Seal of Excellence: September 2017

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. September 2017's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Julie Anne Long's Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap.


I was a mega fan of Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series, and I am so delighted that Hellcat Canyon is just as fun to visit! This offering is a slow burn that, by the end, had me ALL-CAPS texting my coworkers BUT HOW IS IT ALL GOING TO WORK OUT? This is some real-world conflict, people, infused with sexiness and history and love and ... Trust me, read it! — Elissa Petruzzi

Talk about a page-turner! The third entry in Long's Hellcat Canyon series is a book chock full of this slow burn, second-chance romance with a heaping of rivalry. When Avalon returns to her hometown after catching her boyfriend cheating, she ends up buying the large childhood home of her teenage sweetheart, Mac Coltrane. But she doesn't know that Mac comes with the property as its groundskeeper, or that he wants the house back — thus ensues a journey of nostalgia, increasingly vengeful stunts and, eventually, love. The love that Mac and Avalon built in their childhood continues to grow naturally, and combined with sweeping descriptions of the California countryside and a lovable cast of side characters (and pets), there's no question why it got a 5-star Gold rating from our reviewer. — Alyssa Duspiva

Just when you think you can’t fall deeper in love with Hellcat Canyon, along comes Avalon and Mac. Hilarious and touching, these two get each other’s goat in a way that’s only possible when you know someone down to their marrow — and if you have actual goats. As always, Long’s humor is rooted in character, which means she can make you cry almost as easily as she can make you laugh. Flawlessly executed, Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap is easily the most romantic read of the summer. — Nicola Onychuk

Get it: Amazon | B&N; | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

And the other nominees are …

Misadventures of a City Girl

If bearded mountain men with long flowing hair is your bag, then Misadventures of a City Girl is for you. The fun and flirty story is perfect for those seeking a quick, yet satisfying romance. Luke and Madison's steamy encounters practically incinerate the pages of this super-sexy novel. Though they each have emotional baggage to unpack, it doesn't take them long to realize they would rather be together than spend their lives apart. — Kristin Stec

Get it: Amazon | B&N; | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

The Trick

The Trick switches between the perspectives of Moshe, a young Jewish man as he navigates Europe in the early 1900s to become the great Zabbatini, and Max, a boy in Los Angeles who just found one of Zabbatini's recorded magic shows. Max believes that the love spell promised in the LP will help stop his parents' divorce, and finds the retired and crotchety Zabbatini in a retirement home. The omniscient narrator in this novel gives every character a unique voice, and the realistic portrayal of childhood naiveté and trauma makes this an emotional must-read. — Alyssa Duspiva

Get it: Amazon | B&N; | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly Conduct — Tessa Bailey never disappoints, and that’s never been more true than with her new series, The Academy! This series centers around police academy cadets and the first book focuses on Charlie Burns and the gorgeous woman he meets in a bar: Ever Carmichael. Both have their reasons for being hook-up royalty, and learning more about what makes these two tick is heartbreaking. There’s a lot of humor though, and watching Ever navigate online dating is hilarious. You’ll be rooting for Charlie to realize he needs more than hook ups, and the heat is SCORCHING. This is a must-read! (Check out our interview with Tessa here). — Emily Walton

Get it: Amazon | B&N; | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Pretty, Nasty, Lovely

College is supposed to be the “best years of your life,” but in Rosalind Noonan’s latest suspense, something much more sinister is afoot. What is most addicting about this novel is untangling the relationships of the sorority sisters. You can never tell how much someone knows! Pretty, Nasty, Lovely also tackles some very difficult topics like mental and women’s health, and we loved hearing more from the author in her interview, here. If you’re looking for a novel that will keep you glued to the page, look no further. — Emily Walton

Get it: Amazon | B&N; | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

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

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