November 2015 Seal of Excellence

November 9, Colleen HooverEach 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. November 2015's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to November 9 by Colleen Hoover

If you haven't read November 9 yet, then, apologies to your busy schedule, but you're going to have to put everything down and spend the next day devouring it. With the one year jumps in time the story moves so quickly it's impossible to stop turning pages. To me, one of the best things about this book is that Hoover really goes there. I can't say more for spoilage purposes, but she doesn't shy away from the drama, there's no halfway here. Which is really what the New Adult genre is all about. Read it! — Elissa Petruzzi

If Colleen Hoover’s November 9 sounds a lot like One Day to you, as it did to me, you’ll be happy to know that you’re wrong. What it is instead is the most brilliant love story, one so original and heartbreaking that you’ll devour it in one sitting, as I did. Even the moments that feel like classic romance tropes are exceptional, with the characters — fans of romance novels themselves — pointing out their issues with “insta-love” and the like, and doing their best to avoid such pitfalls in their own story. Fallon is the kind of heroine you want to be BFFs with, and Ben, even at his worst, is the guy you can see falling head-over-heels for. Hoover is sure to win a legion of new fans with this one — and I’ll be first to join her fan club. — Jennifer Peters

November 9 is amazing for so many reasons. I completely devoured the book. Despite the fact that we only see the characters for one day each year, the story is rich, full of detail and completely addictive. Ben sparks an instant connection with Fallon and his deep sense of caring helps her to find strength that she no longer knew she possessed. Their love is so intense and so deep; it was often tempting to yell at them to give it up with the one-visit-a-year agreement. I won't give any spoilers because there is absolutely no way I can be convinced to ruin this story for anyone. I got mad, I cried and then I kept reading. And you will too. — Kristin Wise

Colleen Hoover, you owe me an entire box of tissues … and maybe a few grief-consumed cookies. November 9 tells the story of Fallon O'Neill and Ben Kessler. Smitten with each other (don't call it insta-love!), these two agree to meet up on every November 9th for five years. But the course of true love — and reading about true love — doesn't run smoothly, as Hoover weaves in some shocking plot twists that feel true to both character and narrative even as they jolted this reader out of her chair. Hoover feels a deep sympathy for her characters, which shines through on every page. You'll feel it, too. Stock up on the Kleenex now. — Regina Small

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

I'm usually not a fan of Westerns, so when my co-worker told me I was going to love Lila Bowen's Wake of Vultures I was a little skeptical. But around the time protagonist Nettie Lonesome stumbled upon a hive of pseudo-hooker vampires I was, well ... hooked. Once this tale has its claws in you, it's impossible to put down. This is a coming-of-age tale for people who never felt like they belonged. Nettie is a gender queer person of color trying to find her place in a world that tells her everything she is is wrong, and it's rare to find a book where those issues alone would not become the focus. Bowen — AKA paranormal romance author Delilah S. Dawson — weaves intersectionality and the disturbing paranormal into every page. It gives a voice to characters, like Native Americans, who are usually stuck on the sidelines. If you're looking for a fantastic fantasy you need to pick up this book. — Sarah McDaniel Dyer

To my mind, Wake of Vultures feels like a game-changer. It's not every day you pick up a Western with a nonbinary, queer, half-black/half-Native American lead character. Nettie Lonesome is a richly drawn, compelling underdog of a hero, one whom readers will immediately take to. In this latest work, Lila Bowen explores questions of identity and destiny while also offering up a dark, exciting and fantastic tale. I'm not only psyched for book two; I'm psyched to see how this shapes the fantasy genre going forward. — Regina Small

Cold-Hearted Rake

I love a good historical, so I was pretty excited that Lisa Kleypas was getting back to it after forays into other genres. And, of course, Cold-Hearted Rake did not disappoint. The series starter has a world that's so rich, and secondary characters who feel as real and vivid as the protagonists. You'll feel like you're there on that dilapidated estate, trying to figure out just how you're going to fund everything, along with poor, newly minted earl, Devon Ravenel. Sure, there's insta love, but if anyone can sell it, it's Kleypas. A true winner. — Elissa Petruzzi

Josh Laynon, Jefferson Blythe, Esquire

An internationally-set romantic suspense adventure with two likable heroes slowly falling in love? SIGN ME UP. Josh Lanyon's Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is thoroughly charming, even when our eponymous lead gets into all sorts of life-threatening scrapes. I really enjoyed traveling through London, Paris and Rome by Jefferson's side, as he dodges bullets — and his feelings for his childhood friend George. Plus, like yours truly, both of our main characters are big fans of Highlander: The Series. What's not to love? — Regina Small

White Collar Girl

Reporters and history buffs alike will gladly find a spot on their shelves for Renee Rosen's latest. White Collar Girl transports us to 1950s Chicago, where lady journo Jordan Walsh is attempting to make her way onto the city desk, a promise she made to herself and her late brother. But naturally, her editors feel that dream is more suitable for her male counterparts. Personal and professional drama unfolds as certain information ends up on Jordan's lap, making for quite the page-turner. Sit back and enjoy. After all, there's nothing more entertaining than newsroom drama. — Danielle Valente

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