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. November 2014’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Sonali Dev’s contemporary romance, A Bollywood Affair.
“Contemporary romance is having a wonderful renaissance right now, and A Bollywood Affair is a great example of the new and exciting titles happening in the genre. Mili is a captivating protagonist, where she could have been too sweet and naive, she’s instead strong yet innocent — her nose waters through half the book, for goodness sake! Both in America and back home in India, this book sings as Mili and Samir make cautious inroads toward each other. And when we meet Samir’s family, well, I was a goner. That this is Dev’s debut makes this romance even more of an impressive accomplishment. More! More!” — Elissa Petruzzi
“Both a sweet love story and a crazy adventure that takes readers between the U.S. and India, this book was a joy to read. It reminded me of a more down-to-earth Harlequin Presents, but instead of relying heavily on tropes, it took the elements many romance readers love and elevated them. Mili is naive, but she’s determined and filled with gumption. Samir is a playboy, but also kindhearted and patient. The romance between them is slow burning, but still satisfies. Combined with plenty of humorous family hijinks, Dev has penned a winner.” — Elisa Verna
“I’m normally not a fan of the mistaken identity trope but Sonali Dev actually pulled it off in a way that was both believable an interesting. Mili is so sweet she’ll give you cavities while Samir pulls off that bad boy swagger like no one else. Mili brings out the best in him just by being who she is. Their chemistry is astounding which makes the rough patches even more heartbreaking. Dev shows a true understanding of emotion and handles complex situations beautifully. I was impressed with how familiar yet unique this story felt. This is the kind of book you want to give to people to explain why romance novels are so great.” — Sarah McDaniel Dyer
Here are the other books we considered for our November 2014 Seal of Excellence Award:
“During these bleak November days, as I’m swaddled in a blanket on my couch, all I want is an action-packed read. And Joanna Bourne’s fabulous, sexy and totally thrilling Rogue Spy is all I could’ve hoped for. Cami Leyland isn’t who she claims: She’s a French-trained spy planted in a British family of codebreakers when she was just 10 years old. Now a shadowy villain known as the Merchant is blackmailing Cami out of hiding. But before she and her nefarious foe meet, Cami runs into an old friend: Thomas Paxton, aka Devoir, who was trained right alongside her. While Cami swears she hasn’t reported to the French in years, Pax — who’s long since switched sides to serve as a British spy — engages her in an amazing, steamy cat-and-mouse game as they join forces to take down the Merchant. Pax and Cami are an instantly likable couple — but even more than that, readers will love their extended family: Cami’s Leyland aunts and Pax’s network of fellow spies are irresistibly charming. As a new reader to the Spymasters series, I was completely enthralled … and tempted to spend the next month catching up on Joanna Bourne’s other saucy spy stories.” — Regina Small
“As soon as I finished Burn for Me I wanted to start the next book in Ilona Andrews’ new Hidden Legacy series. This story hits the gas and doesn’t stop. Mixing magic and evil corporations created a world I need to know more about. Nevada’s family steals the show in certain scenes, which makes the stakes at the end so much higher because you care about so many characters. Rogan and Nevada play off each other in ways I didn’t expect and like Nevada’s grandmother, I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes. There’s so much to love about this book, especially the fact that it leaves you feeling like the best is yet to come. This is a series starter that does everything right.” — Sarah McDaniel Dyer
“If I had to choose two words to describe “Intrusion” by Charlotte Stein, they would be “gloriously insane.” It’s such a weird novella, one I’m confident only Stein could pull off with her intense voice. The hero is unlike any man I’ve ever come across in a romance: he’s a sleepwalking shut-in who spends his time inventing contraptions in his home. What I loved most about this story is how well it captures the glorious first few weeks of a new relationship, where you spend all of your time with this wonderful person, lounging around in bed and all but cutting yourself off from the outside world. Beth and Noah’s relationship is perfect in its simplicity, and the suspenseful twist made the story all the more exciting.” — Elisa Verna
“Claudia Gray’s latest, A Thousand Pieces of You, is a unique science fiction read that follows Marguerite Caine as she travels across alternate dimensions to catch her father’s killer. With her signature color, romance and action, Gray has written a brilliant book that may very well be her best one yet. I loved all the twists and turns not only in the plot, but with the characters as well. Also, each dimension Marguerite visits act more like characters than settings, which further adds to the vividness of the story.” — DJ DeSmyter
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.