July 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. July 2014’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to A.R. Torre‘s sexual thriller, The Girl in 6E.

The cover of The Mark of the Tala


“Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes you go, ‘What did I just read?’ and then run around telling your friends, ‘Oh my God, you have to read this, too!’ Welcome to The Girl in 6E, by A.R. Torre. A crazy premise — a shut-in webcam star must put her own murderous impulses aside when an innocent’s life is in danger — combined with eroticism and sadistic violence will keep you turning the pages until you hit the end and beg for more. Torre takes so many risks and nails almost every single one, shifting POVs as effortlessly as Jessica shifts personas for her clients. There’s even a little romance, in the form of smitten UPS guy Jeremy. To find out whether he actually survives meeting The Girl in 6E, you’ll have to schedule a visit yourself!” — Mala Bhattacharjee

“Be warned: The Girl in 6E is compulsively readable. I finished it in under 24 hours and chances are you will, too. Torre serves up a fresh premise — a woman locks herself away in her apartment, never venturing outside, in an effort to protect the world from her uncontrollable homicidal urges. Making money as a webcam girl, Jessica is a compelling heroine who feels totally of the moment. On the surface Jess wouldn’t seem to be a sympathetic character, but her struggle to make good choices while coping with a dark past and disturbing, violent fantasies is completely absorbing — and it puts The Girl in 6E in a class of its own.” — Regina Small

I finished The Girl in 6E on my plane ride to RWA and proceeded to tell every single person who came within a few feet of me at the conference about this book. The plot is insane in the best way possible, and Jessica’s dry humor and non-judgmental attitude about her work and clients is highly entertaining. With a little romance, a lot of suspense and plenty of heat, this is a book fit for any reader.” — Elisa Verna

So, which other books were contenders for the July Seal of Excellence? Here’s a look at the titles the RT editors considered.

“Marriage isn’t easy, especially for sitcom writer Georgie McCool. Georgie consistently puts her career first so it’s not exactly a shock when she abandons Christmas plans with her family to remain in L.A. and work on a pitch for a new television show. As primary caregiver for their daughters, husband Neal always seems to get the short end of the stick. Is this the final straw? As their marriage nears a breaking point, Georgie heads to her childhood home and is pretty surprised when she finally gets Neal on the phone — in 1998. The quasi time travel plot device adds just the right hint of the fantastic to Landline, Rainbow Rowell‘s portrait of a marriage in crisis and a woman trying to reconnect with the person she once was, is and hopes to become.” — Regina Small


Reisz‘s Original Sinners books are unlike anything I’ve ever read, each one a carrot or a stick for readers (this one is a stick). The author kicks off the White Years portion of her series with The Saint, which follows a young, mouthy Eleanor as she is reprimanded for stealing a car with community service — supervised by her church’s new priest, Father Marcus “Søren” Stearns. Unlike anyone Eleanor has ever met, Søren asks for complete obedience and promises to give her everything in return. Nora/Eleanor tells this story in the present to her latest love interest, Nico, which adds depth to a world readers are already familiar with. I ugly cried while reading this book more than I have during any of Reisz’s other books, and that’s saying something. ” —Elisa Verna


“First things first — how can we get our own Dean brother? Can we at least borrow one? Rebecca Zanetti‘s second entry in the Sin Brothers series, Sweet Revenge, follows older brother Matt Dean, whose fierce protective streak (along with abs of steel) makes him a keeper. Fleeing the commander who raised him and his brothers to be killing machines, Matt collides with barkeep Laney Jacobs, a woman with a few secrets of her own. Even as the angst gets turned up to 11, Matt and Laney’s connection remains believable and their on-the-run tryst is a highlight in this sexy, surprising thriller.” — Regina Small


“Historical romance trailblazer Courtney Milan just keeps getting better. Fans of her Brothers Sinister series have been on pins and needles waiting for Free’s turn in the spotlight — and to find out what man could possibly deserve her — and The Suffragette Scandal delivers on every level. Newspaperwoman and suffragette Frederica “Free” Marshall refuses to be silenced. Fortunately, disreputable rogue and expert forger Edward Clark has no intention of keeping her quiet. As two sharp minds and fierce hearts collide, readers will become completely invested, laughing at smart banter and marveling at gorgeous prose. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying “Huzzah!” for weeks after finishing Milan’s latest blockbuster. This reader has yet to stop!” — Mala Bhattacharjee


“In this standalone spin-off from the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Cole St. Clair returns to L.A. with only one thing in mind: win back Isabel Culpeper, the only girl he’s ever loved and the only person who truly knows him. But as he settles back into his rock star image and continues battling his werewolf nature, will he and Isabel finally find their happy ending? Once again, Maggie Stiefvater delivers a whirlwind novel that only an author of her caliber could accomplish. With a unique profoundness, she has crafted an intelligent character study and wrapped it in her signature prose. Sinner is a must-read for longtime fans, but new readers will want to start with the original trilogy.” — DJ DeSmyter


Some of the additional titles that the RT editors considered are:

Riding the Wave by Lorelie Brown

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier

Visit The RT Seal of Excellence Index



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