June 2016 Seal of Excellence

Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa KleypasEach 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. June 2016's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Lisa Kleypas's historical romance Marrying Winterbourne.

Marrying Winterbourne showcases just why Lisa Kleypas is such a talented, wonderful writer. The hero and heroine have a lovely, unexpected romance that surprised me and made me heart ache and sing — all within about 400 pages. I was already rooting for Helen and Rhys from the first in the series, Cold-Hearted Rake, and their story is even more magical than I had hoped. Lisa Kleypas, we bow down. — Elissa Petruzzi

Emotional depth, appealing characters, strong storylines and sexual tension are what make Kleypas’s novels reader favorites. Continuing the Ravenel series with two unconventional characters and a surprising twist of plot keeps readers entranced, but what will truly captivate them is watching the characters grow as love makes them the best they can be. A lovely, unforgettable story. — Kathe Robin
At the risk of sounding completely shallow, I need to begin by saying Rhys is basically the man of my dreams. Tall dark, handsome and kind, plus he is the owner of the finest luxury department store in London. I can't stop thinking about all of the shoes ... Okay, I'm back! Our heroine Helen is a delight. She is warm, kind, smart and willing to take risks to get what she wants most — even if the result could be her ruin. This passionate story could make even the biggest cynic believe in love. When I read the last page I was actually sad. I found myself wishing I could read it for the first time all over again.  — Kristin Wise
The other June Seal of Excellence nominees were:
Sarah Morgan's Sleepless in Manhattan
Sarah Morgan's Sleepless in Manhattan is a sweet, sensitive and satisfying read for contemporary romance lovers. It also features one of my favorite tropes — the big brother's best friend. Jake is Paige's brother's best friend and the pair go way back. Abandoned by his birth mother at an early age, Jake was adopted by a neighbor who loved him like her own — but no amount of affection was enough to lift the dark cloud cast by his mother's betrayal. And so, due to an ill-advised promise to his friend keep clear of Paige and a deep fear of rejection, Jake flits from one hot date to the next. That is until Paige needs guidance as she starts her own business. What kind of billionaire business-guru best friend would Jake be if he didn't help out? Trust me when I say, you will really enjoy watching this couple fight for their HEA! — Kristin Wise

False Hearts by Laura Lam


Formerly-conjoined twins Taema and Tila were raised in a cult, but escaped at 16 when their heart began to give out in Laura Lam's False Hearts. Now the girls have mechanical hearts, and while they were once as close as can be, Taema isn’t sure if she knows who Tila really is anymore. When her sister is arrested for murder, Taema goes undercover in a drug ring as her sister to discover what Tila was really up to — and to hopefully clear her name. This book is terrifically engaging and embraces a diverse future. There are many characters of a variety of racial backgrounds and same-sex marriage and relationships are seen as commonplace. Definitely a must read for SF fans.— Emily Walton

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

After devouring Ruth Ware's debut, In a Dark, Dark Wood, I jumped at the chance for another story that echoes Nora's tale of horror in the English countryside, and Flynn Berry's novel does not disappoint. The author's debut tells the story of two sisters, one of whom discovers the other brutally murdered in her secluded home — not preparing dinner like she had thought. Under the Harrow, which intertwines both present and past grief — is as chilling as it is suspenseful. I can't wait to see what this author does next. Danielle Valente

Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.