November 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. November 2013's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to CJ Lyons' thrilling debut YA novel Broken. 


"Navigating through CJ Lyons’ YA medical suspense was as fun as it was overwhelming, and my mind was — and still is — reeling from the conclusion. Lyons’ heroine is Scarlet, a girl with Long QT, a genetic disorder that could stop her heart at any moment, who really wants to be an average teenager. (My second-favorite character is 'Phil,' the defibrillator that she has with her 24/7 just in case.) The driving force of the story is Scarlet’s determination to not let her disease dictate every decision she (or really her mom) makes. Her questioning of her mom’s overprotective nature could have caused her to come across as a whiny teenage girl, but readers get it — she’s an empowering heroine who wants to make the most of her (probably) short life. The story takes place in one school week; readers get to meet some refreshing secondary characters, feel the frustrations of bullying and learn about Long QT, but Lyons gets straight to the point and ends Scarlet’s climactic search for the truth with a mind-blowing twist." — Tricia Carr

"A taut thriller set in high school, Broken will have teens guessing til the very end. Lyons' entree into the YA market is an unqualified success. I've always loved how she combines her medical knowledge and experience as an ER doc with her fantastic plotlines, which feel all the more real for it, and Broken is no exception." — Elissa Petruzzi

"Broken, by CJ Lyons is one of those books you think about days and weeks after you've finished the last page. Ostensibly the story of Scarlet, who has been living with the heart disease Long QT and longs to assimilate back into normal teen life, Broken is actually a twisty, emotionally-walloping series of 'What?!'s and 'Oh, no!'s ... and maybe a few fist-pumps of the 'I knew it!' variety. This is a YA-coming-of-age, a shiver-inducing thriller and Lyons at her best!"— Mala Bhattacharjee


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


"Once a Rake kicks off a new trilogy in Eileen Dreyer's beloved Drake's Rakes series, and newcomers need not worry: This tale of an unconventional widow and a very scruffy wanted man will reel you in right away. The by-blow of a noble, Sarah Clarke has only ever wanted to find a place to belong. When Colonel Ian Ferguson, wounded and being pursued as a traitor to the Crown, takes shelter on her family's land, she finds a true home in the middle of a dangerous adventure. Readers who love kickass heroines with sexual agency will adore Sarah, and Ian is the perfect mix of gruff and gentlemanly — plus, they're hot, hot, hot! Do yourself a favor and give Once a Rake shelter on your bookshelf." — Mala Bhattacharjee


 "When I began Death of a Nightingale, Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis’ third collaborative novel in their Nina Borg series, I expected top-notch Nordic noir with nonstop action, typical Nina — the Danish Red Cross nurse who can’t say no to a good charity case — and a gritty Denmark setting. I got all this, but what makes this third outing in the series so flat-out amazing is the authors’ weaving of multiple characters’ stories with strategic prose and story structure. As soon as I got caught up in one plotline, the chapter would end and I’d end up in another just-as-tense scene or back in Ukraine under Stalin via a secondary plot. I bet any woman can relate to Natasha, a young-ish mother with streets smarts, but who has experienced love end in murder… twice. Before you open Death of a Nightingale, read the first two books to get a better sense of Nina, the character who connects Kaaberbøl and Friis’ three awesome thrillers." — Tricia Carr

"Few romances start with a pap smear — but The Perfect Match is no ordinary romance. It's Honor Holland's 35th birthday and her doctor reminds her that as more time passes, having children will be difficult. With this in mind, chronically single Honor approaches the love of her life: her best friend-with-benefits, Brogan Cain. While the two have been hooking up since they were teenagers, Brogan rejects Honor's quasi marriage proposal. Imagine Honor's surprise when, a few weeks later, he turns up engaged to her good friend Dana. Stung by their betrayal, Honor is desperate for a way to save face. Enter Tom Barlow, a hot British professor who boxes in his spare time. Tom's visa is about to expire and if he wants to stay in the U.S. with his stepson, he's going to need a green card — and fast. But while Kristan Higgins' story of a marriage of convenience could easily go stale, her humor and keen sense of characterization give this tale a fresh, relevant feel." — Regina Small


"This is a really fun contemporary romance. It has it all, a long-simmering attraction, an exotic destination and amnesia! I do love soapy tropes, and Kelly Hunter really makes them work in her latest Harlequin Kiss title about intelligence team member Trig Sinclair, who has pined after his best friend's younger sister Lena West for ages. When Trig offers to help Lena look for her missing brother, their mission brings them to Istanbul where the two must pretend to be married — and share the same bed. Category romances can be a really entertaining ride, and What the Bride Didn't Know is a shining example of this. Read this one when you need to destress from Thanksgiving family time!" — Elissa Petruzzi

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

Not Quite Enough by Catherine Bybee

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

The Rogue's Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index >>