View Full Version : Beta Reader wanted for YA Historical Romance

06-12-2011, 01:19 AM
Okay, so I'm going to post the query letter that I have typed up. I'm looking for someone who will do a line by line and work on gramatical stuff. That doesn't have to be all you do, but that would help me. Thanks

Dear (Agent’s Name):

Seventeen-year-old Emma Hale strives to be a lady in Victorian New England. She sews, waltzes, and keeps her opinions to herself. She stays within her own sphere, never daring to look at the world beyond parlors and ballrooms.

Yet she begins to question everything when she meets her younger brother’s tutor, Charles Wilson. Unlike the other boys in Concord, Charles talks with her about women’s rights, slavery, and the war that is threatening to tear America apart. He encourages Emma to have her own opinions, and even lets slip he is helping an escaped slave, James Smith, reach Canada.

Charles’s views go against everything Emma has been taught. She meets some of his friends who are involved in the Underground Railroad, such as Louisa May Alcott, and Emma learns about the true horrors of slavery. When she finds out that James is in danger and the slave catchers are in Concord, Emma realizes that she has to make a choice: to continue to lead a life of comfort, or break the law-and ruin her reputation-by helping a man seek freedom and the love he was denied.

NORTHERN PROMISES is a 73,000-word YA Historical Romance.
Sarah Holmes

06-12-2011, 05:27 AM

06-12-2011, 06:12 AM
For me, the query blurb is a bit ho-hum and makes me wonder if you're going to give the reader a history lesson rather than a compelling story.

When she finds out that James is in danger and the slave catchers are in Concord, Emma realizes that she has to make a choice: to continue to lead a life of comfort, or break the law-and ruin her reputation-by helping a man seek freedom and the love he was denied.

This part is the only thing that makes me think you might have something interesting and entertaining.

06-12-2011, 07:30 PM
Chapter One

December, 1861

Emma squeezed her eyes shut as the sleigh moved faster and faster. The runners glided effortlessly while the horses cantered along. The cold wind stung her face and whistled in her ears as the vehicle moved across the snow. The bells on the horses’ harnesses rang out clearly through the crisp afternoon, breaking the silence of the sleepy New England town.

“Ambrose, slow down,” Emma giggled.

“Stop being such a ninny.” He flicked the reins harder, urging his pair of two Morgans faster.

“Forgive me for not wanting to spend Christmas nursing wounds.”
Ambrose laughed. “You are far too serious. You sound just like my mother.” He winked at her and Emma smiled before scooting closer to Ambrose. She wanted to thread her arm through his own and press her cheek against his shoulder. She could smell his spicy cologne, a scent which she loved. She hoped perhaps he would slow the horses down so they could spend more time together, but Ambrose was oblivious to her signs. It certainly didn’t help that Emma’s mother was seated behind the couple. She was wrapped in a blanket with her fur muff sitting in her lap as she eyed the couple.

“Look how fast we’re going,” he shouted. “I never got to go at full chisel while I was at Harvard. Pity I can’t go dashing through the streets in Cambridge again. I would love to see the look on the constable’s face.”

“No doubt he remembers you,” Emma’s mother muttered, “Especially since you were expelled for dueling.”

“I believe Miss Hale thought it was some sort of romantic gesture. She thinks I am like one of the heroes in those fairy stories that she reads. Like a real Mr. Darcy, perhaps.”

“What are you going to do now?” Mrs. Hale asked. “I hope you have made arrangements to finish your education.”

“I think I shall go on holiday actually.” He had a wicked sense of humor, one that sometimes did not agree with the citizens of Concord or Emma’s mother.

“Oh, dear me,” she heard her mother whisper.

“Where shall you go?” Emma asked.

“Paris or Rome,” Ambrose said. He then leaned in closer to Emma and whispered, “And I shall go with you, of course.”

Emma felt him place his gloved hand on top of her own, giving it a tender squeeze. Despite the cold, Emma felt her cheeks grow hot, and she wished he could whisk her off to a faraway land.

“Perhaps we can be presented at Queen Victoria’s court and dance in a real palace. Could you imagine that? Go to England, where there are real princes, knights, and noble ladies.”

“That would be nice, but I fear my Father might have other plans for me.”

“Like what?” Emma asked.

“He is threatening to send me into the army. He says I should do my service to the Union.”

“What?” Emma straightened up. “You can’t go to war, Ambrose! What will I--”
“Don’t get so hysterical about it,” Ambrose said. “Mother won’t let him send me off to fight. But I do fear that Father will send me to West Point or some other horrible military institution.”

“But West Point is all the way in New York!” Emma exclaimed. “I’ll never see you except on holiday! At least when you were at Harvard you came home often, even if it was to beg your father for funds.”

“Emma,” Mrs. Hale, her eyes narrowed in warning. Emma knew that her mother’s patience was wearing thin, and that she was ready to go home.

Ambrose shrugged. “Well, I doubt the old man will loan me any spending money now. You should have seen his face when I told him that I was caught dueling…again. I swear he was as red as a cherry.”

“You could have seriously been injured, Mr. Wright,” Mrs. Hale said. “Or worse; you could have been--”

“I don’t know what I would have done if you had gotten hurt,” Emma interrupted her mother.

“You wouldn’t have found some new beau to take you sleighing?” Ambrose teased.

“Never, and besides, all of the boys in Concord are as dull as powder compared to you. Besides, who would take me to England?”

Ambrose’s smile returned. “You are too sweet for your own good. Despite everything, I am glad to be home.” Lowering his voice, he added, “Now I get the chance to call on you more often. That was terribly hard to do when I was in Harvard.”

Emma laughed. “I’m glad you’re home too. Just think of all the fun we’ll have this Christmas.”

“Indeed. Another day at Harvard and I would have…I would have shot someone.” He chuckled at his own joke.

“Promise me you won’t get into any duels here?” Emma said.

Ambrose dramatically placed a hand over his heart as though he were about to recite some Shakespearian sonnet. “I swear I shall not get into any more scrapes whilst I am at home.”


“Don’t worry.”

Emma turned her face to look up at him, noting how their lips were only mere inches apart. She could feel his warm breath on her face, and she yearned to close her eyes and kiss him. If only her mother hadn’t been there.

“I will try not to get into any more trouble while I am here. Despite what Mother says, I do think Father is at the end of his rope. I fear if I do something I will be shipped off to the army.”

“Then make sure you don’t spoil it,” Emma said.
Ambrose smiled at her, and her heart sped up in her chest. He looked so handsome in the waning sunlight which fell upon the snow, making it glisten.

The horses pulled the sleigh up to the Hale’s house and with a gentle “whoa,” Ambrose brought them to a halt. The animals huffed and snorted after their rigorous exercise. Despite the cold, their brown coats were almost black with sweat, and white froth dripped from their mouths.

“Who is that fellow in front of your house?” Ambrose asked.

Emma looked past him and saw a young man, bundled up from head to toe, carrying a few books in his arms.

“Oh, dear, I’m afraid that is Henry’s new tutor,” Mrs. Hale said. “Come along, Emma. You’ll catch cold in this weather.”

“Yes, Mother, and goodnight, Ambrose, I had a lovely time.” She turned to leave when he caught her hand. She watched breathlessly as he kissed the top of her hand. She could have even sworn that she felt his warm lips through her woolen gloves.

“Goodnight, Miss Hale,” he said like a proper gentleman. “I had a nice time as well. You are going to the Hudsons’ Christmas Eve party?”

Emma nodded.
“May I request that you save at least one waltz for me? I have no doubt that most of the other gentlemen will be clamoring for a dance with you.”

Emma looked down, feeling her cheeks redden at the compliment. She didn’t know if he was teasing her or was actually serious. “Of course, and…thank you,” she whispered, not sure of what else to say.

He tipped his top hat at her and said, “Until then, Emma, goodnight.”

Emma alighted from the sleigh, suddenly feeling warmer than normal. She told Ambrose farewell again as she opened the garden gate, having completely forgotten the other young man who watched their private moment from the front door. When he saw Emma and Mrs. Hale coming his way, he looked about frantically, as if he might dodge behind a bush so he could conceal himself.

“Hello,” Emma said. She glanced back over her shoulder, but Ambrose had already cantered off into the night; the sound of the sleigh bells growing fainter and fainter.

06-12-2011, 09:52 PM
I looked over your sample and what you need is a critique partner/group. This book isn't ready for a beta reader. And since your OP says you'd like a line edit (quite time consuming) I don't think you'll have many takers here in the beta section.