Sunday, May 27, 2018

Romance Covers Improved

Sometimes a romance cover is great!

Sometimes, it's just wrong.

In an earlier post, I discuss the change in traditional romance covers over the last few decades, from a woman & a man or only a woman to sometimes only a man. I didn't mention that now-a-days, romance covers are sometimes purely artistic, such as the original covers for Deanna Raybourn's romance/suspense Lady Julia Grey series.

Most romance covers, however, stick to people's faces. And/or beautiful bodies. But mostly faces. This may be gender-specific: mostly women read romances, and women care more about faces and facial expressions than men (reportedly, car advertisements never include close-ups of people because male buyers care more about the car than who's driving it--so was this commercial aimed at women or men? After all, one of my male students, after seeing it, said, "Wow, that makes me want to watch a Van Damme movie!" Not, "Hey, that makes me want to buy a Volvo!") 

The problem with faces is when they are cheesy or don't match the description in the text. The cover for A Seditious Affair falls into the latter category. It's well-done but makes me cringe. Dom (or Silas) is simply not that young.

The cover for One Indulgence falls into the first category and is painful to look at. If I actually thought the characters were like this, I'd never read the book. (I did--it's well-written; the cover is still horrible.)

Occasionally, a cover gets it so right, it's astonishing. I feel the same way I do towards Jackson's Fellowship of the Rings, which I consider one of the most perfectly cast movies in history.

The cover of A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger was obviously read by someone who got the main character (in the background), a young man who sees himself far differently than others see him. The disparity isn't obvious since so much of the book is told from his perspective. Kudos to the artist for picking up on the difference and getting him right!

In truth (as countless movie watchers can attest), matching a character in a book to a character in a visual is no easy feat. In the Harriet-Vane-Peter Wimsey BBC series, Harriet Walter is perfect as Harriet Vane; Petheridge not even close (in my mind) to Wimsey.

Consequently, I am often prepared to give a cover kudos if it at least captures ambience or theme or a relationship, even if the drawings/photographs don't match my vision. The sepia-tinted covers for the early editions of the Cambridge Fellows Series are quite charming and capture the time period. The "Jonty" stand-in, in the background, is not how I imagine Jonty but the design is so lovely--and the images so close to accurate--I give it a thumbs up.

Occasionally, however, I feel compelled to alter a cover to my personal specifications.

Hey, playing with romance covers is a respectable past-time! Check out the Lindsey covers (and Bored Panda).

I went ahead and altered the cover of KJ Charles's excellent Think of England (one of the best plotted romances on record). The original cover shows Archie, who is described in the book as a "Viking." He is a big blond soldier who gets along with preppies but is not one.

I can't stand the preppie on the original cover (it could be the soulful expression), so I replaced it with my own (to the left). And yes, I'm aware that the characters I used are from some Cable show.