August 2016 Seal of Excellence

THE HATING GAME by Sally ThorneEach 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 2016’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Listen, I love witty banter. I love Katharine Hepburn movies, I love snappy historical romances and I love The Hating Game. It is basically witty banter and a hot hero for 384 pages. Upon finishing this book I promptly emailed my fellow RT editors, in all caps, and told them to read THG immediately, if not sooner. It’s so much fun, and the love story will have you swooning. There’s been lots of well-deserved buzz around this title, and you should read it too. Don’t make me email you in all caps. I totally will. — Elissa Petruzzi

I cannot possibly fit all of the praise for Sally Thorne’s debut into this blog post without some type of backend malfunction — there are just too many wonderful things to say. Readers will fall hard for the cat-and-mouse game between two office “rivals,” Josh and Lucy. His beguiling moves, her insecurities, the heated tension all culminate into a story you can’t put down. If you’re setting aside time to read The Hating Game, make sure you don’t have anything planned (like work) because you’re going to be completely engulfed in this one. Without question, it is my favorite book of the year thus far, and any other contenders from this point on have their work cut out for them. — Danielle Valente

Full disclosure: I ignored my poor fiancé all Sunday afternoon as I devoured this book! It is pretty much impossible to describe just how obsessed I am with the story. I am going to try really hard to explain why I love it so much with as few spoilers as possible. First of all, my four-foot-ten self was super excited to read about a tiny heroine who can’t look her hero in the eye even on tippy toe! This is basically the story of my life and I will cherish it forever. Then there was the ridiculously delicious sexual tension that Lucy and Josh tried really hard to mask with scorn. Remember in elementary school when the annoying boy in class would tug your pigtails and the adults would say “it means he likes you”? The Hating Game is the hotter, adult version of this experience! I loved this book so much that when I got to the last page, I found myself wishing I could start over again. These two are so head over heels for each other — and so awkward about it — that you will be racing through the pages to experience their all-consuming HEA! — Kristin Wise

Impossible to put down! Both Josh and Lucy are up for the same office promotion and they’re convinced they hate each other … but as the walls come down you’ll be absolutely obsessed with figuring out what makes Josh tick, and how on earth they can both come out on top. Sweet, laugh-out-loud funny and sexy as hell, go pick up The Hating Game immediately! — Emily Walton

The other August Seal of Excellence nominees were:

Trouble Walks In by Sara Humphreys

I first fell in love with the McGuire brothers when I read Brave the Heat (a former SOE contender). Sara Humphreys continues the brothers’ saga with Trouble Walks In, a sexy and suspenseful story boasting twists and turns you’ll never see coming! Still mourning the loss of her boyfriend Rick, real estate agent Maddy Morgan is hiding from her friends where anyone could disappear — New York City. Of course, it’s awfully hard to fall off the radar when you have a life-long friend who is also a K-9 cop living nearby! Throw in a nasty serial killer who’s targeting real estate agents and an adorably loyal dog and you’ve got yourself one wild roller coaster ride of a romance. I’ve really got to hand it to Sara — I fell for all of her decoy murderers — ALL OF THEM! — Kristin Wise

Can I See You Again by Allison Morgan

Dancing a fine line between mainstream fiction and contemporary romance, Can I See You Again? by Allison Morgan will have fans of both genres falling for its charm. Matchmaker extraordinaire Bree Caxton is launching her self-help romance book in the midst of a tumultuous breakup and emotional family issues. It’s difficult not to get wrapped up in her story … especially when her all-too-difficult client Nixon Voss enters the picture. You’ll need to see how everything works out for the Cali matchmaker, so make sure to pack this one in your beach tote for your end-of-summer reading pleasure. — Danielle Valente

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Readers won’t be able to help but fall in love Ella and Charlie in Joanne Bischof’s The Lady and the Lionheart — even if they’ve never read an Inspirational novel before! Charlie Lionheart is a lion tamer with a traveling circus, and while he has the audience in the palm of his hand, he can’t have what he wants most. Charlie is also caring for his niece, a young toddler named Holland, but when she becomes ill he needs to depend on the kindness of a stranger, a nurse named Ella. As both Ella and Charlie’s backstories are revealed, readers will be glued to the page! — Emily Walton

Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

If you’re a Nalini Singh addict, then this is the collection for you! Wild Embrace includes four new novellas that add to her Psy-Changeling world. Standouts for me were “Echo of Silence” and “Partners in Persuasion.” The first involves a PSY character we’ve met before who gets unraveled by his human coworker — who also gets to shine as she works through issues with her family. Meanwhile in the second there’s a tantalizing story between a male submissive wolf shifter and a female dominant leopard shifter — definitely a different dynamic than usual that Singh delivers perfectly! — Emily Walton

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

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