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The Blacksmith's Bride

The Blacksmith's Bride

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Susan Hanson’s life is anything but normal. When her eccentric uncle leaves her a fortune but tells her she must marry to inherit it, she looks at her options and hates the idea of choosing one of the stuffy men of her acquaintance. Especially since the only thing they would want her for is her money. If marriage is what it takes to get her fortune, Susan is determined to do it her own way.

Michael Clark has always wanted someone to call his own. First his parents, then his uncle and cousin die, leaving him without a solid place in the world. He’s welcomed by the good people of Birch Creek in the Idaho Territory, but he wants a family. Since women are hard to come by, he does the most logical thing he can. He orders a bride from New York.

When Susan decides to answer Michael’s advertisement, figuring it’s a better choice all around than what’s in New York for her, she’s certain it’s for the best. The first moment they meet, Michael and Susan know marriage is the next step but with her oddities, and his old fashioned views, can the two of them actually build a life together?

Intro into Chapter One

Michael took off the heavy leather apron he wore to protect himself from the flying sparks while he worked the iron in his smithy. He hung the apron on the peg by the door and doubled checked the coals in the forge. Once he was certain the fire was banked for the night and would be easy enough to coax to life when he returned in the early morning, he left his shop and walked the quarter mile to his home. It wasn’t much of a place and could really use some work, but he was alone and rarely spent time there unless it was to sleep.
Most of his time was spent at the shop, hoping to catch any work anyone needed of him. He’d been fortunate to find a spot close to the train station and near enough to the roadway that people passing through on horse or wagon could find him easy enough to take care of their horse shoeing and any other job they needed iron work for.
People were still heading out west to find a better life and the small settlement in the Idaho territory was a good place to be. He’d followed his Uncle Henry and cousin Brett since they had been his only remaining family after his parents died of influenza back east when he was a kid. Uncle Henry had heard of all the gold that everyone was finding in California and Oregon and he’d packed up Brett and Michael with some gear and set off. They’d made it as far as Idaho before his uncle and cousin had gotten sick and just like that he was alone in the world.
Michael had been found by a small band of the Shoshone tribe. They kept him alive and brought him to this settlement and left him on the doorstep of one of the families there.
The people in Birch Creek had done all they could to care for him, but it was hard to provide for a family, let alone take in an extra mouth, so Michael had been passed around from household to household doing little things to earn his keep and in a way becoming part of everyone’s family and no one’s family at the same time. When the old blacksmith, Thomas, had begun to have health troubles, he’d taken Michael on as an apprentice, which gave him the skills he now had. Eventually Thomas decided to try to make it rich panning for gold and had left Michael the smithy to carry on the work.
As Michael studied his small place, an incredible ache built up in his chest. He wanted to belong to someone. To have something to look forward to each day. Something like what he remembered his parents had before they’d died. His thoughts then returned to the conversation he’d had with a couple passing through not long ago. They had stayed to chat with him while he worked on shoeing their horse. Their wagon was loaded with supplies they would need for the new farmstead they would be starting.
In the course of the conversation, he’d noticed her accent was much different than what he’d heard around the area lately. It had reminded him a lot of what Boston had sounded like. When he asked what had brought her west, she’d blushed then explained she had answered her new husband’s advertisement for a bride.
The idea that sending a request for a woman to move out west and marry a stranger had seemed unbelievable at first, but the more they explained it, and how it had been going on for years in many places, the more he wondered if it would be something he’d ever dare do.
And now that he stared at his own barren home, he knew in his heart he was going to send his own advertisement. What would it hurt? He would go to the small telegraph station in the morning and see if they had any information about it.


Uncle Charles had been laid to rest two months ago and the mourning period was well underway. When her parents had passed, Susan had hated the thought of remaining indoors and wearing black all the time. Now, with her Uncle Charles gone, and the pity of the neighborhood, Susan was actually relieved to follow the accepted protocol of remaining out of the public eye.
She had spent her time in her uncle’s home and when the weather improved, she walked the flower gardens and even got involved in some of the planting herself.
She spent a lot of time in his library, reading his books and the newspapers that were regularly delivered. Uncle Charles had always insisted that she be well read and knowledgeable about what was going on in the world.
Susan sat down in her uncle’s favorite chair and picked up the paper that the butler had left on the small table to the side.
A happy memory of her uncle sitting right there reading soon led to the memory of when she’d picked up the paper after his passing. She’d smiled at the wording of the death announcement for her uncle. He’d been sure to write it up himself and had his lawyer submit it to the paper. No one would be coming to her hoping to earn her trust, and therefore her admiration and eventual acceptance of a ridiculous offer of marriage.
She was considered penniless by everyone on the outside, and Susan was just fine with that. It gave her the time she needed to come to terms with her loss and to consider her future options.
Not ready to really consider her promise that she would look for a husband, Susan opened the newspaper and began to read. She read the first few pages, then growing tired of the main articles, she turned the page. The section for advertisements caught her eye and she looked closer.
Some buildings and office rooms to let, and one place mentioned the services their company provided. A few job offers were posted, mostly factory and assembly work.
One of the servants that had worked for her uncle had taken a job at the clothing factory recently. Susan hoped Annabelle would be happy there. She wished it would have been possible to keep Annabelle on as part of the small staff Uncle Charles had allowed her, but that would have raised questions about how she paid all those expenses. There would be no reason for Annabelle to remain here since Susan wouldn’t be needing any new dresses sewn while in mourning. Yet Annabelle had been such a sweet and kind girl that Susan wished it were possible to keep in contact with her.
Just as she was about to flip to another page, a word caught her attention.
Susan pulled the paper closer to her. Was there actually such a need for women out west that the men there had to put in an advertisement for it?
The details intrigued Susan. This man seemed well written, so at least he knew how to communicate. Unless he’d had someone help him with that.
He had a job running the blacksmith’s shop for the town and the surrounding areas. He even owned a little plot of land and had a house as well.
Susan set the paper down on her lap. She looked up at the ceiling as she contemplated that option. Could she dare do something so strange? Why would any woman in their right mind go marry a man they had never met? Then again, why would any woman marry a man that was only after her for her money, and there had been plenty of her social status who had done that.
Susan looked at the advertisement again. Beneath the requirements, there was a return address. It wouldn’t hurt Susan to send him a letter of inquiry. If he’d found someone already, then that was that. Writing for more information would allow her to look at different options. Besides, she’d promised her uncle she would at least look for a husband.
Why not start now by looking far from home?


Michael hated not knowing what to expect. Though they had sent a few letters back and forth, it felt as if he still didn’t know this woman well enough to actually marry her. She’d accepted his marriage offer on one condition, that they could have a chance to talk before the actual ceremony and that each of them could decide against it if things didn’t feel right when they did meet in person.
He’d sent her some money to pay for half of the train ticket to Birch Creek Idaho weeks ago and now the day had arrived. Miss Susan Hanson would be here shortly after lunchtime and he would likely find himself married by evening. That was if she found him acceptable. Making the choice to travel all the way across the country was a good sign.
It had been incredibly awkward trying to convince the preacher that he wasn’t out of his mind with his plan to marry a woman, sight unseen the day she arrived. Eventually, Reverend Morrison had agreed to perform the service if he was sure the young lady was agreeable to it.
Word had spread that he’d gone and done something no one else had tried in the small town. Most people that had moved here had brought their wives with them. Besides a few teen girls, none of which interested him in the slightest because of their youth, there weren’t any options for a wife. He wanted a woman that could hold her own with the hard work that was required here. Someone he could count on to run a household and one he could eventually raise a family with.
Michael wasn’t sure what he’d been thinking. He would have to take care of a family. Provide for the needs and wants of a woman. Make sure there was enough food to eat and fabric for clothes, and then once the children came, he’d have to get even more food.
He had been able to live comfortably by himself with the wages he earned, but his customers weren’t always steady. It came in waves since many people were able to do some of the basic things on their own. Or make do without his services.
He’d managed to talk to some neighbors to make a trade for some chickens of his own instead of buying eggs from them. He had let people know he was interested in getting a cow, or even a goat for milk, but nothing had come of that yet.
Since no one had been by his shop for a while, he figured it would be a good idea to go back home and make sure everything there was ready for a wife. He hoped she’d be all right with living in the small place. He had planned to build a shed for the animals he hoped to acquire, but things had been too busy at the shop for him to get much done.
Inside his place, he did a fast clean-up of his things, but before he could change his clothes, he heard the train whistle. Michael hurried to wash his face and brush his hair back before replacing his hat. There wasn’t time to do anything more. The whistle blew again. It was still about a mile out of town, alerting anyone who might be coming to meet the train. Michael swallowed his nerves and left his house so he could get to the station before she did. It was time.
As he neared the station, he frowned at the sight of everyone that had begun to arrive. Most times, there were only a few people who came to the station now that it was no longer a novelty. If Michael wasn’t mistaken, there was probably more than half of the town who had shown up with obvious delight at the prospect of meeting his new bride.
He wouldn’t even get a chance to talk to her on his own and would have to be extra careful to school his features in case she turned out to be less than he’d hoped. He didn’t figure any attractive woman that had better options back home would be willing to come out west to marry a stranger. The woman he’d met before that had given him the idea to send for one on his own had been rather plain, but pleasant enough.
He could hope for the same luck. Though he wasn’t an overly religious man, he’d been raised on the Bible before his parents had passed and he hoped he might somehow be blessed enough to find a help meet, even if she wasn’t a beauty.
The screech of the engine brakes and the hiss of the steam as the train settled in for a moment drowned out the excited murmurs of the gathered crowd.
Dozens of bodies pressed forward, trying to get a better view. Michael was taller than most, but the wide brimmed hats on most of the men obscured his view and he had to move to the side to get a glimpse of the train doors. He wasn’t sure which car would be opening so he scanned the length of the train until one door finally opened. The train attendant hopped down and placed a stepping stool for the departing passengers.
Make that passenger. The only one who stepped out was a tallish woman in a shimmery green dress with a bonnet obscuring her face.
She turned to the man who had helped her down, then reached for the trunk that was passed out. Her figure was trim, but not overly thin. Good thing. She looked strong and not fragile. She’d need to have strength to get along in Birch Creek. He tried to catch a glimpse of her face, but instead only saw a hint of dark hair and smooth skin along her neck and a bit of her jawline.
What he saw was promising, but he wished he could see all of her face. She turned around and faced the crowd that had nearly circled her in welcome.
“Oh my,” her melodious voice said, sounding amused instead of concerned. That boded well for him. If she wasn’t fearful of the townspeople, it would be much easier to develop a relationship with all of them. Something that was incredibly important in case of need.
Delicate hands reached up and found the ribbon on the bonnet and Michael found himself holding his breath.
As she removed the covering from her head, Michael sucked in a lung full of air. She was a beauty, and she was his. That was if she’d actually have him. As he stared at her, he barely registered that the crowd of well-wishers had parted and there was an unfettered view of her.
“I’m looking for a Mr. Michael Clark.” She glanced at the others nearby, but seemed to realize none of them were right.
She took a step forward and studied him, a beautiful smile gracing her perfect lips. She looked up at the blue sky above and whispered softly, “Thank heavens.”
Michael blinked a few times, unsure of what she meant, but hoping she found him acceptable as well.
“I’m Michael Clark.”
She smiled again and nodded slowly. “I’m Susan Hanson. I believe we have a few things to discuss.”
Michael couldn’t tear his eyes from her mesmerizing features, but off to the side in his peripheral vision, he was almost certain the rest of the town had gathered to see what all the commotion was about. With the way the woman was taking charge and he’d done nothing more than say his own name, he knew he would be the talk of the town for a long time. He didn’t care. Let them talk. They wouldn’t be the ones that got to marry this woman.
Michael pulled himself together as much as he could and offered his hand. Then realizing she had some luggage to carry he took a few steps toward it.
“I’ll take your bags, and we can move to somewhere a little more private in order to talk. My smithy is not far. Will you join me?”
Susan nodded then took a step toward where he’d pointed. “Thank you.”
Most of the crowd followed them for a bit, but Michael turned around and shooed them away. “Give us a moment, if you please. Then after we’ve had a chance to talk, you can all make your introductions.”
“All right, Michael,” his friend Colten said, giving him a look that clearly said “good luck” before he turned around to the crowd. “You heard him folks. Give them a chance to get acquainted before they tie the knot. Hey, maybe we can all head over to Reverend Morrison’s house and get him over to the church.”
Michael almost wanted to wallop his friend, but instead shook his head in exasperation and focused his attention back on Susan.
“Please forgive my friend. We don’t get visitors who stay very often,” he said. “Thank you for coming. I’m sure you have some questions.”
“I do,” Susan said. “And a couple of rules.”
Michael’s eyes widened in surprise. She was definitely not timid. He had wondered what kind of woman he’d get, but he couldn’t decide if things would be better or worse than he’d anticipated.
“What are the rules?”
Susan took a step inside the open space beneath the shade of his shop. “I’m here to be your wife, but I need some time to come to terms with it and make sure you aren’t going to hurt me or treat me poorly before I actually marry you.” She looked him square in the eyes, not hesitating at all or looking away like he’d seen some women do with their men.
“I give you my word, I’ll never raise a hand to you.” Michael studied her face, waiting to see if she’d accept that.
“Thank you.” She nodded then opened her mouth to speak again, but shut it fast and closed her eyes for a moment before looking up at the ceiling as if asking for help.
There had to be something more she wanted to ask, and Michael hoped it wouldn’t be impossible to agree to. Having her here in person, standing right in front of him made him realize how very much he wanted her to marry him.
“Is there more?” Michael asked.
Susan nodded but didn’t immediately answer.

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Marriage was never her plan until her inheritance depended on it. He just wants a family to call his own. Can they find a happy ever after even with such different backgrounds?

Main Tropes

  • Mail Order Bride
  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Social Class
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