August Seal Of Excellence

August 2010's RT Seal of Excellence was awarded to Mary Robinette Kowal for her fantasy novel, Shades of Milk and Honey. Here are some comments from the editors on why Kowal's debut won the honor.


"So often in a fantasy novel, the magic of the world is hastily wound around the characters and plot. However, Kowal's glamours are so artfully integrated that, after reading this book, it is almost difficult to think of the Regency without the magic. This story is one of subtlety and includes ethereal events, exquisite prose, delicately drawn characters and tender emotions." - RT Web Editor Morgan Doremus

"Kowal delightfully channels Jane Austen's tone and world, while adding a simple, fantasical element that makes the book all her own. This is a title that will have fantasy fans thinking about trying another romance, and vice versa." - RT Senior Editor Elissa Petruzzi

"It’s rare that a book has the power to transport me so totally from the busy hustle of New York City. But while lost in the pages of Shades of Milk and Honey, I totally believed that I was in Regency England. The novel reads like a lost Austen work and is equally engrossing. Kowal also shows her skill with the seamless way that she weaves the element of fantasy into her character's lives and society. I cannot wait to pass this novel along to all of my fellow romance and fantasy readers!" - RT Assistant Web Editor Whitney Sullivan

Check out RT's exclusive in-depth interview with the author >> 

Discover the author's favorite scene in Shades of Milk and Honey >>


So what other books were contenders for the August Seal of Excellence? Here is a look at the titles the RT editors considered.


A Kiss at Midnight was one of the RT Editors' favorite titles this month. Eloisa James’ take on the classic fairy tale Cinderella has had the editors buzzing since we first heard about it. The romance between Lady Kate and Prince Gabriel certainly lives up to the hype. RT’s Whitney was particularly captivated by the way that “[t]he story’s requisite evil stepmother, fairy godmother and two tiny dogs (affectionately and not so affectionately called ‘the rats’) all carry the flavor of James’ unique writing style.”

However, after much deliberation, the editors agreed that while A Kiss at Midnight may be in the same league as fan-favorites, James’ Pleasure series, this may not be the author’s very best novel, but it sure is a close call!


Eve Silver's paranormal trilogy starter Sins of the Heart had RT buzzing - its not everyday that we read romances firmly rooted in Egyptian myth. While it must have been difficult matching soul reaping hero Dagan with a heroine strong enough to match him, Roxy is every bit an equal in the relationship. We loved the action almost as much as the romance, however, in the end, the long stretches of time (and text) between Dagan and Roxy's interactions kept this one from nabbing this month's seal. 

What it would be like to go on a date with Dagan >>



Chris Ewans' The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas was awarded a rare Top Pick Gold rating. RT's Reviewer Michelle Weiner explains why this novel a good runner up but, missed being not the winner of this month's Seal of Excellence. 

"I am a complete sucker for heist/caper movies, especially ones featuring charming and witty criminal-heroes, and that's exactly how The Good Thief's Guide to Vegas reads. I don't always like when first-person narratives directly address readers, but it works here, as it feels as though the "gentleman thief" hero is taking you into his confidence -- and possibly lifting your wallet as he does. There might have been a few moments in the unraveling of the mystery that I thought were a little out there, and maybe one too many narrow escapes, but the whole book reads like what it would be like if James Bond were a burglar, so very early on I checked my disbelief at the door and just went with it." - RT Reviewer Michelle Weiner


Historical romance fans will be thrilled with Loretta Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal.   Heroine Olivia positively jumps off the page. And readers will appreciate that Chase has crafted the perfect hero for such an exuberant lady in her best friend Earl of Lisle. Although Last Night’s Scandal can be enjoyed a stand-alone, there are several moments that cause readers to wonder if they would enjoy the novel even more if they had read the rest of the series. Nonetheless, the novel stays just on the charming side of predictable and the details about Lisle’s life in Egypt are a delicious treat!

Read Lady Olivia’s Letter About Last Night’s Scandal >>

Read An Excerpt >>


Other books the RT editors considered were:

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

Three Nights With a Scoundrel by Tessa Dare


July Seal of Excellence >>

June Seal of Excellence >>