I’m a put the cart before the horse kind of gal in my obsessive need to preplan everything, so when I say to you that I’ve spent hours dreaming about what my cover will look like for the book I haven’t finished yet, know that I’m telling the truth. For as procedural as I can be, there’s something magical about the idea of my name on a cover.
But I’ve got very particular ideas about what kind of cover I want. It’s that thought that has led me to consider self-publishing, for the freedom in being able to make those decisions for yourself. I love what is known in the romance community as the “clinch,” a couple together in a compromising position. The sumptuous fabrics on the woman’s half-off clothing and the sheer romance of it all, there’s nothing better.
While I might not choose every book based on its cover, it does make a difference in the method of delivery I choose. For anything outside of the genre I write in–regency romances–I’ll automatically buy it in Kindle unless I’m desperately in love with the cover (Divergent, I’m looking at you). But for regency romances, the covers are usually so perfectly scrumptious that I’ve now expanded to three half-shelf bookcases just to fit all of the paperbacks. There’s something so utterly tangible and wonderful about a new paperback romance novel.
Last year was what I’d consider one of the best years for romance novels. For me, it was when I really started to immerse myself in the genre of modern romance, devouring every modern regency I could get my hands on. I read across the specter too with paranormal and suspense, but 9 times out of 10 I’d go for the romance. I was learning how to become a better writer–as I’ll always be learning–and there were certain covers that made me feel inspired to write just by looking at them.
So without further ado, I bring you my top 5 Historical Romance Covers for 2012.
I. Delilah Marvelle – Forever a Lord
I was already a huge fan of Delilah’s writing after reading Forever and a Day, but when I saw the cover for Forever a Lord I knew that this was one that not only did I need it in paperback, but I couldn’t wait around to buy it from used and risk damage to the spine. Harlequin is known for their excellent historical romance covers, and Forever a Lord is no exception.
For starters, the rich colors on this cover are visually pleasing. The orange of Imogene’s dress compliments well with her golden hair and the gold of the wall. It’s almost baroque looking in the background, elaborate yet elegant. I love the pose of the hero and heroine, with him lifting her up in his arms and the spiral staircase in the background. The details are exquisite and suit Delilah’s writing style.
One of the most important things in a cover is how well it compliments the characters at hand. As Delilah’s story is billed as one of redemption–quiet, sweet Imogene teaches bareknuckle boxer Nathaniel that he can put aside his demons and be loved–the combination of softness and strength is perfect. She’s in his arms, protected from the world around her, looking at him with such love in her eyes.
II. Jillian Stone - An Affair with Mr. Kennedy
I love this cover so much that as I was typing this post, I had to order the book in paperback from Amazon. That’s the definition of a good cover! Jillian Stone’s series is billed as a sensual, mysterious look into the dashing and dangerous world of Scotland Yard. The intrigue is high and the unconventional characters battle tough stakes before reaching their happily ever after.
Stone’s cover conveys that and more. The hero has his hand on her waist and the distance between them is so miniscule you can practically feel the heat between them. The heroine’s pink, ornate dress is an exquisite compliment to his polished, debonair suit. There’s a storm brewing in the distance and the brick wall the heroine leans against speaks of downtown London.
Everything about this cover screams suspense and romance. It’s wonderful, and I hope that some day I have just as great of a cover for my own historical romantic suspense novel.
III. Karen Hawkins – How to Capture a Countess
If you know me at all, then it should be no secret why I love this cover. There’s pink AND shoes front and center! I saw this book in Target when I was already over my book budget in September (when I actually believed in crazy things like budgets for books) and experienced an extreme moment of book lust.
Imagine my excitement when I managed to snag a free copy of it at the Fall into Romance Festival. This book sits at the top of my to-be-read list. I’ve not yet read Karen Hawkins, but if I were going to base on the cover alone then I’d be certain to buy. The appeal of this cover, outside of those elements that I intrinsically adore, is the sheer cuteness of it. From her surprised face to his intense look, it’s all over adorable. It’s a sort of clinch position with his hand on her leg, but it’s unusual in that instead of reaching for the closures of her dress, etc, he seems to be rubbing her foot. Her one shoe is on the ground. I love this pose because it is the hero trying to do something sweet for her. I think it works with the “battle of the sexes” thing that Hawkins has going on, because it’s them in an intimate moment and the feelings between them are obvious.
Clearly, he doesn’t need help learning how to capture a countess.
IV. Katharine Ashe – How to Be a Proper Lady
There are so many great things about this cover that it’s hard to know where to start. It is of course visually stimulating, with that lovely bit of man chest on display. The pastel color scheme pops and is very romancey. Everything is pretty and pleasing to look at.
But what I really love about this cover is the daring nature of the heroine. The emphasis is all on her–she’s the one who gets her eyes displayed, an actual face to the model. She’s whispering something sinful in his ear, with no sense of shame. Instead of it being the usual clinch position with the woman’s clothes being removed, the heroine is actually removing the hero’s shirt. We don’t see that often in romance novel covers and it really fits with the theme of the book. Viola is fighting against society’s dictates, and it’s fitting that she’d get a cover that showcases her rebelliousness.
Katharine Ashe’s heroines are bold and fierce. Of all of her covers, I think this is the most fitting tribute to her style.
V. Valerie Bowman – Secrets of a Wedding Night
Sexy, funny and sweet, Valerie Bowman’s writing deserves a cover that is all of those things. Her debut novel Secrets of a Wedding Night hits all of those qualities and then some. The gorgeous background is eye-catching, the midnight blue hinting at the fateful night in which the well-guarded wedding night mysteries shall all be revealed to women. The white script font, dipping down to touch the hero like the soft brush of his lover’s lips, is feminine but attention-getting. I love St. Martin’s covers because they tend to use more unusual typefaces and don’t all look the same.
On that note, it is the attention to detail that really sold me on this cover. The dress looks period-accurate, with the empire waist and long flowing gown. I like that it isn’t overwrought with unneeded extravagance–the beauty of the cover is allowed to stand on its own. That makes little embellishments like the garter on the heroine’s leg stand out more. The clinch position is here–as in all the covers I’ve highlighted–but it’s more of a sweet nature hinting at what’s to come.
We were very lucky to have Valerie Bowman visit the Tearoom last year. You can check out her interview here .
Do you have a favorite cover for 2012? Share it with me below!