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. December 2016’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Lorraine Heath’s The Viscount and the Vixen.
Heath is nothing if not original, unconventional and a continuing innovative voice in the genre. The latest Hellions of Havershams installment may even exceed some readers’ expectations. The pages are brimming over with humor and poignancy, sexual tension and emotions that run deep. Readers will savor how Ms. Heath’s unforgettable characters overcome their emotional barriers to find love and peace. Few could argue that Heath is a magician with words. — Kathe Robin
I spent a good, long time trying to figure out exactly what the heroine was hiding, which is testimony to what an excellent story Heath has spun! What makes this book so special to me is the way in which it tackles what I can only refer to as an evil practice that is a truly disgusting pockmark on history — baby farming. For those unfamiliar, a baby farm is a place where noble men could send their unwanted offspring to be “taken care of,” and I don’t mean that they were educated and loved by an adoptive family. Heath manages to spin a beautiful love story that also educates us on this very dark practice. Though the hero and heroine meet under unconventional circumstances and deception is most certainly afoot, you will be rooting for these two all the way to their HEA! — Kristin Wise
And the other Seal of Excellence nominees are:
Sometimes, as a hard-headed lady, I have trouble with alpha heroes. Why are they always bossing everyone around? I wonder. But Dimon’s Wren is a total delight in her series starter The Fixer. Is he a rich, successful, feared businessmen? Yes. Is he super socially awkward without too many real friends? Why yes indeed! That’s what makes this book so great. The heroine is dealing with a terrible burden, one our guy understands. As they open up to each other — and solve the mystery — it’s like reading a master class in emotional conflict. A great series starter. Get on it, folks! — Elissa Petruzzi
The heroine’s a welder. The hero’s her boss. I mean, I’m not sure how much more I need to tell you about this awesome, holiday-set Blaze from Reisz’s Men at Work trilogy? Except honestly you should just read all three? All right, all right, I’ll try. They’ve spent a steamy night together, and Veronica “Flash” (I know, so great) gives her two week’s notice in the book’s opening. Ian’s … not pleased with that news. Steaminess ensues. It’s fun, it’s charming, read it while you ignore your relatives this weekend! I’ll never tell. — Elissa Petruzzi
If you’re looking for a romantic suspense to get hooked on, then look no further than Jayne Ann Krentz’s When All The Girls Have Gone! It’s easy to identify with Charlotte Sawyer, our sweet, but often overlooked, heroine who was left at the altar by her ex-fiancé. But when her sister goes missing and her sister’s friend turns up dead, Charlotte gets involved with the PI assigned to the case and won’t back down. Max Cutler, the PI, also has a fascinating backstory and it’s hard not to feel for him. Cozy up to the fire with this book this winter and try to figure out whodunit — it’ll keep you guessing! — Emily Walton
Having already read the other books in this series, I was beyond ready for the adorably romantic Eva to get her HEA. Morgan has hinted at a meeting between the hero and heroine in previous books, but in Miracle on Fifth Avenue, Eva finally comes face-to-face with thriller writer Lucas Blade. She’s hired by his grandmother to stock his fridge while he is on a writer’s retreat, but it turns out Lucas isn’t out of the apartment after all! He mistakes Eva for an intruder and hilarity ensues. It’s cute, it’s sweet, it’s the perfect holiday weekend read! — Kristin Stec
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.