May 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. May 2014's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Christina Laurens' erotic New Adult Sweet Filthy Boy.

The cover of Sweet Filthy Boy


"New Adult and erotica are both genres I enjoy reading, but, to me, they often feel firmly entrenched in the world of fantasy. And while Sweet Filthy Boy has its fair share of fantasy — the hot, hot, soooo hot Frenchman who chases after our heroine, the summer in Paris — there are also so many real moments as Mia strives to find her footing post-graduation. Her struggles were relatable and brought me back to those days of confusion and worry, though there certainly was no Ansel to help me out. Another treat, Lauren's plot is delightfully unpredictable, so just when you think you know how everything will play out, they'll show you how very wrong you were." — Elissa Petruzzi

"Not gonna lie, I didn't love the Beautiful Bastard series up until Beautiful Player, and even that story didn't satisfy me like Sweet Filthy Boy. Laurens' talent is on full display in this novel, and while the plot seems like a ridiculous fantasy come true, it was executed perfectly. Mia is a heroine who, although she comes from a privileged background, struggles navigating life post-college. Like many NA heroines, Mia had the potential to have a lot of problems that aren't really problems (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read this), but as soon as she steps on the plane with Ansel, everything starts to fall apart in a spectacularly hilarious way. I cringed, I sympathized and I completely fell in love with Ansel and Mia." — Elisa Verna

"Sweet Filthy Boy is absolutely irresistible — and it's Christina Lauren's best book yet. While the writing team behind Lauren first hit the bestseller lists with their Twilight fanfic-based Beautiful Bastard series, Sweet Filthy Boy proves beyond all doubt that — though there's no shame in the fanfic game — these writers have so much more to offer. Sweet Filthy Boy is one of the freshest, funniest and most emotionally authentic erotic romances I've ever read. Oh, and there's no shortage of (extremely) hot sex. While Mia and Ansel's chemistry is off the charts, it's the believability of the conflict between them that sold me on their relationship. I can't wait to see what else this sweet, filthy team has planned." — Regina Small

"Sweet Filthy Boy is one of those rare erotic romances that actually feels like it could happen to you or to one of your best girlfriends. With it, the team behind Christina Lauren shrugs off the "Twific" moniker and catapults into sweet, filthy stardom. Ansel and Mia sizzle but, more than that, they resonate as two young people who turn a hookup's "morning after" into a summer-long exploration of relationships, commitment and following your dreams. Add to that strong, hilariously authentic friendships between Mia and her best friends, Lola and Harlow, and you've got a winning opener to a must-read series." — Mala Bhattacharjee

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

 "Warning: My Real Children by Jo Walton will make you weep. Not cry. Weep. Huge, embarrassing tears. Walton's rich portrayal of the two lives of the same woman as she lives through dramatic social — and personal — changes is electrifying and utterly moving. Patricia Cowan has a problem: she has different, competing memories of how her life turned out. Now confined to a nursing home, she remembers her abusive marriage with Mark — and the four wonderful children they had together. But she also remembers turning Mark's proposal down, becoming a successful travel writer and settling into a fulfilling relationship with Bee, with whom Pat raises three children. Both lives have their tragedies and triumphs, and Walton renders each so beautifully that it'll break readers' hearts to imagine either of Patricia's families not being real." — Regina Small

"Yes, Talk Dirty to Me is a little dirty — on and off the phone — but what makes Dakota Cassidy's series debut stand out is its picture-perfect portrayal of life in a small Southern town, as well as the heroine’s evolution from mean girl to vulnerable adult. The premise is too good to pass up: two very attractive people who had a very bad breakup years ago are reunited when their deceased friend leaves them his phone-sex business in his will, but they have to fight for ownership by racking up the most calls. Caine is an attractive hero inside and out, but heroine Dixie is even better; she’s a loyal friend, a fierce competitor and a strong woman. At times pure emotion and at others, pure drama, Talk Dirty to Me begins a trilogy that contemporary fans will be clamouring for." — Tricia Carr


"Lovers of ghost stories, Sparrow Hill Road is your book! With Rose as your guide, you'll tour America by highway, experiencing all the nooks and crannies of a dark, shadowy world you may have thought you glimpsed once, late at night.. An unusual collection of tales, Seanan McGuire's latest is a testament to the American myth, an homage to all those campfire tales and a wonderful way to spend your evening." — Elissa Petruzzi


"Shelley Coriell hits the romantic suspense mark with her taut thriller The Broken. The only survivor of the Broadcast Butcher's reign of terror, former news anchor Kate Johnson has no choice but to trust Agent Hayden Reed when he seeks her out to help catch the killer. Twisted family connections, head games and matters of the heart are the highlights of this gripping tale that will have you flipping pages to get to the "Wait, WHAT?!" ending." — Mala Bhattacharjee

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

If I Stay by Tamara Morgan

The Scoundrel's Seduction by Jennifer Haymore

Defenders by Will McIntosh

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>