2016 ~ February New and Notable Book Covers

Every month I select a few covers that captured my attention while searching for the best and worst covers for 2016.  They may not be the best covers produced this year nor even nominated but they did their job standing out from all of the “trend” driven covers.  Speaking of  trends, the contest committee wishes long, long dresses, men with semi-exposed chests, and lovely ladies losing their dresses to gravity would fade away.  Don’t even get me started on the chopped male torso covers that dominate the Contemporary scene.  Sigh….imagination has taken a back seat to “copy the other guy” because it sells.  Sorry, rant over for this month.  Let’s see what I found in February that was creative.

Her Scandalous Wish

Blue Rose Romance – February, 2016

The first cover, Her Scandalous Wish by Collette Cameron is romantic and pretty.  Yes, it’s a cover created with  stock photos but I love the couple’s appropriate attire, especially his ruffled shirt and her satin gloves.  Plus, who doesn’t love stardust scattered across their romance covers?


DAW – February, 2016
Illustration – Larry Rostant

My second choice, Winterwood by Jacey Bedford has an interesting heroine named Ross.  She is an unregistered witch and a cross-dressing, swashbuckling privateer.  It’s an intriguing concept and I love the gun at her waist and the doubloons in her left hand.  I wonder about the white wolf or is it a dog in the background?  I am interested in this book and learning more about unregistered witches.


Harlequin Special Edition – February, 2016

My last choice for February is a charming wedding contemporary from Harlequin, I Do…Take Two! by Merline Lovelace.  I love the natural expressions on the couple’s faces, the minimalist background, and the uniform signaling a military romance is inside.  I don’t even mind the pesky little marketing blurb they put off to the side.  There has to be a romantic wedding cover to complete my post because I love romance and it is February, the month of love.  What’s your verdict on this month’s choices?

2016 ~ January Historical Costume Showdown – Take 1

It’s time for the first Poll Central question in 2016 and it’s a costume showdown.  Which historical gown is your favorite from our three January, 2016 releases?  Vote in the poll and then leave a comment below about why you chose your favorite.


(Click on the cover in the poll for a larger size.)

I am 100% charmed by the cream and brown historical gown featured on The Highlander’s Maid but I love the layout, background, and the gown on Undaunted Hope.  Decisions, decisions…

2016 – January New and Notable Book Covers

It’s a new year and we’re off on Cover Cafe’s annual quest of finding the best covers.  Each month, I post a few covers that captured my attention.  They might not be my favorites for the year but they are new and notable.  What did I find in January for our kick-off post?


Zondervan Blink – January, 2016
Cover Design: Kirk DouPonce

My first cover this month is a dystopian tale, Curio by Evangeline Denmark.  The details I noticed first were the skeleton key, the ironwork mixed in with the title,  and that pretty green bottle. I also love the heroine’s red gown and her facial expression is one of wonder but she also appears concerned about something.  The colors are rich and mysterious, too.  I would definitely investigate the story inside this cover.

Marriage Made in Rebellion

Harlequin Historical – January, 2016

My second cover selection, Marriage Made in Rebellion by Sophia James, won me over with both the handsome blonde hero in uniform and the heroine’s pretty blue gown.  The scene of the couple leaving the church wedding ceremony is interesting and stairs are always popular.  Since the title claims the marriage was made in rebellion, the expressions on the couple’s faces are perfect.  They do not have the “lovesick puppy” expression most just married couples have after their wedding.  The cover makes me wonder what the rebellion is all about and researching the details would be the next step.  The series is titled, The Penniless Lords so you know this hero is not wealthy.

Tor - January, 2016

Tor – January, 2016

My third choice, The Drowning Eyes novella by Emily Foster, is stunning and truly a work of art that should be hanging in an art gallery.   The illustrator used a combination of various silver and gold tones and the cover designer used gold for the title creating a luminous finished cover. The turbulent waves dashing over the sides of the ship, the anchor at the heroine’s feet, and the gold compass in her hand signals her bravery and skill for riding out a storm at sea. She could also be standing on the beach watching the ship in the distance fight the waves.  It’s difficult to discern all of the  details because of the waves but the illustration’s chaos gives us a glimpse of riding out a wild storm.

Farrar Straus and Giroux - January, 2016 Cover Design: Elizabeth H. Clark

Farrar Straus and Giroux – January, 2016
Cover Design: Elizabeth H. Clark

My final choice this month, The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth, is a YA fantasy cover and it’s all about whimsy and the play of light and dark.  If I were laying down and several large butterflies were landing in my hair, I’m not sure I would be as calm as the young woman on this cover but then this is a fantasy cover.   I love the red font used for the title and the gold and black tones. It really stands out in thumbnail size.

Is your verdict a thumbs up or thumbs down for my January selections?

2015 Holiday Favorites Contest Results

2015 Holiday Favorites  - First Place

Congratulations to Louise Allen, Harlequin Historicals,

Art Director Krista Oliver,  and Illustrator Robert Papp!

Find out how all ten covers finished and read the voter comments on the results page.

You’ll find the link to the results below:


Leave a comment below about the contest results.

Happy New Year!


 Update:  Comments From The Finalists

From Louise Allen, author of the First Place Cover,  His Christmas Countess:

Wonderful! What a fantastic New Year’s present – I loved the cover immediately and I’m so pleased the Art Department are going to get the acknowledgment they deserve for it.
A wonderful 2016 to you and all at Cover Cafe.

From Laurie Berenson, author of the Second Place Cover, The Bark Before Christmas:

Thank you so much for sharing the results for the Cover Contest! I am thrilled that my cover for THE BARK BEFORE CHRISTMAS placed 2nd in such strong company. What a great outcome and I hope you have a wonderful 2016!


2015 – December New and Notable Book Covers

Everyone is busy with holiday decorating, shopping, and planning but there are some new and notable book covers worth noting this month.  You might find something great for a last minute gift.

Sunday was the first night of Hanukkah/Chanukah and I wish everyone celebrating the holiday the very merriest this year.  Every year, I search for terrific romance covers celebrating the holiday for our annual Holiday Favorites contest but there are very few published and I am always disappointed.

However, our first December cover is one of the few Hanukkah/Chanukah romances released this year, Burning Bright.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t published until December 1st and I discovered it too late to include it in this year’s competition.  It is a very basic design but it is a new and notable cover just because it was published.  Thank you Avon Impulse!


Avon Impulse – December, 2015

My second choice for December is The Conqueror’s Wife.  GFP (giant floating people) are not my favorite style but I love this Historical cover so much I’ve nominated it in our Avant Garde category.  The cover is a blend of two images. The designer used a ghost overlay of the heroine and  superimposed the image over the hero riding towards his next conquest.  Is he thinking of her waiting for his return, is he on a quest to free her or even more exciting, acquire her?   Both images are exquisite and I love the gown and veil.

NAL - December, 2015

NAL – December, 2015

My third choice this month is the self-published eBook cover for the 2009 Gothic, Seduced by a Stranger.  I love everything about this cover.  First, there is the horse and carriage driving off into the moonlit woods, then there is the gorgeous gown on a very anxious heroine.  Plus, I love the excellent use of  shadows and light,  the dark, ominous tree branches in the foreground and yes, I even love the leather strapped suitcases.  They all work together and create a gorgeous, mysterious cover.

Self-Published - December, 2015

Self-Published – December, 2015

My fourth choice is I’ll Be There.  I love seeing romantic couples on contemporary covers and this couple appears relaxed, natural, and loving.  They are having a perfect romantic moment.  The pastel colors and diffused background ensures the focus is on the couple and not on the water or the trees.

Sourcebooks Casablanca - December, 2015

Sourcebooks Casablanca – December, 2015

That’s it for this month and for 2015.  January will begin a new year and we’ll be looking at 2016 covers.  Nominations are open for 2015 covers until January 15, 2016.  If you see a great 2015 cover, be sure and fill out a nomination form before the deadline.


And finally, have you voted in this year’s Holiday Favorites Contest? Voting is open until December 20th! Choose your favorite cover from our ten 2015 finalists and then share the link.  Vote here:  2015 Holiday Favorites Ballot

Do you agree with my new and notable choices this month? Let me know in the comments below and have an enjoyable holiday season.

2015 – Holiday Favorites Honorable Mentions


Tuesday, December 1st was launch day for the 2015 Holiday Favorites cover contest!  The committee voted on 80 holiday covers this year and the top ten survivors are competing for top honors in our annual contest.  We hope you’ll vote for your favorite holiday cover in the Cover Cafe contest between December 1-20.

There are always lovely covers that miss making the finals and our annual Honorable Mentions post shines the spotlight on four deserving covers.  See if you agree with the 2015 Honorable Mentions.


MIRA – September, 2015

For The Love Of Christmas is my sentimental favorite this year. This cartoon cover with the cute dog, red accessories, Christmas tree, and gift bags warms my heart. The story inside is about a woman facing her Christmas alone and the decisions she makes about celebrating the holiday.  I love the pastels used for the background buildings and the lack of marketing blurbs is another plus in my book.


MIRA – October, 2015

 A Winter Wedding cover almost made the final ten this year but it doesn’t really reflect the holidays until you read the story inside.  The cover is very subtle and only hints…no to be honest, there are zero hints that the story takes place around Christmas.  However, it is a beautiful cover and I love the white fur jacket the bride is wearing and her hair is beautiful, too.  I checked and Christmas is part of the story but this cover will work all through the winter season which is a marketing plus.


Center Point, Large Print – September, 2015

This Snow Angel Cove cover is featured on the Library Binding, Large Print edition.  Snow globes are a favorite holiday decoration and this snow globe cover is simple in design but very elegant.  The red barn, horses, wreath inside the globe and the greenery around the base let you know instantly that it is a Christmas story. I wish they had used this version on the other releases, too.


NAL – November, 2015

The fourth and final Honorable Mention is Trimmed with Murder.  Cozy mystery covers always have fun titles and the illustrations are always interesting and detailed.  This holiday mystery is about the Seaside Knitters group and the knitted decorations on the trees made me laugh.  The background features a charming seaside village with the harbor, docks, cottages and of course, the all important little boat.  This is a charming cover that pays homage to the holiday season and yet its whimsy creates a perfect cozy mystery cover.  I love it!

Make sure you visit Cover Cafe between December 1-20 & choose which cover is the best holiday cover for 2015.  Hope to see your vote in December!  You’ll find the ballot link on our home page:  http://covercafe.com

Have a wonderful holiday season! HFFirsts

2015 – November New and Notable Book Covers

I’m a dedicated reader but I enjoy book covers just as much as I love the words inside.  I’m always intrigued by the small cover details that trigger an emotional response and touch our souls.   The books featured in my new and notable posts are covers that reach out and grab my attention every month.  They may not be the best of the best covers produced during the month but they capture this reader’s attention and that’s the ultimate goal of a cover.

Zondervan - November, 2015

Zondervan – November, 2015

The first cover caught my eye because of the charming little candle, the books, and the unusual pose of our heroine and hero.  This Inspirational romance is part of The Chicago World’s Fair Mystery Series and the heroine is a librarian involved in a murder mystery.   Even though the tops of their heads were chopped off, the candlelight illuminating the couple’s features adds to the mystery of the cover.  I forgive the cover designer but I will never understand what partial head chopping accomplishes.

Self Published - November, 2015

Self Published – November, 2015

This cover made me laugh and since it is a cozy murder mystery filled with humor – it’s perfect.  I love the vivid colors and those black and white striped tights had me at “hello”.  The Wicked Witches of the Midwest series mixes witches, mystery, and humor and Life’s A Witch is a fun cover.

Free Spirit Press - November, 2015

Free Spirit Press – November, 2015

There is nothing more romantic than a passionate embrace on an isolated beach.  Couples facing separation during WWII were driven by that one last embrace and the cover of  Where or When captures the moment with a simple and stark background. The cloudy sky, the war planes overhead, and the sunlight breaking through clouds signal both danger and hope at the same time.  This is a lovely cover.

Harlequin Historical - November, 2015

Harlequin Historical – November, 2015

One of the major challenges for cover designers is creating an authentic cover that doesn’t scream “strike a pose”.  I noticed the cover for Morrow Creek Marshal because the hero is doing something authentic. He’s dressed in rumpled clothing he may have slept in the night before and preparing for a morning shave.  Standing at the water pump with his razor, he notices something off in the distance.  Perhaps the heroine has just arrived and he’s mesmerized.  Yes, I am a romantic at heart.  This cover raises all sorts of questions in my mind.

Montlake Romance - November, 2015

Montlake Romance – November, 2015

My final cover for November is how I imagine a perfect summer afternoon. I’m sitting on the dock with someone special and enjoying the beautiful lake with mountains in the distance.  It’s pure heaven and all I would need is a book and my favorite beverage.   Since we had 12 inches of snow on the ground in my suburb this weekend, I am really wishing for this scene in my real life.   What’s your verdict on my November choices?


2015 – October New and Notable Book Covers

We can’t let the month fly by without pointing out some new and notable book covers from the October releases.  First up is a headless cover that won me over. Will surprises never cease?

I am not a fan of chopped torso covers with missing heads, arms, and legs but occasionally a cover designer adds interesting details. When that happens, I accept the missing body parts as an exception to my pet peeve. The cover for Against The Ropes is one of my pet peeve exceptions. You can tell this man is in top condition and he works at his craft. The neutral greys and whites are great against the cement wall and the pop of vivid blue tape on his hands gives a great contrast to the subtle color scheme. The ropes, weights, shoes, and those silky shorts immediately signal this is a sexy sports romance. Win, win take one!

Berkley Sensation - October, 2015 Cover Design: Rita Frangie Photo: Allesandro Guerriero

Berkley Sensation – October, 2015
Cover Design: Rita Frangie
Photo: Allesandro Guerriero

My second cover is Chance The Winds Of Fortune.  I love the white, ruffled shirt on this hero and he has all of his body parts!  Alan Ayers is one of my favorite illustrators and he captures the tumultuous feel of the sea with his background. The hero looks like he belongs on the sea fighting the elements and either the good guys or the bad guys with his trusty sword. This is a classic romance book cover and yet it is public viewing friendly. Win, win take two!

Sourcebooks - October, 2015 Illustration:  Alan Ayers

Sourcebooks – October, 2015
Illustration: Alan Ayers

My third choice is When Somebody Loves You. Who doesn’t love a cover that captures the romantic, playful joy a loving couple feels when they spend time together?  Cover Designer, George Long produced a cover with natural, happy expressions on the couple’s faces.  Hats off to the models!  Cover Illustrator, Jim Griffin added a lovely porch background showing readers an everyday moment between the couple. I love how she is sitting on the railing with him nestled between her legs. Their hand holding adds to the romance and I’m sold on this cover. The only negative is the marketing blurbs that clutter the cover. In spite of that factor, this cover is a win, win take three!

Berkley Sensation - October, 2015 Cover Illustration: Jim Griffin Cover Design: George Long

Berkley Sensation – October, 2015
Cover Illustration: Jim Griffin
Cover Design: George Long

My final entry for October New and Notable covers is a classic historical romance cover, One Wild Winter’s Eve. It has the traditional beautiful gown viewed from the back and the model is standing by a window which is another classic trend. The entire cover is drenched in beautiful blue and white tones from the drapes to the village scene outside the window. The pop of color comes from a single deep pink rose she holds in her hand. Who sent the rose or who will receive the rose on one wild winter’s eve?  Inquiring minds want to know. Win, win take four!

Forever - October, 2015

Forever – October, 2015

What do you think of my October choices? Thumbs up or do you give me a mixed bag of up and down?

Until next time,

Passionate Couple Book Cover Showdown

Passionate Couple Showdown

One of my favorite covers from Cover Cafe’s 2011 cover contest was the 4th place cover in the Historical category.  I loved the passionate couple’s expression on Pride & Passion and I loved the background and the warm autumn colors used on the cover, too.  When creating wonderful book covers, capturing authentic expressions is one of the most difficult tasks.   Very few models have the ability to produce authentic expressions on cue and a fake or “poser” expression can destroy the mood a cover designer hopes to create.  (This might explain why there are so many headless models on today’s book covers. )  Hats off to the talented individuals responsible for the HQN 2011 cover.

Art Director: Kathleen Oudit; Cover Design: Fion Ngan;
Photographer: Glenn Mackay;
Retouching & Illustrative work: Allan Davey

While hunting for great 2015 covers,  I discovered my passionate couple adorning another cover on Heart of Courage.  The cover designer created a totally different layout by pulling in for a close-up of the couple, eliminating the background except for the all important column. Nothing is sexier than a passionate embrace against a column, door, or wall.    The couple was also reversed and the heroine’s gown was changed to blue.  There were several 2011 voters who mentioned the rust/orange color of the dress.  They weren’t fans of the color and the color change eliminates the problem.    I still prefer the 2011 cover but the 2015 version is a great encore for our passionate couple. Do you agree that the cover designer did a great job at making the second cover unique?  Vote for the cover you believe is the best in the poll below and if you have time, leave a comment about your choice in the blog comment section.

Until next time…

2015 – September New And Notable Book Covers

I can’t believe that September is here and the leaves will soon begin to turn and then…dreaded winter arrives.  Dreading winter is the natural response of someone who lives in the Chicago suburbs where winter can be brutal.  I love the changing seasons and look forward to each of them but after the December holidays, I do not want any snow or ice.  When my thoughts turn to autumn, my preferences in covers turns towards fall colors and cozy things.  Here are my new and notable book cover choices for September. (Right click on the images for a larger size.)

This first cover is a perfect example of a western cover.  The male model even resembles a typical cowboy.   Plus, having his jeans and shirt be worn and rumpled adds authenticity.  The background signals the southwest and the muted autumn tones fits my September mood.  The font used for the author and the title work nicely with the layout and even the blurb adds rather than detracts from the mood.  Our cowboy is a drifter who runs across a maiden in distress.  You know what happens next…he can’t resist helping her and becomes involved in her problems and her life.

Sourcebooks - September, 2015

Sourcebooks – September, 2015

I love our second cover because of  the lighting, the simplicity, and the model’s thoughtful pose which pulls you in and makes you wonder about her situation.  She  seems so trusting and innocent.  The story inside deals with her dreams of opening a restaurant in the Amish community and her desire to protect her Amish heritage but a secret in her family could rock her world.   This cover is elegant and simple and one of my favorites this month.

WaterBrook Press - September, 2015

WaterBrook Press – September, 2015

I was charmed, charmed, charmed by this cartoon holiday cover.  I love the pastels used for the background buildings, the adorable Scottish terrier complete with red bow, the heroine’s red hat and gloves which pop against the evergreen branches. And of course, there are those great red shoes!  The story inside is about a woman fresh out of rehab facing the possibility of life alone without her family.  Her journey is all about enjoying the holiday even if it’s only for one.  I’m hoping there is a happy or at least satisfying ending because the cover is so endearing.

MIRA - September, 2015

MIRA – September, 2015

This  next cover caught my eye because I am a coffee addict and the cozy couple enjoying my favorite brew was too good to ignore. The browns and neutral tones used on this cover enhance the coffee theme and their close embrace signals warmth & couple chemistry.   It reminds me of the times I’ve spent with my husband enjoying a cup of coffee together.  I remember how good those times were for our relationship.  The story inside features a woman who owns an espresso coffee bar and in walks a man from her high school days.  He’s returned home years later looking for a fresh beginning.  Could they be each other’s favorite thing?

Montlake - September, 2015

Montlake – September, 2015

My last cover has several of my historical favorite trends featured.  They are the lovely red dress (which is an appropriate length), the pristine white gloves, her dark cascading curls, and the all important staircase and veranda.  Plus, the look on the heroine’s face shows spirit and determination and I’m curious about her story.  The romance takes place in New Orleans and features two people from different social spheres falling in love.  I’m a huge fan of anything set in New Orleans.

Kensington - September, 2015

Kensington – September, 2015

That’s it for my September new and notables.   Did any of them intrigue you or are they destined to be only my new and notable covers?  Let me know what you think of them in the comment section.  Until next time…