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. April 2017’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union.
Hands down, Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union will go down as one of the absolute best books of 2017. First, a little background … way back in December, the lovely ladies we work with at Kensington brought one (yes, just one) copy of An Extraordinary Union to the RT holiday party. Much as Emily and I adore one another (you know I love you, girl), we seriously almost ripped each other limb from limb as we argued over who would get to read it first (I won, don’t mess with me). So we were excited about this title before we even read it. Elle is an incredible heroine. I aspire to be as strong and confident as this amazing woman. Malcolm is also a very special hero. After witnessing his own people suffer oppression in his home country of Scotland, he resolves to fight for equality in his new home. For Malcolm, loving Elle isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. He cannot fathom a future in which they aren’t growing together as equals — won’t even consider it! But don’t think that Elle makes it easy for him. No, in order to achieve their HEA this pair must first forge an impenetrable bond and fight for the Union. It’s one hell of a ride, you guys … — Kristin Stec
Okay, hold on a minute, the lovely Kristin and I did almost rip each other limb from limb to read this book first, but I graciously gave it up because at the time I was losing sleep while racing through Beverly Jenkins’s Breathless. Once I finished that beauty (another SOE winner!), I fell into An Extraordinary Union and immediately fell in LOVE with Elle and Malcolm! Trust us, readers, you don’t want to miss this engrossing romance. Elle is an incredible heroine, and Cole’s dedication to her story, and her vulnerability, is heart wrenching. Malcolm and Elle deal with difficult race issues while finding their HEA, and I admire this book so much for tackling these tough issues head-on and with care and love. I stayed up late finishing this novel and I’m sure you will too! — Emily Walton
This might seem dramatic, but every second that I wasn’t reading this book was time wasted. Elle and Malcolm became my life for a solid three days as I devoured this story, and when I had to put An Extraordinary Union down for silly things like chores or work, I was still thinking about it. While this is a romance, meaning a guaranteed HEA, there was so much danger and suspense through the last 30 pages that I was on the edge of my seat and unable to believe how Elle and Malcolm would be able to pull through! Kristen and Emily tried to get me ready for this story, but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for a badass heroine and a suave hero attempting to find love while trying to save the Union. I’m usually really picky with my books and have critiques, but there’s nothing about this book that could be improved. I can’t wait for the next installment. — Alyssa Duspiva
And the other April SOE nominees are …
Knox’s latest contemporary is just a delight! It was so much fun to see who the hero and heroine are — and who they’re related to. Watching a stuffy, older, divorced Brit and a slightly frazzled Midwesterner fall in love is a great ride. But the real joy in any Knox romance is how emotionally deep the reader travels with the characters; these people really get down into it as they fall in love (generally kicking and screaming) and it’s so angsty and wonderful. — Elissa Petruzzi
The Haven Brotherhood is headed back to the altar! This time the group’s resident doctor, Zeke, is swept away by their almost-brother Danny’s sister, Gabe. Honestly though, the best friend’s younger sister trope is not even the coolest part of the plot. What I realled loved is Gabe’s profession: she’s a mechanic. I know! Listen, I know there are female mechanics in both life and Romancelandia already, but I thought it was super cool to see this socially anxious tom boy snag a sexy Brazilian doctor. Watching these two wade through the awkward in order to claim an epic HEA was so much fun! — Kristin Stec
Tiffany Reisz is back with another incredible novel — and this one has time travel! We follow Faye Barlow, who is once-widowed and once-divorced. It’s impossible not to feel for this grieving woman as she tries to find a place in a world without her love, a world that now feels so alien to her. But when she finds an old photo of a lighthouse keeper from 1921, she’s shocked to find that he looks identical to her dead husband! This sparks a fantastic journey, one that takes Faye back to the past. Torn between two times, she has a big decision to make. You definitely need to pick up this addictive read … plus The Bourbon Thief (a 2016 SOE winner!) fans should keep a look out for some references! — Emily Walton
I was so, so excited for KJ Charles’s new series, and she did not disappoint! Sins of the Cities kicks off with An Unseen Attraction, and what a strong start it is. Filled with romance and suspense, this addictive read will keep you glued to the pages. Clement and Rowley’s romance is sweet; it is very much a friends-to-lovers story. In particular, I loved watching them talk through issues and grow as people, which is what we love to see in romance. The next novel can’t come quickly enough! — Emily Walton
Sex. Lies. Corruption. You get all this and more in Beautiful Liar. Quinn knows that his father’s callous ways pushed his mother into an early grave. He won’t let that stand. The result is a decade-long plan of redemption — one that regretably ensares an innocent woman. Quinn has always known the women he hires to star in his videos could become collateral damage, but he never really cared. Not until he met Lucky. Caught up in her own dark and dangerous family drama, Lucky (Elyse) thinks that starring in the masked porn star’s video is the answer to her prayers: that one million dollar pay day could be her ticket to safety. Of course, neither party plans on falling in love. Once the heart becomes involved, all bets are off! — Kristin Stec
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.
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