A Long Way from Clare 

Robert W. Smith’s A Long Way from Clare, is the second non-Austenesque book that Meryton Press has published. It is a romance and murder mystery. The cover reveal was hosted at the Meryton Press Blog (here) on the 12th of January. Stop by and learn more about the author and his story.


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?

From the author

Robert is going to tell us more about his book and give us the setting for the excerpt.

Aside from the off-beat love story, the treachery and the tragedy, Clare is at its heart an earthy story of early Nineteenth-Century immigrants to Chicago, people who mostly persevered and eventually prevailed to build the magnificent city-by-the-lake I call home. Each brick and steel beam in my city is bound with the sweat of their toil and stained with their broken dreams, dashed hopes, and human frailties. This excerpt finds young Conor Dolan alone in the great metropolis inexperienced and immersed in his own family mystery. Having made the decision to take up residence and open a criminal defense practice in the interim, he is “persuaded” by his new friend, Father Brendan White, to interview his first client, an indigent immigrant girl accused of murder. Conor has arrived at Jane Addams’ Hull House to conduct the interview and consider the case… 



The People v. Nellie Finley was a tragic and sympathetic case to say the least, and it would be certain to attract its share of sensational newspaper attention. With all the papers in this city, the dailies scoured the town for something salacious to write about—the more scandalous, the better. Morning, afternoon, and evening editions had the newsboys blanketing the city all hours of the day and into the night with whatever would sell papers. A down-and-out mother jumping off a bridge and killing her own baby would have their tongues hanging out. Publicity was not necessarily a bad thing for a girl in Nellie’s position. Chicago was home to a powerful reform movement led by some of its most respected citizens, notably Jane Addams.

Conor was reluctant to even interview a potential client in such a serious case, but Brendan twisted his arm—not for himself but for this young Irish girl he came to know through his work with Hull House. In any case, Conor thought there would be no harm in talking with the girl as a favor to Father Brendan White, Patron Saint of Lost Souls. Maybe he could at least match the girl with a suitable defense lawyer. He already knew several highly skilled criminal lawyers in the city.

The social worker was prepared and waiting for his visit. They adjourned to a small office off the foyer of the three-story building. Following introductions, the social worker, Miss Potter, laid the ground rules. Conor was expecting a stern schoolmarm type with hair in a bun and a scowl on her lips, but Miss Potter was quite un-social-worker-like in both manner and appearance, evidenced by a full view of her ankles in black stockings below a scandalously short, mid-calf skirt.

Nearly all women, he knew, opted for some form of Edwardian pompadour hairstyle piled and rolled high atop the head, sometimes even with a hidden hair pad to increase the volume. Slim and around twenty-one, Miss Potter was the notable exception. Her hair was short in the extreme, efficient, falling straight down over her ears and curling gently forward in a crescent pattern toward the cheeks. Her voice was soft but confident. Conor pegged the woman as a suffragette.

She placed a file in front of Conor on the desk. “Mr. Dolan, this is a rather unusual situation for us as we don’t normally admit criminal court defendants, especially not those charged with serious crimes. Still, this is an exceptional case. We won’t presume, of course, to become involved in Miss Finley’s defense but will be willing to assist so far as we’re able should you desire. We’re always pressed for resources, but we do have a dedicated reserve of professionals to call on. We’ve put together Nellie’s history as best we could through records and interviews. Nellie doesn’t talk much herself. Everything will be available to you should you decide to represent her. You may examine the file in this room now, of course.”

Conor cradled his homburg in the stark, wooden chair. “Thank you, Miss Potter, but I would appreciate anything you could tell me about the girl herself to begin with.”

You got facts out of a file, but sometimes impressions and opinions could be equally important. He had learned that much in his brief career. Miss Potter, after all, was a trained observer and social worker, not just some do-gooder handing out meals on a street corner.

“We prefer to call our residents by their names, Mr. Dolan; however, I understand you’re unfamiliar with our particular quirks here.” Her voice was mellow and friendly. She seemed like a nice person, and he was comfortable in her presence. He sensed his question weighed on her. “Of course, Miss Potter,” he said.

The social worker stood and walked over to the window facing Halsted Street. In the background, the street outside teemed with life, commerce, the prancing of working horses, and the clatter of streetcars. A heavyset woman was passing on the sidewalk with a cart of groceries and a small child in tow.

“They don’t all end up like Nellie,” Miss Potter said wistfully. “They’re by and large industrious, hardy people determined to thrive in their adopted country, but…sometimes it all goes wrong for one reason or another, mostly through no fault of their own. I think that was Nellie. She never found help until it was too late, and that, unfortunately, is a common pattern.

“Something terrible happened to that girl, something so horrific that she couldn’t live with it and wanted to save her child from the same fate.” Then Miss Potter seemed to snap back into business mode, turning back to the desk. “I know you’re here to help, so I’ll tell you what little we know. We know she came alone to New York from Queenstown in steerage in 1900. The only identification she carried was her Immigrant Inspection Card. She came here out of shame to make a new life. I get the sense that the human predators from the Levee never got their claws into her. But someone did, Mr. Dolan. Someone certainly did. That’s who I’d be looking for.”



Meryton Press will be giving away one eBook of A Long Way from Clare for each stop on the Blog Tour, for a total of six eBooks. To enter the giveaways, visit each blog and look for their giveaway. 


Blog Tour

Blog Tour Schedule with Links

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


A Long Way from Clare Buy Link

Amazon Universal Link


Watch for these upcoming releases

Upcoming Novels:

Doubt Not, Cousin - Barry S. Richman

A Chance Eavesdropping - C. P. Odom

The Bennets: Providence & Perception - KC Cowan

Lydia Wickham's Daughter - Lucy Knight

Georgiana's Friend - C. P. Odom

Persuaded - Clarisse Anne Scott

An Accomplished Woman: Cecilia's Mismatches Series; Book 1 - Suzan Lauder

The Chaperon: Cecilia's Mismatches Series; Book 2 - Suzan Lauder

Secret Affairs: Cecilia's Mismatches Series; Book 3 - Suzan Lauder

The Foll Stones - Brigid Huey


Recently Released Audiobooks:

Captive Hearts - Kelly Miller, Narrated by Alan Aldersley-Byrne

The Grail: The Saving of Elizabeth Darcy - Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda Berry

The Barrister's Bride - Suzan Lauder, Narrated by Scott Fleming

Big Swamp - Kelly Dean Jolley, Narrated by Brad Holbrook

Kiss Me Good Night,Major Darcy - Georgina Young-Ellis, Narrated by Jannie Meisberger

Upcoming Audiobooks:

The Last House in Lambton - by Grace Gibson, Narrated by Neil Roy McFarlane and Katherine Anderson

A Dutiful Son - Kelly Miller

Determination - C. P. Odom, Narrated by Christopher Jarvis

Perilous Siege - C. P. Odom, Narrated by Christopher Jarvis



And Remember...

It is a truth universally acknowledged: when one finishes a great love story, one always longs for more. Count on Meryton Press, an independent publisher of Austenesque and Romance, to provide that more.