2015Holiday Favorites Award Cover Cafe
Linnae Crady
2015 Holiday Favorites Commentary
Holiday Favorites


It's official. The 2015 Holiday Favorites Contest results are online. Congratulations to the ten finalists because they reflect the true spirit of the holidays. Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted in this year's contest.

Cover Cafe's nineteen committee members voted on eighty holiday covers and the nine covers with the highest vote totals earned their place on the contest ballot. The tenth choice is reserved as the category chair's choice. This year, the top three covers received 68.4% of the online votes with the remaining 31.6% divided among the seven remaining finalists.

It's disappointing when a beautiful holiday cover experiences a comment shortage or worse yet, a vote shortage but it happens. One possible explanation is that holiday covers often trigger an emotional response or remind voters of cherished memories. When that happens, the cover inspires comments. When a cover is pretty but doesn't trigger an emotion or memory, the result may be lower vote totals and a lack of comments. This mystery is one of the reasons covers fascinate me. We appreciate voter comments because they contain valuable information about reader preferences. What did the voters say this year about their choices?

His Christmas Countess
Harlequin Historical
Cover Design: Art Director: Krista Oliver,
Illustrator: Robert Papp
first place
His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen, finished in first place with 25.4% of the votes. Voters loved the couple's joy, the snowy background,the red velvet gown and even the Count's black attire!

Voters like Annie B. chose the cover for its joy. "Christmassy colours - and they both look so joyful."

So did Helen M. "There is such joy shown between the couple. It truly fits the Holiday Season!"

Author Louise Allen mentioned the couple, too. "They look so much in love and so happy to be together!"

The red gown was a factor for some voters like Marti C. "It's up close and personal. We can almost feel the texture of her dress, and the color of the dress was the first thing to grab my attention."

But the majority of voters mentioned a combination of elements winning their votes like Jan J. "I love everything about this! The glorious red dress, the joy on their faces, the snow..."

And A.John H. "I love their eye contact and the happiness on their faces and her gorgeous crimson gown"

And Yuri. "Love the richly coloured historical dress, the unusual pose and the joyful expressions, although the terrier with bauble was a close second!"

Caroline's critique said it best. "I love it. I love everything about it, but especially its attention to detail. I love her wintery dress in seasonal cranberry velvet, and I love his sharp suit that is intriguingly inappropriate for being outside. I love her hair, her gloves, and her earrings. I love the dusting of snow on the roof, which is more authentic to England than a white blanket. I love the little snowflakes in the air. This looks like the happy ending of a movie I'd really like to see."

Or maybe Susan/DC said it best. "The cover captures joy and grace in the way he sweeps her off her feet and they look in each other's eyes. I like the visuals of her deep red gown as it flows through the frame as well. They are dressed in a way that is appropriate to the era and to the season, and all the elements fit together to say historical holiday romance."

But Pam E. said what every publisher and author wants to hear. "It's just gorgeous. Romantic, Christmassy, and it makes me want to head straight over to Amazon and buy a print copy, rather than a Kindle edition, just to get the cover!"


second place
In second place is, The Bark Before Christmas by Laurien Berenson with 24% of the votes. This cover was my Chair's Choice. The cover just missed making the top nine and this little Westie is 100% lovable. Since pets are such an integral part of the holidays, he won me over when I reviewed the nominations. But why did the voters choose this adorable cover?

Carol S.J. was a huge fan of both the cover and the author. "Clean, concise, uncluttered. The white on white, with only the natural dark eyes and nose of the West Highland White Terrier, accented by minimal Christmas red text for the author's name and title, set off that Westie doing what all terriers do best: capture vermin of all types, whether the tail of a mouse, or in this case the 'tail' of an errant shiny red ornament. That look tells it all: 'Look what I found rolling across the floor. Trade you for a treat, if the treat is really, really good!' Both the dog owner/train and photographer deserve big 'high four paws' for this terrific cover! Laurien Berenson of course writes the best books ever!!!"

Patricia F. kept it short and simple. "The Westie pictured here is adorable and the red ornament and lettering stand out and make the cover look festive!"

So did Barbara D. "Nice eye-catching composition and color co-ordination. And of course a stunning model!!"

And Cover Cafe's Leanne agreed. "I like the simplicity of the picture and the simplicity of the color scheme."

Author Laurie Berenson was won over by the Westie. "Because I love the expression on the cute Westie's face."

The dog won over many of the voters like Edwina A.H. "I love the Melanie Travis series and this cover is the sweetest little guy ever. He is what Christmas is all about. Love this."

And Cover Cafe’s Nicole agreed. "I simply love dogs smiley and this is a very nice one."

Let's face it, Mary C. said it best. "Who doesn't love a puppy at CHRISTmas?"

The Bark Before Christmas
Kensington Books
Cover Design: Louis Malcangi


A Christmas Kiss
Dafina Books - Kensington
Cover Design: Tom Hallman, Hallman Studio

third place
A Christmas Kiss by Celeste O. Norfleet, Regina Hart, and Deborah Fletcher Mello finished in third place with 19% of the vote. This year I voted for A Christmas Kiss. It was difficult choosing between the ten finalists but this cover won my vote. I love the uncluttered layout where the typography is part of the illustration and not a distraction. The soft color palette, the tranquility of the snowy Christmas scene, and the couple's romantic embrace create a picture perfect cover. It's exquisite. But did the voters agree with me?

Cynthia M.mentioned the stories inside the cover. "Awesome, heartfelt, inspirational stories! Really got me in the Christmas spirit!"

So did Tamika S. but she also appreciated the cover. "I loved the stories in the book. The cover makes me think of a holiday romance."

Beverly D. was a fan of the snow covered tree. "Love the scene of lovers having fun in a beautiful winter setting. Beautiful tree!"

Jackie C. also mentioned the trees. "I love the way Christmas trees look and also the couple!!"

Belinda G. mentioned the romance aspect. "I love the Christmas look & feel. It feels cozy and romantic."

And Victoria K. "The setting is intriguing (where are they and why is the road desserted?) and it's so romantic."

Theresa B.mentioned a famous artist in her comment. "I love the cover! It looks like the lights are real! A bit like a Thomas Kincaid painting!"

Erica focused on the couple's interaction. "The kiss looks both heartfelt and playful. Love it!"

But Debby M. gave the cover the highest compliment. "Prettiest cover ever!"


Christmas For One by Amanda Prowse finished in fourth place with 11% of the votes. I adore this cover because it captures both a feeling of loneliness and yet captures the magic of the Christmas season. This was my second choice and I went back and forth between this cover and A Christmas Kiss. What did the voters who chose this cover say?

Cover Cafe's Kimmie S. "This cover really jumped out at me from among the choices, but it took me some thought to figure out why. I think it's the bright, warm colored lights, along with the snowfall. And the trendy young woman could be anybody, as she's shown from the back. I'm intrigued!"

Cover Cafe's Jeanette noticed the loneliness. "The colors and the lights. It's kind of lonely. But the Christmas trees are lovely."

Cover Cafe's Mary Lynne gave the cover high praise. "It captures both the magic of the season and the sometimes overwhelming and isolating aspects of it. Having both positive and negative elements apparent in this cover is an accomplishment. And it's well designed to boot!"

Frederick E. had an optimistic view of the cover. "It conjures up a wonderful feeling of the anticipation of Christmas Day. The figure has paused on her journey just to marvel at the spectacle in front of her. Beautiful!"

Several voters commented on how the book made them feel like Jeannie L. "When I looked at the combination of the picture and the title, all I could think was the word hope."

And Jo E. "Beautiful story. The cover makes you feel all christmassy and warm even on a snowy winters day"

And Linda V. "It made me feel Christmassy!"

Tina S. related to the single aspect of the cover. "I love the color combination, and even though I can only see the back of the heroine I can relate, as I am a single in a family of marrieds. I am intrigued by the title and cover and would probably pick up this book based on this cover."

Christmas For One
Head of Zeus
Cover Design: Ami Smithson of Cabin London
I love the mental picture Tracey T. describes. "I just want to snuggle down and read this book in front of a fire." Me, too Tracey!

And last, but definitely not least, is a comment from Amanda's supportive spouse, Simon. "I love the way that the snow and lights mingle so that some of the twinkles look like snowflakes and vice-versa. Plus my wife wrote it, so I'm biased." I love Simon's comment!


Dashing Through The Snow
Ballantine Books
Book Design: Dana Leigh Blanchette, Cover Design: Lynn Andreozzi, Cover Illustration: Alan Ayers

Dashing Through The Snow by Debbie Macomber finished in fifth place with 6% of the vote. The brightly lit trees and the canine with the red bow are the focus and they add holiday touches to the small town street.

Library Addict voted for this cover because of its design. "The "DM" in the circle is a tad jarring, but other than that it has the best balance of colors within the picture and use of fonts."

Cover Cafe's Mary Alice was a big fan of this cheery cover. "This epitomizes Christmas. Although it's cold and snowy, the street lights give off a beautiful, golden glow. The snow covered trees seem to be welcoming everyone to their little corner of the world. Wreaths and lights on the houses lift your spirits and even the dog is celebrating with a big red bow. I wonder if he's a Christmas gift for someone and slipped outside to welcome Santa!"

Malvina was a fan, too. "The glittery gold, the snow, the lights, the cute dog, it's an altogether gorgeous cover."

Jody B. loved the tree and the dog. "The purple with the gold tree is absolutely beautiful! and of course the dog with the red bow is cute as can be."

Karen K. mentioned the small town and peaceful setting. "It looks just like a small town at Christmas time. Beautiful and peaceful scene. I don't think you can get any more Christmas than this."


Holiday Homecoming by Jean C. Gordon finished in sixth place with 5.6% of the vote. The cover features a classic church setting and a pretty bridge decked out with poinsettias. There is also a smiling couple, dressed appropriately, crossing the bridge hand in hand.

Mildred Joy M. felt the cover described the season. "The Christmas season is all about-snow, church, Christmas tree, and decorations."

So did Tammy D. "I loved all the covers but this one just "says" Christmas with the church and tree lights and lightly falling snow."

Ali C. agreed with Mildred and Tammy. "It's full to overflowing with peace, beauty and love, exactly what I want to think of in connection with the season."

Lonnie M. wants to read this romance because of the cover which is a cover's ultimate goal. "It's just such a beautiful cover. Absolutely makes you want to pick up the book and read it."

And finally, Miss Bates mentioned the pastel colors. "Just love the colors: the soft blues & lilacs. And the lovely red trim on the bridge."

Holiday Homecoming
Harlequin Love Inspired
Cover Design: Unknown


Heartsong Cottage
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Cover Design: Unknown

Heartsong Cottage by Emily March tied for seventh place with 4% of the vote. This cover features another classic theme with a cozy cabin or cottage nestled among the snow covered trees. The cottage was a big factor with voters.

Cover Cafe's Christiane was one of them. "Bright and snowy, while people are in a warm place celebrating. Luminous background make the cottage even more homey."

So was Ann-Louise S. "The cottage looks so welcoming."

And Kathleen P. "This is exactly where I would like to live!"

Ellie V. agreed but she also felt the love. "I see smoke, warmth inside that home. Light is on, someone is enjoying that warmth on a snowy, silent night, while the animals frolic in the yard. Cozy. Warm. Loving. Joyful with the holly representing Love."

Some voters focused on the setting and the layout like Lenora K. "Great use of color and the picture blends well with the title"

And Linda M. "It is a peaceful, inviting, winter scene. It has a Christmas tone in all that I see."

For a few voters like Cindy S. the thoughts were about more homes than just the cottage. "The lights are glistening, snow is falling, and no one in sight which has me thinking everyone is tucked in their warm houses enjoying their families and celebrating the season together."

Perhaps Nikki H. submitted the best cover description. "This looks like where I want to live--away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I can see my husband and me sitting by the fireplace with hot chocolate warming us up. I can see us stepping outside to get a glimpse of the deer and elk coming closer to get a bit of dinner. It's just the ideal setting for a holiday." Nikki, I want some hot chocolate by the fireplace, too.


The second cover tied for seventh place is The Twelve Days of Christmas by Maureen Turner with 4% of the votes. This cover features an illustration which gives the famous song a fresh spin. I need help remembering the lyrics and this cover solves that problem in an instant. smiley

Cover Cafe’s Lee voted for the cover because "It's totally different from all the other covers, it's very festive and the illustration really stands out against the white background."

The clever concept won Cover Cafe’s Janet's vote. "I liked them all - but thought this one was clever."

The same was true for Raelene G. "It's fun and clever! And it is different -- most of the others look alike and are bland."

And Maria R. "It is a clever drawing depicting the twelve days of Christmas. I love it."

Author Maureen Turner chose this illustration for her cover because "It's colorful, grabs the attention and is self explanatory without any dialogue necessary."

Ceila F. agrees. "Very colorful and eye-catching!"

Jo agreed, too. "It's clean, modern and colourful."

And finally DMM mentioned the inside story matching the cover. "It's so creative and isn't just a pretty winter scene as some of the others are, but the drawings are a perfect fit for the content of the book."

The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Cover Design: Illustration: Kevin Smart,
iStock.by Getty Images


That Silent Night
Minotaur Books - Macmillan, Cover Design: Unknown
Home For Christmas
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Cover Design: Elsie Lyons
That Silent Night by Tasha Alexander finished in ninth place with 2.3% of the votes. This cover received the highest number of votes during committee voting and I am really surprised that it finished in ninth place in the online voting. It is different from the traditional holiday covers and I love the heroine's dark green suit and the contrast of her red tie against the white shirt is stunning.

I've been contemplating the reason and the umbrella might have ruined the holiday aspect. I don't remember ever seeing an umbrella on a holiday cover before. Snow, hot chocolate, cute pets with red bows, presents under a Christmas tree, and stockings hung by the fire but never an umbrella. It is still a wonderful cover and since it is a mystery novella set in London, an umbrella is a classic British accessory. But on a Christmas cover, it may ruin the holiday mood.

It only received three comments and they are all from Cover Cafe committee members. I did mention the cover was popular with the committee.

Cover Cafe’s Sharon kept it simple. "Beautiful cover!"

Cover Cafe’s Jenny picked up on the mystery theme. "Love the classic feel to this cover! The fog creates a hint of mystery in the air, doesn't it? I wonder where she's going?"

Cover Cafe’s Katherine appreciated the subtle Christmas details. "It's a beautiful cover. I love the contrast of the red lettering and the darker background. I also like the hints of Christmas such as the red and green dress and the holly surrounding the the first word of the title."

In tenth place is Home For Christmas by Lilly Everett with 1.2% of the votes. Unfortunately, voters who chose this classic holiday cover didn't leave comments.

The cover features a lovely winter setting and a couple in a horse drawn sleigh but alas, it didn't inspire voter comments. Why? Sleighs have been a popular trend on holiday covers but I believe they may have reached the saturation point. Any trend appearing on too many covers fades from popularity and is often replaced with the next trend. Oh no, that means pet covers will one day lose their popularity...naw, I don't see that happening. Whew!

Even though this cover finished in tenth place, it placed higher than the seventy covers that didn't make it through our committee guantlet. All ten finalists are wonderful holiday covers with stories inside just waiting for readers.

I can't wait to see the holiday covers released in 2016!

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