A Blacksmith’s Western Love (Preview)

Chapter One

“Was there any particular station you wished me to work at today, Mama?” 

Melinda Northfield, as fresh in her blonde and blue-eyed loveliness as one of the showy goldeneye blossoms growing wild outside of Denver, deftly wrapped herself with a clean apron and tied its strings into a neat bow. As much as she was not a morning person, knowing that she would once again be entering the cool, fragrant Northfield Confectionary to work her magic with design or flavor always stimulated her desire to begin another day. Even if, on this crisp March day, the hour was too early for her liking.

She had already replaced her trim little blue feathered hat with a pure white cotton scarf fastened around her head, for sanitary and cosmetic reasons. Since she moved between the manufacturing area in the back, which accounted for most of the floor space, and the shop front facing the street, it was important for customers to understand the concept of freshness and cleanliness involved in creating the all-important Northfield product.

Candies. Sweets. Confitures. All based on dark, rich, luxurious chocolate.

Turning from her self-assigned task of refilling any partially emptied trays in the display cases, Caroline Northfield pressed her cheek to her daughter’s, greeting her. Their coloring and their physique made it easy to see the family resemblance between the two, although the mother’s bright dandelion hair had faded with time, and her complexion became slightly more aged.

“Well, sleepyhead,” she teased. “I left you slumbering this morning and feared you wouldn’t arrive until noon.”

“Oh, Mama, don’t be silly.” Melinda pooh-poohed that notion, although feeling the flush of color in her face suggested that her mother might have been correct. “I suppose everyone else is here.”

“All present and accounted for. For right now, before we open the doors, would you check the workroom for more chocolate truffles? Those seem to be one of our best sellers.”

“My favorite, too,” agreed Melinda, as she bustled away. “That candy is so smooth it simply melts in the mouth.”

In the year since the Northfields had sold their sweet shop in Chicago and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the up-and-coming city of Denver, with more than 100,000 residents included in its immediate population, their name and brand had gotten to be well established, with clientele from near and far seeking out their trade.

“Oh, you’re going to the capitol?” one housewife living to the south, in Colorado Springs, might ask another. “You simply must visit Northfield’s. The finest chocolatier in the country.”

Or another, seeing her husband off on a business trip to the south from Fort Collins, would beg him to stop at Northfield’s for a large box of assorted sweets.

Impeccable, most customers would report as to the Northfield name and reputation. Every bite is of the highest quality. You can’t ever beat Northfield’s for that creamy, silky taste.

That wasn’t always the case.

In Colonial America, the common drinks of coffee and tea were joined by chocolate, with the price for each fluctuating, depending upon markets. However, the drinking chocolate provided to colonists was quite thick, with a strong flavor, and contained no sweetener whatsoever. The stuff was concocted by using chocolate scraped or melted from a chunk, rather than cocoa powder.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the idea of eating chocolate had arrived in the States. 

Arrived, but not popular, despite all the advertisements placed in newspapers across the country. After a few first bites, the public decided it was not enamored of consuming a product so gritty and coarse and wondered what all the fuss was about.

“Like eatin’ a spoonful of sand,” announced several disgruntled tasters to the press and to the world at large.

But, then, in the 1870s, nearly twenty years ago, the Swiss, the marvelous Swiss and their marvelous innovative spirits, developed an eating chocolate as light as whipped cream and as lustrous as velvet.

From there, history was made. And enhanced.

Adam Northfield, growing up in the city of Chicago and oddly drawn to the production of confectionaries, had spied an opportunity in the candy-making business. 

As a young man seeking to make his mark, he had begun working at a sweet shop before eating chocolate had even become popular. He had learned all he could about concocting candy pieces, bonbons, and the like, from the procuring of raw materials to the type of equipment needed for manufacturing to the presentation needed to persuade consumers to purchase. 

He had hauled burlap bags of sugar and boxes of flavorings, worked behind the scenes to create customer favorites, swept and mopped floors that every surface might remain scrupulously clean, and stood for hours on end behind display cases stocking and selling to the public.

Shortly after he and Caroline were married, at the end of the Civil War and the cessation of hostilities, they opened their first small establishment, called “Delectables,” and hoped for the best. Slowly, with a marketing blitz and determined word of mouth, patrons began appearing at the door to sample, approve, and purchase.

Within a year, during a time when too many establishments went belly-up, the shop was considered a success.

Within five, they were selling out their products and hiring additional help.

Within twenty-and-three, Adam was completing the sale of his goods, his inventory, some of his equipment, and the store location itself.

Why? Too much competition.

The market was spread too thin over too many confectionaries, and the days of a dependable healthy income for each one had passed. 

Thus, Adam, after fully discussing the subject with his wife, his son, Fletcher, and his two daughters, Elizabeth and Melinda, decided to re-locate his once-thriving business to a city farther west, with just as much clientele and with far less rivalry.

He posited several places, and the family, being a democratically organized bunch, voted overwhelmingly for Denver.

“New areas, new people, new challenges,” Adam, already beginning to sort through his personal possessions as to what might stay and what must go, had cheerfully announced. “New fields to conquer.”

“Oh, my dear, you are surely the most eternal of all eternal optimists,” murmured his affectionate wife. “But can we actually afford this move?”

“Ask and it shall be given you,” he returned, somewhat sanctimoniously, before taking a leisurely kiss. “Seek, and ye shall find.”

Fletcher, the mirror image of his sturdy, brown-haired, brown-bearded father, had chosen that minute to stroll through their Chicago parlor, the seat of these many discussions. “Huh. Doubt we’re gonna be pickin’ up chunks of chocolate from Denver’s street curbs, Pop. It ain’t like minin’ gold.”

The move had proceeded about as smoothly as cooking up a batch of buttercreams, with just an occasional hiccup here and there. Packing and transferring tons of machinery, equipment, and kitchen utensils across a thousand miles of hills, plains, and rivers would be no easy task. Not surprising if one crate might skid across a railway cargo car at a sharp curve, slam into the opposite wall, and break its straps or bust open some nails. Not surprising at all should one or two crates end up missing entirely upon final delivery.

You sent your goods, and you took your chances.

At any rate, having secured what was considered a prime site, the premises were purchased. The workroom was set up, the shop was established and decorated, and then Northfield’s was open for business.

Two large plate-glass windows, religiously cleaned of fingerprints and nose prints several times a day, allowed passersby to look in and yearn over what they could see of the contents. A pristine oak door was kept propped open as often as possible, especially during nice weather, so that the delectable aromas of melting butter, melting sugar, and melting chocolate could blend together, enticing even the most reluctant shoppers inside to buy.

Melinda, having left her mother diligently at work in the pretty and appealing shop, swished through a discreet door into the large workroom, filled with all sorts of tantalizing scents and sounds—and her father.

“Good morning, Papa,” she chirped.

“And a fond good morning to you, as well, princess.” Pushing his spectacles back into place on the bridge of his nose, the better to view small print on a bottle of peppermint flavoring, he smiled at his younger daughter. “How are you getting along?”

“Just peachy-keen, father dear.” She reached up to brush a dollop of white frosting from his cheek. “And yourself?”

“Looking forward to getting past Easter, I must admit.” He took advantage of the brief respite to sink his solid haunches onto a stool placed behind the work table for just this convenience. “We had quite a Christmas rush on our fine wares, and again just recently for Valentine’s Day. But the children do love their chocolate eggs and spun-sugar candies.”

“Mama and I have been adding all sorts of decorations to the shop, as you may have noticed.”

“I did, indeed. You’ve a wonderful imagination, child. I don’t know if you were made for this business, or this business was made for you, but it seems to be a perfect fit.”

Melinda, beaming, had paused to re-tie the simple white coif that covered her hair. “Exactly what I think, Papa. Someday, I want to start up my own sweet shop.”

“I do believe you’ve mentioned that dream once or twice. Is it too much to hope that I would be retired by then, with grandchildren underfoot?”

  “Oh, I don’t know about the grandchildren, Papa; I’m in no hurry to become a brood mare. I’ll leave that up to Libby, since she already has a start with baby David.”

An expression of distant discomfort crossed her father’s well-lined and much-loved face. The circumstances of his elder daughter’s courtship and marriage still caused him some degree of pain, and he preferred to brush over the past just to concentrate on the present.

“Anyway, I would never consider opening a place to compete with Northfield’s; have no fear. Probably not even located in Denver. But I have been planning for that moment ever since you first started teaching me how to concoct our chocolate goodies.”

“Ah, well, there’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip,” Adam, who was fond of quoting axioms whether or not appropriate to the moment, murmured. “You’d be better off finding a good husband, princess, and leave the running of Northfield’s to your brother.”

That was an old argument, one in which she had indulged many times before, with various members of her family. It was also one that held very little steam any longer. She was set on her course, knew what she wanted, and the devil take the hindmost. There. How was that for repeating one of her father’s coveted maxims, even if silently?

Finished with her cap, she re-tied her apron strings, just for good measure. “Speaking of Fletcher, where has he gotten off to so early?”

Time was passing all too quickly, with a number of tasks to be completed before the shop could be opened to the public. With a small groan that indicated, to anyone within hearing, a usual ache in his back and in his feet, Adam hauled himself off the stool and returned to his worktable, with wooden spoons, bowls, and measuring cups at the ready.

“He took the buckboard north. Part of your mother’s supply order came in yesterday, and Fletch drove over to the post office to pick it up. But part of it was delivered, for some unknown reason, to Boulder. So off he went. I mean, does the name of Boulder even faintly resemble that of Denver? How could such a mistake be made? Idiots.” 

It was a simple enough human error, one that did occur on occasion. Stolidly but futilely venting his wrath, Adam went to the vast pantry for the rich butter pats which made his chocolate creations so unforgettable.

“By the way, Tom Jensen is out back, breaking down some of those wooden crates for us. And Moira is coming in a little later.” He was concentrating on pouring the top luxurious layer of cream from milk into a pan. “She’ll help you put together that new recipe you wanted to try.”

“Oh, really? Young Moira or old Moira?”

“Young one. Most eager to learn. Maybe,” he looked up at her, over the top of his spectacles, with a grin, “you can hire her for that shop you plan on opening one of these days.”

“Oh, pooh, Papa. Silly man.” She brushed a kiss against the side of his bearded cheek and floated away, back into the showroom, where everything, under her mother’s judicial eye, had been put into apple-pie order.

From the supply cabinet, Melinda had carried with her a container of the pretty little colored paper liners that held the individual pieces already created, baked, formed, and ready for sale. She thoroughly enjoyed making up boxes of assorted candies—some with bits of walnuts, some holding small tart blobs of jelly, others centered around nougat or cream or caramel, more of sugar paste. Not only were the bits inside artistically arranged, but the boxes themselves were works of art. Melinda’s handiwork.

Her Christmas suggestion had proven to be so successful that Northfield’s would carry the design from now on. She had cut and assembled small boxes of their delicious chocolate and added decorative touches—spirals or rosettes or bows formed of tinted chocolate, actually painted onto the lid and sides—to be filled with more candy cubes topped by sugared violets. 

Again, acceding to her request, Caroline had begun to order specialty products to sell, either empty or packed with their own products. Fancy cocoa tins; fine porcelain German chocolate sets; silk-applied French chocolate trade cards; Royal Worcester pots de crème; hand-etched chocolate caskets and canisters; miniature bottles made of chocolate, filled with liquid flavorings, and wrapped in foil; exquisitely decorated sterling silver containers of all shapes and sizes; and Limoges candy dishes lined the display shelves. For anyone wanting to try creating their own delicacies, Northfield’s also sold chocolate molds, wooden stamps, copper cauldrons, and the like.

Entering the shop each day, and considering all the possibilities that lay before her, Melinda felt excited and stimulated; her imagination raced, full of ideas to be brought to fruition. She pitied anyone not actively involved in such a life who had nothing similar to look forward to.

Part of Melinda’s charm lay in her absolute bubbling enthusiasm. She entered into each and every activity with fervor, with cheer, with energy that seemed to light up her sunshine yellow hair with sass and sizzle.

Such an attitude was not surprising, given her background and upbringing. Surrounded by loving parents and two loving and protective siblings, she had grown up to think and behave not only intelligently, but independently and confidently.

“Oh, I do like the patterns on those pretty eggs.” Her mother, passing by Melinda’s worktable, ooh’d and aah’d with pleasure. “Our customers will literally eat them up, every last one.”

“I thought this might be a pre-Easter showcase. And I’ll offer an area where anyone can sample the newest flavor. People dearly love trying the latest of anything, I’ve noticed.”

Caroline patted her daughter on the shoulder. “You are an astute businesswoman, my dear.” She chuckled with the honest compliment. “You can never go wrong when you correctly read what a patron is secretly wishing for.”

Yes, indeed, Melinda seemed to be the golden child. 

What didn’t lie within reach of her outstretched fingertips was a beau, a good old-fashioned gentleman with an eye toward marriage.

Not that, at nineteen, she was ready to tie herself down. No, siree, despite her parents’ gentle prodding in that direction. She had no use for a husband for at least another ten years or so. She had too many things to accomplish yet, without being hindered by someone who preferred she stay at home all day washing floors and raising little ones.

Besides, she had her fill of the wedding game with her sister.

And with men in general.

Especially one man named Sven Lexington, who had, in just a short time, become the bane of her existence.


Chapter Two

“Your ma’s got dinner on the table, son. Wanna finish up there, so you can come in and eat?”

Sven Lexington turned his head away from the heat of the blazing forge to acknowledge the man who had just appeared in the doorway, shadowed by a dim interior. “Sure, Pop. Just one more to finish and cool. Tell Ma I’ll need about ten minutes or so.”

As Peter shambled away, favoring his left leg as usual, Sven went back to this morning’s job: shoeing a big gray Percheron. He’d already pried off the old, misshapen shoes, cleaned and filed down each hoof, and heated and beaten the new shoes into submission to be replaced. Three had been completed to his satisfaction, and he was working now on the fourth.

Strong and mighty as Sven’s muscles were, lifting each leg of the big stallion was like having to support a railroad tie, all on his own. Besides which, Nipper, the client, was a leaner. He seemed to appreciate that this puny human was kind enough to serve as prop for several hundred pounds of horse weight and was quite content to have done whatever needed to be done, while he dozed in the warmth of the blacksmith shop.

Swiping the sweat off his face with one shirt sleeve—even though temperatures outside on this mild March day had risen no higher than fifty degrees—Sven finished with a last few dexterous slams to the molten shoe over the fire. Then, with hands still gloved, he used tongs to plunge the completed project into cool water. Steam hissed and sizzled, rising up into the air with a vengeance.

“No wonder I’m so danged hot,” he muttered. “Can’t wait till summer in this place. All right, horse, let’s get to work on this last’n so I can go eat. Lift your leg, goldarn it, and hold still.”

Nipper, unfazed, turned his great head, looked the man over, and then blew a raspberry. The equivalent of a horse laugh, in Sven’s estimation, and he could only laugh wearily in response.

“Yeah, you’re quite the feller,” he said, slapping the nearest flank. “And the envy of all the mares roundabout, with these fitted new shoes.”

Once the stallion’s owner had come to collect him, Sven would be free, unless some job cropped up at the last minute. Meanwhile, he was certainly looking forward to dinner. Ma might have her sick days and all, but she had never lost her talent for concocting good meals.

He was holding the horseshoe in precise alignment and beginning to lightly tap the tapered nails into place when an off-tune whistle outside the door announced the expected arrival of Arthur Merritt.

“Heard you had a job to do that’s got you buffaloed,” he said cheerfully, upon entrance. “Thought I’d come offer my expert help. Hello there, Nipper.” The greeting was accompanied by a few rubs of the long, sensitive ears and a quick pat on the muzzle.

“You only come in when it’s time to eat dinner,” complained Sven around a mouthful of shoe nails. “Otherwise, you’d be sleepin’ in the sun like the laziest turtle that ever was.”

Arthur, a cunning black-haired troubadour of the trail, put a dramatic hand to his chest. “Why, pard, I am wounded. Wounded, I tell you. And after all our years of fellowship, and all the time I’ve spent tutorin’ you on the lessons of life.”

Sven snorted, flexed the muscles of his arched back, and continued tapping.

The two men were close in age, similar in temperament, and a near match in coloring of dark hair and complexion—although Arthur’s eyes were the dark velvety brown of the born philanderer and Sven’s held the clear cool green of some Nordic ancestor’s icy fjords. Even the wide-shouldered, slim-hipped build of both seemed much the same. 

They claimed an easy but tight-knit friendship of long standing; and, since Arthur had struck out for the west by himself as a boy, leaving his parents behind in St. Louis, the Lexington family had adopted him as one of their own. Thus, he joined Sven’s older brother, Corey, Sven himself, and young Abdiel, only nine years old.

The Lexington’s had survived a misfortune by the skin of their teeth. 

A cholera epidemic had left Martha Lexington and her baby son, Abdiel—the two most vulnerable members—in frail health. Their immune systems were compromised and their fragile bodies were at risk of nearly any disease which might come along. And there were a lot. Eventually, between medical bills and illness, the family had lost the small farm from which they had made their living. A few years later, their second farm had been foreclosed upon by the bank due to crop failures, Peter’s left leg broken in a buckboard accident, and livestock disease.

The two older boys’ improvement and perfection of a talent for blacksmithing had carried them through until now, with Sven’s strong right arm providing the solid framework for their business and Arthur’s gadfly expertise adding support in every other facet.

As second eldest son, Sven knew little of his parents’ finances. He doubted that even Corey was aware of the ins and outs of their monetary affairs—whether payments for this and that were current, whether any cash could be saved for a rainy day. Fortunately, demands for farrier services had not only held steady but increased, as ranchers, farmers, and every livestock owner saw the value in tending their animals’ requirements before an emergency took place.

Sven’s needs were simple and his wants few. Give him an honest day’s labor, a good hearty meal, clean clothing, a beer now and then, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep, and he was mostly content. Oh, and maybe a pretty girl to look at on occasion.

“Done,” said Sven, on what was almost a gasp as he released the horse’s heavy leg to the ground. “Glad this doesn’t happen too often, Nipper. It’s more’n I can do, heftin’ a quarter-ton of your weight.” Straightening, he massaged the small of his aching back and drew in several sustaining breaths.

“Well, son, your work sure meets with my approval,” chuckled Arthur, peering over his friend’s shoulder. “You take a few minutes to recover; I’ll escort this feller to the pasture till Porter John comes to retrieve his property.”

Yes, sir, a pretty girl, Sven silently mused as he removed his leather apron to hang from its accustomed hook. Lots are available in this bustling western city of over 100,000 residents. But none, in his opinion, any prettier than the youngest Northfield daughter—Melinda, with her clean, sweet milkmaid’s appearance and hair the color of autumn wheat.

The problem was, due to a complete mix-up involving members of each family, the lady would have nothing to do with him, even had he tried to pursue her. However, with the arrogant touch-me-not attitude he had encountered from Miss Northfield during their single confrontation, and her look-down-the-nose aura of pure contempt, he had done his best to steer clear of the whole bunch.

“What a shrew,” he muttered under his breath in recollection, as he washed up from the nearby basin. “Maybe things woulda been different if her sister and my brother hadn’t complicated matters. Phew. Talk about a fuss.”

The whole thing had started a year ago, when the Northfields first showed up in town with their plan to open a chocolatier. Corey, his yen for business already scenting something new in the air, had investigated. More than that. He had tripped over the threshold of Northfield’s fine walnut floor and fallen flat on his belly at the very feet of Miss Elizabeth Northfield.

She was a beauty; Sven would certainly admit to that fact. 

And Corey had fallen for her in more ways than one.

His eager elder brother had immediately begun squiring Miss Libby around the city. They went to plays and musicals at the opera house, stylish restaurants, and neighborhood dances. Within just a few short weeks, the inseparable couple was engaged, with a wedding date set in the near future.

Then Corey had ruined both families’ fond hopes for the future.

Word had leaked out that, despite the betrothal which set boundaries for decent behavior, Corey, a popular man about town, was still playing the field. He was the life of the party with Miss Ellen O’Dell; he escorted Miss Amy Wyeth to the First Centennial Bank’s annual softball competition and outdoor picnic; he was seen mooning in a shadowed doorway with Miss Grace Ann Harper.

From what Sven had heard—second-hand from his dazed brother, who had foolishly assumed his fiancée would overlook such transgressions—Libby was, at first, disbelieving, then furious, then crushed at this lack of respect, this lack of honor. She had allowed Corey into her presence only one more time, just long enough to break off the betrothal and throw her ring in his face.

The rejected suitor had recovered fairly easily, with no fatal pricks to the heart.

As for Miss Libby, she had quickly married an older man, one Tucker Sorvino, chosen by her parents, and had recently given birth to a baby boy named David. Either prematurely, with an eight-month-pregnancy, or due to some other reason—according to the wagging tongues.

Because Sven had dared to defend his brother in an indefensible position, he had become the enemy, as far as lovely Miss Melinda was concerned. She despised the worthless Corey. She had coldly advised that she held him and his family beneath contempt. …and that included the man’s younger brother.

Then she turned on her heel and stalked away, leaving Sven hot-bloodedly angry at his lost chance to explain the situation. He hoped the situation had an explanation. He was left frustrated and ready to chew down a few of his horseshoe nails.

Not that their paths would ever cross again, anyway, but Sven vowed to remain strictly in his own neighborhood, far away from the rarefied heights of Northfield’s Confectionary store and residence.

“Ain’t cha ready yet?” complained Arthur, returning to the blacksmith shop. “I can smell your ma’s beef stew clear out here.”

“And how do you know she’s made beef stew?” Sven asked, as he finished rinsing and drying wet soapy hands.

“Well, surely you didn’t expect me not to check in the kitchen before I come to fetch you?” 

“Why, no. I surely did not,” Sven mildly agreed. “All right, I’m done. Let’s hit the food trough.”

The worst part of that confrontation between the would-be in-laws?

It had taken place right on the Lexington’s humble doorstep. 

Melinda had behaved in a similarly protective manner toward her sister as Sven had toward his brother; and, with rumors flying about Corey’s disloyalty to the woman he had asked to be his wife, she had come directly to the source to find out, on Libby’s behalf, what was going on.

She had overheard Sven insisting his brother break the engagement instead of leading on an innocent party. That was unfair to them both, and Corey needed to end his relationship with Libby, since he obviously had no intention of remaining faithful.

Sven had seen Melinda on a few occasions and thought she was not only pretty, but dignified, and as modest as his mother’s black silk hat. She had flown into a rage at how her sister had been deceived and had all but declared war upon his family. 

Right on this very doorstep, reflected the farrier, as he bypassed the front for the back entrance into the kitchen. And the foofaraw had resulted in Corey casting the dust of Denver from his heels and escaping to Chicago, thus leaving the whole mess in the hands of his forsaken family.

Now, just what on earth had brought all this to the forefront?

What reminder had set his memory cells to hauling up all that old and uncomfortable baggage?

Probably the flyer he had noticed first thing this morning. Posted in the window of Morrison’s Mercantile, the local outpost of all things good and interesting, it had announced what wonderful, magical delicacies would be available for sale at Northfield’s, for now and for the upcoming holiday.

“Hey, Ma.” Sven, an affectionate fellow, brushed his cool cheek against his mother’s as he took his place at the table. “Somethin’ sure smells good. Beef stew, Artie mentioned.”

“Your favorite, son.” Smiling, she gestured for everyone to have a seat while she dished up. “Abbie, did you wash?”

“Sure did, Ma. See?” The boy raised both hands for inspection.

“It certainly seems you did. And no farther than your wrists, I’m guessing. Roll up your sleeves and go try again.”

Typical meal conversation, Sven thought, grinning. All the childhood mischief of his own doing, years ago, seemed to have been picked up by his youngest brother. Must be a male thing, this bedeviling of parents.

With everyone seated, and Peter’s blessing asked upon the food they were about to eat, talk became general as dishes were passed and cutlery clinked. 

“We have a letter from Corey today,” Martha, handing around a plate of fluffy hot biscuits, said with some satisfaction.

“Yeah? Still doin’ okay by himself?”

“He got himself hooked up with some kinda new business. What was it, Ma?” Abdiel appealed to his mother.

“Well, the general type is livery, so I understand. Horses and buggies and the like. But something to do with these vehicles,” she explained, sounding puzzled, “that run on four tires and whatever. Horseless carriages? Corey claims it’s the up-and-coming thing.”

Sven scooped out another helping of the stew. It was delicious, made with the spices his mother liked to add, and he’d worked hard all morning. “I’ve heard of ’em. Strange lookin’ machines seem to be held together with balin’ wire and twine. But I doubt people are ever gonna give up completely on horses. Right, Pop?”

Silence. All eyes turned to the head of the household, who was staring down at his plate while he slowly but steadily shoveled tender beef and vegetables into his mouth.

“Peter?” His wife’s voice gently returned him to the present.

Looking up, he essayed a small smile. “Oh. Sorry. Reckon I was wool-gatherin’ again. What did you ask?”

Sven, favoring the older man with a look of concern, repeated his casual question, and the conversation picked up once more, with each offering an opinion as to the future viability of these strange and exotic vehicles. But Sven wasn’t fooled. His father was worrying again, and no doubt about the lack of income to ward off the outgo of finances at the Lexington residence. Part was due to current bills, he knew; part was due to trying to catch up on past bills that had gone to save their home from greedy speculators. 

Life did sometimes seem so hideously unfair. There was Peter Lexington, doing the best he could to provide for his family in every way he knew how, and yet still on the path to failure. What was the secret to financial success? 

“Well, what else did Corey have to say, Ma?” Abdiel, as brown-haired and brown-eyed as his father, had waited patiently for more information. 

Martha paused for a sip of coffee, then related the sentences referring to her son’s doings. Not much—Corey was neither a regular nor an enlightening letter writer—but he did include bare-bones personal updates as well as Chicago Tribune headlines.

“It must be awful excitin’,” mused Abdiel, after his mother had finished, “goin’ so far away. But I sure do miss him, Ma.”

Touched, she reached over to smooth down his cowlick with a caressing movement. “As do we all, Abbie,” she said tenderly. “As do we all.”

“A Blacksmith’s Western Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Melinda Northfield, deeply invested in her family’s chocolate business, dreams of owning her own shop, resisting her parents’ insistence on an arranged marriage. When Sven enters her life unexpectedly amidst her father’s matchmaking efforts with Bret Goodman, Melinda’s heart is thrown into turmoil as she grapples with conflicting emotions about love…

Can Melinda find the courage to pursue her dreams and her connection with Sven?

Sven Lexington, familiar with life’s hardships, finds himself drawn into the orbit of the Northfield Confectionary in search of additional income. Despite forming a deep bond with Melinda, Sven’s burgeoning love for her is threatened by the looming shadow of an enemy. As their relationship blossoms, Sven struggles with emotions he never thought possible, unaware of the tangled web of complications awaiting him.

Will Sven find the courage to confess his growing affection to Melinda, risking everything for a chance at love?

When Sven saves Melinda from a near accident, their bond deepens, igniting unexpected feelings on both sides. However, as they confront challenges together, including a harrowing kidnapping, their love prevails. Can Melinda and Sven overcome the shadows of their pasts and forge a future together, free from the specter of danger and fear?

“A Blacksmith’s Western Love” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

One thought on “A Blacksmith’s Western Love (Preview)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *