January 2015 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. January 2015’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Tessa Dare’s historical romance, Say Yes to the Marquess.

“Do you love cake? Elderly bulldogs? A super hot prizefighter? Then you won’t regret saying yes to Tessa Dare’s latest amazing historical romance, featuring two of the most charming odd ducks I’ve come across in a historical. After an 8-year engagement, Clio’s greatest dream isn’t finally marrying diplomat Piers Brandon — it’s running her own brewery. (A girl after my own heart!) Meanwhile, bare-knuckle boxer Rafe Brandon, Piers’ brother, may have no use for polite society, but he wants more for Clio. That’s why he’s not so willing to help her end her engagement to golden boy Piers, even if Rafe’s the one who’s been in love with her all these years. Between their unconventional lives and their hilarious banter (and I do mean laugh-out-loud-and-scare-the-cat hilarity), Rafe and Clio are one couple you’ll be rooting for from start to finish.” — Regina Small

“The Virgo in me loves a practical heroine. Clio inherits a freaking castle — and promptly seizes the chance to take charge of her own life. You’ll cheer for her and Rafe, who’s also trying to find his way in a society that doesn’t really want him. Dare pulls off some exceptional lines of dialogue here — one about the dog in particular I think will stay with me forever — that are as impressive as Clio’s beer-tasting skills. This one’s a real treat.” — Elissa Petruzzi

I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to pick up a Tessa Dare book (hey, I’m not a big historical reader), but I’m so glad I did, because this book was a riot. Rafe is irresistible, and I love that Piers wasn’t villainized in order for Rafe and Clio to get their HEA. Clio is seriously living the dream by the end of this book, readers will want to both be her and befriend her.” — Elisa Verna

Here are the other books we considered for our January 2015 Seal of Excellence Award:

“It’s normal to wonder what might have been but Kristen Harmel’s The Life Intended takes things one step further. Harmel does a great job at tugging at all your heartstrings. You’ll want to have a tissue box near by because this one will break your heart and heal it too. The emotions in this book both happy and sad are raw and realistic. Kate’s job as a music therapist was really interesting and the way Harmel made her work an intricate part of the plot made for some fun reading. This is the kind of story that comes with a built in soundtrack and it’ll give you a new appreciation for some songs you’ve always loved. When Kate finally meets her new prince charming you’ll be cheering for her to get the second happy ending she deserves.” — Sarah McDaniel Dyer

“Ausma Zehanat Khan’s debut, The Unquiet Dead, is a sobering tale of the physical and emotional scars wrought by the Srebrenica Massacre during the Bosnian war, but she keenly sets it against a compelling murder mystery, one where it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the true villains. While the femme fatales occasionally border on cartoonish in their viciousness, Khan’s delicate prose and her clear dedication to her subject matter shine through — and I can’t wait to see more of the crime-solving team of Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty.” — Regina Small

“Jennifer Rush’s final full-length novel in her high-octane Altered series is another addictive page-turner! Gruff and moody Nick takes center stage as he sets out to unlock his memories and find the girl he keeps seeing in his flashes. But the Branch is still a threat, making his efforts to find love and happiness more dangerous and difficult than expected. Rush is a talented writer who never fails to deliver multidimensional characters and complex plots that draw readers in for the long haul. Reborn is a perfect finale and if you haven’t started the series yet, now’s the time to do a little binge-reading, especially since a new novella is on its way next month! You can thank me later.” — DJ DeSmyter

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

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