January Seal Of Excellence

January 2013's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Laura Florand's contemporary romance The Chocolate Kiss. 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.



Chocolate, France, love between two fantastic characters. Laura Florand's latest, The Chocolate Kiss, has everything that will make contemporary romance readers swoon. Magalie Chaudron is living the dream making chocolate in her aunt's teashop nestled in Paris' quaint Île Saint-Louis. But her job is threatened when expert pastry chef Philippe Lyonnais opens one of his renowned patisseries on the same block. Magalie soon learns that Philippe's sweets aren't the only thing tempting about the man. She couldn't possibly fall for her competition, could she?

"Romance novels are often called 'delicious' or 'delectable,' but I've yet to read one that fits that description as well as The Chocolate Kiss. Hero Phillipe, a sexy chef, is pretty tasty himself, but the mouthwatering macarons he makes are the real temptation. And adorable heroine Magalie definitely knows something about je ne sais quoi, but her rich chocolate chaud is the star of the story. Their battle of wills is fun to watch, and the French setting — from the quirky little shop in the heart of Paris to Magalie's airy apartment — is beyond beautiful. After devouring Florand's story, you'll be itching to buy a baguette and a plane ticket to France — and macarons. Lots of macarons." - Audrey Goodson Kingo, RT Editor 

"Pucker up for The Chocolate Kiss, a deliciously rich literary morsel that will leave readers' mouths watering for more. As fiercely competitive and defensive Magalie pits the power of her magical hot chocolate against arrogant pastry chef Philippe's decadent macarons, it's the biting banter and flavorful flirtation that will stick with readers. If the tantalizing descriptions of chocolate from Joanne Harris' Chocolat and the sensual mysticism of Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate enchanted you, then The Chocolate Kiss will definitely put you under its spell!" - Mala Bhattacharjee, RT Editor

"I have only one question about Laura Florand's next trip to Paris: Can I come? Set on the picturesque Île Saint-Louis, The Chocolate Kiss will make you crave: rich dark cocoa, a pair of magic-making aunts, an extended trip to France and a hot pastry chef. An absolute treat from start to finish, Florand's series second combines an abundance of charm with beautiful sights, smells and tastes. Now excuse me, I just need to renew my passport and stop off for a box of macarons." - Regina Small, RT Editor

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


"Cherry St. Croix is back! If you haven't already met who I consider to be one of the best new heroines of 2012, you need to pick up Gilded by Karina Cooper. Even if you haven't read Tarnished, the first book in the St. Croix Chronicles (Which you should, because it is also amazing!), anyone itching for a fast-paced steampunk story will enjoy Gilded. Cherry St. Croix lives a double life as a bounty collector in London's foggy, crime-ridden Below and as a well-to-do miss in London's Above, the affluent part of the city that has been raised by stilts to escape the grime and undesirables Below. Cherry's life has only gotten more complicated as she tried to capture not one, but two serial killers, while also attending to her social duties Above, specifically the advances of Lord Compton. Cooper's steampunk world is immersive and incredibly addicting. Definitely don't pass this one up!" - Elisa Verna, RT Editor



"Three's very good company in Kelly Jamieson's sizzling erotic romance Rule of Three, which features a scorching ménage between long-term couple Chris and Kassidy and Chris' best friend Dag, who's visiting town for a bit. But hiding away in Dag's baggage are the explosive feelings he's had for Chris since their younger days...and his passion for Kassidy is growing by the day. Can this threesome parlay their desire into something more, or will they break each other's hearts along with all the rules? Jamieson answers all for her enraptured readers and provides a blast of heat to warm this winter's chill!" - Mala Bhattacharjee, RT Editor


"Are you ready for a trip to the demon realm? Because this is exactly where author Diana Rowland will take you in her latest release Touch of the Demon, which earned a coveted Gold rating. More used to summoning than be summoned herself, Kara Gillian doesn't have an easy time adjusting to her enforced stay at demon central. However, after realizing that her foray into the dark side can help heighten her supernatural abilities, Kara makes the most of her time spent with demons. Her skills as a homicide cop as well as a take-no-prisoners attitude helps Kara stay alive, but even her well-honed instincts can't help her figure out who to trust. While there is a lot to love about Rowland's kick ass series, my favorite part is the way the author keeps us wondering who the good guys are and who is bad. This story has enough betrayals, hidden motivations and careful disguises to cause whiplash to any reader who dares enter Kara's world." - Morgan Doremus, RT Editor


"Beth Revis is a master of twisty plots, and the fact that she kept the surprises coming all the way through her three-book trilogy is truly a feat to behold. Shades of Earth was surprising to the very last page, a page-turner in every sense of the word. Teens Elder, Amy and the rest of the passengers from Godspeed — the futuristic equivalent of Noah's Ark —are searching space for a new world. They're finally reached their destination: Centauri-Earth, but Elder and Amy realize building a new life won't be easy. This book is a real treat, but you must start with book one, Across the Universe, to truly appreciate what a mastermind Revis is. If you want to fly among the stars in 2013, Revis is the author for you." - Elissa Petruzzi, RT Editor


"Another psychological suspense queen moves in down suburbia way: Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind will stay with you long after you've completed it. You'll stay with it too, as the author jumps from 1980s Connecticut, where a killer severs women's hands surgically, then delivers their bodies later, to modern-day Vermont, where protagonist Regina is still trying to piece together the murder that haunted her as a teen. Readers will ache for Regina, whose mother disappeared in the '80s after her severed hand was found, and you'll wonder who among her mother's many tawdry friends and admirers might be the killer. McMahon captures the teen dynamic so well you'd swear she was a teenager herself; beyond that, though, she conveys the way family shapes us — and warps us — and she will have you checking your locks and looking over your shoulder for a sadistic killer, who could be almost anybody on your safe little street." - Liz French, RT Editor


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

Conjure by Lea Nolan

The Seduction of Elliot McBride by Jennifer Ashley 

Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz 

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>