TRUE NORTH (NA Contemporary Romance)


True North


Tif Marcelo


NA Contemporary Romance

Word Count:

78,8000 words


TRUE NORTH is a stand-alone contemporary romance with series potential. Complete at 79,000 words, it hints at the flair of The Chef, and is peppered with the conflicts of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, all with its own love story between cultures and families. As a veteran Army nurse, Filipino-American, and a daughter of a restaurateur, this manuscript reflects my love for food, family, culture, and our men and women in uniform.

Twenty-one-year old Camille Marino knows what it’s like to participate in guerilla tactics—food truck style. As chef and owner of Lucianna, a panini truck in San Francisco, she juggles reinventing recipes and strategizing social media with snatching a parking spot to put up shop. Toss in that she’s the sole guardian for her teenage sister, and Camille’s responsibilities are about to boil over. After she runs into her high-school crush, Drew Bautista, at a food festival and wakes up tangled in his arms, Camille walks away. She and Drew might have created some steam, but she can’t add one more thing to her plate.

Three years after an argument that almost severed his relationship with his father, Drew has returned home to make peace. Now an Army soldier about to head to his first deployment, he’s on a mission to repair the damage before his thirty days of leave are up. Drew doesn’t expect that in that limited time, he would be asked to help renovate True North, the family’s fledgling Filipino restaurant. And he sure as hell doesn’t anticipate reuniting with Camille, and after a hot night, wake to find her gone with only an email address left behind.

After losing a prime spot on Market Street from a social media faux pas, Camille is forced to move her truck to an ocean-side, sleepy neighborhood. She works overtime to prevent a financial setback. Failing means jeopardizing her sister’s dream of attending a premier art summer intensive. Camille’s even willing to deal with the territorial owners of the run-down restaurant, True North, ten feet from her front hood, who see Lucianna as direct competition.

Drew, all-in for his dad’s approval, agrees to wage war against Lucianna. That is, until he realizes that Camille—who he has emailed, pulled from hiding, and brought back into his bed—is the enemy. When Drew’s family threatens to shut Camille’s truck down, Drew must decide where his true north directs him: to either stay on the path of finally earning his father’s approval…or to change course for a second chance at love.

TRUE NORTH won first place in the Fabulous Five Contest (under another title). Previous manuscripts were finalists in several RWA chapter contests. I am a proud member of RWA (PRO) and YA-RWA.

First 300 words:

Chapter I – Camille

All of life’s situations can be tackled by a Nana-ism.

Effort in every bite.

Let your senses tell you how to season.

Your food reflects how you feel.

Hair in luscious thick braids and nimble, delicate fingers, my Nana taught me everything, from tying my shoes to lacing up a hunk of meat for roasting. Though she’s been gone for two years, her words still rule my actions in business, in relationships, in life.

And right now, all I hear is: Camille Lucianna Marino! Hair and food do not mix!

The thought stills my fingers on the paper plate of food in my right hand, and the clear plastic cup of wine in my left. I will myself to ignore the incessant feeling that the wig on my head, a blond bob of artificial, stringy strands, is skewed out of place. Perched unnaturally on the right side of my noggin, the wig makes me feel lopsided and top heavy. Worse, the swoop that’s supposed to end below my cheek is on my nose. All I want to do is fix it, dammit.

“Remind me never to do this again with you. Ever.” I spear Jasmine a look. My best friend is inhaling what looks like silver dollar-sized meat pancakes, open-faced on a bed of arugula and french bread, barely able to answer under a similar horrific wig because her mouth is full. Over full. My stomach dips at Jaz’s obvious lustful reaction to the dish. Eyes hooded, her mouth rounds in a quiet moan. “It’s that good,” I say, rather than ask.

Her face switches from pleasure to guilt, and with one swallow, chokes out, “Oh, no. Not at all. Your meatballs are hella better. This had too much pepper. And salt. It sucked, actually.”


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