History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

16 October 2009

What Do You Love in Historical Covers?

I just got my cover for AWAKENING HIS LADY, my upcoming release (December 1, 2009) with Harlequin Historical UNDONE eBooks. The story is set in 13th century England--another medieval! This line has a high level of sensuality and the stories are emotionally intense---all that conflict and heat packed into a shorter word count (10-15,000 words). I have to admit, as a writer, the short steamy historicals are challenge (but so fun to do---you have to grab your muse and keep her/him right there with you).

I love the cover of AHL---there's enough of the heroine's gown to say "historical" and the stone wall in the background subtly says "castle." The handsome hero and the lovely heroine look exactly like the characters in the book. Yeah, Harlequin cover artists!

I love historical covers in general. Booksellers tell me that beautiful dresses (think of Susan Wigg's new historical releases. FABULOUS cover gowns) and headless historical men sell well---the hero can be in a kilt, breaches, or leggings---those elements get the historical reader's attention. As a loyal fan of the medieval genre, I certainly look for castles, swords, and armor, too. Throw in a knight on a horse and ya got me!

What do you look for in a historical cover? What kind of cover art tells you it's a historical romance? What kind of historical cover art makes you shudder?

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Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Great cover, Kathrynn! I love the fact that the hero and heroine look as though they're real characters in a real scene (as opposed to posed models). I love historical covers too. I love richness and period detail. I've been quite fortunate with my covers, but I think my favorites are the ones for the recent trade releases of "Secrets of a Lady" and "Beneath a Silent Moon". They have a sort of collage of images that somehow conveys history, intrigue, and romance all at once.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at your sidebar, I really like the look of "The Edge of Impropriety." The pose is very suggestive: sexy without being overtly sexual. It's enticing and intriguing.

Unfortunately, most of the UK historical covers seem to feature early 90s models in cheap-looking Halloween costumes. A Billy Ray Cyrus lookalike in too-tight breeches is not my idea of a hero!

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a reader of historical fiction, I tend to judge books by the cover. It is a horrible habit but it helps me to zero in on books that appeal to me. That said, I look for very rich period detail, oftentimes focused in on the clothing and less of a person's face. Books with beige undertones evoke a sense of old, weathered stories and hence historical fiction, so I narrow down to those too. When I see cheesy models, glossy covers or very sexual images, I tend to avoid them. I am sure I am missing out on some great books but I can't seem to help it. I love the covers from Lauren Willig's and Tracey Grant's books to name a couple.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous kathrynn.dennis@gmail.com said...

I forgot to mention---yes, there are great covers on our sidebar. I love the covers that are derived from famous art works!

I look for a title with the word Lord or Lady, or Rogue or Rake, along with the clothes (yes, cowboy hats included!) and vintage scripts....all work well. I kind of assume books with those elements in the cover art are historicals.

I also kind of miss the embossed foil look with jewels and daggers and fabrics we used to see on historicals way back when....

5:01 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

I tend to read more historical fiction than historical romance and also prefer what publishers' art departments come up with in the former category as well -- paintings, whether familiar or original, that evoke the period, or actual paintings of the subject of the novel, where applicable. Both of my historical novels, TOO GREAT A LADY and ALL FOR LOVE, feature actual paintings (Emma Hamilton by Elisabeth Vigee-LeBrun, and Mary Robinson by John Hoppner) on their respective covers.

I'm no fan of clinches and half-naked models, male or female, because I think that cover image transmits or implies something cheesy, and/or dumbed-down, even though that is not always the case. But it plays into and perpetuates the worst stereotypes about romance novels being "bodice rippers." If you've got a Fabio clone ripping a woman's bodice on your cover, it's like climbing the literary equivalent of K2 to convince readers that there's something more substantial between the covers.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Blundering in way late here. Partly because I'm on the road, and partly because I just saw a version of the forthcoming mass market edition of THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION. Stay tuned.

6:43 AM  

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