September 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. September 2013's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Megan Hart's erotic fiction tale Tear You Apart.
"Although this story is often heartwrenching, it leaves readers with just enough hope while reminding us that happiness doesn't always mean the same thing for everyone. Elisabeth's story sounds like it could be about any modern woman — two grown kids, a husband who is just fine and a job that drives her. But what's admirable about Elisabeth is that she refuses to settle for "just fine," and decides to go after an artist she meets at one of her gallery's shows. Her relationship with Will is undeniably hot, and while he provides her with sexual distraction from her mundane home life, she wonders if he can replace the life she's already built. Hart's prose is beautiful, and this story will feel familiar even to those who can't personally relate to Elisabeth." - Elisa Verna
"Tear You Apart is the perfect title for Megan Hart's emotional tale of a marriage on the rocks and a woman on the cusp, because it will, without a doubt, tear you to shreds. Elisabeth Amblin's daughters are grown, her husband is always out of town and her best friend's romantic foibles draw him further and further from her grasp. When she meets talented photographer Will Roberts, she finally has something she can hold tight and claim for herself. It's wrong. It's dirty. And she needs it. Doesn't she? Hart's talent lies in taking basic human flaws and a thousand tiny heartbreaks, and spinning beautiful stories from them. There are no heroes, no heroines, no love stories ... just people experiencing the vagaries of life and learning from them. It's not pretty. It's just honest. Hart cracks open the bone and exposes the marrow and, in doing so, fits what she's torn back together. You won't be disappointed by Elisabeth's erotic, hypnotic — and healing — journey of self-discovery." - Mala Bhattacharjee
"Hart's incisive portrait of a woman at a crossroads boasts some of the most beautifully written prose I've read in years. With her children grown and her connection to her husband growing ever more tenuous, main character Elisabeth slides into an affair with divorced photographer Will — but while the book features its share of hot interludes, the narrative is always centered on Elisabeth's personal experience and her inner growth. Her journey — with or without Will — is what matters most. Torn between the life she has and the life she could have, Elisabeth is faced with painful choices, and Hart tells her moving and meditative story with tremendous grace." - Regina Small
So, which other books were contenders for the September Seal of Excellence? Here's a look at the titles the RT editors considered.
"From the moment I saw the cover for Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, illustrated by Noelle Stevenson (aka Tumblr user gingerhaze), I was desperate to read it. If you're a nerd (check) who's spent a significant amount of time on the Internet (check) participating in fandom (check) and all of those steamy New Adult titles bear zero resemblance to your early college days (check, duh), then you're likely to love Cath Avery as much as I did. Cath is starting her freshman year of college, which is difficult enough, but her twin sister Wren has also insisted they live apart. Feeling adrift, Cath holes up in her dorm room, trying to avoid the attention of mostly everyone, including her roommate Reagan and Reagan's amiable — and omnipresent — dude friend, Levi. Of course few people at college know that Cath is actually "Magicath," a popular fanfiction writer within the Simon Snow (think Harry Potter-ish) online community. Rowell's examination of an introverted, sensitive and talented young woman coming into her own is so tender, warm and funny that fangirls everywhere will want to pick this one up." — Regina Small
"If you're tired of the same old cookie-cutter contemporary heroine, then Tamara Morgan's delightful, different The Derby Girl is the book for you. An excellent, heartfelt, funny story of opposites attracting and figuring out their dreams together is held together by the quirk and charisma of Morgan's heroine, Gretchen "Honey Badger" Badgerton. Roller derby queen, barista, tattoo aficionado and fiercely loyal granddaughter, Gretchne's been all kinds of things, but it's not until she meets the aptly named Dr. Jared Fine that she's been in love. Jared needs Gretchen to make him a better man ... but will he realize that this tough, take-no-prisoners derby girl could use some saving of her own? We can only hope! But it's a certainty that readers will fall head-over-wheels for this all-too human heroine and her oh-so Fine match." - Mala Bhattacharjee
"Katharine Ashe's I Married the Duke is just the kind of rollicking historical romance you want if you're in the mood to be swept away on a grand adventure. Determined to take her and her sisters' destinies into her own hands, former governess and deportment expert Arabella Caulfield convinces the decidedly piratical Lucien Westfall to bring her aboard his ship. There is a prince waiting for her on the side of this journey and, with him, the answers to all her problems. Or so she thinks. As Arabella and Luc face the elements, ruffians and each other, it becomes clear that the most important journey of their lives is with one another. And Ashe's driven heroine and her noble, wounded hero will pull readers right along with them!" - Mala Bhattacharjee
"I was so excited for the September issue to roll around, so I could email the wonderful ladies at Scholastic and demand they send me theThe Dream Thieves, second in Maggie Stiefvater's amazing Raven Cycle series. And let me tell you, The Dream Thieves did not disappoint. The writing is gorgeous, the imagery breathtaking, plus — cute boys! You'll want to start with The Raven Boys for the full effect, and then join me in waiting for the next title." - Elissa Petruzzi
Some of the additional titles that the RT editors considered are: