The time: the 1950s; the setting: small Midwestern towns in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Emmeline Nelson is our main character, and almost from the very first moments, I could feel for her plight. Controlling family, a husband already picked out for her, and all the options closed.

I have lived some of that life, except for the specific husband picked out.

But another point where mine and Emmeline’s differ is that under the surface of the world she had known were secrets, betrayals, hatred, and racism. Deep, dark racism.

Turning the pages of A Fireproof Home for the Bride: A Novel, I could not wait to see what would happen next, even as I wanted to throw things and shout at some of the characters, like Ambrose Brann, the fiancé, who showed his dark side almost immediately.

What would Emmy have to do to extricate herself from the strictures of the life planned out for her? Who would help her, and what would be the consequences? And how would the forbidden love of Bobby Doyle change her life, and would he be the one? How did the KKK figure into the lives of those closest to Emmy, and what did Ambrose have to do with it? How did the string of fires connect to the past and to the dark future planned by a nefarious group?

As Emmy struggles to find her place in the world as a writer for the newspaper, the answers will come to her.

I really enjoyed her Great Aunt Josephine, who was the kind of woman that would inspire a young girl like Emmy. And in the end, Christian, her father, turned out to be a sympathetic character, and the detached mother Karin had her own painful past. But the surprising rush of more unexpected connections would bring this intriguing story to a satisfactory close. 4.0 stars, primarily because some of the prose felt stilted to me; the story behind it was very captivating, however.


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