Debut novelist Lisa Hill has won Choc Lit's 2016 Search for a Star competition.
Choc Lit will publish Hill's winning entry, Fall for Grace, and has acquired world rights.
Fall for Grace is a "heart warming" contemporary story of a family trying to save their racing stable and livelihood from the greedy clutches of an adversary. "Throw into that mix two budding romances, who face all sorts of very believable issues to overcome on the way to true happiness, a beloved and feisty family matriarch who is determined to engineer successful resolutions to all problems while facing her rapidly approaching demise due to cancer, and you have a very affecting story. It will likely appeal to readers of Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde," the publisher said.
Choc Lit's Search for a Star competition was established to support new and unpublished authors. It recognises "how difficult the road to publication can be" and provides an opportunity to "break through" and to secure a traditional publishing contract.
Search for a Star is supported by LoveReading.co.uk. Past winners have included As Weekends Go by Jan Brigden, House of Secrets by Lynda Stacey and Who is Harry Dixon by Morton S Gray.
Lyn Vernham, managing director of Choc Lit, said: "The standard of entries was very high again this year. Our reader panel thoroughly enjoyed Fall for Grace so we know it will prove popular. Lisa is a worthy winner and we are delighted to welcome her to the team."
Hill said: "Having lost out to Lynda Stacey in the 2015 Search for a Star final, I am over the moon to have won with Fall for Grace this year. I joined creative writing classes eight years ago and have been a member of the incredibly supportive Romantic Novelists Association, New Writers Scheme since 2010. It's been a long slog but Choc Lit were my ultimate goal and I am so delighted to finally be a part of the family."
Fall for Grace will be published in early 2017.