Jeanette van de Lindt - 2008 Historical Cover Chair and Commentary
For several years, naked backs and headless people have dominated the Historical Romance Novel covers. But the contest voters this year are obviously done with the guillotine and headless is on its way out. Only a few headless covers made it through the initial ballots from all that where nominated. A naked back really has to be something special to end up in the finals of this contest.
A split cover is all the rage these days and many of you love it. But I fully agree with Heather who said: “Most of the covers reflect either historical fiction or religious fiction, not historical romance.”
If romance is really the most important issue in the book then why not show it on the outside?
And although we have a lot of very talented cover artists, the paint brush (in combination with a computer these days) is being replaced by a photo camera more and more. Easier? Cheaper? If the publishers want cheaper we will probably end up with a cover that shows the name of the author and the title only and we will end up voting for the fonts they used.
Let’s hope it will never come to that and have a look at the 2008 winners.
Artist: Art Director- Cris Jaw,
Design and Illustration - Juliana Kolesova
The first place winner this year is Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn.
The hooded woman, the snow, the castle and the fact that the pictures were divided in two (adding to the mystery) did it for most of you.
"Gorgeous building, I like that we can't see the top of her face." said Anja, who is probably not done yet with headless people.
But I agree with Cora when she said:
"I love the gothic atmosphere and the mystery of the cloaked, female figure. Finally, I also like the fact that this is a painted rather than a photo cover, and I prefer painted covers for historicals."
Karalynn looked at it with a philosophical eye:
"The sense of being trapped above the title, which offers an ominous note to the open view below (but bounded, still, by arches); and the femininity conveyed by half a hooded face and a single hand."
Beverly said: "I think the woman's picture by the gate draws the attention to the bottom picture and then you want to read what it's all about. The pictures are not harsh or too cold looking....they're soft and gentle and that's what I think a historical should promise to get someone to purchase the book."
Heather B.said: "Sedate colors, historical buildings, and a heroine in period garb with elements of romanticism - what more could you ask of a historical romance cover?"
Many of you where not sure if the building is a castle, cathedral, sanctuary or ministry or why the woman was sneaking in or out (Bobbi’s idea). And that really did it!
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn finished in second place.
It takes guts to put the face of a hero on the cover (praise for the cover artist here) because if he’s not your type, you may not buy the book. But this is really a great hero as many voters noted. The words HOT, HOT, HOT and gorgeous appeared a number of times.
Naima, Andrea, Gina and N. Erese loved the fact that it looks like a movie poster.
Carolyn became my friend when she said: "I'm sick to death of headless torsos."
His eyes captured many voters' attention. Like Jo-Ann T. said: "Can I have him?? Talk about sexy eyes! :)"
Most of you agreed:
"Good looking guy front and center!": Karen
"Handsome hero and their faces are not cut up as so many covers are today.": Mary
"Tension, atmosphere and a gorgeous guy": Jill
"The hero is gorgeous, and I like the dark stormy background and the clear lines of the type.": Margaret
Manjari judged the cover after reading the book:
"I like how both the hero and heroine show strength on their faces. He has firmness and resolve on his and she shows more wistfulness and longing. I read the book and think the cover captured the character's personalities very well."
Artist: Alan Ayers
Artist: Jennifer Parker
In third place is A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell
A great dress makes a successful cover. We have seen that before and this is no exception.
But also the hand on the heart did it for some of you.
Denise said: "The combination of stunning period clothing and the graceful profile make for a very elegant cover."
Nicci bought the book because of the cover: "The clothing and lighting caught my attention, and the cover is gorgeous. I'd pick it up just because of that."
Lisa said: "I'm a fan of the not quite full face cover art. I think this cover is gorgeous with the woman's half-profile and the dress details."
Jill: "The costume looks pretty without looking cheap (sorry, they usually do) and I like the angle, where the focus is the hand over the heart."
Denise thought: "I love the lace, I love the pearls, I love the soft skin of the girl!
This cover draws me to the book and says, read me, read me! So I say, I like it, I like it!"
Jaq said: "There's a sense of mystery/intrigue. The hand at her décolletage--is it nerves, or anticipation? And while I haven't a clue regarding the authenticity of her dress, it certainly comes off that way. Really like the little close up details of the dress and accessories."
And I loved Stephanie’s comment: "This picture is captivating. The blue suggests a cold heart, but the way she's touching her chest has more emotion in it than the other covers and the tension in her neck makes me feel it in my own."
Traitor's Kiss by Mary Blayney is in fourth place.
The colors and the kiss did it. And the split cover! Many very short comments on this cover. Let’s look at a few:
Jennifer R.: "Sweet kiss, beautiful castle, offset by the red; very pretty."
Julie is a woman of few words: "Simple and Elegant."
Susan: "Love the warm colors in this one."
Laura: "I like the castle."
Alex: "It just calls to me somehow. I love the colors."
Jennie: "Colors, historical castle art."
Diana: "Castles and neck kisses - who could resist?"
Some of you had longer comments. Cover Cafe's Jo-Ann: "I like red, I like castles, I like water, I like the split cover image technique, and I like neck-kissing! This was a no brainer for me."
Jenni Lynn said, "While I've been happy to see the trend toward less overtly sexy clinch covers in recent years, and while many of these are lovely covers, I am starting to miss visually seeing that romantic connection between hero and heroine on the cover, and I think this strikes a nice balance. It's sexy without bashing you over the head."
Monica: "The warm color scheme, the castle and lake, it practically pulls your hand to lift it off the shelf."
And Angie: "I like the split design on this one. The couple says romance to me and the castle says historical. I'd pick this one up for the cover alone."
And thanks to Ellen M. for the new word she created: "upper smooching".
Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deanne Gist is in fifth place.
The fun, the happiness and the smile (which many of you saw as a mischievous grin) made this a number five. Most of you knew for sure that she was running away from her wedding.
instead of the other way around.
Like Sandy M. says: "I voted for Ms. Gist's cover last year because they are just plain old fun! So I had to again this year.
This cover makes me want to find out what in the world happened that this bride is on a bicycle and happy about it on top of that.
Did she actually get married? Or did the wedding not take place and that's the reason for her smile? All kinds of possibilities
and you know they are going to be fun."
Jambrea: "It just looks so happy, but you know there is more with that title."
Mary sees more in the story: "First off, who
doesn't enjoy a runaway bride. The smile looks as if she is having fun and has escaped a undesirable fate."
Susan says: "The laughing girl indicates that 'trouble' is more mischief than problem, and the detail on the dress is exquisite."
Jennifer: "I think this a very unique cover because of the activity of the subject. I also appreciate the attention to detail paid to the dress."
And Christina: "The cover tells a story all by itself! The other beautiful covers are just atmospheric or moody, trying to draw the reader in, but this one jumps out at the reader with a real sense of fun."
Debra stole my heart: "It is intriguing because here is a bride in her very lovely gown riding a bicycle, with a mischievous grin. It is almost
interesting enough to make up for the cut off head, a real pet peeve of mine. This is a trend that needs to stop. The others were all the same
old-same old covers, nothing really new."
The sixth place winner is On the Wings of Love
by Elizabeth Lane. This cover made you sigh . So much romance. So different and yet so simple. And the airplane was a big hit.
Cover Cafe’s Karen: "This cover is so unique, and it perfectly conveys the time period and setting."
Anne M.loved it: "There is just something about the sheer simplicity of this cover that made me choose it.
It also is a very accurate depiction of the story - something you don't always find with romance covers."
Paula: "I love the way the sun is hidden by the clouds...seems spiritual..."
And Cover Cafe’s Marian: "This was a very difficult decision because all of the choices were wonderful. However, this is personal. I am in the cover.
It touches me."
Anna B.: "De plane! De plane! (sorry, couldn't resist) The airplane immediately clues one in that this is going to be out of
the ordinary, and the subtle use of cream and blue gives a calming effect. Another clothed and embracing but not clinching couple
here. The plane occupying the space between the clouds gives a feeling of hope, while the clouds hint at complications on the horizon.
I also like the mix of fonts used on the title."
A. Solomon: "It creates a romantic mood without shouting sex like many of the others. It shows a couple, not just a man and woman."
And Betty thought: "Nothing is more romantic than a moonlit night on the beach even knowing he is going away."
Artist: Art Director-Diana Lawrence,
Photography by Steve Gardner,
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen is in seventh place.
The fact that it is somewhere in Asia, the parasol, the colors and atmosphere made you vote for this cover. Lots of long comments so some have been shortened.
Susan: "I could have voted for every single one of these covers as my favorite; they are all quite beautiful. In the end I picked this one (for a book I haven't
even heard of) because it has a lovely sun-washed tone and because the profile views of the H/H -- with her gazing at him and him gazing at the horizon --
indicates a sense of longing that is almost palpable. We don't know who or what they long for, but it packs an emotional punch nonetheless."
Rike: "Beautiful and dreamy, and no Regency dress in sight!"
And Nana: "This cover does a great job promoting its setting. Just from looking at the cover, I know three things:
it's set somewhere in south or southeast Asia, it's set sometime between the two world wars, and I want to pick it
up. Great use of ethnic/cultural detailing (the cover pattern, the parasol, the wall) without looking cheesy or touristy."
Susan W. has her one reason: "I'm just a sucker for sepia tones and men in suspenders and rolled-up shirt sleeves."
Andrew L.: "As always, covers that evoke a mood and place grab my vote, and this exotic composition with bamboo
parasol, mango branch, and calm waters drenched in moon glow bring the reader immediately into the book's setting."
And Cover Cafe’s John: "A different imaginative look. Several of the others were fresh and new 3-4 yrs ago and got good
reviews and are now all the rage. This one has a new-old feel and looks just right for the title.
The ribs of the umbrella add great texture."
Unmasked by Nicola Cornick is in eighth place.
Let the comments speak for themselves. Most of them are very short and to the point:
Penney: "Beautiful story and I love the cover."
Cassie: "Her hair and the way she is looking up at the unknown hero makes you want to know who he is."
Kimmy: "I love the whole color scheme and it caught my eye."
Tina: "A perfect historical cover."
Earlene: "Love the fact that he is asking her something."
Allison says: "I love that the cover maintains the mystery and fits the title. The hero is not "unmasked" in this cover."
Mary D.: "Lovely and old fashioned looking and Regency is my favorite."
Annette says: "Wonderfully romantic and simply beautiful."
And Melissa: "Romantic and vibrant."
Artist: Jennifer Parker
Artist: Art Direction-Laura Maintner-Mason,
Cover Illustrations-Aleta Rafton
Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen is in ninth place. Colors are important and blue is obviously a favorite.
Short and to the point were:
Amy: "I like the simplicity of this one. Not over the top heaving bosom."
Alice: "Reminds me of the old Regency covers in the style of Georgette Heyer."
Joy: "I love the light filtering thru the windows and her pretty blue dress."
Bianca: "Simple and gorgeous!"
And Caroline: "Gorgeous colors, a classy font, the pensive lady in the foreground, the cloister-like architecture...
This is the sort of cover that fuels your imagination even before you know what the story is about!"
Sarah: "I think this cover is depictive of what historicals are all about - traditional dress, posture, and hairstyle as well as the surroundings."
Joyce was happy: "Tough choice here, but I liked this best due to the lovely image. A beautiful blue. Well designed. Not a headless cover, thank goodness!"
Threads of Silk by Linda Lee Chaikin is in tenth place.
The color blue, the dress, the boats in the background.
You did not have a lot to say about this cover. Maybe because the cover says it all.
Tina S.: "The dress. The dress is absolutely fabulous. I want it."
Suzanna: "DRESS. Also, ships in the twilight. Plus pearls in the hair."
Courtney: "It's dramatic and pleasing to the eye."
And Sarah F.: "I've never heard of this author but this cover is just beautiful. This cover would certainly grab my attention in the bookstore."
Cathie: "I love historical covers and this blue is so vivid and alive!"
Malvina: "Gorgeous frock, a woman going somewhere in a bit of a hurry, some mystery abounds, the boats and sea as backdrop add historical flavor.
Everything to please the eye here."
Amanda does not agree with most of us: "Lots of similar covers here, but I like the dress and the blue effect
on this one best. I like the current trend of showing only the lower half of character's faces, particularly
because the alternative (like Julia Quinn's recent covers) freaks me out."