August Seal of Excellence

August 2012's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Juliana Gray's historical romance debut A Lady Never Lies. Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction and stands out from all the other books that are reviewed in that issue and on the website. 


One rented castle in Tuscany...three best friends determined to swear off the opposite sex — it seems like a perfect equation. There's only one problem: the castle has been rented out to two different groups of best friends. This is how the out-of-funds Lady Alexandra and her two female relations wind up sharing their summer house with inventor Phineas and two titled gentlemen. So what's this convoluted math destined to produce? Well, this surefire scandal broth seems guaranteed to create at least one couple, but will this romance survive the summer? Only if everyone is lucky!  

"This book is a hilarious page-turner, a moving love story and a great set-up for a really creatively structured trilogy. Gray's driven, confident heroine, her brainy, ginger hero (yes, Finn's a redhead!) and the thrilling early years of automotive innovation make this one of the year's best debuts!" - RT Editor

"Gray's intelligent and charming characters had me laughing out loud in several highly memorable scenes, and I loved the Victorian-era details and lingo. I can't wait to pick up the next two books in the series." - RT Editor

"I loved the unconventional setting, the witty repartee and the unusual situation that these three couples encounter in Tuscany. This read breaks the traditional historical romance mold, while still staying accessible to longtime historical fans." - RT Editor


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


Temptation’s Edge by Eve Berlin is a beautiful example of BDSM erotica done well. When tattoo artist Mischa travels to Seattle for her friend's wedding, the last thing on her mind is love — but that doesn't mean turning down a night with alluring Connor, whose domineering personality proves to be a perfect match for Mischa's firey attitude. Mischa's previous experimentation with BDSM makes the chemistry between the two absolutely explosive and Connor naturally draws out her submissive tendencies in the bedroom, while proving to be a caring, patient and compassionate partner. The sex is plentiful and Berlin pulls out all the stops when it comes to kink, which will make even the most experienced erotica readers blush!



Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews is a tale that will please urban fantasy and paranormal romance readers alike. This Edge series spin-off first follows heroine Andrea, a shifter and a PI, who is struggling to figure out where she belongs in the world — and along the way kicks some serious bad guy butt. While Andrea tries to track down an insidious killer, she (reluctantly) relies on help from the handsome shifter prince, Raphael, who just happens to be her ex-boyfriend. But will all of this forced contact help the pair get back together? It will be a rocky road but readers won't want it any other way! Andrews skillfully weaves the romance and action scenes to create a brilliant read that is positively heart-pounding. This story can certainly be read as a stand-alone but for the most enjoyment we suggest you read the Edge books first.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a fantastic debut. The author combines fantasy and YA drama with a flare! Readers will cheer for the teen convicted assassin-turned-prince's champion, Celaena, the most feared killer the land of Adarlan has ever known. However, watching her try to navigate the royal competition for her freedom — and juggle the two men she's torn between — is only half the fun. It's the worldbuilding that truly steals the scene in this new novel, setting up a believable Adarlan for the rest of the series. While some may find that there's not enough emphasis placed on the competition itself, we think that this read will bring a smile to the faces of Tamora Pierce and Cayla Kluver!


A pretty boy gets his comeuppance — and his redemption — in Michele Grant’s fun unputdownable Pretty Boy Problems. Ex-model Avery Beauregard “Beau” Montgomery is used to getting what he wants, but he's having a hard time landing the equally stunning, yet highly ambitious shoot-for-the-stars Delaney Mirabella “Belle” Richards. Belle doesn’t have time to fall for the charming Beau, but she can’t stop herself from taking a second glance. And Beau can’t help but see this woman as not only a challenge, but as the woman who might be everything he didn’t realize he was looking for. Told from both points of view, Pretty Boy Problems is as engrossing as its main characters are indisputably gorgeous.



The Things I Do for You by Mary Carter is perfect for mainstream readers that like an extra helping of romance in the books they love. This tale about a married couple who leaves their lives in New York City to open a B&B in a lighthouse in the wake of a near-death experience will have you furiously flipping pages, desperate to see what happens next. The story, which reveals layers upon layers as the narrative unfolds, calls into question what really happens when a person sustains serious brain injuries, and considers the idea that perhaps love can be killed even if a person survives. Set against the stark backdrop of an island in the Hudson River, this story delivers an intriguing mystery, sweet romance and, most importantly, two characters who will live on in readers' memories long after the end of the novel.


Some of the additional titles that the RT editors nominated are:

The Caller by Karin Fossum

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>