July Seal of Excellence

July 2012's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Delphine Dryden's new erotica novella "The Theory of Attraction." 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. 

 

Ivan, an introverted post-doc physics professor, is a creature of habit. So much so that his outgoing neighbor Camilla has his schedule down pat (and enjoys his daily shirtless jogs past her window every morning). Cami, a fellow geek, works at the same university as Ivan and has always had the hots for the nerdy scientist. But his reserved nature has prevented them from becoming close. Cami and Ivan's solid friendship has the potential to become something more when he recruits her help in honing his social graces. However, in the process Cami discovers that Ivan is anything but the stereotypical geek; in fact, he is a sexual Dom experienced in the BDSM lifestyle. As the two help each other explore new terrain, their relationship blossoms into something much deeper — but will it satisfy Ivan and Cami's long-term relationship needs?

"I think what I love most about the Dryden is how authentic the characters are. They don't come across like stock wish-fulfillment protagonists, but like actual people you might know (or be). Cami admits to being a little weird. (I literally laughed out loud when she casually mentions that in one of her fantasies Ivan is a vampire, because she's just odd like that.) And Ivan has a difficult time understanding social niceties. Their relationship evolves so organically that I found myself genuinely emotionally invested in how they transitioned from friends to lovers. I keep recommending it to any and all of my friends who expressed interest in/love for 50 Shades." - RT Editor

"This is one of the best novellas I've ever read. The story is complete, complex and vibrant. Plus Ivan is a smokin' hot hero. Not one, not two, but three thumbs up for Dryden and her fantastic tale!" - RT Editor

"Dryden manages to pull off in this super sexy little story what many authors struggle to do in novels twice its size. Ivan and Camilla are well-rounded characters who show just how hot nerds can be, and their funny, believable friendship skillfully enhances the tale's sexual tension. And of course, the love scenes are incredibly hot. With BDSM erotica all the rage right now, it's a pleasure to find a story that's a perfect example of how good these books can be when crafted by a talented author." - RT Editor

 

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

 

Thanks to her July release, Starlight, readers won't have to look to the skies to see Carrie Lofty shine. This exquisitely written second in her Christies series picks up with William Christie's oldest heir, Alex, inheriting a Glasgow cotton mill. When the academic-turned-industrialist meets vibrant union organizer Polly Gowan, business and pleasure align like the planets. The safety of Alex's infant son life depends on the success of the mill — but Alex and Polly soon realize that their hearts hang in the balance as well. Fans of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South will adore Alex and Polly's tempestuous love story, and readers who enjoy rich prose will find a wealth of it in Lofty's pages. Starlight is the kind of sexy, smart historical that will have you pulling your head out of the clouds and putting your nose in a book.


   

 

Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ latest will have you laughing and crying. The Great Escape follows Lucy Jorik — who fled from her wedding during the first pages of Call Me Irresistible — as the young woman embarks on an adventure of a very different sort. At the story’s start she hops on the back of a bad boy’s motorcycle and rides away to freedom. But what is freedom for the daughter of the president? As Lucy struggles with boundaries, and her own desire to be perfect for her parents, she uncovers the woman she was destined to become. The main couple are intriguing and, in classic SEP-fashion, the slew of secondary characters may just steal your heart. Furthermore, Phillips fans will cheer as the author takes on controversial topics such as race and same-sex relationships.

     
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Trained as a GhostWalker from infancy, Azami Yoshiie, the heroine from Christine Feehan's novel Samurai Game, knows more ways to kill a person than she has fingers and toes. Whether guns, swords or her fists, there isn't a weapon that Azami can't use to take down her enemy. However, she has no defense against the feelings that fellow GhostWalker Sam Johnson inspires. Sam has it all, good looks and a genius IQ. The only thing he wants is the trust of the tiny samurai warrior he has come to love. Readers should go into this installment of the GhostWalker series prepared because everything about this story is intense. The relationship blooms quickly, and takes both the hero and heroine by surprise. It is almost as disarming as the trained mercenaries after the couple. While this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone, those following the series will be thrilled to catch up with past heroes and heroines and delve even further into the dark mind of the evil Dr. Whitney as he attempts to infiltrate the U.S. government with his genetic experiments. Kudos to Feehan, who always delivers riveting tales filled with romance and adventure!

     
 

Sarah M. Anderson's A Man of Privilege is a series romance like no other. The author takes the tropes of the genre and turns them upside down and backwards. While James Carlson has the big bucks and blue-blooded background to be a grade-A jerk, this caring, sensitive man does everything in his considerable power to protect those in need. And heroine Maggie Eagle Heart is definitely in need. Raised in abject poverty and abused horribly as a girl, Maggie was only a teen when she turned to drugs and prostitution. Years later, Maggie has put her past behind her. However, when she becomes incidentally involved in a case James is working on, he cannot let her pain and suffering go unanswered. Determined to put those that hurt her in prison, James desperately tries to follow the rules and look at Maggie as just a witness, but her bravery and strength overwhelms his better judgment. The two embark on a relationship built on mutual respect and genuine emotion ... now if only they can get the world to see past prejudice and understand that they truly belong together.


   

 

Loretta Chase continues to whip up tales as frothy and fabulous as the fashions crafted by the talented Noirot sisters in the second installment of her Dressmakers series, Scandal Wears Satin. This time, sister Sophy gets her turn at finding love, but first she must come up with a plan for saving the sisters' dress shop. The business is in trouble after Sophy's sister Marcelline scandalously married the Duke of Clevedon in Silk is for Seduction. When the shop's best customer Clara bolts before her wedding, Sophy is determined to track her down. But she needs the help of Clara's brother, the delectable Harry Fairfax, the Earl of Longmore. As the two follow Clara's trail to Portsmouth, Sophy finds that fending off Harry is harder than she imagined. Sophy, a fashion columnist with spy-like skills, is an endearing heroine, and the repartee between her and Harry is just as witty and wonderful as Chase fans have come to expect.

     

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

Ravishing The Heiress by Sherry Thomas

Strong Vengeance by Jon Land

The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

 

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>