August Seal Of Excellence
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. August 2013's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Kelley Armstrong's paranormal-laced mystery Omens.
"Kelley Armstrong goes from the Otherworld to a much more familiar world — or so it seems — in her new series starter, Omens. When wealthy socialite Olivia Taylor Jones learns her birth parents are notorious, imprisoned serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen, it not only sets her on a journey of self-discovery but puts her on the road to Cainsville, Illinois — an idyllic small town that hides big secrets. All of Armstrong's talents are on display here: her strong women, her skill with the supernatural, her deft description and dialogue, her ability to craft a riveting mystery. But fear not: While a few puzzles get solved, the talented author makes sure there are plenty more twists to keep the pages turning in future installments. Omens makes it easy to read the signs: Armstrong's got another hit on her hands!" — Mala Bhattacharjee
"Omens is one of those books that I purposely read in public, hoping that a passerby would notice the cover, give in to curiosity and get to experience the mystery on their own. Readers will respect Olivia for her determination, her unflagging insistence on getting answers about her birth parents, but there is still a twinge of rich-girl entitlement that makes her stubborn. With the help of the quick-witted but arrogant Gabriel Walsh, a lawyer known for using shady tactics, Olivia visits her biological mother in jail, where Pam claims she is innocent. Many investigations and coincidental discoveries lead to dead ends, but still a clue emerges each time. The ending leaves just enough questions unanswered — such as a full explanation of the underground paranormal society — to lead into a sequel. I cannot wait!" - Tricia Carr
"I confess, I hadn't sampled the writing of Kelley Armstrong until Omens. I now am on board for anything she writes! Omens is terrific, with a strong cast, conflicted heroine, incredible backstory and great premise. I love how Armstrong slowly unfurls the paranormal elements in this novel; she doesn't hit you over the head with it, and that's to her credit. Olivia is a fantastic heroine with more than enough angst, and her narration is spot-on. I especially like how she misunderstands things on occasion, then comes back to the problem and rethinks it. It's gonna be hard to wait for book two, but wait I must!" - Liz French
"Omens, also my first Kelley Armstrong novel, is outstanding. The supernatural elements feel real and Olivia discovers them in a way that seems plausible. The tension between her and Gabriel is also interesting, and as their relationship evolves we wonder if future books in the series will bring them closer together. With several issues left unresolved, waiting for book two is almost torture!" - Elisa Verna
So, which other books were contenders for the August Seal of Excellence? Here's a look at the titles the RT editors considered.
"Lindsey Piper's Dragon Kings continue to kick ass and take names with her second full-length novel in the series, Blood Warrior. Her worldbuilding is complex and layered, as is the romance between powerful psychic warrior Kavya Indranan and the Dragon King known as the Heretic, Tallis of Pendray. Their politics are at odds, their clans not exactly friendly, but when Kavya's fight for peace becomes a battle they both must fight, the only thing more potent than their combined powers is their combined passion. If you love Carrie Lofty's dark, delicious erotic romances co-written as Katie Porter, and her gorgeous historicals under her own name, you should try paying the (Lindsey) Piper!" — Mala Bhattacharjee
"Tiffany Reisz wraps up the first part of her Original Sinners series with an absolutely pulse-pounding story. Part mystery, part erotic romance, Reisz ties up all of the loose ends and gives each of her complex characters their due with The Mistress. For those who were worried about Wesley's heart, have no fear, Reisz takes care of both Team Wes and Team Søren fans. While kidnapped, the stories Nora tells to her captor provide entertaining backstory that give readers a more in-depth look at her relationship with all of the men in her life, which will make fans long for Reisz's prequel, The Priest." - Elisa Verna
"Jennifer L. Armentrout, aka J. Lynn, has a rabid YA — and now New Adult — following, and I am here to tell you that this is because her books are awesome. She's got a fun, irreverent voice, that almost makes it feel as if a friend is telling you the story, instead of reading it in a book. Frigid is no exception, you'll feel like you're in the crowded bar with Kyler and Sydney, watching them watch each other. Things get steamy as the couple tries to combat the Frigid temps, and there's a fun suspense subplot that will keep you guessing. If you're interested in trying a New Adult title, this is a good place to start!" - Elssa Petruzzi
"I know what you're thinking. 'Not another billionaire erotica!' But trust me, Cecilia Tan's Slow Surrender is billionaire erotica without any borderline abuse, unrealistic sex scenes or BDSM-shaming. It's a billionaire erotica, but it's also a really fun, sexy romance. Grad student Karina is no virgin, but her sex life isn't exactly a top priority. When she meets a stranger in the retaurant she waitresses at, she's intrigued and dares to take him up on a tempting offer. But James doesn't give off any creepy 'stranger danger' vibes, and as the two embark on a D/s relationship that unfolds at Karina's pace, Karina begins to learn more about her mystery man. While readers will be able to figure out James' identity from the start, the real pleasure in reading Slow Surrender comes from James' respectful, yet dominant nature and Karina's excitement in exploring something new." - Elisa Verna
Some of the additional titles that the RT editors considered are: