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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Discussion: Under the Covers

We've all been told not to judge a book by its cover, and most of the time, we try not to, but how many times have we picked up a book merely because we liked the artwork? Or initially passed by a book that would, in time, become a favorite, because we didn't like the cover? Maybe you've mistaken one book for another because Current Cover Trend X is hot, hot, hot, and it seems like every book looks the same. Maybe you've missed the newest entry in a favorite author's ongoing series because the cover of the new book looks nothing like the covers of the previous books, or bought the same book twice because new cover art had to mean new book, right? How about snickering over books shelved in the wrong section because someone thought the cover looked "romancey" or "not romancey enough?" Apart from "romancey" not being a word, it's difficult to define what "a romance cover" should look like.

Should there be a couple on the front? Well, yes, sometimes. Other times, a solo gent or lady will do the job, sometimes we get a ship or castle, perhaps a single icon on solid background, perhaps something else entirely, depending on the tone of the book, the voice of the author and possibly those much talked about trends in cover art. Readers who have been in the genre for some time, or who prowl used bookstores and other sources for vintage books, can attest to the fact that cover design is a fluid thing.

Should a sassy contemporary have the same sort of cover as lush historical? A sweet Regency as a steamy erotica? How confusing would that be? Besides the different visual indicators across the subgenera, there's the ever changing standards of attractiveness. Remember covers with mustaches and mullets on historical as well as contemporary heroes? Hot stuff back in the day, but now, eh, not so much. Makes me wonder what romance fans are going to think of today's covers in twenty years' time, and what new frontiers romance covers will explore in that not-too-distant future.

Now, dear readers, I turn it over to you. What do you look for in a romance novel's cover? If you could design the perfect cover, what would that look like? Would it be different for different subgenra; paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc? Or would you be happy to have everything leatherbound, with the title and author's name stamped in gold foil? Okay, maybe that last one is a tad on the fanciful side, but I bet at least some of you are imagining exactly that. Is there a cover trend you'll be happy to see fade away, or one you'd like the industry to embrace? If you could make one rule for all cover artists to embrace for the next year, what would that be? Pull up a chair and let your voice be heard in our comment section.


  1. There is such variety in covers now. When I first fell in love with romance, it was with the older romance novels. So I love both old and new covers, but my favorites are the sweet yet sensual couple poses.

  2. Oh I really do love those Romance covers! Covers for Erotics like Sylvia Day and for the 50 Shades are a bit confusing for me. I like them to say what they are and not surprise me when I open the book. It's cool but I just like to know what I'm getting myself into, you know. However, I know some Historicals used to have those not so sexy covers with just a paper and quill on the front and not Fabio with flowy silk hair but still.... I guess now a days I'm just being too critical.

    But I love the couple poses like for Shana Galen's Spy series or Jillian Stone's Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. But lone poses are great too, like of a bare chested man or of their backside derriere~ ;) Oh, And I love looking at the dresses the ladies wear on the covers, most especially the more tamed dresses that aren't falling part on the cover and trying to expose the lady. LOL

    Okay, I just took a detour and searched up some covers on my Pinterest..... I like the man to be in full attire -cravat and all- when with the lady on the cover. I find them more alluring and sexy that way. Love the bare chests but I just love them more covered up in a couple pose.

  3. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 15, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    Ki Pha. I'm with you. The cover works best, IMO, when it gives the reader a clue as to what's inside the book. Sometimes a single icon on a plain cover can do exactly that, but I'd say that's the exception, rather than the rule, so as a trend, it can get confusing.

    Definitely agree on beautifully dressed couples on the covers. Have you seen the new covers for Lucinda Brant's Salt Bride duo?!

  4. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 15, 2014 at 5:45 AM

    Lover Of Romance, there is a lot of variety in covers these days, and with the rise of independent publishing, the sky's the limit as to what we can see. That means anything is possible. Couple poses are classics for a reason.

  5. Yes I have seen Lucinda's new covers for her Salt Bride and Salt Redux novel. I loved the old covers but these new ones are just as beautiful. I liked that it stayed pretty much the same as the old ones, just that it's not a painting now and more of a photo.

  6. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Both versions really are lovely.

  7. I think the historical romance covers catch my eye first - I see you used Maire Clairemont's cover as an example. I love Jon Paul's cover art. The lady with a pretty dress is fine. Couples are fine, with the men with or without shirts. I happen to love the open shirt covers of Samantha Grace's Beau Monde books, with Paul Marron being my favorite cover model.

  8. Anna Carrasco BowlingJune 16, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Sharlene, historical covers catch my eye first, too. Jon Paul has some gorgeous art. Paul Marron certainly is good at what he does.



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