#WritingChallenge: Pitch your big city romance!

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Last Monday Editorial Assistant Megan Broderick wrote a great post on Top 10 Reasons to Write a (Non-Billionaire) City Romance. Small-town romances are something we see a lot, especially in our Home and Family categories such as Special Edition, Western Romance, and Heartwarming. But as much as editors love to see tried and true hooks, we also want fresh takes on these hooks, and stories that reflect how we live today. (To learn more about what editors are hoping to see, read the Heartwarming Editor Wish List – which includes a call for urban settings.)

Your challenge this week? Give us your (non-billionaire) city romance premise. No need to write a scene, just your 3-5 sentence pitch: Your hero, your heroine, your setting, and the conflict!

Tip: For ideas on characters, themes, settings and situations, read Megan’s post!

Ready for the challenge? Post your City Romance pitch in the comments any time between now and midnight Monday, February 20, and we’ll check in with you on Tuesday!

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Comments

    • Jennifer Lucy

      San Francisco, Ty, and Jessica meet by chance. Before a morning meeting, her boss, Susan sends her to the neighborhood coffeehouse to pick her up coffee. On her way back, a driver runs a red light, and before she can enter the street, Ty pushes her out the way. He helps her up and introduces himself, but all she could focus on was the spilled coffee. “ Are you okay?” “ Oh no,” she said. She walks away, not realizing what had happened. He is surprised but suspects she’ll feel the pain later. There isn’t enough time to replace the coffee, so she heads to the office. Upon returning, she tries to explain what happened, but Susan doesn’t want to hear it. Susan glances at the clock on the wall and says “ they should be here any minute, go clean yourself up.” Upon returning, she walks into the office and sees Ty who is holding her purse and standing with her boss and assumes he is there for the meeting. She approaches them, and the boss introduces Jessica to her son Doctor Ty Wilson.

    • Hi Jennifer:
      Thanks for taking on our challenge! This is more of an opening scene than a pitch. What an editor would want to know is, after the initial meeting, where’s the story going? What stands between the hero and heroine and romance, (the conflict) and what’s at stake for each? A highly coincidental meeting isn’t always the best way to catch an editor’s attention, too – it’s surprisingly common!

  1. Deb Dunsford

    Liz Jordan has managed The Clover Inn near the Houston medical complex for 7 years and the 185-room hotel has a loyal clientele and makes a solid profit. A local developer wants to buy the Clover and replace it with a parking garage. Not even the handsome guy at the gym who makes her skin tingle can ease Liz’s frustration over hotel’s uncertain future. When Liz finally meets developer Steve George, she finds that her tormentor and her crush are one in the same.

    • A bit of a coincidence here too, that her crush turns out to be her enemy…but you’ve set up a very natural city meeting place in the gym – nice! I wonder if the nearby medical complex could inject some high-stakes drama somehow. Maybe the hotel provides living space for relatives of cancer patients and closing it down would leave these families in need with no place to go?

  2. Birmingham, inner city sweethearts, Anthony and Isabella were torn apart by the choices of their youth. Now adults, Bella decided to teach, to encourage growing minds. Anthony choose to train troubled minds to Box. But even now when he’s rubbing shoulders with the most applauded names in sport and doing the ‘rope a dope’ under the spotlights of Wembley Stadium. Tony would always be the boy from the slums to Bella’s vindictive Mother… as Bella always said, “Family comes first, always…” Tony now prepares for the fight of his life, to win back the girl of his dreams.

    • Amy, I really like the idea of inner city sweethearts growing up, especially as they are forced to choose between the temptations of financial success or a more altruistic career. I’m not quite sure how the conflict is going to play out, but I love the urban roots of your hero and heroine – lots of possibilities for drama!

  3. Hannah Westscott never thought anything would come from the script she’d submitted to the local university’s writing contest. When the Administrator notified her she’d won the chance to pitch her script to an actual film directors, in Toronto at TIFF, Hannah is both thrilled and scared.

    Sam Thatcher had an extensive list of action movies under his belt, now he was looking for something fresh and new. Hannah Westscott’s script was exactly what Sam was looking for, a new genre and an exciting challenge. However, not only was this newbie writer resisting his offers, she wanted to be hired as the creative consultant. He could easily stick to his guns and make her bend, but he’d much rather convince her to leave her old world behind and enter his.

    • Hi Yvonne! An international film festival has the potential for an exciting romance setting. I’m not quite certain what’s at stake here for Hannah and Sam – why does Hannah feel she should be a creative consultant after her very first film pitch? What’s at stake for Sam if he walks away from her demands? Maybe you could use the limited time frame of a festival to raise the stakes: “If Sam didn’t find the next big idea for his studio bosses by the end of the week….” Looming deadlines can force characters to make poorly considered decisions, and that’s always fun for readers! Thanks for taking on our challenge!

  4. Teresa Fowler

    Jake Hetfield, artist and small gallery owner, stands accused of tax fraud. He is innocent of the crime but shoulders the blame in order to save a brother with a young family who has fallen on bad times and made some bad choices.

    Shelby Forrester is the tax inspector assigned to investigate Jake’s case. When her usual intuition fails her, Shelby can’t be sure if Jake is really as innocent as he seems, or if the insane attraction sizzling between them is playing havoc with her body and clouding her judgement.

    • I like the idea of a serious-minded investigator and a charming suspect! I wonder if you could raise the stakes by introducing the “big city” element more? Maybe Shelby’s in line for a big promotion if she can close this case, or she’s getting political pressure to crack down on tax cheats. Or Jake owns a few businesses frequented by local politicians and she’s been warned not to dig too deep…

  5. Maggie Wells

    Rory Houlihan is content living in his Southside Chicago neighborhood and running the family pub, Hooligans, with his twin brother, Mal. Mary Pat Brady has been in love with Rory since the first grade, but she wants more out of life than a brick bungalow and a minivan. A family health crisis throws the two of them into a marriage of convenience that neither is too anxious to annul. When the alderman Mary Pat works for starts eying the block where Hooligan’s has been for nearly half a century for redevelopment, she finds herself torn between ambition and her chance to keep the man she loves.

  6. Summer swore off dating men she meets at wedding receptions after creep followed creep, but something was different about the latest guy. Only problem is he was a wedding crasher and no one knows who he is! When she uses her finely honed bounty hunter skills to track him down, she steps right into his dangerous game against his old robbery ring boss. Can they make it out alive or will her gamble on love cost her everything?

    • Melanie, for a knockout pitch, you’ll want to spell out the conflict, rather than give the editor a “teaser.” I’d want to know more about the hero and his motivations, and just what stands between the hero and heroine. Having said that, a jaded heroine who’s been to one too many weddings with terrible dates is a fun premise! Thanks for taking on our challenge!

  7. Bridget Kaye

    Stephanie Allen, CEO of the iconic Allendale International Hotel Chain, is unprepared for the effect on her life when she hires award winning architect Gabriel Mansfield to revamp the historic Melbourne hotel where the family business started century before.
    Gabriel is breathtakingly handsome and self-assured, but it’s his humility and unassuming manner that captures Stephanie’s heart. He is as passionate about his role as a single father to his twin six-year-old daughters as he is about his creative vision. Their unexpectedly deep connection reawakens Stephanie’s dream of putting a lonely childhood behind her, with a with a man who loves her and a family of her own.

    Can she be the wife Gabriel deserves and the mother his adorable daughters need while maintaining the hard-earned pinnacle of success of her position among the jockeying for power and wealth in her ultra-completive extended family?

    • Bridget Kaye

      My apologies, I had some omissions in the first comment.
      Title: Family Matters
      Genre: Contemporary
      Word count: 55,000
      3 sentence pitch:
      Stephanie Allen, CEO of the iconic Allendale International Hotel Chain, is unprepared for the effect on her life when she hires award winning architect Gabriel Mansfield to revamp the historic Melbourne hotel where the family business started century before.
      Gabriel is breathtakingly handsome and self-assured, but it’s his humility and unassuming manner that captures Stephanie’s heart. He is as passionate about his role as a single father to his twin six-year-old daughters as he is about his creative vision. Their unexpectedly deep connection reawakens Stephanie’s dream of putting a lonely childhood behind her, with a man who loves her and a family of her own.
      Can she be the wife Gabriel deserves and the mother, his adorable daughters need while maintaining the hard-earned pinnacle of the success of her position among the jockeying for power and wealth in her ultra-competitive extended family?

    • There’s lots of opportunity for high-stakes emotion with a heroine running the family business! Is there an emotional obstacle keeping Stephanie and Gabriel apart? It seems like he has exactly what she most wants, so falling in love would be easy, even if she had to work out the logistics of career and family. What emotional issues might you throw in Stephanie and Gabriel’s way to make the path to love so rocky the reader wonders how they’ll ever find happiness?

  8. Michelle Orloff

    After seeing the world with her Air Force husband and two young daughters, Kirsty Carter is broken-hearted and trapped in Dayton, Ohio, by their shared custody agreement. Restaurateur Eric Duncan has returned to his hometown to open a restaurant. When Kirsty meets Eric at an event, she spears his heart—and his foot with her stiletto heels. Can Eric give up his platinum frequent flyer membership and unpack his suitcase long enough to earn Kirsty’s trust? Can Kirsty open up her heart to love again?

    • I would like to know more about these characters and their situation. Is this set in a small town? Why is Eric only staying temporarily? What does Kirsty want out of life, and how is her goal at odds with falling in love? Strongly motivated characters and a romantic obstacle with a twist will get an editor’s attention!

  9. Karin Witnish

    Title: Felix & Avery: F.E.V.E.R. (Book 1)
    Genre: Contemporary Paranormal
    Word count: 121,000

    Pitch:
    Felix Lemercier is a very sexy, French, 157 year old vampire who doesn’t drink blood, much to Avery Knight’s disappointment. How else is a girl to spend eternity with her soul mate, if he can’t turn her into a vampire? From their fated meeting in current day New York, to her kidnapping in Venice at the end of Book 1, their epic love story comes with laughter, tears, sizzling sex and a truly formidable foe, an enemy that will require all of Felix’s ingenuity and vampire skills – to vanquish, so that he can save the woman he loves.

    • Hi Karin,
      I’m intrigued by these characters and their international travels! But I’d love to know more about what exactly is keeping them apart? Aside from the vampire/human aspect, what emotional obstacles are they forced to deal with? What’s motivating the kidnapper and how does that play into how Avery and Felix relate to each other? You’ve got the high external stakes and editors also really love to see those high emotional stakes to balance the internal and external conflict!

  10. Inge Mulder

    Evangeline and Jake are both law students at Boston University. They compete relentlessly to be top of their class. One night, during a marathon studying session, they give in to the sparks that always follow their meetings. Jake apologizes for getting carried away and Evangeline takes it to mean he didn’t really want it to happen. They go back to being competitors at BU, and nothing else. Several years later Jake and Evangeline meet up again – in court. Now each of them will try to come out tops for their wealthy clients in the divorce case that has Boston society divided. Dirty tactics and crazy plans ensue as Evangeline and Jake compete to be the best divorce lawyer in Boston. After all, if you can’t win at love, you may as well make a killing at heartbreak.

    • Laura Joy

      Sorry Inge, I didn’t see that there was already a courtroom-based submission. In my defence (pun intended…) my law-school crush *is* a big-deal folk singer now!

      Your story sounds great. I love that they are opponents in the divorce case. Lots of tension and Boston is the perfect setting.

    • I love the “opposite sides of a legal battle” aspect of this! Lots of opportunity for drama and conflict, especially with a high society divorce in the mix. The only thing I’d ask for is a little more conflict in their backstory. Miscommunication is a little bit of an overused trope and I’m left wondering why Jake didn’t just clear up the confusion back then. Other than that, I think you’ve got a great story on your hands!

  11. Mona Shah

    Ryan Studwick was an almost famous upcoming photographer who specialized in capturing the uniqueness of urban life. He was out flying his personal jet to reach Tartar city where he would be carrying out his next expedition of potraying the city through his next photo album. It was going to be the biggest project of his life and Ryan was determined not to be distracted whatsoever. Little did he know his jet would have a sudden technological problem while he was over the sea not so far from Tartar city. He had to signal emergency to the air traffic control room and inform them his aircraft would be ditching.
    The siren in the control room was deafening. Betty Edison, heard the message the pilot had left. She quickly called her squad and they rushed out to the sea to rescue the pilot. From the helicopter she found him afloat with the help of a life jacket. She lowered down from the helicopter with the help of a rope in the blink of an eye. Betty had been in this profession since she was 20. As she neared the surface and held out her hand to help him to the rope, he just stared. How could a lady with such a pretty face be in a profession like this. “Hey you! You better stop day dreaming while your floating on ice cold water in the middle of nowhere” she shouted with irritation. How could he be so cool in a chaos like this. She right away disliked him for not understanding how difficult it can be to rescue people out there in the sea.
    What made Betty who was a bookworm choose a thrilling profession like that? How will the love between Betty and Ryan spark? Will Ryan who doesn’t believe in relationships ever be able to commit to Betty? Ryan who has dated so many hot girls in so many different cities during his expeditions. Will Betty let go of her past and let her guards down to let Ryan in? How will they both face all the obstacles coming their way to have a happily ever after ending? That is if they do have a happily ever after…

    • Megan Broderick

      Hi Mona,
      You’ve got a great opening scene here, but in a pitch you want to outline more of the conflict that will be driving the story to come. Why does Betty have her guard up? What makes Ryan not want to commit? How do those elements of their personalities—or any others—keep them apart? We really want to see what kind of conflict is going to be driving the story forward and keeping readers guessing how they’ll end up together!

  12. Kimberly Kirkland Absher

    Title: When Love Walks In
    Genre: Contemporary
    Word Count: 70,000 up to 85,000
    She’s everything he didn’t know he wanted, and he’s everything she needs…
    Kayla Kelley was content with her predictable life. She was thriving after her divorce in her job as a lead physical therapist at the top spinal injury center in Atlanta, GA, the lifestyle blog she began a year ago is gaining popularity, and she and her new-found friends from her divorce support group are planning a fall trip to England. She wasn’t completely averse to sharing her life with someone special again, if only she could get over her fear of getting back out there and dating.
    London transplant, Sam Welling, is her newest patient and part of her divorce support group. He’s great with everyone he meets except her. The two of them didn’t exactly get off to a great start. He seems to think of her as nothing but a flaky, high-maintenance nuisance, while he’s the serious, responsible type. As Kayla becomes part of his everyday life, Sam finds it harder and harder to resist her southern charm. Can he convince her his rudeness was reluctance and she can trust him with her heart? Can she convince him she’s worth the risk?

    • Megan Broderick

      Hi Kimberly!
      You’ve set up a great conflict with the doctor/patient issue and the heroine sounds like she has a lot going on internally, too. The only thing I’d add is a little more of an insight to Sam’s internal conflict. He’s divorced, but what specifically made him fall back on dismissing her as flaky and high-maintenance? Other than that, I think your story sounds great!

    • Kimberly Kirkland Absher

      Hi Megan,
      Thank you for your feedback.
      Sam is actually temporarily paralyzed with a bruised spinal cord. His ex-wife left him once he was wheelchair bound and told him he was worthless and she was no longer attracted to him (he believed the lie). Since Kayla is a physical therapist, when they meet in the divorce support group, she is interested in his injury. She pushes him on a weekly basis to get a second opinion; she’s basically in his business every week, which he perceives her as being a nuisance. He sees her as the flighty flaky tight because she’s always so upbeat and positive. It’s the wrong judgement, but he’s transferring these things into her to avoid having an interest in her.
      Thank you for your time and kind words,
      Kimberly

  13. Pauline Morgan

    A HUNK OF BURNING LOVE
    London city born 23yr old Lisa Browne was excited to know her application has been approved to transfer to Dubai to the latest new branch of Hawkins & Lloyds luxury residential estate agents. She adores the hustle and bustle of city life. The job change has come at the right time for Lisa, since breaking up with her two-timing, first division footballer boyfriend she decided to go and concentrate on her career. In the meantime, 25yr old Rowan Lister from a village in Northamptonshire has turned his back on the families business of farming. From a young boy, Rowan always wanted to seek the thrills of adventure and joined the fire service. A six-month exchange came up for Dubai which would further his experience and a chance to export living abroad. Yet, the one thing missing in his life is the love of a good woman.
    The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in Dubai and happens to be where Lisa`s new office is located, alongside a hotel, residential suites, restaurant and corporate suites. It is one of the most popular tourist’s spots to visit. Daily fire drills are carried out within the building but on such an occasion the drill turned out to be a real fire. The alarm was raised but soon the staff realised it is not a fire drill but a real life situation. During the manic rush, to escape the burning inferno Lisa gets knocked down and loses consciousness. Rowan is part of the fire crew sent to deal with the incident. He finds Lisa in the smoke filled room but a change of events means they get trapped together for forty-eight hours in a life or death situation mean time waiting for their rescuers. The fire is spreading; Rowan sees the window cleaning cradles and decides that is there best chance of escaping. The dramatic escape plan goes well, except Rowan gets injured but with the help of a helicopter both is brought to safety.
    Lisa and Rowan had gotten to know each other pretty well in the last forty-eight hours to the point they shared a kiss. Both felt the attraction even though it was a near death situation. Rowan was kept in hospital the longest for his injuries to heal up. His main visitor is Lisa and she sees him as the love of her life, as he does her. Their love blossoms, over the regular visits.
    Once Rowan is released from hospital, they begin to date on a regular basis. Soon Lisa realises Rowan is no ordinary farm hand but the son of a gentry farmer who owns quite a bit of land and properties
    Rowan decides to ask for Lisa`s hand in marriage, to become his farmer`s wife and share his newly built farmhouse in Northamptonshire. Much to his surprise she said yes. He was happy to swap his fire engine for a tractor to have his pretty wife by his side. Life on the farm took on a new meaning. Lisa never realised before how tranquil and beautiful the countryside can be.
    Their family holidays included a visit to Dubai the country that brought the city lover and the farmhand together.

    • Pauline, Dubai is a great choice for an urban setting, with people from all over the world! And a fire in a high-rise building provides a dramatic opening. To really catch the eye of an editor, though, you want “internal” conflict too. What’s to make us wonder how Lisa and Rowan will get together in the end if they seem perfect for each other from the beginning? Deeper characterization will raise the emotional stakes. Thanks for taking on our challenge!

  14. After Daria Jennings’ sister leaves her baby behind and disappears, Dare has no recourse but hire a P.I. to find out why.
    Christian Bradley quit the Miami PD because of calls dealing with injured or neglected children, but when Dare comes calling he breaks his own rule and agrees to help. After all, as a rookie he was responsible for breaking apart Dare’s family by arresting her parents.
    With another family at stake, Chris wants to make up for the past while Dare has to put aside her mistrust of the law, but will they be able to put aside their unexpected attraction in the meantime?

  15. Title: Strange Bedfellows
    Word count: 55,000 – 60,000 words
    Genre: Contemporary

    After meeting the woman of his dreams while exploring a fencing class in Chicago, and ultimately spending the night with her, ambitious and cynical investigative reporter Bryan is disillusioned to discover Melanie works for the politician that is the target of his current project. Does he pursue the woman he desires, when the ethics of doing so may cost him his job? How much does she know of the repugnant activities of her boss – enough to threaten her safety? For Melanie, is this alluring man’s intention romance, or something else? What does Bryan do with information that will destroy the politician’s career, knowing it will destroy Melanie’s as well, along with any trust and love she may have for Bryan?

  16. Chef Nicholas Stein owns a first class gourmet vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco but when his twin sister is in a skiing accident, he turns his restaurant over to his manager and travels to New York’s Bronx to take over his sister’s Burger Joint restaurant. A tough thing to do, working with meat when a vegetarian, but the toughest thing is when he meets his supplier, the local butcher’s daughter from two doors down.

    Butcher Daria Capelli is learning the ropes to take over when her father retires. Her regular base of customers keeps business brisk, but their best buyer is the local burger place who also advertises their products. Good for business, until Daria meets the new owner of the Burger Joint, a stubborn man who is turning their once profitable buyer into a veggie burger shop.

  17. Molly, the manager of an at-risk youth center, is asked to start a roof-top garden, except she knows nothing about gardening. Owen is a widowed horticulturalist who reluctantly agrees to help her despite the fact that he has no interest in spending time with Milwaukee’s at risk youth.Not when one of them is related to the man that inadvertently killed Owen’s wife. Could the love he feels sprouting between him and Molly be enough to allow him to forgive?

    • Laura Joy

      Love, love, love the roof garden. As you clearly know, vertical and roof gardening is totally the way forward in cities, so it’s a really lovely approach to the challenge. 🙂 🙂 🙂 And their different skill-sets combine beautifully to let them achieve something good.

    • Megan Broderick

      I love the roof garden premise here and it sounds like Owen has tons of internal conflict! I think the only question I would ask is how the child is connected to Molly. What about her relationship to the child makes Owen reluctant to get involved with her romantically?

  18. Laura Joy

    Edinburgh: Capital of Scotland, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, City of Literature, home of International Festivals, seat of the monarchy and the Scottish Parliament, and centre of the Scottish Legal System. Advocate Depute* Alana McBride is trying the most high-profile case of her career, prosecuting a group of internet pirates for illegal sharing of songs, costing the music industry at least £600 million. It is standard to call witnesses from the industry to explain the effects and artists to share their losses. Alana almost falls off her chair when Special Agent John Edwards of the USA’s Department of Homeland Security, who has been assisting with the investigation, tells her singer songwriter Callum Henderson, her law-school crush, now of Nashville, Tennessee, wants to testify. Will Alana keep her cool, when she interviews her idol and then questions him in a public courtroom, and as, in their downtime, she shows her temporary colleague John Edwards, around this ancient, yet buzzing, warren of a city, against the backdrop of a stunning 12th century castle sitting on an extinct volcano, will heat flow?

    (Note: John Edward becomes the principal love interest and the hero for HEA.)

    *Senior criminal prosecutor, similar to a barrister.

  19. Kassie Lane

    Find Her Keep Her
    Contemporary
    Approx. 55,000 words

    After her parents decided to live as free spirits when they retired, Margaret leaves her NYC life behind and she’s now the proud owner of the family farm in Upstate New York. Great, so much for latte’s and open all night anythings!

    Andrew’s been on a case for a year and a half and is ‘this’ close to taking down a drug manufacturing ring, but his cover is blown; he’s relocated and assigned to a jewelry store robbery case that’s gone cold in Albany, NY.

    Margaret’s sister pops in for a weekend visit and recognizes a man who ended up in her ER after a drug-overdose a few months ago. Andrew finds the model hired by the jewelry store for a local commercial, but Margaret couldn’t be the culprit, can she? No way! But was his gut, or his heart, telling him so?

    • Megan Broderick

      I love the suspense elements in this one! Though you might want to focus your setting, is it in Albany? Her farm? It wasn’t quite clear and an editor would want to know that. Thanks for sharing your pitch!

  20. I’m down with the flu, so I don’t have the mental capacity to do this up right, but here goes:

    A frenemies to lovers romance in which an ambitious marketing executive has filthy hot boardroom sex with the playboy business partner she’s been crushing on since college. Suits meets SoCal! Packed with more spice than an 8 pump venti chai latte! Also featuring a thong-eating golden retriever named Dolly!

    • Megan Broderick

      Emily,

      Hope you’re feeling better! And it sounds like there’s tons of tension between these two and lots of potential for external conflict, so my only advice would be to add a little emotional conflict to add that extra layer to the story. And I am all about dogs of all kinds, I love the addition of Dolly!

  21. Title: Sweet City Lies
    Word count: 55-70 000 words
    Genre: Contemporary.
    When Abbie returns home late one night to her tiny upstairs apartment in Brisbane’s inner city West End after two weeks working away, she discovers a potted plant blocking her parking space and the downstairs art gallery has been replaced by a busy little donut takeaway called ‘Decorate to Devour’.
    The fact that the owner Josh Webster has just collided with her little Scottie dog, when leaving work on his bike, doesn’t endear him to her either. So when the paper, for which Abbie writes, puts pressure on her to come up with a new angle, she decides to apply for a job with Josh’s team of girls and anonymously write witty little articles about cheap takeaways which unethically ply people with bright sugary foods (at least until her lease expires).
    But help! Abbie’s articles allow Decorate to Devour to be discovered as seriously trendy and her newspaper wants more. Josh might be gorgeous, clever and under pressure but Abbie’s way too smart and ambitious to stay and help (or fall for anyone passionate about pleasing people with donut toppings) especially when she’s dating her boss.
    On the other hand Josh would never have anything serious to do with a girl who wasn’t completely honest and who can’t appreciate a sugary treat, even if she is the only one on site who can stop the dough maker from overheating! Or would he?

    • Megan Broderick

      I really enjoy the donut shop angle (I mean, who doesn’t love donuts?) and the enemies to lovers trope is always quite fun. I think this pitch just needs a little more focus on what it is keeping them apart. Why does Abby dislike Jake so much? What does she have against sweets? Why is Jake so drawn to someone who doesn’t seem to like him? These are all questions editors would want to know. Thanks for sharing your pitch!

  22. New York bagel shop owner Sam has all the locals lining up for lunch at his place, until a new store rival moves in next door … first time cupcake entrepreneur Jessica who’s every bit as sweet and cute as the pastries she bakes. Sam isn’t too pleased, but he’s not too worried either. No one has been able to compete against Sam’s delicious bagels and he’s watched competitor after competitor move in and out of the shop next door for years.

    Which also makes Jessica the perfect prospect for dating – she’s cute, bubbly, and once her business goes bust, she’ll be moving out so no long term commitment required. However, despite being new to the food industry, Jessica’s cupcake shop is an instant success … to the point that even Sam’s regulars have switched to buying her cupcakes! It’s not that Jessica hasn’t noticed the heat rising between her and the gorgeous baker next door, but …. can business rivals be lovers? Or is it a recipe for disaster?

    • Megan Broderick

      Who doesn’t love a good bagel place?! I love the business rivals as a conflict and the New York setting sounds fabulous. Pitch-wise, I would only add a little on why Sam is so commitment shy and what is holding Jessica back, aside from the business rivals aspect. Thanks for sharing your pitch!

  23. Haydn Smith’s life is pretty good. He’s a computer engineer, his apartment overlooks Golden Gate Park, and the San Francisco online dating scene has everything. Maybe its the quantity, but lately, there’s been no spark until a chance encounter with a girl in the park. Anna turns down dinner and offers to sketch him instead. She has an easel set up and what she draws tells him subtly what she thinks of him and it isn’t what he is used to hearing. She’s talented, gorgeous, and if today is any indication, she makes him crazy but maybe it’s time for both of them to try something new.

  24. margie stewart

    ‘Dear Heartbreaker…’

    (Book one in, The Little Corner Tea Shop, series.)

    Done with insincere boyfriends, Ruby Lane devotes all her time to her popular themed café, ‘Tea and Sympathy’, first in the city to receive the agony-aunt magazine, ‘Dear Heartbreaker’ and the reasons her shop flourishes, and keeps her bank manager away.

    Adam Adler, courier driver by day, up-and-coming crime writer by night, is ‘Dear Heartbreaker’s’ undercover agony-uncle since he promised his dying journalist fiancée he’d take over the role purely for the extra income while he’s writing.

    When Adam and ruby collide outside her café, it’s mutual attraction at first sight but alarm bells start ringing when he recognises Ruby as regular contributor, aka, ‘Cinders’, who’s been secretly writing to him at ‘Dear Heartbreaker’, and between her troubles and his direct and sometimes witty advice, they’ve created a loyal following.

    Adam needs to reveal his identity, but knows he’ll lose Ruby or have they both got more to worry about with the threatened closure of the magazine? Could working together to play out a fake romance through, ‘Dear Heartbreaker’ be enough to save it and the catalyst to their own ‘real’, happy ever after?

  25. AnnaBanana

    Not a proper pitch, just an idea…
    How about a heroine who lives life to the full, knowing she’s lucky to be alive – as a teenager she received a heart in life saving transplant surgery. Now, every January, she gives blood in honour of the unknown girl whose death saved her life, although she’s never met the family who wanted to stay anonymous. Vivacious and chatty, she strikes up a conversation with a fellow donor, and they move on to coffee, only to discover that he is the brother of the girl who died, and he blames himself for his sister’s death. His parents always wanted to meet her, but he said no. The attraction though, is irresistible on both sides – he is drawn to her vibrancy, and she to his stability. But at the same time, he sees her vibrancy and zest for life as dangerous…the very things that took his sister away.

    • AnnaBanana

      I’ve never seen that movie, but now I’ll have to go find it!
      I was imagining an urban setting, where even though he doesn’t want to know her, they keep having coincidental meetings. I also wasn’t really imagining at as poignant – more fun and life affirming.

    • Yes! It’s a great movie. The hero’s wife dies and her heart is donated to a young waitress whose grandpa owns this restaurant. The heroine was going to die without the transplant and tho she hesitates to send a letter thanking the donor’s family, she tries to get on with her art studies. They meet when some friends bring the hero into her grandpa’s restaurant. The sizzle is there from the beginning and the angst as they absently hide the truth from each other is really intense. It’s a great story. Funny and romantic and a heart-tugger.

  26. Manuscript in Progress
    Kingston Ontario
    Will target: New Harlequin Sexy Contemporary
    Written with last years challenge of a “sexy Canadian hero” in mind

    Jace Kennedy is former Navy and now Canadian Coast Guard in Kingston Ontario. He survives a plane crash in the Pacific with 19 others and builds a survival camp on a deserted island until rescue arrives. Quinn Collins is among the survivors and Jace is immediately drawn to her, however the Kennedys and the Collins have been locked in a bitter feud for nearly ten years now when a fatherless baby was born and torn both families apart. Unable to ignore what sparks between them, Jace and Quinn give into their feelings knowing they do not need to deal with the scandal there. Rescue arrives and thrusts them back into their own lives in Kingston Ontario, lives that didn’t include the other. The media sensationalizes the castaways, making life difficult. Still haunted by his own family’s destruction ten years ago, Jace continues to blame the Collins family and in searching for those answers he finds a truth that will exonerate the family he blamed and vilify his own.

    • Patience Bloom

      This almost seems like a longer story, multi-generational, and very Romeo & Juliet. I like the intense conflict between the hero and heroine, how they have to live through extraordinary circumstances. Nicely done!

  27. Patsy Conway

    Stephanie Bella is twenty-six years-old and was born and raised in the city. Since losing her parents a few years ago she has been adrift and now finds herself without a job and on the verge of losing her apartment. She calls in a favor with her best friend’s cousin, Landon Miles, a celebrity chef in downtown Boston, who lands her a job in his fast-paced restaurant and night-club.
    Suddenly she is spending her nights mixing with A-list VIPs and crushing on Landon while spending her days perfecting her delicious vegan recipes and editing episodes of her very own web cooking show, Fresh Bites. But it is not until she comes home to catch her boyfriend cheating on her that she finds the courage to publish her first episode.
    Stephanie wants nothing more in the world than to build her following on YouTube and dreams of one day having her own cable show and cookbook. She spends more time with Landon, who takes her under his wing. But as she gains more subscribers and her dreams inch closer to becoming a reality, she begins to fear that Landon will suspect her of using him to launch her career. Will Stephanie win the hearts of both Landon and her viewers? Or is she destined to lose everything she loves?

    • Patience Bloom

      Boston, yay! And a heroine who cooks–even better! Cooking shows always get me through tough times so I imagine this will be a very fun, flavorful (sorry!) story for readers. And Boston is such a fun city.

  28. Manuscript Completed
    Kingston Ontario / Toronto Ontario
    Will target: Harlequin Sexy Contemporary
    Written with last year’s challenge of “a Canadian sexy hero” in mind
    Book 2 of a series
    Trey Collins the third, heir to Treymore Industries is Kingston Ontario has turned his back on the family business and wealth. At eighteen, Trey runs from his home city after his longtime girlfriend gives birth to a baby that wasn’t his. Ten years later, Trey is a police officer in Toronto Ontario and lives in the very depths of the squalid underbelly, ferreting the evil, never forgetting the girl who methodically tore his world apart. Returning to Kingston for the wedding of his adopted sister, Trey comes face to face with a past he can no longer outrun.

    • Patience Bloom

      As someone who mostly reads stories set in the US, I love a story set in Toronto because it’s such a beautiful and interesting city. And the hero has great backstory. Well done!

  29. Amanda is a Manhattan lawyer whose sister Jennifer, a dancer, is murdered. The police brush it off. She goes undercover as a dancer at the club to discover why her sister was killed. The manager Nicolai Vasilev hires her. Although he is a tough sounding Russian with a lot of sex appeal, he is a member of a Federal Task Force investigating money laundering.
    He finds himself attracted to her but suspects her of not being who she says she is. He can’t figure out why she is pretending to be someone else. So he has her followed and checked out. He finds out her identity, but still doesn’t know why she is there. He keeps an eye on her to keep her safe. They both continue their investigations.
    By this time they have revealed their attraction to each other. She is disgusted that she can be attracted to a manager of a sleazy club. When she’s in real danger,Nicolai tells her he knows who she is and that she has to leave. He doesn’t reveal who he is, however. She keeps on investigating the police..
    When the task force completes its investigation, a big newspaper story appears in the NY Times and she sees his picture. She is hurt that he didn’t tell her, and instead of an HEA, she refuses to have anything to do with him.
    Finally he brings the taskforce members to her office and asks if she wants to do the “perp walk”
    through her office to the waiting car? She refuses. He then smiles and says she’d better dance into his arms then.

    • Patience Bloom

      Bev, This sounds like an edgy and suspenseful story steeped in an urban setting. I love the idea of the heroine risking her life to solve her sister’s murder. I would ask, though, why the police would brush off the case? Otherwise, I love the hero’s involvement and how they come together at the end.

  30. Michelle P

    Nineteen-year-old Esteban Soto is a superhero—sort of. He’s got the mask, he’s got the guts, and he’s got the drive to rid his city of the terrible violence that plagues the night. Though superheroes “don’t technically exist,” he’s willing to risk everything he has to make the world a safer place for his little siblings. Unfortunately, this Lit major isn’t great at the vigilante gig and is quickly arrested by a real superhero—a cop. Smart, sassy, and quick-witted Tabitha Kingston is just as driven to clean up the streets as Esteban and has made just as many enemies in the process. Now, a professional crime boss wants both of them dead. Dogging attempts on their lives and ignoring their heightening affection for one another, Tabitha and Esteban must work together to bring down the kingpin and his organization, or else, someone they both love will die.

    • Patience Bloom

      This sounds a bit like the fictitious, crime-ridden Gotham, but who doesn’t like that? I love the idea of a younger superhero, though it might fall out of the category romance bounds. Perhaps this is more YA or New Adult? At the same time, it has a grittiness to it with the urban crime.

  31. Shannon Sweetnam

    Sophie was a struggling, middle-aged writer when she met Cupid at the Chicago Art Museum’s exhibition on rare 19th century erotic art. That’s when he accidentally shot one of his bows into her calf and fell in love. 1800 years her senior, but forever ripped and 21, he followed her home that night with what Sophie thought was just a one-night stand with a guy too drunk to see the wrinkles around her eyes. On her fifth or sixth 39th birthday, Sophie had given up on finding Mr. Right. Two months later, Cupid was still tying her to the bed with handcuffs and had set their wedding for Valentine’s Day. Was any of this real? And how was she supposed to explain the unexplainable to everyone else in her life?

  32. Charlotte Wells doesn’t much care about the going rate for her paintings. Her well-bred, wall street, ex-fiancé had nearly talked her into giving up her art once, and she learned the hard way to care more about her art being loved than being expensive. However, her new lawyer disagrees. Erik Mediean knows better than to hit on his clients, especially those who think it’s better to operate without a business plan and who seem to consider Erik evil for suggesting that profit is important. Erik would’ve quit if Charlotte didn’t stand to make him so much money. And, if it wasn’t quite so much fun to make her spitting mad.

    • Patience Bloom

      Hi, Amanda–What fun, combining the art and corporate world and New York itself. These are such evocative themes and the hero and heroine’s opposites-attract romance must have juicy conflict. Nicely done.

  33. To continue her work with pediatric trauma patients child psychologist Valerie Wentworth needs the support of Dr Ian Spencer, New Orleans General Hospital’s own Dr Mc Dreamy, but the man refuses to acknowledge her existence.
    After the death of his infant son, Ian wasted a lot of time and money on a psychobabble analyst and still he was unable to save his marriage, proof enough that he shouldn’t use his departments meager budget on some feel good program that is not going to benefit his patients.
    Unable to get the man’s attention through the normal channels, Valerie decides to take her friend’s dare and break out of her man shy shell and charm the pants off Ian in order to save her program.
    What’s the loss of a little dignity if it means being able to help the children who need her, right?

    • Patience Bloom

      McDreamy in New Orleans? Sounds good to me! I always like a story where the hero is embittered and needs a great heroine (who knows better) to bring him back to life. And what better place than New Orleans? This setting really does deliver a different flavor from a more corporate urban center like New York. Great idea!

  34. Savannah Sunrise

    Tied to a man who will never release her; regardless, of the decreasing value she possesses in his eyes, Ashleigh Delgado is trapped in the world of a family of outlaws. She has spent her short life deep in the heart of South Dakota, where abandonment and captivity have shredded her heart more effectively then the jagged tip of the sharpest knife ever could. And when she set eyes on Giovanni Graziano she never guessed it would be his betrayal that could save her.

    The favored son, Giovanni, is loathed to find his comfortable blanket of detachment slipping away as he finds himself consumed by the protective feelings he feels toward Ashleigh. Thoughts of a future with the battered beauty threatens his ability to continue his existence in the only life he has ever known, but thoughts of being without her is creating wild notions within him, leaving him to decide what’s more important the only family he has ever known or the family that they can build together.

    • Savannah Sunrise

      Of course, I am more than willing to elaborate. It is not a historical romance, it is a contemporary romance. Their story takes place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Rapid City, South Dakota. It begins in the Black Hills in Rapid City.

    • Savannah Sunrise

      Ashleigh is a victim of human trafficking, and the Graziano family makes their money by protecting, training, and transferring the human cargo. (I know it is a delicate subject matter, but there are no scenes that contain rape.) The hero and heroine cross paths because Giovanni is being forced to learn more than just the protection side of the business.

  35. At 25, Roxane has no choice but to enrol in Columbia University to please her Dad and hoping to find a real job afterwards. She reluctantly attends classes until she sees one of the lecturers there. Something happens when their eyes meet, she couldn’t explain it but it shook her to her core. But what else can she do but watch him from afar, since relationships like this are forbidden by the university rules. Not to mention Roxane has a boyfriend and a tendency to live in her dreams. Until she pushes destiny a little bit.

    • Patience Bloom

      Hello, Colette! Columbia University is a lovely setting, one of my favorite parts of New York. And who doesn’t enjoy the hub of activity at a educational institution. This strikes me as a New Adult romance where there could be a kind of love triangle situation. I hope all works out well for the heroine and she gets her dream. Well done!

  36. Philadelphia. April, a wayward young punk, who works at a bakery downtown falls in love with an Amish guy, who works at the Amish-run diner next door (this is a real setting in Philly–at Reading Terminal Market). April’s life is in a constant downward spiral: one step away from prison, she struggles with sobriety, can’t hold down a job, and has a weakness for beautiful boys who are nothing but trouble. But when her sister, Rose, suddenly disappears–under suspicious circumstances–April discovers her purpose in life: to find her sister and return her back home. April’s quest brings her into contact with a handsome Amish stranger who just may be the mysterious missing link in the search for Rose–and in April’s redemption.

  37. Ellay Branton

    Bummed I missed this, because I’m 2/3 into a story of a CEO who wants the revolutionary code created by an ex-pro baseball player. She’s powerful, successful, and driven to elevate her tech company – PowerCouple, a dating app exclusively for senior level executives – above its competitors. He won’t sell the algorithm. Its purpose was not for suits to find love, but for the fastest, most accurate DNA matches between donors and patients.
    He thinks she needs a lesson in humanity, and she thinks she can convince him to sell her the code.
    Their proximity sparks desire and emotion that could lead to disaster, or a love that could change both of their lives forever.

  38. Ellay Branton

    Eek, forgot the part that brought me here:

    It’s set in San Francisco. From the soaring condos in South Beach District, to the steel and concrete sentinels in the Financial District, the charm of Russian Hill, and the grittiness of the Tenderloin, the City by the Bay sets the stage for my story.

    I

  39. Elaine W. Vigne

    Romantic neighborhoods… I was born and raised in New Orleans, and one thing for sure is that each and everyone of the neighborhoods have so much flavor. Everyone romanticize creative opportunities in and around the Crescent city indicative to the character of various neighborhoods…