A Long Way from Clare by Robert W. Smith – Excerpt & Giveaway

Good Afternoon everyone,

In the last few months, I’ve been mentioning that I have felt the need to branch out and read more books from other genres, so I am super excited to welcome at From Pemberley to Milton author Robert W. Smith who brings with him an excerpt of an historical mystery 🙂

This is Mr. Smith’s first visit to FPTM and I hope you are all as enthusiastic about having him here as I am. Mr. Smith is sharing an excerpt of A Long Way from Clare, a novel that depicts a young lawyer born in Ireland and raised in the USA who stumbles across a mystery while visiting his brother in Chicago. It is set in 1903, and I cannot but feel excited about reading a book that will transport me into this era and that will delve in the hardships of immigration in the 20th century (or so I hope).

As soon as I read it, I will share with you my opinion, but for now, I’ll leave you with the excerpt.

Thank you for visiting Mr. Smith! And thank you for organizing this tour Janet 😊

I’m pleased as punch Rita agreed to host me today. This is a big one so I hope I don’t screw it up. At least one cannot stutter or scribble on a keyboard. I picked an excerpt that hopefully opens a window into my main character’s soul. He’s a young lawyer born in Ireland and raised largely in Springfield, Illinois, visiting Chicago to find his beloved older brother but unexpectedly embroiled in a mystery instead. By chance, Conor meets an alluring, middle-aged Jewish widow, Rebecca Fletcher, who playfully but good-naturedly exposes his inexperience in life and love and the two form an intimate bond with Rebecca as teacher and Conor as eager student. They have only tonight made love for the first time and Conor’s mind races to understand how the universe could transform so rapidly in a single day…


Chicago, 1903

At the Agency flat that night, they made love late into the night, then talked and talked and talked—about music, about Nellie Finley, about Maureen Brogan, about Rebecca’s family, and about Kevin Dolan. Conor even told her about his summer nights in the park with Lori Howard and recounted his boyhood family in Springfield with no particular sense of nostalgia. He tried not to dwell on the Lori Howard thing. It was childish and embarrassing.

Talking with Rebecca was like thinking out loud, he thought, like working through his random thoughts, trying to organize them into something with meaning, something that would make sense. As he listened to his own words, it occurred to him that he had no particular affection for Springfield or his Uncle Willie. It was not that Willie Dolan abused him in any way, but the only real affection he could recall from his childhood came from Ireland, from Ma, and from moments like Pa’s praise for a little boy’s turf-footing skills. His Springfield hosts considered him more a boarder than a relative, more a Christian responsibility than a family member, and his uncle extracted a fair trade in hard work in exchange for board and food. He remembered only the affection and intimacy expressed in Kevin’s letters, but he was not able to recognize that reality until now. “I think I was lonely,” he had to admit to Rebecca.

“I think in some ways, you still are.”

She was right, and he wondered why he had never recognized it before. This was the most intimate conversation of his young life, he thought, one of those brief and rare moments he would carry forever in a secret place as one would a signed Mark Twain first edition. He wanted it to continue, maybe even to grow, but everything was so confusing to Conor. Thoughts of Maureen Brogan plagued him like an annoying fly in a tiny room.

Rebecca was refined and wise, confident in a way foreign to most young men. Yet, despite the calculating, reasoned demeanor and obvious beauty, this woman was slowly dying of her own loneliness and grief. Maybe only someone suffering from the deepest pain and sadness, he thought, could find and touch those hidden venues in another human being. Conor could not label his feelings for her, and that fact troubled him.

He still was not sure what love was—or was not—but what he felt for this woman transcended lust and affection. If it was not love, then he could live a happy, loveless life. Maybe a part of what he felt was pity, but there was no denying he was content in her company. To Conor, she was as much teacher as lover, and in her presence, he never failed to learn something new about himself.

“Why are you so quiet?” she whispered. “Sleeping?”

He chuckled. “Just thinking.”


“Oh, about my brother, about you and me and this damned complicated city, I suppose.”

They were both still staring up at the cracked ceiling in a dark room, naked between sweat-soaked sheets under a stack of blankets when she said, “I have a house out west of the city in Oak Park.”

“You never mentioned it.”

“It’s where Jacob and Sarah died. I rarely go there, but I just can’t part with it.”

“So it’s just empty?”

“Hardly empty. Oh, it’s not morbid or anything like that. I gave most of their things to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, but there are reminders in every room. The reminders aren’t healthy for me; I understand that. It’s just that sometimes, not often, I need them because I’m afraid I might forget.”

He felt lost in this conversation or more like he was drowning in it. “What kind of work did Jacob do?”

“He was a lawyer.”

“What kind of lawyer?”

He could almost feel her sly smile there in the dark. She traced a single finger along his chest through the modest sections of chestnut hair. “What kind of lawyers are there? What are my choices?”

It was her way of letting him off the hook, but he did not want to be off the hook. He wanted to offer her what she needed in that moment. He kind of sighed because he was so bad at this, no matter how much he wanted to be good. His empathy, his passion to relieve her suffering would not translate into words. Is it possible to feel real empathy, he wondered, without the ability to express it?

“I wish I knew what to say, Rebecca. I wish I had the words. I just don’t. You’re smarter than I am, more experienced. All I can say is that I feel your pain to the point that it’s become my pain. I’d like to go to the house with you the next time.”

She did not respond to that, so he said exactly what he was thinking. “The only thing I want to do at this moment in my life is help you, maybe ease your grief somehow. Tell me what to say or do.”

Silence descended upon the room but for the faint sound of a single horse clapping along in the street below, starting and stopping, the lamplighter on his pre-dawn rounds. Gas lighting was disappearing quickly in the city, like his youth, never to return. He fought the urge to reach over and touch her face because he was afraid to find tears.

Then she said, “I want to have a baby, Conor—your baby.”

NEW book 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?

ALWfC Final FW 011223 F S

You can find A Long Way from Clare at:



and on Kindle Unlimited

NEW author bio

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.  

Robert W Smith 4x4 150

You can contact him through the following media:

Facebook Author PageAmazon Author Page


The blog tour is almost over but there is plenty more to discover about this book, so don’t forget to check out the previous blog tour stops 🙂

January 21 My Vices and Weaknesses

January 23 Celticlady’s Reviews

January 24 So Little time…

January 25 Meryton Press Blog

January 26 From Pemberley to Milton

January 27 Elza Reads

ALWfC BT BannerHorz M

Meryton Press will be giving away one eBook of A Long Way from Clare to one of my readers. The giveaway is international and is open until the 4th of February. To apply to it, just leave a comment on this post and let us know your opinion of the excerpt 🙂  

The winner will be announced shortly after.

Good luck everyone!


Filed under Uncategorized

17 responses to “A Long Way from Clare by Robert W. Smith – Excerpt & Giveaway

  1. Way to leave a scene on a cliffhanger, Robert; well done! 🙂


  2. Robert Smith

    Thanks, Kelly. You always come through lol. Great to be with Rita too.


  3. Sophia Rose

    Love historical mysteries so I’m looking forward to this one.


    • Robert Smith

      Thank you, Sophia Rose. I love your name. Guessing your father picked it. I have a good friend named Mary Rose. She often talks about how her dad would call her “Mary, the Rose,” i have been known to exaggerate but my wife will confirm that story is 100% true. I’m really excited about this comment because I don’t know you lol but I hope to hear from you again. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful excerpt!
    I could feel the emotion and the scene was captivating, so I am curious to know more about the characters.
    A little murder mystery is always welcome in my neighbourhood, I believe this is a book I would enjoy!


    • Robert Smith

      Thank you so much, Rellaenthia. Are you in Portugal? It’s so exciting to hear from folks outside the U.S. i do hope you enjoy the book and I would love to hear from you again. Bob


  5. Jan Hahn

    Well, well, well. Was not expecting that last sentence. Now I have to know Conor’s reaction! I really enjoyed this excerpt, Bob. You know how to paint a scene with emotions. That’s what keeps me reading.


  6. Cristina Silva

    Really catching that first line. And ended in a cliffhanger. Definitely will need to read the whole story.


  7. Glynis

    I’m not sure what I think about this! At one time I read a wide variety of books and this would have been high on my list but I currently concentrate on stories about Darcy and Elizabeth nowadays! I have added this to my list though as, who knows, I may want a change in style! Thank you for sharing this excerpt and best of luck with this book.


  8. Alexandra

    I usually know I will spend a good time reading a book when I feel empathy or moved by the characters. And that was exactly what I felt reading this excerpt! I want to find out more about these lives and knowing there is a mystery makes me even more interested! Thank you for sharing!


    • Robert Smith

      Thank you Alexandra. I woke up this morning, poured a cuppa and started going through my email. Know that you put a big smile on my face today. I can’t wait to hear how you liked the book. May I ask what country you are in? Best wishes to you, Bob


  9. michellanious

    What an intriguing premise. I sounds very sad. You were poised to write that history though, and I think there are so many stories yet to be told from the Chicago area and from that era. I wish you great success with this new release.


    • Robert Smith

      You are very kind. BTW…I love your pseudonym. It’s a beautiful paradox…or maybe a half truth. Very mysterious. I hope our paths cross again. Bob


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.