Query Critique 41

Dear Secret Agent Man:

Lily Monroe survived the end of the world. Most would say she’s lucky. She’s not so sure.

The plague left surviving males virtually sterile and the hope of rebuilding society nearly nonexistent. Now, stuck with her ex-fiancé Garrett in a rural cabin in Tennessee, Lily is ill-equipped to survive whatever comes next – until what comes next arrives in the form of Cash Walker. This is good over all. I’m a little confused why she’s in a cabin with her ex-fiancé. Are they together despite a falling out? Or if there was no falling out, why is he her ex-fiancé?

Tall and trim and tough, Cash is exactly the kind of man who can get Lily and Garrett to one of the government-sanctioned survivor colonies. But Cash, tormented by his past, seeks only the solitude of the Louisiana bayous he calls home. Guiding two city-slickers through a landscape of burned-out buildings and mass graves is the last thing he needs on his post-apocalypse plate, and his attraction to Lily is a complication he wants to avoid as much as the plague itself. Yet Lily’s maddening mix of stubborn independence and kind-hearted determination proves more than he can resist. How does Cash end up in Tennessee? And if all he wants is to get down to Louisiana, why would he stop to help out this random couple? The only reason given is his attraction to Lily, but before that develops, what reason does he have to get involved.

As they trek deeper south, Lily sees the kind of man You’ve already used this “kind of man” phrase once, so it sounds a little repetitive here. Cash Walker is: broken, tortured, determined to fight off anyone who gets close. But Lily has spent her life healing broken creatures, and she’s convinced love can heal Cash, too, if only he will let it.

But when their arrival at the first colony ends in disaster, Cash saves her by leaving a severely injured Garrett behind. Feeling betrayed by his choice, Lily must choose: strike out alone or follow Cash to Belle Terre, a plantation colony in south Louisiana. Lily is torn between her anger with Cash and her growing feelings for him. When she learns she’s carrying Garrett’s child – possibly the last unborn child on earth – the rift between them widens and leaves Lily doubting the one thing she’d always believed – that love can heal any broken heart. Good. Stakes are established.

THE BEAUTIFUL EARTH is a 108,000 word adult post-apocalypse romance – the kind of romance created when a Deep South author reads Gone With the Wind and The Road in rapid succession. The novel can be read as a single manuscript or as the first of a proposed trilogy focused on three couples struggling to build a new society in south Louisiana. Thank you for considering it for representation.

Sincerely,

Southern Harm


This query has a lot going for it. Good conflict and stakes. Just look into tying up some of the loose questions, and you should be good to go!