April Seal Of Excellence

Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. April 2014's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Eloisa James' latest historical romance Three Weeks with Lady X.

February 2014 Seal of Excellence - Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine (cover)


"When Three Weeks With Lady X opened with a hilarious parody of Darcy's famous proposal from Pride and Prejudice (imagine those immortal words delivered by the inept Mr. Collins instead of gorgeous, brooding Darcy), I knew I was going to love this book. Like many of Eloisa James's heroines, India is a strong, fiercely independent woman and smoking hot hero Thorn is more than a match for her. But even aside from the charming leading couple, James has an enviable talent for writing wonderful, sympathetic supporting characters. India's "competition" for Thorn — Laetitia "Lala" Rainsford — isn't vilified; in fact, she's so lovely that readers will rejoice as she starts to come out of her shell and discover what she truly wants. And precocious orphan Rose, whom Thorn takes in as his ward, is a delight. While there's no shortage of steamy interludes, Eloisa's stellar characterization is what will keep readers rapt." — Regina Small

"You won't regret spending Three Weeks With Lady X. Eloisa James is at her best with this delightfully sexy tale of interior designer Lady Xenobia India and gruff duke's bastard Thorn Dautry. Though it's a spin-off of her wildly popular Desperate Duchesses series, new readers need not despair: Everything you need to know unfolds on the page, particularly in India and Thorn's razor-sharp letters to each other as she redoes his house — and his heart. You'll laugh till you're gasping, and you won't regret it!" — Mala Bhattacharjee

"An Eloisa historical is always a treat. Her quippy dialogue, smart heroines and swoon-y heroes make for an entertaining way to while away some hours. But Three Weeks with Lady X is a little something more, it's that romance that makes your heart actually hurt while you're reading. You long for them to work it out, and even as you race toward that HEA that you're (mostly positive) is coming, you really feel for these characters and wish they could just work it out. Trust in Eloisa, dear readers, she knows what she's doing." — Elissa Petruzzi




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


"After being repeatedly recommended Cara McKenna's erotica, I finally decided to give her a try and bought this sexy contemp on a whim after seeing lots of Twitter buzz. Hard Time's plot is intriguing — a young woman takes a position as an outreach librarian at a correctional facility in a depressed Michigan suburb and falls in love with one of the inmates, who sneaks her incredibly intimate letters. With handwritten love letters feeling like a thing of the past, I was extremely excited about this book, and I fell completely in love with hero Eric. 'Swoon' is not a strong enough word for my reaction to Eric's letters to Annie. They brought me to tears. If you're a romance reader who avoids contemporaries because they often feel repetitive, I strongly recommend you download this book. You can find my extended review of Hard Time here." — Elisa Verna


 "M.J. Rose's latest in the Reincarnationist series, The Collector of Dying Breaths, splits its focus between present-day Barbizon and the Renaissance-era French court during the reign of notorious queen — and suspected witch — Catherine de Medici. Rose's story soars in flashbacks, where perfumer and alchemist René le Florentin takes center stage. René's struggle to remain loyal to those he loves, like his deceased mentor Serapino and calculating monarch Catherine, while attempting to build a life for himself, is deeply compelling." — Regina Small

"Before I started This Side of Salvation, I knew I’d begrudgingly enjoy it based on the premise. I was prepared for the frustration I felt as high school student David’s evangelist parents encouraged him to sacrifice life as he knew it — which included baseball, his gay best friend, his girlfriend — to prepare for the Rush (like the Rapture). Yes, I was steaming with resentment as David’s parents went into full-on God mode and his father would only speak in phrases from the Bible. But I was not expecting to be laughing along with David has he handled his parents’ antics with a weary sense of humor, and I was definitely not expecting to be so affected by finding out how David’s brother died. Jeri Smith-Ready tactfully explores some complex issues, such as how people of all ages face grief, interpret religion and handle depression, in her first mainstream YA novel." — Tricia Carr


"One word best describes Wolf by Mo Hayer: Creepy! So creepy that I felt the physical symptoms of panic while reading. But don’t let my vulnerability to this unnerving British mystery discourage you. Readers who try the book will be rewarded with multiple plots which are seen through to the end, lifelike characters who you’ll either grow to care for or despise, an interesting tie-in with the military weapons industry, and a grim aura that radiates from the pages. There’s so much going on in this novel that I was tempted to take out a notebook and record my own investigation. I won’t give any spoilers, but expect the unexpected in the latest Jack Caffery thriller." — Tricia Carr


"Meredith Duran's follow-up to That Scandalous Summer delivers everything you expect and more: crisp prose, rich characters, an engaging story and more emotion than you'll know what to do with. Fool Me Twice's Olivia Holladay and Alastair de Grey are the kind of characters who sear themselves into your memory even as they burn a passionate path to happily ever after. Their pain is palpable, and their pay-off so worth it." — Mala Bhattacharjee


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


Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross

Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>