August 2015 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. August 2015's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Lauren Willig's historical romance, The Lure of the Moonflower. 

Even if you haven’t read the rest of the Pink Carnation books, Lauren Willig’s series closer, The Lure of the Moonflower, will still entertain. If you’re a lover of spy novels and historicals this book needs to be on your To Read list. Jane and her spy network make for a delightful little family where espionage is as common as deciding what’s for dinner. The romance between Jane and Jack is a nice meeting of equals. It’s great to read a historical where the hero is willing to let the heroine take charge, especially when the danger to both of them is so great. The frame tale of Colin and Eloise and a little pre-marriage kidnapping is equally delightful. This book stands on it’s own, but be warned: once you’re read it you’re going to want to read them all. — Sarah McDaniel Dyer

It should be noted upfront that Lauren Willig’s The Lure of the Moonflower is the 12th and final book in her Pink Carnation series. That said, I read this book without having read the others in the series, and I adored it. Willig’s book is split between two stories: that of Jane, aka the Pink Carnation, set in 1807, and Eloise, the modern-day writer who’s been researching the spies in the League of the Pink Carnation. Eloise’s story is much less the focus, but adds some fun modern adventures and a cute secondary love story. The real highlight, of course, is the story of the Pink Carnation. Jane is a wildly independent, adventurous and brilliant young woman, and it’s such a thrill to see her kicking butt and taking names. More than that, though, is the joy I got from her love story. Her relationship with Jack feels very organic, and though they both have a hard time switching off their natural spy suspicions and letting down their guards, when they finally start to see each other as more than untrustworthy spies, their relationship is super sweet and charming. It’s truly a superb read, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. — Jennifer Peters

Willig's series has been a treat from the very first, and that she's still got it twelve books in is a feat in and of itself! What I love particuarly about this series is the voices of the protagonists, on display wonderfully here in The Lure of the Moonflower. The modern plotline, led by estwhile heroine Eloise, is a treat for those of us who yearn for the chick-lit boom days of yore. I would totally hang out with Eloise and get coffee — or cocktails. Jane, meanwhile, the historical heroine of the piece, is also pitch perfect, and getting to read about both women in one very well-written book is a treat indeed. Get to it!  — Elissa Petruzzi

Here are the other books we considered for our August 2015 Seal of Excellence Award:

The Best of Enemies is a great end-of-summer read that hooks fans into a tale of friendship gone awry. Lancaster’s signature humor and nostalgic references prevail as her story alternates between the present day and early '90s flashbacks. Once-roomies and BFFs, Kitty and Jack are forced to face their seemingly irreparable past when tragedy strikes their mutual best friend. Things certainly get crazy in this must-read for fans of chick lit and Bridesmaids— Danielle Valente 

A double mystery that spans from the ‘70s to the present day, Kevin O’Brien’s No One Needs to Know had me on the edge of my seat almost from the first page. While it takes a while for the big mystery to be introduced, the secondary mystery starts up right away, and though I read the book mostly during the day, in broad daylight, with other people around, I was shaking in my sandals with fear. It was amazing! There are so many potential bad guys, so many people creepin’ around in the dark and so much suspense, I thought I’d have a heart attack before I got halfway through. And that’s what I want in a mystery. The twists and turns abound, and the few bright, happy moments felt like total red herrings. If you want a mystery that you won’t be able to pin down, this is definitely worth the read! — Jennifer Peters

At last, Lisa Kleypas delivers Joe Travis' eagerly anticipated HEA in Brown-Eyed Girl ! As Joe and our determined, unflappable heroine, Avery, explore the attraction building between them, Kleypas charms with delightful secondary characters like Avery's sister Sofia, colleague Steven and the irrepressible rescue Chihuahua, Coco! Brown-Eyed Girl brings emotion and wit as it takes a look at the occasionally competing values of ambition, family, love and being true to oneself. — Regina Small

Once I picked up Tremaine’s True Love, I could not put it down. Lady Nita is instantly likeable in her noble commitment to care for the town’s downtrodden and ill, while wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael woos us with his business prowess and his soft spot for children and animals. Although members of the English gentry, Burrowes’ characters are marvelously progressive as they tackle pressing issues such as abuse and equality with respect and modernity. I highly recommend that you read this RT Top Pick! right away! — Kristin Wise

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