Sunday, March 5, 2023

"Why I Kissed You" by Christine Combe ~ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm thrilled to welcome Christine Combe here today with her new book, Why I Kissed You.

Please give a warm welcome to Christine!

Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting So Little Time for the very first time today! Candy has graciously allowed me to take over the blog for a day to talk to you about my newest release, Why I kissed You. This is actually my seventh JAFF novel to date, though the first one released in 2023.

Why I Kissed You
by Christine Combe


Although she vehemently refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet soon learns that an unexplainable moment of passion that occurred between them has led a furious Lady Catherine de Bourgh to demand she be thrown out of Mr. Collins’ house! 

Fitzwilliam Darcy, although his pride was wounded by Elizabeth’s rejection, finds he cannot allow her to be harmed by his aunt’s fanciful ambition for a marriage between him and her daughter. Fearing further action may be taken to damage Elizabeth’s reputation, he knows that marriage is the only form of protection he can offer her. 

Elizabeth and Darcy travel to London to begin the arrangements for a wedding that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be taking place. In the midst of shopping for wedding clothes, sharing the news with family, and meeting Darcy’s noble relatives, Elizabeth is coming to learn more about who Darcy really is than she ever knew before. At the same time, Darcy is navigating the intricacies of realizing how wrong it is to interfere in the lives of others and how to deserve forgiveness from a friend. 

Though they act quickly to begin a new life together where one person is in love and the other now unsure of their feelings, Elizabeth and Darcy can’t stop one final attempt to keep them apart forever. But faith and love—and a little bit of luck—will play their part in determining whether there is a chance to pursue the happily ever after that both of them desperately want.
In this new story, I deviated from the canon at Hunsford, but that’s not the only change! Instead of writing Elizabeth a letter, Darcy actually talks to her—I turned the letter into a conversation! If you’ve been following along on the tour so far, here’s the 2nd half of chapter 2:

     They had come to a point on the road where a grassy lane—more a footpath, really—lead off into that favorite walk which Elizabeth had earlier avoided. She decided to turn that way in the hope of still finding some measure of peace in her exercise. Darcy could surely have nothing further to say to her—he’d explained his reasons for interfering with Bingley and Jane, but not at all to her satisfaction. Indeed, there were no words he could have said to dispel her anger there. Not even the recollection of Charlotte having once observed that Jane might want to show more than she felt—which admittedly stung a little in light of Darcy’s similar judgment of her sister’s behaviour—could make her believe that Jane had done anything wrong. 
     “Will you hear me further?” Darcy asked her. 
     “Have I any choice in the matter?” Elizabeth retorted.
     “You do,” he replied evenly. “However, I asked that you allow me to address the two offences of which I was accused. I have done with one but not the other.”
     “Oh yes—your cruelty to Mr. Wickham,” said she, glancing sidelong at him. “Pray make as poor an attempt to justify how you wronged him as you have wronged my sister and Mr. Bingley.”
     Darcy sighed…and then launched into a narrative which stunned Elizabeth to her core. That Wickham had grown up on the Pemberley estate as the son of old Mr. Darcy’s steward, that he had been Mr. Darcy’s godson and supported with a gentleman’s education at Cambridge, she had heard from Wickham himself. The first difference in their stories to give her pause was in the handling of the living. Darcy explained that his father had hoped Mr. Wickham would make the church his profession, for his manners were even then so engaging as to give the elder man the highest opinion of him and so had intended to provide him a living. 
     “As for myself, it is many, many years since I first began to think of him in a very different manner,” said Darcy in a bitter voice. “The vicious propensities, the want of principle, which he was careful to guard from the knowledge of his best friend, could not escape the observation of a young man of nearly the same age with himself, and who had opportunities of seeing him in unguarded moments, which my father could not have. Here again I shall give you pain—to what degree you only can tell. But whatever may be the sentiments which Mr. Wickham has created, a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent me from unfolding his real character. It adds even another motive.”
     The living, which Wickham had told Elizabeth he was promised, was to be his only if he took orders. Darcy told her that, about six months after the death of both their fathers some five years before, Wickham had written to say he had resolved against taking orders and instead wished to study the law. Knowing that Wickham ought not to be a clergyman, he thus hoped rather than believed the declaration to be sincere. Wickham’s letter said he hoped Darcy should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage in lieu of the preferment, as the interest of a legacy of one thousand pounds, left to him by old Mr. Darcy, would be insufficient to support the pursuit of that career. 
     “Wickham resigned all claim to assistance in the church,” Darcy continued, “were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it and accepted in return three thousand pounds.”
     Elizabeth could not stifle the soft gasp that erupted from her. Four thousand pounds, a combination of his legacy and compensation, was no trifle!
     Her companion went on without acknowledging her surprise. “All connexion between us seemed now dissolved. I thought too ill of him to invite him to Pemberley or admit his society in town. In town, I believe, he chiefly lived, but his studying the law was a mere pretense; and being now free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and dissipation. For about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, when his dissolute style of living had rendered his circumstances desperate, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation.”
     “But… You said he willingly gave it up in exchange for money,” Elizabeth remarked. “I… I will admit to being rather surprised he ever thought that you would be of a mind to grant him that over which he had no longer had any semblance of rights to claim, even if you had no other person to provide for.”
     She cleared her throat and, now feeling the first stirrings of shame, looked down at her feet as she said in a lower voice, “He told me you had denied him the living out of spite and jealousy, against the wishes of your father.”
     “Allow me to speculate that you were the only one with whom he shared this confidence until after I’d left Netherfield?” When Elizabeth nodded, Darcy snorted softly. “I am not surprised. When it was still possible that I might refute his claims and prove him a liar, he limited the number of his confidantes to one, then my absence—and ability to both blacken his character and defend my own—loosened his tongue. Nor does it surprise me he was as violent in his abuse of me to others as in his reproaches to myself. You will hardly blame me, in light of this knowledge, for refusing to comply with his entreaty, or for resisting every repetition of it.”
     “N-no, sir, I cannot,” Elizabeth confessed. “I… Four thousand pounds gone in only three years… How can anyone be so irresponsible?”
     Darcy drew a breath and said, “Though I have thus far said enough, I think, to acquit me of wrongdoing in regard to Mr. Wickham, I have more to say that will completely open his real character to you.” 
     Unable to think of what other lies she had foolishly believed that might be revealed as such, Elizabeth wordlessly gestured for Darcy to continue. Her mortification at having believed Wickham’s claims, so inappropriately communicated to a person he had only just met, paled immeasurably in comparison to the horror she felt on hearing how—in league with Miss Darcy’s former companion—Wickham had pursued the much younger girl to Ramsgate, where she had been taken on holiday. Darcy was to join her there but had been delayed, and Wickham had availed himself of the opportunity to attach himself to her and persuade Georgiana Darcy that she was in love with him, and that they ought to elope to Scotland. Darcy, his business concluded earlier than expected, went on to Ramsgate without sending word of his coming and thus arrived before the day of the planned elopement. Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she looked up to as almost a father, acknowledged the whole at once.
     “You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister’s credit and feelings prevented any public exposure; but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, who left the place immediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge. Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sister’s fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds; but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong inducement. His revenge would have been complete indeed, and my sister’s happiness ruined forever.” 
     Elizabeth felt herself unequal to making any reply; indeed, she found herself feeling rather ill. How could she have been so very blind? 
     “Miss Bennet, are you well? You’ve gone rather pale,” said Darcy then, and the concern in his voice—that he could even feel concern for her after all that had passed between them—only served to heighten her agitation. 
     “Come,” said Darcy, taking her gently by the elbow. “Come, you must sit down.” 
     He guided her over to a fallen tree at the side of the path, and Elizabeth sat upon it with a shaky breath. “I… I had no idea he was…” 
     She looked up at him. “And this is a faithful narrative?” she asked, then instantly feared that she had offended him further by asking—why would he have involved his sister in the tale were any part of it false?
     Darcy nodded grimly. “You will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. His success in deceiving you is not to be wondered at, ignorant as you previously were of everything concerning us both. Detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination.”
     “No,” she replied with a mirthless chuckle. “No, my inclination was to be happy in having found someone who disliked you as much as I did.”
     Elizabeth looked up at him again. “Why did you not tell me all of this last night?”
     “In light of the vexation I felt at your rejection of my offer and the manner in which it was delivered—as well as my utter confusion as to what had motivated me to kiss you—I was not then master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. However, for the truth of all this, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitzwilliam, who, from our near relationship and constant intimacy, and still more as one of the executors of my father’s will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of these transactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions valueless—”
     Elizabeth quickly held up her hand. “No, sir, that I could not… that is… I must confess that when you asked to speak with me, I had had no idea at all what you might say. And now I am so overcome with my own feelings that I at present know not what to say myself, except to own how blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd I have been.” 
     In fact, she was quickly growing absolutely ashamed of herself. How despicably have I acted! she cried silently. I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! Oh, why did I not listen to Jane? Why did I disdain her advice to me? How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. 
     “Until this moment, I never knew myself,” she whispered.


That was certainly an enlightening conversation for Elizabeth! Do you think hearing the truth might ease her anger toward Darcy faster than a letter?

About the Author

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time
admirer of Jane Austen's work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.

Connect with Christine


Blog Tour Schedule

March 6 - So Little Time... You're here!

Why I Kissed You is now available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions! 

Buy: Amazon (paid link)

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Leave a comment on today’s blog for a chance to win your very own Kindle copy—and follow along on the blog tour for a chance to win a signed paperback! If for any reason, you cannot comment on a blog, notify me (Christine) by email, and I will be sure to add you to the drawing for the paperback.

  • One of my lucky readers who comments today (Mar. 6th) will be randomly picked by Christine for the eBook.
  • All winners and the signed paperback winner will be announced on Christine's blog on Mar. 20th. 
Good luck!

Thank you so much, Christine, for visiting us today! That excerpt was lovely! I'm so glad they were able to speak to one another. Yes, I believe that would clear the air much faster.

Friends, what are your thoughts? We'd love to hear! Plus, don't forget to comment to enter the giveaway. 😃 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen ~ Cover Reveal!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to bring you another cover reveal! Julie Klassen has a new book, A Winter by the Sea, coming out in December 2023! It's my pleasure to be part of the cover reveal book tour! 

Before we see the cover, here's a word from Julie Klassen:

Dear Readers,

I am excited to give you an insider’s look at my December 2023 novel, A Winter by the Sea. This is the second book in the On Devonshire Shores series. Book One, The Sisters of Sea View, has been enthusiastically received and reviewed. I am grateful for each of you who helped spread the word about it!

During my research, I learned that the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby daughter stayed in Woolbrook Cottage (very near fictional Sea View) during the winter of 1819-1820. I instantly knew I wanted to include them in the novel to give readers a glimpse of the early life of Queen Victoria and her parents. The royal party arrived with too many attendants to accommodate at Woolbrook, so some were lodged elsewhere. I thought it would be fun to have a few staff members stay at Sea View, including a pastry chef who invades their kitchen, a man in desperate straits, and the duke’s handsome private secretary.

It was also interesting to write a seaside novel set during wintertime (it was unusually cold and snowy that year). Because I live in frigid Minnesota, cold weather details and sensations were easy to imagine. 😊

When I began writing this series, I had not yet traveled to Sidmouth, where the series is set. I am happy to say I was able to visit in August 2022 and was thrilled to experience this delightful town in person. The highlight of that trip was meeting the staff and volunteers of the Sidmouth Museum who have been extremely helpful in answering research questions and checking setting details for me.

A Winter by the Sea focuses on beautiful Emily Summers, who finds herself caught up in two rivalries. First, while striving to further her writing aspirations, Emily is torn between her loyalty to a well-established publisher & bookseller and his flamboyant competitor. Second, despite her best intentions, she is attracted to one of their new guests, but an old love comes to town, determined to renew their courtship.

I hope you are eager to return with me to the English seaside for Book Two of the On Devonshire Shores series. Thank you for all you do to support my books, and readers everywhere! 

Gratefully, Julie

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen.
Her books have sold more than a million copies and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been honored with the Minnesota Book Award, Midwest Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Now without further ado, here's the cover!

Book Description

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal couple's male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they've invited mysterious secrets and the sweet possibility of romance into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers approaches a local publisher in hopes of fulfilling her dream of becoming an author. When he turns her down, his dashing competitor promises to consider her novel if she will first write a new Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily accepts and begins researching with the help of the Duke of Kent's handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she used to hold dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.

Purchase Links

Amazon (paid link) • Barnes & NobleBook DepositoryBookshop

Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

Many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress @ AustenprosePR for organizing and including me on this tour! 

Wow! This looks like another fantastic book! Be sure to pre-order your copy! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord ~ Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm super excited to share with you all the cover reveal for Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connally! 

But first, here's a message from the author:

Hello, Dear Readers,

I’m incredibly honored you’re here to help me reveal the cover for the first book in my new historical mystery series, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord.

The idea for this book took hold during the pandemic, when I was watching period dramas on the regular, including all my favorite Jane Austen adaptations and Downton Abbey. And of course, in nearly every one, there was the notion of the unmarried woman being a rather pitiable character. I began thinking about how the spinsters never got to be in the limelight, especially in the Regency period. They were hardly ever seen as strong, or capable, or worthy of respect, and I thought to myself that a main character who valued her independence and embraced her decision not to marry would make for a heroine I would like to write.

And thus, dear readers, I am overjoyed to introduce you to Lady Petra Forsyth. Daughter of the Fifth Earl of Holbrook, accomplished equestrienne, goddaughter to the Duchess of Hillmorton, and a woman in possession of her own fortune. 

After the death of her fiancé three years ago, Lady Petra’s already headstrong ways—which include occasionally riding astride in her brother’s old breeches—came to include living her life on her own terms. That is, without a husband—though not everyone sees her decision as the right one, or the ladylike one. And when the purported death of a dear friend seems intertwined with mentions of a mysterious physician, Petra does the most unladylike thing she can: she starts asking questions.

When Petra formed in my mind as a character, I saw her with little bits of some of my favorite…well, almost-spinsters. Such as Emma Woodhouse, who was initially willing to go her own way and remain unmarried in a time where doing just that was an incredible risk for a woman, no matter what her financial status. And then there’s Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith, who recognized her talents and carved out a satisfying life for herself as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. She didn’t let it stop her from romance, either… 

Another thing my inspirations for Petra have in common is that I feel they would all have made excellent amateur sleuths. Some would say it’s because spinsters have an inclination toward nosiness, but I would say it’s their sharp minds and a refusal to give up on what’s important. I think Petra certainly begins to develop the knack for investigating—whether or not those around her approve—and I very much hope you’ll enjoy riding alongside her for her very first adventure.

All my best,


Now for the cover reveal! 

Book Description

Bridgerton meets Agatha Christie in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord, a dazzling first entry in a terrific new Regency-era cozy series with a feminist spin.

When Lady Petra Forsyth’s fiancé and soulmate dies just weeks ahead of their wedding, she makes the shocking proclamation―in front of London’s loosest lips―that she will never remarry. A woman of independent means, Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life has passed, nor does she intend to become confined to her country home. Instead, she uses her title to gain access to elite spaces and enjoy the best of society without expectations.

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of “melancholia” while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper―uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Lady Petra has reason to believe her friend is not dead, but a prisoner, her own headstrong actions and thirst for independence are used to put her own freedom in jeopardy.

Purchase Links

Amazon (paid link) • Barnes & NobleBook DepositoryBookshop 

Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

Author Bio

Celeste Connally is an Agatha Award nominee, and a former
freelance writer and editor. A lifelong devotee of historical novels and adaptations fueled by her passion for history—plus weekly doses of PBS Masterpiece—Celeste loves reading and writing about women from the past who didn’t always do as they were told.


* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Author Celeste Connally and her publisher Minotaur Books are generously offering a fabulous giveaway! 

Here are the giveaway details:

Two (2) winners (selected at random by Rafflecopter) will receive one (1) advanced reader’s paperback copy of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord.  One (1) winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) will receive one (1) advanced reader’s paperback copy of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord and a gift prize package containing the following: 

  1. A Jane Austen 'Obstinate, Headstrong Girl' mug from the Jane Austen Centre giftshop. 
  2. A bookmark, and a bookplate signed by the author.
  3. A medley of Harney & Sons teas in various flavors individually wrapped teabags. 
  4. A handmade ceramic tea tidy in the shape of a teapot for teabags.
  5. A box of English tea biscuits. 

Giveaway period: Open from 12:01 am Pacific time 02/22/23 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 03/19/23.

Terms & Conditions:

The giveaway is hosted by Celeste Connally and Minotaur Books. No purchase is necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the books and prizes to the winners. Void where prohibited. One giveaway item per eligible entrant. 

Announcement of Winner: 

Visit author Celeste Connally’s website on March 20, 2023, to see if you won one of the three prizes.

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to this one! 

Monday, January 23, 2023

A Long Way from Clare by Robert W. Smith ~ Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Happy Tuesday, my friends! It's my pleasure to be part of the A Long Way from Clare Blog Tour! Robert W. Smith has stopped by to share an excerpt from his new book! Plus, Meryton Press is giving away an eCopy of the book. Details are at the bottom of this post. 

     First of all, thank you to Candy for hosting me. If you like an off-beat love story sprinkled with a mystery and wrapped in history with a dash of social commentary, this book might be for you. I picked an excerpt that gives you a window into my Conor Dolan. He’s a bright, young immigrant lawyer, a bit socially inept with limited experience in matters of the heart, the kind who would flash you puppy eyes in a bar but freeze up when you smile back. Conor’s visit to Chicago has morphed into a mystery he’s determined to unravel. The lawyer has allied himself with an alluring, middle-aged widow named Rebecca Fletcher and Father Brendan White, a politically savvy Catholic priest. Rebecca is “tutoring” the young man in the ways of life and love and Father Brendan guides him through the labyrinth that is Chicago politics. Maureen Brogan is young, Irish firebrand of a single mother, herself involved up to her ears in Conor’s mystery. Both were Father Brendan’s unescorted guests for dinner at the rectory earlier tonight and Conor has been tasked by Brendan to escort young Maureen home safely. The sometimes thick-headed young man is trying to dissect the evening’s dynamics…


Late fall, 1903, Chicago

On the trolley back south, Conor wondered whether Maureen’s presence at the dinner, the seating arrangements, even this trolley ride home were coincidence or some sort of sinister plot by his devious friend, Father Brendan. He never thought of his relationship with Maureen Brogan as a courtship, nor had he harbored any desire to court the girl. Still, his initial opinion of Maureen had been unfair, unkind even. There was substance in Maureen Brogan, intelligence to spare, and the kind of independence he so much admired in Rebecca Fletcher. And make no mistake, he thought, Maureen was an attractive woman. There was no denying the fact.

Out of nowhere, Maureen asked from the seat beside him, “So what did ye think of Father Brendan’s matchmaking then?”

He laughed. “Yes, I noticed. It was a little embarrassing, I suppose, you and I being more or less business acquaintances—I mean in the matter of my brother.”

She kept her eyes trained straight ahead. “Of course, in the matter of yeer brother…and all.”

Conor found it an uncomfortable conversation, so he tried to inject humor. “Well, I suppose a Catholic priest with a girlfriend would want to see everyone with a girlfriend.”

His attempt at humor flopped. “’Tis a myth, if ye ask me. Father Brendan is a complicated pairson. He feels guilty about being a priest, t’inks he has it too easy. He doesn’t want people to see him as marally superior, so he makes up sins about himself, sins he never committed. It makes him feel more like the rest of us poor fools. Besides, you already have a garlfriend, and, if you ask me, she’s too old far ye, no matter how nice she is. I t’ink the garlfriend is in his fookin’ head.”

Conor knew better, but Maureen Brogan had effectively shut the lawyer’s mouth. Brendan must have told her about Rebecca, but who told Brendan? Outside Maureen’s flat, he stopped at the exterior door of the house and tipped his trademark homburg, “Goodnight, Maureen. It was a very pleasant day.”

Still holding little Patrick’s hand in hers, she took a step toward Conor, raised herself up on dainty tiptoes and kissed him gently on the lips. “Goodnight, Conor Dolan, and t’ank ye for a wonderful day.”

On the streetcar ride east, it occurred to him how complicated his life had become in the last two months. He had learned much about women, about sex, even about the basest proclivities of human nature. And that was only his personal life. The more he learned, the more confused he became. He recalled a paraphrased quote from Oscar Wilde to the effect that, “Experience is the name men give to their biggest mistakes.”

He hopped off the streetcar at LaSalle and caught a southbound transfer with no wait. The car was empty but for a shabbily dressed woman with a young boy playing a harmonica. He sat facing them in the open car, and he was struck by the woman’s uncanny resemblance to his own mother. For the first time since his arrival, Conor thought consciously about his mother, about Ireland, the little white cottage, and the road down to the bog. He remembered the music that filled the family’s evenings as the turf fire cast its shadows along the stone wall. In that moment, he could almost smell the fire and the song of the kettle on the hearthstone.

Pa was proud of the stone house he and his brother had built; the people in their village, most of whom lived in cottages, lauded him for his craftsmanship.

On rare occasions these days, Conor would still dream about his little dog and the incident at the Cliffs of Moher, but that was more a nightmare than a memory, banished to the whim of his unconsciousness.

He passed Murph’s place on the walk home but fought the urge to stop for a nightcap. He would need his rest for the coming days.

A Long Way from Clare
by Robert W. Smith

Blurb: Romance, Kidnapping, and Murder…

Will a young Irish lawyer unravel the secrets or die trying? 

Conor Dolan, a young Irishman, travels to Chicago in 1903 to visit his older brother; instead, he finds a mystery. His journey sparks a quest to peel away secrets and rediscover a dead sibling he idolized but never really knew as he strives to learn the true meaning of brotherhood. 

His search reveals an Irish Republican plot to assassinate a visiting British royal. In the process, he is drawn into an alliance with two women: a mesmerizing Jewish widow and a struggling young Irishwoman. Each teaches Conor existential truths of life and love in her own way. 

But the brother he finds may not be the brother he remembers. A Long Way from Clare is a story of Chicago's early twentieth century immigrants and one man’s struggle with both bigotry and justice in an unforgiving city where no good deed goes unpunished. 

Will Conor find the answers he desperately craves? Or will this trip punch a one-way ticket?
Buy: Amazon US (paid link) • Amazon Universal Link
Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

About the Author

Bob was raised in Chicago, enlisting in the Air Force at age
eighteen during the Vietnam War. Following a year of language training at Syracuse University, he served four years as a Russian Linguist in Security Service Command, a branch of the NSA. He attended DePaul University and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago on the G.I. Bill while working as a Chicago Transit Authority Police Officer. Thirty-odd years as a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago followed. His first book was Immoral Authority (Echelon Press, 2002) followed by Catch a Falling Lawyer (New Leaf Books, 2005) and The Sakhalin Collection (New Leaf Books, 2007, hardcover). In February of 2022, Between the Lines Publishing released Bob’s newest novel, Running with Cannibals, a historical/military thriller based on actual events of the Philippine-American War.

Connect with Robert W. Smith

Blog Tour Schedule

January 24 So Little time…  You're here!
January 27 Elza Reads

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Meryton Press will be giving away one eBook for each stop on the Blog Tour, for a total of six eBooks! For my stop, please leave a comment with a way to contact you, or check back here, where I will announce the winner.


  • One person will win an e-copy of A Long Way from Clare by Robert W. Smith
  • One winner will be randomly picked
  • To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below and leave a way of getting in touch with you, or check back for the winner announcement.
  • Open internationally.
  • The last day to enter the giveaway is Jan 31st, 2023, by the end of the day.

Many thanks to Robert W. Smith for stopping by and sharing an excerpt with us! Congratulations on the release of A Long Way from Clare.

Thanks to Meryton Press for the giveaway! And a big thanks to Janet Taylor @ More Agreeably Engaged for organizing and including me in this blog tour!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Winner of the "Not in Want of a Wife" Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm happy to announce the winner of the Not in Want of a Wife by Amanda Kai eBook giveaway!

Congratulations to Gylnis!


Many thanks to Amanda Kai for visiting here at So Little Time... and for offering one of my readers a copy of her new book! 

Buy: Amazon (paid link) • Universal Book Link
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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Not in Want of a Wife by Amanda Kai ~ Blog Tour ~ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Happy New Year! Do you love fake boyfriend tropes as much as I do? Well then, you might love Amando Kai's new Pride and Prejudice variation, Not in Want of a Wife

Amanda is here today to tell us a little about her new book and  to share an excerpt with us. Plus, she is giving away an eCopy to one of my readers. Details are at the bottom of this page.  


Thanks, Candy, for having me here today at So Little Time!

You mentioned that you love reading the fake girlfriend/boyfriend trope, which is great, because that’s the main trope in my latest Pride and Prejudice variation, Not In Want of a Wife. Of course, since the story is set in the Regency period, “fake courtship” would be the more suitable term for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. 😊 

The fake courtship trope is such a fun one, because you just know that the couple who is pretending to like each other are going to fall in love. I can’t seem to get enough of fake courtship/fake dating scenarios these days.  So naturally, I had to put our Darcy and Lizzy into this situation! My idea really takes off from the Meryton Assembly, where instead of getting off on the wrong foot, Darcy and Elizabeth strike up a secret partnership to make it look like they are courting one another.  I took a little bit of inspiration from the Bridgerton show on Netflix, in which Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings put on their own fake courtship in order to improve Daphne’s appeal after her brother scares away all her suitors.

In my story, however, neither Darcy nor Elizabeth have any desire to get married. They both have a jaded view of love and marriage—Elizabeth, after seeing her sister’s heart get broken seven years prior, and Darcy, after spending years dodging fortune hunters in the marriage mart and after his sister’s near-elopement to Wickham. Because of this, their fake courtship arrangement is purely one of convenience to help Darcy avoid being ensnared by a fortune hunter and to keep Mrs. Bennet off of Elizabeth’s back for finding a suitor. But as we all know, things never go quite according to plan where fake courtships are concerned. 😉 Lots of unintended consequences, twists and turns, and some heartaches, before Darcy and Elizabeth can set aside their pride and prejudice. But, as Jane Austen would say, “My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.” 


Darcy selected a savory bacon-wrapped oyster off the tray and took a cup of tea from a servant that offered it to him. Finding his way to the corner of the room, he hoped Caroline could not find him. He inched his way backwards to the wall until he came upon something soft and squishy.

“Careful there!” a voice cried.

The voice came from none other than the dark-haired Bennet girl, who had herself sequestered in that very corner, trying to enjoy some tea and a few nibbles. 

“Miss Elizabeth, please excuse me,” Darcy apologized, hoping he had her name right.

“You have the right idea,” she said, “trying to hide out in the corner. It’s dreadfully crowded this evening, isn’t it?” A beguiling smile spread across her face and made Darcy’s heart thump. “Don’t worry, I won’t give away your position if I see her.”


“The one you’re hiding from. Mr. Bingley’s sister. Miss Bingley, I should say. Not the older one,” she clarified.

“You saw that, then?”

“Oh yes. It was quite amusing, really.” Miss Elizabeth took a sip of her tea, a twinkle in her eyes.

Darcy seized the chance to ask her the question that had been burning in his mind all evening. “I noticed you have not danced at all this whole evening.”

“An astute observation.” Elizabeth cocked her head to one side.

“And you have positioned yourself so as to be unapproachable by any young men who might be inclined to ask you to dance.”

She nodded. “Also correct.”

“If it is not too bold, might I ask why? On a night like this, why would a young lady such as yourself not want to dance?”

Elizabeth glanced up at him. “I am doing the very same thing you are doing, Mr. Darcy.” The amusement on her lips drove him to distraction.

“And what is that, pray tell?”

“Trying to avoid being maneuvered into the matchmaking frenzy by an overzealous mother.”

The surprise on Darcy’s face made her laugh, so she continued. “I have watched you, this evening. You are not eager to be set upon by any of the eligible ladies here. And I, as you might have seen,” she gestured to Mrs. Bennet on the other side of the room, who was chatting up Mr. Bingley with a blushing Jane standing beside her, “I have an overzealous mama who will do anything to make a good match for her daughters. It has been some time since any wealthy men passed through Meryton. My mother has behaved like a starved vulture from the moment she learned that Mr. Bingley was to lease Netherfield Park. You were not in the room for five minutes before it became known that your fortune is double that of your friend’s. I have no doubt that my mother is only biding her time before she throws me at you.”

“Yes, I am sure my ten-thousand a year holds no draw for you,” Darcy said with a wry laugh. 

“Were I the mercenary sort, I am certain it would!” Elizabeth joined his laugh. “Do not mistake me, Mr. Darcy. I am sure you are a good sort of person who will make your wife very happy one day. But I would never marry a rich man whom I didn’t love, and I shall not make a fool of myself by allowing my mother to push me into such a match for her sake. Only the deepest love could persuade me into matrimony. Which is why I shall probably end up an old maid.” There was a twinkle in her eyes as she said this.

“Surely you don't mean that,” Darcy let out a small chuckle.

“Oh, I do.”

“I mean, there will come a time when someone or other will capture your heart.”

“Well, best of luck to any man who wishes to try!” Elizabeth smiled, raising a small cheer with her tea cup. “But what of you, Mr. Darcy? Have you no wish to settle down and find a suitable wife to make mistress of your grand estate?”

Darcy shook his head. “So far, the only women I have met are interested in nothing more than my sizable estate. Until I can find a woman who loves me for me, and not my wealth, I would rather remain a carefree bachelor. So, I suppose you and I are alike in some ways, Miss Bennet.”

“Indeed, we are.” 

Darcy found Miss Elizabeth to be singular. Certainly, she differed from the women who usually associated with him, who all made it clear they desired his money more than getting to know who he was as a person. Caroline was a model in that respect, a prime example of the sort of woman who looked at Darcy and saw a fortune, a prestigious family line, and a vast estate, rather than a man.

An idea flew into Darcy’s brain. A crazy thought, if he ever had one. And why not? What had he to lose?

“I have a proposition for you, Miss Elizabeth.”

“A proposition? How shocking!” she teased, her eyes dancing with mirth.

Darcy felt his cheeks pink. “Nothing of that sort, I assure you. Everything will be entirely proper. What I am suggesting is, you and I be each other’s cover. A way to throw off all the matchmaking mamas, including your own.”

Elizabeth’s eyebrow went up and a grin spread across her pink lips. “I am intrigued.”

“We shall pretend to court,” Darcy said. “If I am paying exclusive attention to you, then all the other mothers in the village and thereabouts will have no choice but to desist in throwing their daughters at me.”

“And my own mama will be satisfied with the notion that I have captured a rich man!” Elizabeth laughed in glee. Then she stopped short. “But what about as time goes on? If you pay me too much attention, you will be honor-bound to make me an offer. My father would see to it, I am sure, as would my mother. I would not have you trapped so, sir.”

Pleased to hear her say such a thing, Darcy pondered a moment. He snapped his fingers. “When things begin to get too heated, I shall simply leave town, go to another place. It happens all the time, you know, when a young man is seen paying too much attention to a woman he does not plan to marry. He goes away from that area, and after a while, the talk dies down and nobody expects him to come back and propose. And that puts an end to it all.”

Elizabeth thought for a moment. “Hmm. The idea does have merit. When would this proposed departure take place?”

“I do not know. At the moment, I have no pressing business concerns. I am Bingley’s guest, and I am here to help him establish his own household at Netherfield. I always supposed I would stay until the Season, but there is nothing that would prevent me from going to London early, especially as I will likely be making short journeys there from time to time to attend to my business.”

Elizabeth nodded. “It is but a half-day’s ride.”

“Indeed,” Darcy agreed. Their plan seemed to be shaping up nicely. But Elizabeth had a few questions.

“How will we arrange our meetings? It is too risky to send a message.”

“No,” Darcy agreed. “But I am sure we shall meet often enough. No doubt your mother will issue us an invitation soon, if she is anything like you have described. And I can certainly persuade Bingley to invite your family over to Netherfield for a visit. He has even talked of giving a ball this autumn.”

“And there are sure to be other engagements with our mutual acquaintances in the neighborhood during which we may meet,” Elizabeth added.

“All I need to do is ensure that at every opportunity, I single you out when we are together in company,” Darcy said. “If people see us talking together, dancing together, then they will naturally make assumptions about us. It is quite simple, really!”

“Well then! To that point, why not begin this evening?” Elizabeth linked her arm in his. “I hear the musicians tuning their instruments for the next set.”

Darcy smiled. “May I have this dance, then, Miss Elizabeth?”

“You may!” She beamed.

The crowd followed the faint strains of violin, viola, and cello back into the assembly room. To the astonishment of everyone in the room, and the envy of nearly every woman there, Mr. Darcy took his place beside Elizabeth at the front of the line. The scowl on Caroline’s face nearly matched the green of her dress, and Darcy thought he saw one poor girl weeping into her mother’s shoulder. Mrs. Bennet, however, was full of glee. Seeing her next- eldest daughter dancing with the richest man in the room– and in all of Derbyshire– was enough to make her forget her displeasure at the fact that Mr. Bingley had asked Mary King to dance with him on this set.

“Our plan seems to be working,” Elizabeth whispered as the Polonaise began.

“Quite so.” A grin like a Cheshire cat spread across Mr. Darcy’s face.

Not In Want of a Wife
A Pride and Prejudice Variation
The Other Paths Series, Book 1
by Amanda Kai

Mr. Darcy is not in want of a wife. At least, not one that only loves him for his money. Ever since he came of age, Darcy’s been an object of prey to fortune hunters– greedy ladies and their scheming mamas who would do anything to get their hands on his ten-thousand a year and his luxurious estate. Tired of being the most eligible man in any room he walks into, Darcy decides the only way to stave off the fortune hunters is to make himself unavailable to them. 

Elizabeth Bennet is convinced that only the deepest love could persuade her into matrimony, and since that has yet to appear, she would do anything rather than marry without affection. Unfortunately, all her mother's thoughts are bent on finding rich husbands for her and her sisters. With the arrival of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy causing a stir among all the mothers of Meryton, Elizabeth knows it is only a matter of time before her own mother pushes her to try to capture one of these rich gentlemen for herself at all costs. 

Seeing themselves in virtually the same predicament, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth come up with a convenient arrangement: they will pretend to court while Mr. Darcy is staying at Netherfield. Mr. Darcy will get a reprieve from the relentless husband hunters, and Elizabeth can satisfy her mother with the notion that she has landed a suitor. 

But when the time comes for their partnership to end, the feelings that were merely an act have started to become a reality. Will Darcy and Elizabeth find a way to express the feelings that are in their hearts, or will they part ways for good?

Not In Want of a Wife is now available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. 

Buy: Amazon (paid link) • Universal Book Link
All to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

About the Author

Amanda Kai’s love of period dramas and classic literature
inspires her historical romances and other romances.  She is the author of several stories inspired by Jane Austen, including Not In Want of a Wife, Elizabeth’s Secret Admirer, and Marriage and Ministry.  Prior to becoming an author, Amanda enjoyed a successful career as a professional harpist, and danced ballet for twenty years. When she’s not diving into the realm of her imagination, Amanda lives out her own happily ever after in Texas with her husband and three children.

Connect with Amanda Kai

Website • Instagram

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Amanda is generously giving away one eCopy of Not in Want of a Wife to one of my lucky readers! To enter leave a comment below along with a way to get intouch with you.

  • One person will win an e-copy of Not in Want of a Wife by Amanda Kai.
  • One winner will be randomly picked.
  • To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below and include your e-mail with parentheses around (at) and (dot).
  • Open internationally.
  • The last day to enter the giveaway is Jan. 12, 2023, by the end of the day. 

 Good luck!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Amanda! Congratulations on your new book! 

So, friends, doesn't that sound wonderful? A fake courtship! What could go wrong, right? I'm looking forward to this one. Please, leave a comment below to enter the giveaway. 

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