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.


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