2011 Holiday Favorites Award Cover Cafe
Linnae Crady
2011 Holiday Favorites Commentary
Holiday Favorites


Congratulations to all ten 2011 finalists. There were fifty-nine holiday covers nominated this year and reaching the top ten was an accomplishment in and of itself. All of the 2011 finalists were terrific covers reflecting various holiday themes. However, two covers received 75% of the total votes with the remaining 25% spread out among the other eight finalists. From the beginning of the contest, the top two covers battled for first place leaving the other covers in the dust. Several of the remaining eight covers fought a second battle for third place and the final positions weren't decided until the last few days of contest voting. Without further ado, here are the 2011 Holiday Favorites contest results and of course, the voter comments!

It Happened One Christmas by Kaitlin O'Riley, finished in first place with an amazing 43% of the votes. This cover also won my vote because it had all of my favorites things; including a horse drawn carriage, street lights, softly falling snow, Christmas wreaths, and a couple, fully dressed mind you, sharing a loving embrace. What more could a romance reader want in a holiday romance? How about having a heroine carrying a fur muff, wearing a fur trimmed cape, and look...both the hero and heroine have their entire heads intact? Yes, this is a quintessential historical Christmas cover and it screams pick me up and buy me!

It Happened One Christmas
Kensington Publishing Corp.
Artist: Cover Illustration by Richard Newton
Malvina agreed with me when she said: "It's seriously a book I could buy for the cover. Gorgeously romantic and lush in every way, without half naked heroes and heroines being back-breakingly draped every which way. I love the wreath behind them on the lamp, and the touches of red on the horses, and her beautiful cape and dress and muff and the way he's helping her into the cape. Lovely."

So did Christine A.: "You rarely see an historical cover with the christmas spirit - I like her cape, his hand on her shoulder, the snow, and the horses in the background..."

Jane F. mentioned what many women probably feel when looking at this cover: "I wish I was her!"

Jack R. was more technical and discussed the artistic detail: "The depth of field creates a wonderful narrative arc all its own."

Many voters mentioned either the cover's depiction of romance or its Christmas theme as the reason they voted for It Happened One Christmas.

Allison M. mentioned romance and a classic author: "It suggests romance on a Dickensian English night."

Jane M.agreed: "It's how I picture a romantic Victorian Christmas"

And Carol M.: "Lovely English cobblestone street during a Christmas holiday."

So did Lisa B.: "Soft and lovely and evocative of romance and Christmas!"

Some voters mentioned sexy in their comments like Cathy: "Sexy and seasonal!" Or sensuous like Diane C.: "Eye catching and sensuous!"

Yvonne mentioned the mood the cover creates: "Because it's beautiful, it's Christmasy and it's romantic! It puts me in the mood and makes me happy!"

And finally, Author Kaitlin O'Riley kept her reason short and sweet: "It's my book!"

In second place, Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh finished strong with 32% of the votes. Many of the voter comments mentioned the words inviting, warmth, and cozy. I lost count of the number mentioning the fire in the fireplace, the comfortable rocking chair, a favorite beverage, and a desire to read a favorite book. The minute you see the cover, it captures the heart and brings memories of home, family, and Christmas traditions. The title and cover are a perfect match.

Cover Cafe's Cindy chose this cover as her favorite: "Reminds me of an old fashioned Christmas with the comfort of a warm fireplace. I can see myself sitting in the rocker with a cup of hot chocolate, nice throw and a good book."

Sharon L. agreed: "There is something warm and inviting about the fire in the fireplace. I want to sit right down in that rocking chair and read this book!!!

Author Dan Walsh complemented his art department when he voted: "It's my book, and I guess I'm a little biased. Can't take any credit for the cover, since the Art dept at Revell came up with it, but I thought they did a fantastic job. Thanks for putting it in the top 10!"

Mike G. loved the cover's simplicity: " I love the simple beauty of the fireplace, the warmth of the roaring fire, the decorations on the mantle, and the rocking chair. It is a brilliant collection of images that evoke the warmth and love found in Christmas."

For Peggy, the cover was alll about nostalgia: "Reminds me of long-ago Christmases at my grandparents home with all the cousins, aunts and uncles. Good times long gone."

Michael C. agreed with Peggy: " Quaint, brings back memories of Christmases long ago, simple things, the most important things this season."

For Kim Z. it was all about perspective: "It pulls me in and makes me want to be a part of it. In the other covers I am outside looking in. In Remembering Christmas, I see myself sitting in the rocker by the fire."

Eva Marie E. simply said: "Don't you just want to be there??"

Remembering Christmas
Revell Books, A Division of Baker Publishing Group
Comfort and Joy
Random House
In third place, is the reprint cover for Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah. Simplicity, beauty, and the color blue won over voters. Bev A. chose this cover because: "It is so simple and beautiful."

Nana abandoned her usual preferences for this cover: " Ordinarily I want my covers to be more obviously "romance," but when I opened this, it made me feel all misty. I wish every Christmas Eve and Christmas morning could look just like this."

And Anna agreed: "It speaks calmness, brightness, freshness, winter and the blue is more comforting than freezing. The lightness of it all speaks of joy. I can almost smell the freezing air and hear the steps on frozen ground. Very nice and soothing. Just what I picture my perfect winter day to be like."

Voters like Laura also valued the uniquness of the cover: " It's unusual and very pretty. It's Christmassy without being OTT."

And Gisela agreed: "This is a beautiful cover, I love the colors and this is a welcome break from the traditional Christmas covers!"

So did Cora: "I love the simplicity of the snow-covered branches. The sparkles are a nice touch as well. Very magical and different from all the other ones."

And Susan: "I like the clean, crisp simplicity, which really stands out amid all the busier designs. It would both pop on a bookstore shelf and make a lovely thumbnail on my iPhone or Kindle Fire."

Cover Cafe's Mary Lynn also chose Comfort and Joy because: " I like the abstract feel of the cover, and the way it contrasts the gentle title with the iciness of winter."

Ashley didn't waste words describing why she voted for this cover: "It's pretty!"smiley

The Christmas Child by Linda Goodnight finished in fourth place. Children and pets on romance covers don't always win over readers. However, on a Christmas romance cover, children and pets bring out the softer side of readers. They seem to fit with the theme of Christmas like a glove on a cold winter's day.

The Christmas Child makes you smile and remember the joys children feel about the Christmas holiday and Santa's visit. This cover was destined to place in the top five.

Elizabeth was one such voter: "This is just so adorable. It gets my heart in a way child covers seldom do. The little boy just looks so peaceful and sweet, and cuddled up with the dog--what could be cuter?? The whole thing has such a soft, sleepy, magic-of-childhood air, brimming with Christmas 'comfort and joy.'"

Cover Cafe's Marian agreed: "It's just too adorable to pass up."

And so did Susie C.: "I love children and dogs!!"

Author Kathleen Eagle had the same soft spot as the other voters: "It just doesn't get any better than a child and a dog sleeping under the tree!"

Cover Cafe's Christiane was more reflective: "The innocence of a child is reflected in this cover. 'The wait was just too much, so I'll just rest my eyes for a bit.'"

Patricia I. felt the cover was unique: " Completely unique as compared to other covers shown; also truly captures the spirit of Christmas & captures the heart. "

Julie M.loved more than one cover: "There were 3 I loved, but I chose this one because, to me, while it doesn't scream romance, it does reflect the wonder and hope and love I associate with Christmas. Besides, I'm a dog lover!"

The Christmas Child
Harlequin Love Inspired
Bring Me Home for Christmas
Bring Me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr finished in fifth place. This cover uses colors not usually associated with the traditional red, green, white, and gold inspired holiday covers. It takes the standard snow covered winterscape and adds a modern touch with deep rose, purple, and blue as the main colors.

This cover was the choice of several Cover Cafe members like Lee: "It's a very traditional holiday cover and isn't that what Christmas is all about -- tradition?"

And Cover Cafe's Jeanette: "I love the colors and the Christmas spirit in the cover."

And Cover Cafe's Sharon2: "I absolutely love the covers on Robyn Carr's Virgin River series books and this one totally depicts the tree that Jack and all the residents put up every Christmas."

Jean S. mentioned romance: "This scene looks like one where I would want to spend a romantic Christmas."

Lynn R. chose it for the memories: " It reminds me of the holidays when I was growing up."

Betty B. agreed: "It reminds me of my early years in a small town in NJ."

And so did Kathie H.: " It reminds me of home and family, which is important during the holiday season."

And finally Kristie J. was reminded of a famous painter which is a great complement for the art department: "This cover looks like a Thomas Kincaid painting. I love the warmth and the colors of this cover."

The simple, yet elegant cover finishing in sixth place is A Winter Scandal by Candace Camp. It is striking because of the thoughtful heroine dressed in a beautiful red gown. She's looking down, holding a mask so there is a masked ball involved, and she seems sad. (BTW - She reminds me of Jennifer Garner.)

The cover's casual nod to the holidays is the tiny holly leaves hanging off the title. Every detail on this cover adds to the mystery. It makes you wonder, "Just what is the winter scandal described inside this book?"

Cover Cafe's Karen W. appreciated this simple cover: "This is my favorite because it's subtle, and the dress is so gorgeous! It doesn't scream "holiday" but the green and red color scheme makes you think of Christmas."

For Ann it was all about the colors: "I like the green background and red dress."

Cover Cafe's Leanne was also a fan: "It's just beautiful."

So was Cover Cafe's Katherine: "I love the red dress and the green background. The colors look great together. I like that the cover is subtle. You know it's a holiday cover but it's not overbearing. And the mask makes me think a holiday masquerade might be part of the plot. Definitely interesting."

Patricia P. was another fan of simplicity: " Overall, a beautiful simple cover with great colors. "

And Ann P. agreed with me about the "sad" heroine: "A beautiful woman with a sad, defeated demeanor."

And finally, Elaina's reason is always a favorite of publishers: "The red satin dress with the green background is gorgeous, and the model isn't headless! I also love the mask in her hand. This cover would make me pick up the book to read the back, no question."

A Winter Scandal
Pocket Star
Holiday in Stone Creek
Holiday in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller finished in seventh place. I was pleased that a western themed cover make the final ten this year. Cowboys featured on romance covers often have their shirt open to show off their pecs. This practice gives off the wrong vibe on a holiday cover and misses the nostalgic theme many readers prefer. However, on Holiday in Stone Creek, the Harlequin art department gave us a sexy cowboy and a traditional holiday cover, too.

Our cowboy is sitting on a railing decked out with evergreen branches and the snow is falling softly in the backgound. He is wearing a classic, sherpa lined, leather coat complete with gloves and cowboy hat (an important aspect of the western wardrobe). The all important Christmas wreath hangs from the ranch sign, he's tipping his hat, and he's totally clothed. This cover is a winner!

Yuri appreciated the cowboy most of all: "Cute Cowboy - what more do you need for Christmas!"

While Bev R. appreciated the entire design: " I like the overall composition of the design -- the colors, the items that suggest Christmas. It doesn't hurt that I really like this series either."

But for most of the voters who chose this cover, it was all about the cowboy.

Julie B.: "You can't get much sexier than seeing a handsome cowboy getting ready for Christmas!"

And Paige: " This sexy cowboy gets my vote."

Rebecca also agreed with the cowboy contingency: "Just love the cowboy."

In eighth place is Snowbound with Her Hero by Rebecca Winters. Horse drawn sleighs pictured against a snowy landscape are a traditional theme on holiday covers. This cover has such a crisp, clean design that it was destined to make the top ten finalists. The simple Harlequin Romance logo lends itself easily to the holiday theme. Just add a red bow on the horse's bridal, some evergreens decorating the sleigh, and a red blanket covering the happy couple. Voila, you have a perfect holiday cover! Unfortunately, this cover only received one voter comment but since every comment counts, let's find out what it was.

Thank you, Thank you Deb T. for leaving a comment on why you chose this cover: "I love snow! I love sleighs! They both just scream Christmas!"

I'm also including author Rebecca Winters e-mail reply when she was notified about being a finalist in the contest: "Thank you for the lovely surprise. I loved this cover too. It's like looking into a frozen pane of glass at a christmas inside."

Snowbound With Her Hero
Harlequin Romance
A Coulter's Christmas Proposal
Harlequin Special Edition
Tis The Season To Be Sinful
Kensington Publishing Corp.
A Coulter's Christmas Proposal by Lois Faye Dyer finished in ninth place. This pretty holiday cover has the unfortunate distinction of receiving zero comments from the voters who chose this cover. Couples riding in horse drawn sleighs are very romantic and the Harlequin art department did an excellent job of blending the very royal blue Special Edition logo with the holiday illustration. I love the red bow!

However, featuring horse drawn sleighs on holiday covers is very traditional and they may have lost their visual impact on readers. Holiday covers with a different twist i.e.Comfort and Joy inspire voters because they are different from the normal holiday themes. The cover is still beautiful with or without voter comments.

Luckily for us, Loise Dyer sent a lovely comment when she was notified that A Coulter's Christmas Proposal was in the finals this year.

Author Lois Faye Dyer: "I've had lots of book covers, but I truly love the artwork for A COULTER'S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL so it's doubly nice to have it recognized."

In tenth place is Tis The Season To Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso. This cover finished last but it is still one gorgeous cover. Perhaps, the sexy theme may not fit with many readers' holiday tastes. Let's face it, if you are sinful during the season, Santa puts you on his naughty list. The dress, the candles, the sexy red sofa, and her solitary rose create a beautiful image but the title pushes the cover into the sexy rather than the romantic realm. There were two voter comments for this cover and they are...

Danielle: "The colors mesh beautifully together. Here you have brilliant reds and vivid golds that compliment each other offset by a few touches of white items. It makes you stand up and take notice. Plus, the look on the models' faces really makes it look like they are ready to become decadently involved."

For Nikki H. it was simple: "That is one gorgeous dress."

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