Entry #3: ISLAND TIME
Brett Fontaine’s goals are simple. Keep growing her image consultancy business in style-obsessed Miami. Make sure her stalker stays in prison. Convince her friends she has a handle on her post-kidnapping panic attacks.[TS1][KP1]
No problem. Even if she hasn’t been out after dark in over a year, much less swiped right on her dating app.[TS2] When Brett’s best friend dares her to turn his new, attention-phobic business partner into a celebrity chef, the challenge sparks an interest Brett hasn’t felt since…before The Incident.
William Te’o has goals, too. Finally get out of other chefs’ kitchens and open Khalli, his flagship restaurant, in the demanding South Beach culinary scene. Keep money flowing to his mom and sisters back home in Samoa. And avoid the downright scary, stiletto-wearing consultant bent on trying to change him into someone he’ll never be.
As for relationships? Not even on his radar. He hasn’t so much sworn off dating—more like dating gave up on him first. [RB1]
But after critics pan Will’s rough and tumble presentation, Brett may be his only hope for a successful opening. His kitchen heats to scorching when Brett turns out to be exactly what Khalli and Will’s beat-up heart need. He’s willing to put the same effort toward gaining Brett’s trust that took him from an island kitchen to a James Beard nominee, until career ending rumors, and a stalker on parole, threaten their romantic collaboration.
ISLAND TIME, a gender-flipped Miss Congeniality meets Top Chef, is a contemporary romance complete at 90,000 words. [RB2][TS3]
RB1: This feels a bit weak on the internal conflict for him compared to the heroine’s, but I’d still read on.
RB2: I get the Top Chef comp but not the Miss Congeniality one as much, which makes me think of undercover cops. I think maybe the author was going for the ‘turning a newbie into a pro’ aspect, since Sandra didn’t know how to be in a beauty pageant, but I did have to look back to figure out what Miss Congeniality had to do with this.
TS1: Not sure what the story is, nor the tone.
TS2: Now I’m confused because the opening paints a darker story (maybe romantic suspense?), but this line is much lighter tone, hinting at a humorous story?
TS3: Not sure this query knows what it wants to be. I’m getting romantic suspense vibes, but also some humor and romance.
KP1: Try "Brett Fontaine’s goals are simple: keep growing her image consultancy business in style-obsessed Miami, make sure her stalker stays in prison, and convince her friends she has a handle on her post-kidnapping panic attacks."
I hurried under the red and white Miami Beach Food Expo sign and a hundred different scents washed over me, the smoke of grilled meat, the bright freshness of citrus, and a heady blend of curries and cinnamon. Weaving through the civic coliseum crowd, I avoided the masses and their sticky, food-smeared fingers. A slow moving block of seniors stalled my progress, and a guy in the requisite khakis and a generic button down—the uniform of all booth salesmen—took advantage of my proximity, “accidentally” slapping a paw on my ass.
His damp hand squelched and stuck. I drove the heel of this year’s power pumps deep into his loafer and the toes underneath. Grabby-Hands lurched away, opening a hole in the crowd, and I caught a flash of platinum cufflinks, out of place amongst the shorts and tees.
I slid in beside the cufflinks’ owner. “Richard Fate Beauchamp, you owe me a new skirt.”
“I doubt that.” My best friend and object of my irritation ignored me, phone tapping an erratic beat against his leg, the betraying cufflinks glinting under the industrial lighting.
I used his shoulder as a brace and discretely twisted to inspect my ass and the green palm-shaped smear over the right cheek. “There is no dry cleaning white jersey knit with—good Lord, what did that man have on his hands?”
Richard went stiff under my hand and his attention snapped to me, then to the crowd swirling around us. “What guy?”
I have some foodie romances already on my list, and I just didn’t fall head over heels for this one by comparison and would pass. But it could be someone else’s catnip!
The opening sample didn’t engage me.
Not much to say here! I love this concept and your writing is strong. You’re introducing the character, her confidence, her insecurities, and her friendship immediately. I loved her voice already and would love to read more! Your query was also strong, and I found little to no things to correct. =) Please send the first 50 pages to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title "ATTN: Kelly - Requested Pass or Pages"