December Seal of Excellence

December 2010's RT Seal of Excellence is awarded to Susanna Kearsley's latest historical fiction, The Winter Sea. Here are some comments from the editors about why it won the honor.


"A prime, magnificent example of a new gothic done right, The Winter Sea blew my mind! I scoffed at the cover blurb calling Kearsley 'the Daphne du Maurier of her generation' — until I started reading the book. Now I concur! If you like Mary Stuart, du Maurier, even Gabaldon, you will LOVE this book." - RT Managing Editor Liz French

"Breathtaking! Lush with the descriptions of Scotland, I couldn't help but fall in love with this charming cast of characters, even as it seems that sinister forces are at play. This novel will have readers desperate for the mystery's conclusion — whether or not they are historical fiction fans!"- RT Assistant Web Editor Whitney Sullivan



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


After having published only two books so far, Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right and last month’s When Harry Met Molly, author Kieran Kramer has already established herself as a charming (and much sought after) voice in historical romance. Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right is a particularly fun read with Poppy and Nicholas literally striking sparks off of each other. While the set up may be a bit unrealistic, the joy of these two falling in love literally bursts from the pages of this Regency romp. Readers looking for a to-die-for hero, sassy heroine and witty banter will find none better than this book!

Read an Interview With Kieran Kramer >>



Meg Benjamin's Long Time Gone will have readers reading as fast as they can to find out whether reformed bad boy Eric will be able to keep his job as the new police chief of Konigsburg! An e-original that is now available in paperback, this installment of Benjamin's Kongisburg, Texas-set series will thrill contemporary romance lovers. (Especially adorable is heroine Morgan's giant cantankerous cat, Arthur.) Unfortunately, the story is slow to start and readers unfamiliar with this fictional town may initially feel that they are on the outside of an inside joke. However at the story's end, fans both old and new will be left wanting a return ticket to Konigsburg. 

Take the author's Guided Tour of Konigsburg >>


Libby Fishcher Hellmann brings Chicago in the '60s to life vividly in Set the Night on Fire , and she conveys the squabbling factions and opposing viewpoints of the time as well. Unfortunately, the modern-day story isn't quite as compelling. But following the heroine as she pieces together her past and present is fun. So is figuring out some of the plot points concerning her parentage before she does! 

Read a Message From the Author >>

Read the Excerpt >>


Not all romance heroes have to have a dark and brooding. Neither do they have to be a rake or bounder. Take Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh from Lauren Willig’s newest Pink Carnation story The Mischief of the Mistletoe. A perfectly respectable gentleman, with a wicked sense of humor, this hero is one that will have ladies swooning — not because of his bad-boy charm, but because you just want to be around him to soak up his good humor and laid back attitude. Heroine Arabella Dempsey is the perfect choice for such a hero as she tends to be pretty high strung which can be a bit annoying at times, but then Turnip shows up to make her laugh. This lighthearted historical romance is a perfect antidote for readers who are tired of the drama and are looking for a fun Christmas read. 




In the Harlequin Presents Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon by Kate Hewitt, both the hero and the heroine are floundering. Zoe, an heiress and party girl, is shattered when she finds out that she is not really a part of the Balfour family. Max has even more weighty problems – mainly the fact that he is going blind from a rare disease. During the story, Max makes some very big mistakes that Zoe quickly forgives - perhaps a bit too quickly, but it is only with Zoe that Max can come to terms with his future. A far more intense read then the page count suggests, this series romance stands out because of the two characters’ journey from intense pain and loneliness to acceptance and finally joy that they have found each other. The love that literally ends up saving them both will lighten any reader’s heart and make them thankful for their own family.

Kate Hewitt On What Cannot Be Bought >>


Ally Condie's Matched is the kind of dystopia we're really into lately, featuring the society where everything sure looks great ... until it isn't. The cracks begin early on in some heartbreaking scenes with heroine Cassia's grandfather. Cassia is smart and capable, which is always a welcome treat!




Other books the RT editors considered were:

One Grave Less by Beverly Connor

A Thunder Canyon Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne


November Seal of Excellence >>

October Seal of Excellence >>

September Seal of Excellence >>