Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lily Maxton Guest Post ~ Judging a Book by It's Cover

     Ah, the historical romance cover. From the days of yore when Fabio was the ubiquitous long-haired hero to its more recent manifestations, different romance covers can inspire love or hate. Like so many things, what makes a great cover is subjective. As an author, I actually have very little say in what my publisher chooses for my books, but just like anyone else, I have my preferences.

     Some people like the shirtless (or open-shirted) ab-man being at the front and center, which is totally cool. It’s not like shirtless ab-men are difficult to look at. But some people might prefer something more subtle—flowers or fancy gloves or some other object. And these are also nice, especially if you don’t have your e-reader and you’re reading in public, and like me, you get annoyed when people give you condescending looks. (Stupid jerks, what do they know!) Ahem.

     As for myself, I tend to think the best covers feature both the hero and heroine, but ideally, I like them to be a little less sexualized and a little more sensual.

     For instance, I think my favorite cover from my own books is The Wager. To me, this is the ideal—in just one image, there’s passion and longing and tenderness (the stuff of great romance!)—without going overboard. It teases you with sexual potential instead of putting it all right in front of you. It also gets bonus points for trying to look like it’s in the Regency period, even if the clothing isn’t a hundred percent accurate. And I’ve been told by a couple of people that the image reminds them of the train station scene in North and South. That scene makes me cry happy tears, so enough said.

     But I also love historical romance covers with just the heroine, because who doesn’t love gorgeous dresses and awesome female leads? The best of these do a little something extra to make the image stand out. My current favorite in this style is One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean. This hits all the right notes for me. I love the way the heroine is looking back, a little mischievous, a little teasing, with just a slight bit of skin showing. I love that dress. I love that she’s sitting at a desk and that her glasses are on the desk. Touches of personality can definitely jazz up a cover, and I think the designers of this one did it so perfectly. We all know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but a cover can do a lot of things—it can be fun eye-candy, it can tempt, intrigue, or show-case the main character’s personality—most importantly, it can get readers interested in the words inside the book.


Thank you so much for joining us today, Lily. I love your choice of covers and I have to agree - I love the dresses and the vibrant colors as well.

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