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
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!

Read an excerpt here.

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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