October Seal Of Excellence

October 2012's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Sherry Thomas' historical tale Tempting the Bride. 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.


Sherry Thomas continues her stories of the Fitzhugh sisters with Helena Fitzhugh's tale. Helena is involved in a scandalous affair with a married man and when the two almost get caught, she must cover up her scandal by accepting a marriage proposal from longtime acquaintance David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings. Helena has hated David since they were children, but David has always had secret feelings for Helena. When an accident causes Helena to experience temporary amnesia and forget everything, David convinces her they are in love and Helena discovers how charming and desirable David really is. But when her memory returns, the two must figure out where the future will take them.

"What made Tempting the Bride really stand out for me is Thomas's hero David. Sarcastic, witty and hopelessly head over heels for the heroine, Helena, he is one of those heroes you can't help but love, even as you want to shake him. He's especially heartbreaking in several scenes with his skittish daughter, Bea, as he patiently coaxes her out of her shell. It's clear from the start that he's perfect for Helena, and readers will cheer when she finally realizes it, even if she can't remember their past skirmishes. Leave it to the talented Sherry Thomas to take the classic amnesia plot and make it refreshing, believable and deeply romantic." - Audrey Goodson, RT Editor

"Tempting the Bride is one of Thomas' best stories yet, full of heart and humor in turns. She takes what could be a tried-and-tired trope — amnesia — and turns it on its head, with a human, flawed hero and heroine who just need to get out of their own way and let their hearts rule. A definite winner — and keep your tissues handy!" - Mala Bhattacharjee, RT Editor

"In Tempting the Bride, Thomas approaches the somewhat dicey premise of lady-gets-amnesia-and-falls-in-love-with-her-nemesis with a gentle, thoughtful touch. Rather than simply using amnesia as plot device to hit the "reset" button for our strong-willed heroine, Helena, Thomas instead explores the power and persistence of memory. Specifically, she looks at how recollection of the past can blind us to the flaws of those we love — and the beauty of those we hate. Post-memory loss, Helena is still herself: fiery and whip-smart. But without years of resentment and irritation to sustain her dislike, she gets to know our hero, Hastings, anew. And even though he suffered no memory loss, Hastings takes that journey with her, seizing his second chance to truly earn her love — and ours." - Regina Small, RT Editor


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


Do you love Jane Eyre? Did its Gothic atmosphere and dark air of mystery enchant you? Well, the tale certainly stuck with debut author Tina Connolly, who builds beautifully on Bronte's classic, adding engaging fantasy elements — like an all-out war with the beautiful and terrifying fae. Ironskin follows the story of Jane Eliot, who was struck by a piece of fae shrapnel during the Great War. Both cursed and disfigured, Jane wears an iron mask that conceals the damaged side of her face. It can be a lonely existence, so Jane jumps at the chance to care for a similarly cursed child, Dorie. When she arrives at her new home, Jane is alternately fascinated and fearful of the strangeness surrounding the house and its residents — including Dorie's father, the mysterious artist Edward Rochart. While respecting all of the elements that made Jane Eyre unforgettable, Connolly distinguishes herself as an inventive talent, adding several refreshing twists to this beloved story. - Regina Small, RT Editor



Charming. This is the only word that properly describes The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne. With a little bit of chick-lit flavor and a whole lot of will-they-won't-they moments, this tale of modern day girl turned potential princess is absolutely delightful. Amy is a funny, down-to-earth gardener who is very happy with her great friends and full life. However, when she meets the absolutely charming Leo, she falls fast. But when Leo turns out to be "Prince Charming," this small-town girl is not sure she is ready for royalty. With clever turns of phrase that will have readers chuckling, this is a pitch-perfect contemporary romance that will have you wanting to hop the pond to England to find your own happily ever after. - Morgan Doremus, RT Web Director


In her 23rd Carpathian novel, Dark Storm, author Christine Feehan doesn't miss a beat. Instead of the long-running series slowing down, this book's romance is electric and the action is even more dangerous than in past stories. After hundreds of years of being trapped in a live volcano with a malevolent force, Dax awakens with knowledge that has long been forgotten by his people — knowledge that might be able to restore his once powerful race. However, Dax becomes unconcerned with others the moment he hears his lifemate, Riley, speak. Fated to be mated, these two have an instantaneous connection that nothing can break. By introducing new character Dax into her world, Feehan gets the chance to grow the mythology surrounding the clash between Carpathians and vampires. Readers familiar with the series will be enthralled by the newest revelations, but even if you haven't tried a Dark story yet, pick this one up because the author's unique writing style is like nothing else you will ever read. - Morgan Doremus, RT Web Director


Like all of Jasper Fforde's books, The Last Dragonslayer is a delight! Set in the magical land of Kazam, Jennifer Strange runs an employment agency for magicians. But magic is drying up, which means bad business for Jennifer. And when she discovers the world's last dragon is destined to die, Jennifer must do whatever she can to save it — or it means big changes for Kazam. Jennifer is an outstanding fantasy protagonist and readers will be sucked in to Fforde's tongue-in-cheek world. Additionally, the aging, out-of-date wizards add an enjoyable, hilarious twist to the book, plus, there's the Quark beast! A magnificent, horrifying creature Jennifer keeps as a pet, the Quark beast really steals the show. The Last Dragonslayer is a fun way to wile away the afternoon, for fantasy and YA fans alike. - Elissa Petruzzi, RT Editor


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

Rules to Catch A Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch

The Care and Feeding of an Alpha Male by Jessica Clare

Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel


Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>