Bess lost five pounds and went from Nancy's chubby friend to a finalist for the Face of the Year overnight. The contest brings a bunch of amateur models in from across the country for a shot at winning a modeling contract. Think of it like the pre-Internet version of Top Model. Since George has a tennis contest and can't go, Nancy agrees to go to Chicago with her.
They check into their hotel just in time to learn that the other models already left for their first shoot and hurry to catch up. The girls all pose next to a railing by the water, but one of the girls slips and falls over the side. Everyone thinks Maggie just tripped, but Nancy finds evidence that someone cut the railing. This one girl, Heather, makes comments that reveal she has some professional experience and makes fun of Maggie. The other girls point out all the mean things she said about them.
All the girls also meet Thom, one of the main guys associated with the competition and Roger Harlan, the hottest male model in the world. Roger does a little flirting and makes Bess go weak in the knees. They're all excited to find out who they will be partnered with for the first shoot. Nancy overhears the contest peeps talking about how Maggie got Roger and how Heather will be incredibly jealous with Thom hovering in the background. She also finds a tie tack near the scene of the broken railing with the letters RH engraved on the front.
Everyone goes back to the hotel and changes before some random welcome to the party/competition city with a bunch of rich and famous people. Bess can't stop gushing over just how adorable Roger is and how much she wants to work with him. Nancy gets ready to tell her what she overheard, but Thom and the others come in first. Her mouth drops open when she hears that Roger is now paired with Heather!
Even though no one else notices, Nancy sees Heather giving Maggie a crazed look. Everyone else just wants to talk about their partners. Thinking there is something suspicious going on, Nancy decides to check out the modeling agency the next day while the girls get makeovers. She meets Kelly, one of the woman in charge of the event, and Bettina, one of the agents. Bettina reveals that she hates Monique, the main woman in charge. Since Nancy is oh so gorgeous, we also get a scene where Bettina complains that Bess is too short but Nancy is just perfect for modeling.
Kelly later tells her that Bettina and Thom were an item until Monique basically stole her best friend's guy. She also did a little research and discovered that Nancy was an investigator, so she thinks Nancy is there on a case. Nancy gets back to the hotel to find that Bess's “makeover” was really just them straightening her hair. Another girl, Alison, came straight back and hid in her room. She finally comes out and shows them that her hair is either burned off or missing and announces that she just wants to go home.
Monique swoops in with claims that something happened to her in the past and carts her away, which gives Nancy time to meet with the stylist. He claims nothing like that ever happened before and how he has no clue how it happened until Nancy finds that someone swapped out some of his chemicals. Then he's all, “oh I thought there was something different” without taking the blame.
Since the contest must go on, the girls all head to some random park to take pictures of themselves using exercise equipment. Heather was supposed to do the rings but won't come out, so Bess does it. She falls off the rings and lands in the mud, just in time for Heather to come out, laugh at her, and call her a pig. I really hate this chick. Nancy finds evidence that someone cut one of the rings.
Bess and Nancy go back to the hotel and grab lunch. Nancy can't finish an entire eclair on her own, which is really just a set up so that Bess can whine about how Nancy never eats as much as she does. They then run into the guy bringing the formal dresses for the next event. Bess flirts with him until he lets them take a peek, and they find that someone attacked Natasha's, another model's, dress. They immediately call Bettina.
This apparently does nothing though because when the girls all meet up to get their dresses, Natasha's dress is still ruined. Heather shows up, makes a rude joke, grabs her dress, and leaves. Nancy follows her outside and sees her talking to Thom. When she tells him what happened, he rushes inside and doesn't notice a note falling out of his pocket. The note, signed with a T, states that the recipient will get a great trip to the Caribbean and a new president.
Bettina comes in and announces that while she can get Natasha a new dress, she won't appear in the shoot that night. All the dresses were custom made and for a specific company and there's no time to make a new one. Maggie and Bess try to calm her nerves by pointing out that they each missed a shoot, and Alison shows up with a wig Monique found for her. Nancy later overhears Bettina making threatening comments and laughing about how the agency will fail with someone she only calls EB.
Cut to Nancy showing up at the event and only seeing Heather. The other girls finally show up after getting stuck in an elevator together. Kelly shows up long enough to point out someone with the initials EB who is not only a gossip columnist but also a content writer for a fashion competitor. Nothing else really happens except that his column talks about all the bad stuff that happened in the competition and Thom tells Bess that the negatives for her portrait shoot were stolen. Without those pictures, she doesn't have a shot in hell at winning.
Wanting to get close to Heather and find out what her deal is, Nancy convinces Bess to sit with the girl for lunch. Heather once again acts super rude and makes an excuse to leave when Maggie sits with them. They head to another shoot where all the clothes for the models were the wrong size except for the stuff reserved for Heather. The girls are all supposed to stand around a fountain, but someone filled the fountain with purple paint that drenches them all.
Nancy later gets a call from Kelly, who tells her that she found some proof Heather is actually a girl named Gloria. Not only did Gloria do professional modeling, but she also did time in juvie for vandalism. If they can find more proof, she'll get tossed from the competition. Kelly also tells her that Roger is shooting a commercial at Marshall Field's the next day.
The agency finds a new photographer to take portrait shots of Bess, which leaves Nancy with a free day. Still having his tie tack, she goes to the shoot Roger's working on. Nancy sees Thom on the elevator with a familiar looking blond woman and finds that Roger is a horrible actor. He's already on take 42 when she gets there. When she tells him what she found, he agrees to help her in anyway he can. Before she leaves the store though, she finds that someone slipped her a threatening note to warn her away from the competition.
As nothing stops her, she meets back up with the models and finds that two are missing. The two are hiding out in their room because they developed horrible red splotches all over their faces. Nancy quickly deducts that someone coated their pillows with itching powder. Though the itching will stop, the marks will stick with them for a few weeks.
She then meets up with Kelly to track down Heather. Though they confront her with the truth about her identity, she claims that it doesn't matter. Even if she doesn't win, there are bigger agencies and more important companies out there. The two women go to the studio and learn that someone stole the images taken just before the fountain disaster. Luckily, Kelly took some images of her own and closer examination reveals that Thom was hiding in the bushes that day.
The night of the winner announcement arrives. Nancy asks Heather to help her steal Thom's briefcase with the promise that Kelly will get her into a major magazine, but Heather turns her down. Kelly then calls with some big news. She was at the meeting where they announced Heather as the winner, but she saw Thom hiding something when he put the votes in his briefcase. When she looked closer, she saw that Heather wasn't the winner.
When the competition ends at some fancy banquet, Thom goes to announce the winner. Kelly rips the paper from his hand and announces that Maggie won. Everyone goes to congratulate her, but Heather stands up and throws a hissy fit. It turns out that she saw him sabotaging the contest and blackmailed him to win. Thom had to screw things up because he was leaving the company to work for its main competitor.
Bess and Nancy show up outside the hotel the next morning to wish Maggie luck and congratulate her on winning. They then hop on a train to head back to River Heights, with Bess offering Nancy a danish but Nancy being “too full” to eat. Bess then reveals that she's glad she didn't win because of how careful models must be to remain in good shape. And Nancy makes a joke about how Bess would rather have food go to her waist than waste food, which makes me want to cut a bitch.
*I know I totally had and loved this book when I was a teen because I remember being jealous of the outfit Bess wears on the cover.
*Speaking of that cover, is it just me or does Nancy totally look like Jessica Wakefield here?
*Nancy says that Heather must be a good model because she looks so nice and wholesome in her photographs. Um, isn't that what good models do?
*Heather really is a mega bitch. She literally called Bess “piggy” multiple times, which made me want to slap her.
*Hearing multiple comments about how Nancy should be a model and why she'd make such a great model was annoying, especially since Bess was hand picked for the competition.