July Seal Of Excellence
July 2013's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Cecilia Grant's historical romance A Woman Entangled. 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.
|"A Woman Entangled is a smart, sweet and sexy historical romance set in hierarchical Regency London where readers meet the Westbrooks, a socially shunned family that has managed to live content on the outskirts of society's expectations. The one outright exception is the eldest daughter, Kate, who believes she can advance her family by marrying a titled man. As I got acquainted with the quirky Westbrook daughters, I was just as eager to learn more about Nick Blackshear, a lawyer with a shadow over his reputation thanks to his brother's unsavory marriage. He impresses Kate and readers alike with his logicality in the courtroom and his enduring human compassion. Grant hints at these family secrets and personality traits throughout, resulting in an evenly paced novel written in the Jane Austen-esque style of the period that Viola, the snarky, political Westbrook daughter, would cringe at. The latest in Grant's historical series makes the British class system seem almost laughable as two young people on the verge of social acceptance discover what they want out of life. The personal troubles of the characters could parallel those simmering in the minds of today's free spirits and made A Woman Entangled relatable and daring. If you're looking for a gateway drug to historical romance, this is it." - Tricia Carr, RT Editor|
"Cecilia Grant is one of historical romance's new powerhouses, and her third outing, A Woman Entangled, proves just as exquisitely written, complex and riveting as A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone. Here, she brings readers the third of the Blackshear siblings' tales with Nick, who longs for respectability after his siblings' scandals, and Kate Westbrook, who seeks the same security. Together, though, this duo finds nothing but explosive passion — and readers will fall under the spell as well. Grant's deft writing bridges the gap between literary classics like Austen and the Brontë sisters and modern historical romance — and when you pick up one of her books, you know you'll be entangled in something wonderful." - Mala Bhattacharjee, RT Editor
"Cecilia Grant has an amazing talent for taking characters who don't seem like they'd be likable on the surface — like aspiring class climber Kate Westbrook — and giving them depth and nuance. Kate's quest for social legitimacy is surprisingly endearing, and her slow-burn connection with the equally ambitious Nick feels authentic — and totally hot. I only have one request: I know she isn't a Blackshear, but can Viola's story be next?" - Regina Small, 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.
"Because New Adult burst on the scene during this fast-paced digital phase of publishing, some tropes are already feeling tired, despite NA only actually being a thing for a year or two. This is where Cora Carmack completely stands out. Her books aren't super hot, and her hero is a decidedly good guy. And herein lies the appeal. Cade got stone-cold dumped in Losing It, but he gets his chance (and the girl) in Carmack's second novel, Faking It. The set up seems a little trite: Max wants Cade to pretend to be her clean cut boyfriend so her parents don't cut her off. But Carmack makes it work, and fans of Losing It will love seeing Cade through Max's eyes." - Elissa Petruzzi, RT Editor
"Pennyroyal Green has turned into a regular getaway for historical romance fans, and Julie Anne Long's latest in the long-running series, It Happened One Midnight just underscores why. It's black sheep Jonathan Redmond's turn on the romantic hot seat, and he shares it with a perfect match: salon hostess Tommy de Ballesteros. Public perception has written their lives so far, but only the passion and friendship they discover with each other, in private, can determine their future. Verbal sparring, adventure and electric chemistry ensure that readers are with them every step of the way!" - Mala Bhattacharje, RT Editor
"Let me be up front with you: I always want to hang out in Pennyroyal Green. Long's world is so vivid, I really feel as if these characters are old friends. To see Jonathan Redmond (brother to my favorite of Long's heroines, Violet) get his HEA is a true delight. I only have one question for the author: When are you writing Lyon's story!?" - Elissa Petruzzi, RT Editor
"Stephen P. Kiernan's The Curiosity is part mainstream and part science fiction with a dash of romance. Set in modern day Boston, this story of a frozen man brought back to life is what Encino Man would be if it were a book and, you know, actually good. Kiernan delivers a fantastic story from four intersecting points of view, including that of the 19th century man given a second chance at life, that gives readers a look into a small lab as they create a miracle and deal with the media repercussions of human reanimation. Scientist Dr. Kate Philo's relationship with the revived Jeremiah Rice is heartwarming and the lab's debacle of keeping Rice alive while facing outside pressure to free the man builds to a gut-wrenching conclusion that emphasizes the importance of keeping life — and death — in the hands of nature." - Elisa Verna, RT Editor
"Despite the title, Two of a Kind, the hero and heroine in Susan Mallery's newest contemporary romance could not be more different. Former soldier and prisoner of war for two long years, Gideon Boylan is still adjusting to civilian life. Suffering from PTSD, he knows he is not ready to start a relationship. However, Felicia Swift wants the white picket fence — or at least what it represents (no need for an actual white fence — just imagine the upkeep!). A literal genius, Felicia has never been good at social interactions, so she decides to just go after what she wants — and she wants Gideon. This novel is full of hilarious misunderstandings, a vulnerable, yet strong heroine and plenty of real life problems. Readers who have never visited Mallery's Fools Gold, California will have no problem fitting into the small town with a big heart while they fall in love with this flawed-to-perfection couple." - Morgan Doremus, RT Website Director
Some of the additional titles that the RT editors considered are: