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…

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…

August, 2015 – Golden Earrings Book Cover Showdown

Cover Cafe’s latest  Puzzle Quest cover is from Belinda Alexandra’s Golden Earrings.  While researching information on the cover, I noticed there have been several covers created for Belinda’s novel  in Australia, UK, Hungary, and the US & Canada.  All of them are terrific but I believe a cover showdown is needed to determine which cover is the favorite.  (Click on the covers in the poll for a larger image.)

Golden Earrings Cover Showdown

My favorite is the cover just released in the U.S. and Canada.   First, there is the elegant Barcelona church steeple with the palm trees, and that beautiful flower on the bottom.  Second, I love the heroine and that adorable heart hoop earring placed at the top of the cover.  The title and author’s name don’t over power the images and yet they are visible in thumbnail size.  I appreciate specific components on each of the other three covers but overall I choose the layout on the U.S. cover.  Which cover is your favorite choice and why?

May, 2015 ~ US vs UK Historical Cover Showdown

Harlequin Historical US vs Mills & Boon UK

Harlequin Historical US vs Mills & Boon UK

When I was checking my files for new and notable May covers, I ran across two covers from Harlequin Historical  and Mills & Boon that used different versions of the same illustration on the US and UK covers.  The story takes place in Alaska during the gold rush days and I have a definite favorite.  Clink on the poll thumbnails for a larger size.

Which cover won your vote?  My favorite items are the mink stole and the gloves which are featured on both covers.  However, I also love the background in the US version with the misty sun-kissed mountains in the distance.  The close cropped UK image loses the sense of place the background brings to the cover. Since the story takes place in Alaska,  I chose the US version.

Pet Peeve Patrol ~ Romance Book Covers


I’m amused whenever I see someone’s cover pet peeve is also someone else’s  favorite trend.  The cliche, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, defines what makes romance cover design challenging. Everyone has different tastes and satisfying the entire romance community is seldom, if ever, accomplished.

However, covers should appeal to their target group of readers and also attract new readers.  Accomplishing pet peeve resistant covers requires artistic talent and a creative designer and/or  illustrator. They can use tricks of the trade and still create a swoon worthy cover and success is often determined by the details.  The poll below lists my biggest pet peeves. If you have others that bother you, list them in the comment section below.  Which one of my pet peeves  will reach the top spot on the poll?  Time will tell.

Battle of the Historical Romance Gowns – Take Two

Battle of the gowns - Take Two

Beautiful gowns, resembling modern day prom dresses, are the norm on today’s Historical romance covers. I realize creating authentic costumes for cover shoots and stock images cost extra money but when they reflect the time period of the story inside the cover, they add integrity and authenticity. This month, I ran across three covers featuring realistic and accurate Historical gowns, or at least to this non-professional eye they ring true. Someone who is an expert on historical costumes might see problems with the materials, colors, or styles but to this romance reader they are refreshing. The three covers buck the trend of long, long lavish gowns made of satin and chiffon.  I approve of all three!

Vote for one of the gowns facing each other in one of Cover Cafe’s Historical cover showdowns.  Click on the individual covers in the poll below for a larger size.

I’m curious.  Does anyone else want more authentic costumes on covers or doesn’t it matter?  Which cover won your vote and why?

“I Need A Hero” Cover Showdown – 2015

I might be in the minority with my preference but I LOVE a well dressed man on my romance covers.  While searching for 2015 cover nominations, I noticed three very well dressed heroes gazing back at me on my screen.   Their handsome faces were included on the covers and almost all of their heads.  (I don’t understand the practice of chopping off the very top of heads on covers.)  Seeing their faces makes me happy because I am a show me the faces type of romance reader.

I also love the visual interest clothing provides.  When I see cover after cover featuring naked, headless heroes, I find myself skipping past them online or in the store.   However, I understand that many readers prefer headless covers.  They use their imagination and visualize the characters based on the author’s description.   Cover designers often show the back of heroes and heroines as a successful compromise but this time we get to see the faces and the uniform details.

Click on the individual covers in the poll for a larger size.

Now that you’ve chosen your favorite hero cover and pressed the vote button, why did he win your vote?

Historical Romance Costume Battle – January 2015 Covers

In 2015, last year’s “gorgeous gown” trend is alive and well on Historical romance book covers.  However,  I’ve noticed some layout variety and a few passionate couples and that’s encouraging. The lone woman, dressed in a gorgeous gown, is still a strong trend but there are a few romantic couples gracing 2015 covers. I am a fan!

Battle of the Historical Costumes

I haven’t voted yet because I’m undecided.(What else is new?) I love the elegant yellow gown with long white gloves on the first cover and the red military jacket on the second cover. However, that purple gown is charming with the bustle detail in the back, too. Which cover did you vote for and why?

Romance Book Cover Pet Peeve – You’re Ruining My View

I am not a fan of marketing blurbs on book covers and they seldom influence my purchase. I understand that it’s a dog eat dog world in publishing but why have great illustrations and then slap on a marketing blurb, title, or even the author’s name over interesting details that add to the ambiance of the cover ?

My latest pet peeve is the terrific cover for Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne released in November, 2014.  When I first saw the cover online it was Version 1 and I loved it. I submitted the cover to the Historical Chair, Jenny for the 2014 cover contest.  The street lights, the fully dressed, handsome hero, the interesting spire in the background, and the always popular carriages rolling down the street added depth, context and interest.

Alas, when the final cover was released, it was Version 2.  This version was cropped closer and the title covered the cute carriage and the marketing sticker covered the spire and part of that gorgeous sky.  Don’t get me wrong, the cover is still a good cover but the revised version is cluttered and the cover’s impact is minimized.  Vote for your favorite version in the poll below.


Am I the only one who has an intense dislike for marketing blurbs covering a great illustration? Granted the words inside are still from fabulous Joanna Bourne but I enjoy the covers and I have often purchased a new author just because of the cover. I have NEVER purchased a new author because of a marketing blub. Just give me a clean cover with book title, author’s name and a great illustration and put a summary on the back. That’s it…forget the blurbs for this buyer. How do you feel about blurbs ruining the view?

Poll Central ~ Holiday Favorites Cover Showdown

Holiday Favorites -1st Place - 2010-2013

Holiday Favorites -1st Place – 2010-2013

Click on the individual poll images for larger size.

I’m torn between the 2 muff covers and the contemporary Main Street scene.  The only cover eliminated easily was Jane’s Gift.  However,  I love couples on my holiday covers so Mischief of the Mistletoe can be eliminated, too.   My final decision is choosing either the historical muff couple with that wonderful carriage or the contemporary Main Street couple.  Both covers are romantic and feature wonderful holiday themes.  Choosing between It Happened One Christmas and Christmas on 4th Street  is an impossible choice for me…decisions, decisions.   Which 1st Place cover is your favorite cover?

(You can see the previous Holiday Favorites contest results here:  http://www.covercafe.com/HF.shtml.)