PW #414: Adult Contemporary Romance: THE RELUCTANT PRINCESS

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Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Lynnette Labelle
Mentee Name: M.C. Vaughan
Category: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 90,000


After a fire destroys her paintings, Zara needs two things to fulfill the art gallery’s contract for multiple masterpieces—a quick hit of cash for supplies and a way to rekindle her creativity. Otherwise, she can kiss her career-making gallery spot good-bye. So she reluctantly returns to a lucrative gig as a princess-costumed face painter, where she meets Brendan, a hot, divorced dad who could bring a spark to her life or ruin everything.


On a snowy February morning, Zara Kissette hoofed it to her day job in midtown Baltimore. She was happy. Well, happyish. Which was why she should have known the universe was about to punch her square in the ladyjunk.

That was the kind of relationship she had with the universe.

But for the next minute, happyishness reigned.

She’d paid her bills and had a little cash left over for coffee. She didn’t have any new paintings on the easel, but yesterday’s meeting with the gallery owner went way better than she’d hoped. She might, just maybe, have a shot at a show.

And that, right there, would be the turning point in her career. Zara grinned. She’d be able to honor the deal she’d made with her parents after all.

Her cell phone buzzed in her jacket pocket. She fished it out and peered at its paint-speckled screen.


Zara rolled her eyes and accepted the call. “Hey, listen, if you’re calling about the studio rent, I already sent the check.”

She wasn’t lying. But… She also wasn’t sharing that she’d slipped the late payment into a hulking blue mailbox about fifteen minutes ago.

“No, dear. It’s not that.” Eleanor sighed. “There’s been a fire.”

For the first time in months, Zara ran.


Author: Brenda Drake

New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2) available now, creator of #PitchWars, #PitchMadness, and #PitMad, fueled by coffee and Goldfish crackers (but not together), and represented by Peter Knapp with The Park Literary Group. @brendadrake

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  1. I’d like to read more of this. Please send the query, synopsis + the full manuscript to rachel(at)lperkinsagency(dot)com with “Pitch Wars: Title” in the subject line. Thanks!

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  2. Love the opening here and would like to see more. If you’re interested at all, please send the first 50 pages (as a .doc) along with your query letter and a short synopsis (pasted in the body of the email) to submissions(at)jaw-litagent(dot)com with the subject line “Pitch Wars request: THE RELUCTANT PRINCESS”. Thanks so much, Julia

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  3. I’d love to read the full manuscript!


    Send as an attached word document, with the pitch you used here pasted into the first page of the doc. Send to:, and put “PITCH WARS REQUEST” in the subject line.



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  4. This is really intriguing and I love that Zara is an artist. Please send the query and full ms as a .doc or .docx file to LBiagi at jvnla dot com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

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  5. I’d love to see the first 50 pages. Please send as a Word attachment, with the query in the body of the email and #Pitchwars in the subject.

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