovers Larry didn't repair the fence and Marla found the opening. Adam is carefully looking for the milk cow as he tries to watch his back when he sees Opal and that's when one of her brothers comes up behind him. When Opal's brothers and father don't come in for lunch she goes looking for them and discovers they all have their guns aimed at Adam. Opal has tried to keep the peace between the two families, as has Adam, each on their own and in their own way. To save her family from being murderers and to save Adam's life she claims that Adam will be the father to her child they change their plans and send for the preacher and a witness for a shotgun wedding. Opal is then disowned and sent to live with the Grogan's where she is also unwanted. And so the story begins, this was a good book from beginning to end and will keep you interested throughout. Three Grogans in love with two Specks and the rest all hate the opposing family, makes for a very interesting storyline. Kelly did a great job on this one. There are three books in this series, I wonder where the next book will take me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I definitely would read another book by this talented author. This book breathes life into the fued between the Hatfields and the McCoys. I loved this book and was sad to see all of the characters leave at the end of the book. I would really like to see a sewuel made just to see how everyones life turned out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vengeance and forgiveness are the themes in this book and I enjoyed it. 2nd book in the series - needs to be read in order.
Baker78133 More than 1 year ago
Great series, just wish each one was longer - lol too quick a read!
GHott More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Opal tremendously. She was such an optimistic person - not so much that you're nauseous. She listened to the preacher and really did her best to pray and put his words into practice. Opal was a wonderful portrait of a woman who follows God but still lives her life. What I didn't like about this book: The end. I really just wanted a bit more to finish. Some of the characters storyies didn't feel complete to me.. and yes, I KNOW that it doesn't finish in the next book - The Bride Blunder which I've already reviewed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will read other books from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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cherryblossommj More than 1 year ago
After reading an ARC version of the first book in the Prairie Promises Series, "The Bride Bargain", I was confused at two name changes, but that happens and it is my on fault for getting distracted and forgetting that had been an advanced reader copy before final edits. In this story once again readers are treated with descriptions of food and cooking of recipes on the prairie that bring interest and cause a mouth to water. There were more in the first book, yet this one also offered descriptions of bee-keeping that I never knew before or rather had even thought to ask. It was fascinating. This book brought a much deeper intrigue for me than the first as I honestly had no clue what would happen in the end of of any of the twists and turns to get there. That impresses me in a novel. I enjoyed picking up on the lives of characters I had met in the first book of the series and applaud Kelly's descriptions of their inner thoughts through what could only be reference as difficult situations. Scripture lessons on life and shocking surprises are woven through the page of this novel and I look forward to the final installment of the trilogy and of more to come from author Kelly Eileen Hake in the future.
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
The Bride Backfire by Kelly Eileen Hake is the second book in the Prairie Promises series and picks up with the continuing feud of the Grogan and Speck families. Opal Speck and Adam Grogan seem to be the only level-headed members of their families. When Adam shows up trying to find a lost cow to prevent all-out war, his intentions are misconstrued by Opal's family, so she insists he's the father of her unborn child to save him from certain death and her family from the certain violence that will follow. Opal's kindness and beauty had caught Adam's eye, so he isn't entirely disappointed in his wife, but the idea of raising another man's child must be dealt with before he can make peace with this marriage. Hake has a true flair for writing romantic Westerns with a healthy dash of humor and faith. Opal and Adam's relationship moves in fits and starts as they have the usual misunderstandings, but the back story elevates this above your standard historical romance. Adam's brother Larry oozes psychopathy, which he obviously inherited from his mother, Lucinda, and both keep the story compelling. Hake is definitely an author to watch.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the Nebraska Territory, the family feud between the Speck and Grogan kin has been going on for several generations although there has been a fragile coexistence of late. However, in 1857 the peace ends when the Specks catch Adam Grogan on their land. To save Adam from a lynching, Opal Speck claims he is the father of her unborn child. Adam and Opal share a shotgun wedding. Now Opal must tell her new spouse the truth although she fears his reaction re her lies starting with the minor fact that if she was pregnant it would be the Immaculate Conception. He distrusts her at a time she needs his trust as his family treats their new in-law with overt loathing and scorn while someone uses the obvious estrange relationship to heat the feud. The second Prairie Promise historical romance (see THE BRIDE BARGAIN) is an engaging pre Civil War tale that occurs at a time of Bleeding Kansas brings fear to the Nebraska Territory. The long running family feud serves as a matchmaker for the lead couple but also cause them marital problems as she is treated like a serpent in his Eden. The support cast is solid especially the Grogan brood as Kelly Eileen Hake brings a wonderful rendition of Romeo and Juliet in the mid-nineteenth century Great Plains. Harriet Klausner
timetravel More than 1 year ago
Kelly Eileen Hake has written a beautiful historical romance in The Bride Backfire. The feuding families bring a unique twist to this romantic relationship. The characters of Opal and Adam, both wanting peace, are caught in the middle of the violent hatred between their families. The tension builds to an explosive level when Opal steps in to save Adam's life, but the lies she tells have consequences, and in the process she loses Adam's trust and respect. Opal not only has to overcome the challenges of her relationship with Adam, but also living with a family that hates her simply because she is from the wrong family. I enjoyed this very well-written story. The characters of the two families and Opal's friends are diverse in personality and moral fiber. The book clearly demonstrates Biblical consequences of hate, lies, and jealousy, but also what is possible with love and forgiveness. The Bride Backfire is a lovely, romantic tale, and I hope the characters of Opal and Adam are included in another book in the future