March Seal of Excellence

March 2011's RT Seal of Excellence is awarded to Sophie Littlefield's Urban Fantasy novel, Aftertime. Here are some comments from the editors about why this post-apocalyptic tale won the honor.


After the apocalypse, the remaining humans are plagued by a virus that turns people into mindless cannibals. Called Beaters, these once-human creatures now roam the United States of America seeking fresh flesh. Everyone knows that once you've been bitten by the Beaters you will be infected and become one yourself — if they don't eat you alive. But when Cass Dollar wakes up alone on the side of the road, it is clear that she has done the impossible, recovered from a Beater attack. Now she is on a mission to find her baby girl and keep them both safe.

"Aftertime is a real barn burner of a book. Since Cass can't remember what happened to her after she was attacked, her anxiety and sense of urgency to find her daughter and some answers — in that order — propel the plot forward at lightning speed, with the reader and character making connections and figuring things out in tandem. And, of course, any story is more engaging when there's a mysterious, sexy stranger along for the ride..." - RT Editor

"Reading Aftertime will make you realize how lucky you are to have running water, fresh food, a job, friends and no flesh-eating zombies trying to kill you outside the door. Littlefield diverges widely from the Stellaverse of her “A Bad Day for” books to give readers a new warrior woman heroine, Cass Dollar. Cass isn’t as lovable as Stella, but you’ll be pulled into her quest to find her daughter in a post-apocalyptic landscape where both the subhumans and the humans pose a threat. This is one you’ll be sad to finish, but luckily a sequel is coming out in August!" - RT Editor

"As Cass attempts to get back to her baby girl, she wrestles with the ghost of who she was before the apocalypse. Littlefield parallels Cass' emotional journey with the physical one that gives readers a glimpse of the many different ways that the remaining humans are trying to cope with their new world. People who watch scary movies with their eyes shut will love this story. But readers beware, Littlefield's Beaters will have you sleeping with the lights on!" -  RT Editor

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


Lisa Gardner's Love You More is a thrilling new installment of the Police Sergeant Detecitve D. D. Warren series. This whodunit mystery is compounded by D.D.'s search for a missing 6-year-old child. However there's some soul searching ahead for this hard-as-nails detective when, during the case, D.D. finds herself on the wrong side of the police's blue wall of silence because her main suspect is the deceased's wife and mother to the missing child, State Trooper Tessa Leoni. The story is gripping but some readers may be turned off by the extreme and graphic amounts of violence in parts of this tale.

Read an interview with the author >>


 Anne Mallory's newest novel, One Night Is Never Enough will thrill historical romance fans who enjoy reading the "woman's virginity wagered away by gambling relative" trope. Both the heroine and hero are witty and the chemistry between them practically sets the page on fire. But it is hard to forget that Roman ruthlessly orchestrated Charlotte's downfall. However, this novel leaves readers primed to pick up the next book in the series about Roman's equally dashing brother!


Read a message from the author >>

Read the excerpt >>


This month Shannon K. Butcher launches her new Edge series with Living On The Edge. Anyone looking for an action-packed book will find the fight scenes both plentiful and well written in this new romantic suspense. Sloane is an incredibly interesting heroine, as well trained as any soldier, and hero Lucas never underestimates her abilities. Their attraction is instantaneous and even knowing that their affair will end in a "fiery ball of chaos" doesn't stop these two from forming an intense attachment while running through the harsh Colombian jungle. The book's secondary characters are interesting, however, a bit too much of the story focuses on other couples, and for that reason Living On The Edge just misses out on this month's Seal.


Melissa Marr concluded her Wicked Lovely series with the wicked awesome Darkest Mercy . Marr gives readers a satifying end to the tales she got us hooked on five books ago, finally letting her starcrossed lovers rest, but not before a bloody, excellent faery war. Series fans will be thrilled, but this is certainly a book to be read in order for maximum enjoyment.

Read an extended excerpt of Darkest Mercy >>





The Informationist is Taylor Stevens' fast-moving debut. The enigmatic heroine, Vanessa, spends most of this globetrotting thriller in moral gray areas. However it is interesting to see Vanessa's layers pull away as the plot thickens. Stevens also makes excellent use of flashbacks to keep readers emotionally invested in Vanessa's fate. This tale is so interesting that even after the villain's identity is revealed, readers will be furiously turning pages to find out if Vanessa makes it through alive. Stevens is an author to watch.


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

What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long

How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf  by Molly Harper

Seducing the Governess by Margo Maguire


February Seal of Excellence >>

January Seal of Excellence >>

December Seal of Excellence >>