Seal of Excellence: January 2018

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. January 2018's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Sonali Dev's A Distant Heart.


Sonali Dev grabs readers and doesn’t let them go until the very last page! I adored the Rapunzel parallels in A Distant Heart and Kimi’s story is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. Not to mention steamy as she and Rahul navigate their tangled feelings … Dev’s research shows and Kimi’s health issues are interesting, as is the minutiae of her heart transplant surgery and aftercare. Our hero Rahul can not be forgotten; his past is gripping and ultimately tied together with Kimi. There are obstacles in their way, but readers will love watching them overcome it all! — Emily Walton

Romances that make your heart ache as you read are some of my very favorites, and Dev's latest had me weeping over this gorgeous story as I clutched my ereader to my chest. Kimi and Rahul's story of love, of sacrifice, of friendship is just wonderful. You'll love it! — Elissa Petruzzi

Award-winning Dev returns with another of her emotionally resonating stories that explore, in depth, the intersection of friendship, love, sacrifice and desperation. Set in Mumbai, India, this book is deeply connected to Dev’s previous outstanding novel A Change of Heart as events from that book continue to reverberate. There is a tremendous richness to this story as these protagonists, who have been lifelong friends, must face not only their own individual emotional hang-ups, but revelations about the outside forces that have molded and manipulated them. A truly captivating tale of friendship and love. Dev always delivers! — Jill M. Smith

To learn more about A Distant Heart, read our interview with Sonali Dev!
Get it: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

And the other nominees are …

Every Dog Has Its Day

Every Dog Has Its Day is so charming. I am sucker for snowed-in romances, and while only part of this tale is blizzard-y, when Zach shows up to see if his neighbors, single mom Jessie and her two little girls, are all right in the mega snow storm — well, I WAS SUPER IN! This is Jessie's book, and readers will grow to love her as the other characters do, despite her less-than-favorable previous series showings. Also there's a cute dog and cat. Contemporary romance catnip! — Elissa Petruzzi

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


From the start, Promise Not to Tell had me hooked with a chase scene between a paranoid artist and a mysterious man. Even without the first gripping scene, the concept alone is spellbinding: we meet two people recovering from their childhoods spent in a cult compound with a dangerous and enigmatic leader. Virginia made a life for herself as a gallery owner in Seattle, and Cabot Sutter started a business as a private investigator. But neither are over the fire that burnt down the compound, and both are convinced a recent murder was the doing of the cult leader — who was originally thought to be dead. The shared history between the characters adds a mutual understanding that makes Virginia and Cabot perfect for each other. Their care for each other, even while tracking down a murderer and reliving their pasts, is what makes this novel worth it! — Alyssa Duspiva

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


Crack a window before you begin reading Calista Fox's The Billionaires: The Stepbrothers, because this book is HOT. The third Lover's Triangle Novel follows Scarlet Drake, an insurance investigator who finds herself in quite a predickament (you see what I did there?), she's attracted to both of her suspects. Did we mention the men are related? They're stepbrothers. Fox strikes the perfect balance between the three characters, tugging the reader into a tangled web of love, sex and long-buried family secrets. The story is all-consuming, so be prepared to stay up reading long into the night! — Kristin Stec

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


Who isn’t excited about a new series from Cathy Maxwell? If Ever I Should Love You is a great start to the Spinster Heiresses, and I love that Maxwell isn’t afraid to make her heroine damaged. We’ve all seen the wounded hero saved by a delicate heroine — not here! Leonie suffers from a turbulent past and her trauma still affects her. Roman is a perfect partner. He too has issues to overcome, but having known Leonie in the past, he’s instrumental in helping her help herself and move forward. The only hard part about reading this book is knowing we have to wait months for the next one! — Emily Walton

To learn more about If Ever I Should Love You, read our interview with Cathy Maxwell
Get it: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play


I still remember the first time I met little Lexie Kowalsky. It was the early 2000s and my awkward middle school-aged self had only recently discovered romance novels. I found Rachel Gibson's 1998 release Simply Irresistible at the library and dove headfirst into John "The Wall" Kowalsky and Georgeanne's story. Lexie was the child born of John and Georgeanne's first wild weekend romp and when I heard that Lexie would get her own love story in the form of Rachel's The Art of Running in Heels, I was so excited! Much like Georgeanne and John's story, we begin with a runaway bride in need of a lift who just happens to run into a hot hockey player who's headed out of town. It doesn't take long for tension to build between the two and before we know it, Lexie's got much bigger problems than just jilting a groom on national TV. — Kristin Stec

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


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

This post contains affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and purchase an item from the vendor, we receive a percentage of the profit (even if you don't buy the item we've linked to). Thank you for supporting RT Book Reviews!