Last Night With The Duke

Last Night with the Duke (The Rakes of St. James, #1)Last Night with the Duke by Amelia Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Rakes of St. James Series (3 books)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Categories: Romance
Setting: London
Author Website:

About this series:
Three sons of dukes decide to commit a prank on Polite Society and get labelled the Rakes of St. James. But sometimes bad boys grow up to be honorable men.

About this book:

The Duke of Griffin has a problem. He has been labeled a rake by society but now his younger twin sisters are about to enter their first Season. How does he keep young rakes away from his sisters?

Esmeralda Swift is trying to live an honorable life despite the scandal – her mother fell in love with and married an impoverished poet – that ostracized her from the society. Esmeralda and her younger sister live above the employment agency that Esmeralda runs. That is until the Duke makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

I loved this book. Grey hit all the touchpoints. I laughed out loud. I cried. I felt true love between the hero and heroine. I was concerned in the first two chapters as there seemed to be repetitive telling, not showing. By chapter three Grey hit her stride and never looked back. I can’t wait to read book two due out in December 2017.

This series feels like a home run for Grey. I’ll be reviewing book two next, as my review copy arrived last week and I put it right at the top of my to be read pile.

Learn about other books in this series:

– To the Duke, with Love (Book #2)
– It’s All About the Duke (Book #3)

I received a free copy but voluntarily reviewed.


3 Storytelling Techniques You Can Learn From The Bible

Regardless of your religious leanings, I believe that every writer should read The Bible. With an estimated 2.5 billion sold (and about 4 million additional copies given away) there is little doubt that The Bible is one of the widest read books. Why is it so popular?  Because the details of its messages are woven into stories that people can retell, relate to, and reread.

Here are just three examples of what writers can learn from reading The Bible.

Niv Women Of Faith Study Bible

1. Establishing conflict in your story?  (Example:  The Book of Job)

As an example of good storytelling this book really has it all. Readers see both good (God) and evil (Satan) which provides immediate conflict. Poor Job is the pawn between the good and evil. As the tension builds in this story, one by one all of Job’s friends and family beg him to turn away from his beliefs. But this hero holds strong to what he feels is right. The challenge in this story seems so much heavier than this average man. Thus it is more interesting as we watch him survive/overcome each obstacle. To show this theory outside of a religious context, imagine an experienced climber on a little hill. That doesn’t make for an exciting story. To increase interest maybe you pair the experienced climber with someone new to the sport. It’s a better plot, but still not gripping with tension. Ramp it up yet again by putting that same inexperienced climber on Mt. Everest suddenly left alone and you’ll immediately command your readers’ attention. Make sure your conflict matches the level of interest you want to invoke in your readers.

Bad Girls of the Bible2. Not everything has to be spelled out for the readers (Example: Matthew 15:29-36)

In this book, readers hear the story of how Jesus fed thousands with just seven loaves of bread and a few fishes. You’ll immediately realize that there are not details of how Jesus accomplished that feat but because readers have seen Jesus perform several miracles before this story, the minute details aren’t required. Readers accept the story (not on faith in religion) but because a precedent had been clearly established. The lesson for writers is that if you have established the skills in your characters then you always don’t have to go into every detail of how everything is accomplished. Imagine you have a character who can fix cars like Paul McCartney writes songs. Readers have already seen him working in a garage and successfully fix someone’s car. So the skill is established and when he stumbles upon a beautiful woman stranded by the roadside, it doesn’t take paragraphs of explanation to know that he is able to resolve the problem with just a few minutes under the hood. Fixing the car isn’t the focus of the story, establishing a relationship with the woman is. So remember that some characteristics need to be introduced but not cataloged. Writers often feel compelled to give readers everything. But readers have an innate sense of imagination, let them use it occasionally and it will help connect them to your story.

The Children's Bibles (Golden Press 16520)

3. Compelling characters aren’t perfect. (Luke 22:54-62)

Just before Jesus is betrayed, he warns Peter that even he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the morning. Peter swears he would never do something so horrible to his Lord. However, after Jesus is taken into custody, Peter finds himself alone. Three times townsfolk question him and ask if he is a follower of the Lord. Three times Peter says, “No.” It isn’t until Peter hears the cock crow in the morning that Peter realizes what he has done. The reader knows each time Peter makes a mistake and denies his faith. And yet, the reader is made to feel compassion for Peter, not shamed by him. It is because readers will recognize their own human flaws in Peter’s actions. Writers can establish this same bond between readers and characters by showing not only the good but the lacking. Maybe it is a strong jealous streak even when the hero knows his lover is completely faithful to him. Maybe it is the dieter who sneaks a bit of chocolate in the middle of the night. These flaws add depth to your character like the grain in wood provides uniqueness to each piece of furniture. Don’t bury those flaws, make the most of them.

So the next time you are stuck for how to present a character or situation, maybe a few minutes skimming the stories of The Bible will help provide direction. Don’t let the religious subject matter frighten you away from one of the most read books ever.

Find more examples of good storytelling in:

A Less Than 5 Star Review Isn’t All Bad

With over 500,000 books being published each year, authors are struggling to distinguish their offerings and gain the attention of readers. One of the most popular ways is to get readers to review their books. Book ratings provide valuable insight into the quality of a book. But like books themselves, the review is only as good as its author. Regardless of the rating stars, a few good words in a review will make all the difference.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over how authors get book reviews and who is giving them. The New York Times did a long article on how Amazon is deleting some book reviews and still allowing some massive reviewing to be done by individuals. (See: Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review, 22-Dec-2012)

If you get a less than 5 star review keep the following three things in mind:

  • If readers see only 5-star reviews for your books, they’ll think you paid for the reviews or had family members flood the review site.
  • Everyone isn’t going to love your book, but with a few less than 5-star reviews showing on your book’s ratings you prove that at least some of these reviews were honest and objective.
  • If reviews with less than 5 stars provide some comments, all is not lost.
  • Even a one star review isn’t a failure if the reviewer provides a reason why they didn’t like your work. Maybe the thing that made that reviewer not like it is exactly what will interest someone else.
  • There is no such thing as bad press
  • Having a few less than stellar reviews showing on your books ratings will get people wondering about the book.  Why did this person not like it and yet others did? Part of marketing your book is getting people to talk about your book.  You might not always want to hear what they have to say, but at least they are saying something about your work.  Take something from every review. You might just find some useful constructive criticism in there that you can use to improve your next project.  Your friends and family may not always be one hundred percent honest with you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings, but an honest reviewer will tell you exactly what caused a story not to ring true with them. Read it and decide if you agree.  Either way, move on and keep writing.

New Blog Columns for 2013

I’ve been blogging about books (and a few movies based on books) for over a year now and I’m finally finding my way.  One of my goals for 2013 is to add some structure to this site and provide a little bit more than my weekly book reviews.  I’ll be adding some new columns with specific topics that I hope interest you. Not every column will be published weekly, but you can expect to get about three columns per week with my new posting schedule:

I hope you like these new featured columns. Please feel free to drop me a line on Twitter (@ZaBethMarsh) and let me know what you’d like to read on Finding Me In Words.

Column Title

Column Description

Day Published

From A Different Bookshelf These posts will involve an eclectic group of reviews on books that are outside the set topics of our other columns. You can find anything from business books to religion here. Not knowing exactly what you’ll find is half the fun.


Reserve Your Copy Now Always looking ahead to what is coming out next?  This is the blog post for you as we’ll preview upcoming releases that should be added to your reading list.


Favorite Book Quotes Quick posts highlighting some of my favorite lines from the books I’ve read. See if these lines inspire you as well.


Something To Think About These blog posts will cover trends in book publishing and anything else I think you should know about that would be interesting to authors and avid readers. about my opinion on trends in book publishing and anything related to reading and writing books. I hope you find it inte


Where In The Series Are We? Remember that great book review you read on Finding Me In Words? Well, this column will give you an update on other books available in the series.


From the Fiction Stacks Friday’s fiction reviews are the traditional posts you have come to expect from Finding Me In Words.  I hope you continue to discover new authors and great books because of this column.


Writing Career Corner If you are a writer you should be spending most of your time writing, but when you do step away from the keyboard this column will helpooks because of this come to expect from Finding Me In Words.  I hope you continue to discover new authors and gre focus on books to help you with your craft and your business.


The Long Marketing Shadow of Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven’t yet figured out what all the hubbub is about this book. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James wasn’t nearly as bad as its critics would have you believe nor is it as great as its fans praise implies. It’s a decent romance offering that has one big foot in the erotic fiction genre. But it is by no means the first of such books, nor the best. That doesn’t mean that avid readers, authors, and publishers should be quick to dismiss it. There are plenty of great books out there and Fifty Shades might just help them get noticed.

People seem hung up on the fact that Fifty Shades started as Twilight fan fiction. Get over it! One could make the case that Twilight is nothing more than fan fiction for Romeo and Juliet. How an author is inspired for a story doesn’t matter. What matters is that an author writes a story good enough to keep people reading. How an author shares their story doesn’t matter either. No one would criticize an author for taking a piece they are working on to their critic group for feedback. Fan fiction just provides a large critic audience via a different medium. Fan fiction doesn’t make an author any more or less serious about their work. It used to be that storytellers could only use their voices as bards to communicate their ideas, but our world is filled with possibilities for communication. None of them is any more significant than another; a good story is a good story regardless of how you find it.

The graphic sex in Fifty Shades of Grey will get people talking about this book. A few people who haven’t seen the inside of a bookstore or library in a few years may find themselves purchasing a copy. And that is a great thing for all authors and publishers right now in an age of declining book sales. Anyway you can get a new reader (a new customer) to come into a bookstore, library, or online book shop it is good for all authors and publishers. Once people admit that they like reading, there is the opportunity for truly great books to be discovered, for new authors to find a following, and for publishers to sell a lot of books. So three cheers for Fifty Shades.

To avid book readers I say: Please read it. Talk about it to anyone you know who hasn’t read a book as an adult for the simple pleasure of reading. Tell them why you loved it. Or hated it. Get that non-reader to read. Have a discussion about it. And then ask that former non-reader to read something else that you can discuss with them. Share your love of reading.

To authors and publishers I say: Help Fifty Shades and James have their moment in the sun. You should be so lucky. Then wait patiently to see if the long tail of marketing theory holds true. Your books could be discovered by James’ readers; either because it is somehow like James’ or because it is nothing like the Fifty Shades series. Whether you want to admit it or not, you might just have Ana Steele and Christian Grey to thank for your next book sale. Fifty Shades could be the best, cheapest, and most sustainable marketing plan you’ve ever had.

To aspiring writers I say: Be inspired. Maybe you loved it and want to create something similar but with your vision. Or maybe you hated it and know that you can write something better. Be inspired by anything, share it with anyone, and improve your craft and skills any way you can. Good stories will pour out of you if you have the conviction to write.

For inspiration on how the long tail of marketing is going to work from Fifty Shades of Grey here are a few of my suggestions:

  • If you like the sex but want more plot:
    • Read Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake or Merry Gentry series as they will entertain you with complex plot lines and hot, passionate sex.
  • If you want to explore the darker side of sex:
  • If you want romance but really want to tone down the graphic sex:
    • Read anything by Brenda Joyce. Her Francesca Cahill Deadly series will provide plenty of mystery with hot romance that won’t embarrass you to read in the same room with your mother.

From Fifty Shades and with three suggestions, I’ve just opened the door into the following genres:

  • Paranormal Romance
  • Mystery
  • Historical Romance
  • Erotica
  • Horror
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Science Fiction

Let the reading begin…

View all my reviews

The Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge

Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge

I came across The Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge while reading Pete Denton’s blog. I think this is a wonderful idea to encourage readers – and writers – to expand their reading options. Reading books outside your favorite genre can provide a wealth of inspiration and ideas for writers. As much as possible, I’m going to use this challenge to read books written by the authors I follow on Twitter.

1. Literary Fiction
2. Crime/Mystery Fiction: The Gargoyle in the Seine by Dee Garretson
3. Biography: The Survivor by Vaughn Ripley
4. Historical Fiction
5. Young Adult
6. Fantasy
7. Science Fiction: In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
8. Non Fiction: Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell
9. Horror
10. Thriller /Suspense
11. Classic: Auraria by Tim Westover
12. Your favorite genre, Romance: Seduction by Brenda Joyce

Getting Older; What About My Dreams?

Have you ever lain awake at night and wondered if life has passed you by?  As I write this on the dawn side of 2AM I can honestly say that I have. Sometime tonight as I tossed and turned in bed, I realized that I’m 43.  This isn’t really a surprise to me. I’ve had 15,821 days since my birth to get used to the concept that I’ve been getting older. However, tonight, I started to wonder if maybe I had more days behind me than I might have ahead of me. What exactly do I have to show for it?

William Shakespeare, photo supplied by Huntington Theatre Company

I’m not talking about big houses, cars and reputation that people will catalog that I have or don’t have at my funeral.  I’m talking about the personal accomplishments that my little-girl-self promised she wasn’t going to let the grown-up me forget about doing.

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow,
as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.”
-William Shakespeare

Have I been true to myself? Not at all.

As I started to think about all the dreams and to do lists I’ve made over the years, I realized that what I’ve always promised myself I was going to “Do” hasn’t often made it off the list and into my life. I’m actually about to leave this world without accomplishing the one thing I’ve always said I’ve have wanted more than anything in the world since I was a little girl. I’ve always wanted to write a book and get it published.

That’s when an epiphany hit me – hard! All isn’t lost; I’ve just gone off course and gotten behind schedule. I can accomplish anything if I set my mind to it. Isn’t that what my Daddy always taught me?  So here goes, I have to do this or my life *will* be a failure and I will someday die untrue to my own self.

This morning I wrote up a contract with myself that will get me on track for the next three months. If I re-evaluate my true goals every three months I should push, pull, drag myself along to becoming the writer that I’ve always wanted to be.

I’ve given myself permission this morning to be selfish to do the things that will accomplish my personal goal in life. Not to the exclusion of the rest of my life and those I love, but permission to focus on myself with purpose; something I far too often neglect for a laundry list of sorry, lame excuses.

I know that I would much rather go down fighting than never pursuing my dreams; regardless if I ever actually achieve my goal. I just can’t ever give up trying without giving up on who I am as a person.

So here goes. This is my first three month contract with myself:

  • Write every day; whether for five minutes or five hours – just write
  • Join Romance Writers of America
  • Enter at least one short story contest by end of 2011
  • Get new job that supports our household and my writing
  • Get physically healthy & strong so that I can complete these goals
  • Write my blog at least twice a week to build up readership & interest
  • Read one book per month on the craft of writing
  • Read one book per month on a subject completely new to me
  •  Get my prosthetic leg so that I can go on a book tour when I sell my book