More on Covers–Men or Flowers?

This cover discussion begun by our Janet Mullany on Jan 25 is still intriguing me! I know that what makes a good cover is all really personal preference, but I thought it would be fun to continue the discussion

My position is that a handsome man on a romance cover is going to attract more attention than a cover without a handsome man, even if that cover has beautiful flowers on it.

Now, the handsome man does not have to be without half or all his clothes–those covers, I agree can be embarrassing. (So I guess I’m not really fond of “mantitty” covers, as Janet so cleverly called them), but if I am browsing the romance shelves, not in the market for any specific book, the books I’m going to pick up first are the ones with a handsome man on the cover.

This is why I LOVED my cover for A Reputable Rake. I could not have asked for a better cover, by far my favorite. The Rake is just so handsome and his expression perfectly represents the hero of the book.

My Mills & Boon cover for The Mysterious Miss M comes in a close second, because it had a handsome man in a very romantic pose. As my first book cover ever, I was over the moon about this cover and I still love it.

Now I prefer both of these covers to my cover of Innocence and Impropriety, arriving in bookstores March 2007. This cover has both the handsome man and the romantic pose, but it is a tad too sweet for me, and the book is not quite that sweet. Still, I like this cover. I love the setting of Covent Garden in the background. If it were on the shelf right next to A Reputable Rake, I’d bet A Reputable Rake would be picked up first.

I browsed the All About Romance Cover contest archives for examples. Take a look at these two beautiful Jo Beverley covers (the double image means they are “step back” covers).

They are both wonderful covers, but which would I pick up first? The one with that very handsome man.

My cover for The Wagering Widow was nice because it was provokative and hinted at that handsome man by showing his hand. The black and white image is what you would see just inside the cover, so there was a handsome man and the romantic pose if you opened the book.

The same image appeared on Louise Allen’s Jan 2007 Mills & Boon, Not Quite a Lady.

I cannot be objective, though. I don’t know which I would pick up first, if they were side by side, Not Quite a Lady, with its handsome man in a romantic pose, or the provokative, A Wagering Widow?

What do you all think?
Does a handsome man on the cover influence whether you will pick it up, at least to read the back cover copy?

Do you want to vote for a favorite cover? Cover Cafe has a contest, formerly sponsored by All About Romance!

Speaking of handsome men on romance covers, in March, the cover model for The Wagering Widow and Not Quite a Lady, Richard Cerqueira, will be doing a guest interview with Risky Regencies. So let me know if there is anything you would like me to ask Richard about what it is like in a romance cover shoot.


About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who donโ€™t always act like ladies.
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26 Responses to More on Covers–Men or Flowers?

    I love the placement of the title on Innocence & Impropriety!!!

  2. totally unintended!!! But I won’t change it so others can enjoy!

    The covers are dodgey too. Not all come up right away but they are all there. A Blogger problem, I’m sure.


  3. I do like a handsome man on the cover–but he needs to be appropriately dressed (reasonable historical accuracy always a plus, and if I go 20 years without seeing another shirtless man in a cloak, it’ll still be too soon), and he has to meet *my* tastes for handsomeness, which rules out 90% of all cover models. Most of them are over-muscled (I like ’em wiry) and too blandly pretty in the face.

  4. Cara King says:

    I think the covers with just flowers are boring, but that’s (for me) because they’re lacking people, not because they’re specifically lacking handsome men. I, for example, prefer the cover for Jo Beverley’s “Hazard” to the cover for her “A Most Unsuitable Man” — at least partly because it’s more unusual.

    And my favorite Regency covers are those from the Georgette Heyer hardbacks — light, colorful, and stylized.


  5. seton says:

    I know authors worry about the covers but the covers dont make a difference to me. I like the cover of REPUTABLE RAKE but only because I like the colors. I respond to colors more.

    The first Dian Perkins book I ever read was WAGERING WIDOW because someone recommended it to me since it has strip piquet ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lois says:

    I don’t mind any type of cover personally. . . ah, sure, some can be a tiny bit too rated R or something for my tastes LOL, but generally, I love looking at them. But they don’t exactly make me pick up a book to read them, it’s the blurb. However, most of them that you showed are ones that if I weren’t to have them on my to buy list, I’d pick them up to look to see what they are about — because they are obviously Regency. The first cover of Jo Beverley’s I wouldn’t touch if I didn’t know of her — the stepback though, if that was it’s own cover I would pick up because it’s obviously historical so I’d want to see more. And it looks more historical than the head because all you’re seeing is his head. Sure it’s a nice head and all, but still. LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

    But a cover model, huh? Wow. . . I haven’t a clue what to ask. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. I have noticed a trend to women’s backs on covers. I came across tons of them, usually showing skin.


  8. WandaSue says:

    I was stunned when I first saw “The Reputable Rake” cover. Breathtakingly handsome guy. I bought the book just for the cover.

    Keep the flowers — gimme a handsome, well-dressed man … ANY day.

  9. Mallory Pickerloy says:

    I too agree with Lois on the fact I personaly don’t mind any type of covour. I like either.

    I always loved Julie Garwoods books . Not because they had hot covours, but because I knew her writing style was awesome. I don’t judge by covours, because I’ll admit I’m not a Fabio fan, and he was on alot of covours back in the 90’s alot, like on Johanna L. books, now that wasn’t my taste because he didn’t fit any hero, he didn’t look beautiful to me but ‘girly’, but I still loved and bought JL books because I loved her writing and wouldn’t stop reading them ever for any reasons.

    I loved all your covours Diane, you don’t have anything to worry about. I think all your male Models fitted to the books in alot of ways, mysterious and handsome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Judy T says:

    I freely admit I still drool over The Reputable Rake cover. I also liked Lucy Monroe’s cover on her book Ready. It’s the back of a man in a suit leaning against a counter. Why I like this? I haven’t the faintest idea.

    Some covers may catch my attention by their “overexposure” but it doesn’t make me want to read it. I think it simply surprises me, still.

    Innocence and Impropriety was definitely a surprise, but I can’t think of a way to make it better reflect the story. I loved Anne Gracie’s cover on The Perfect Waltz, a dance card on a pink background. Until seton mentioned it, I hadn’t thought about color before, but yes, I like pink, and I love the blue on RR.

    Though covers may capture my attention, it’s the writers I know I enjoy that I reach for first. If I’m looking for someone new, then it’s the blurb and reviews.

  11. Judy T says:

    Oh! As for questions, I’m curious how cover modeling varies from other types of modeling and is it a better gig? I know there are actors who prefer soaps because it’s more consistent and those that prefer television and still others prefer doing movies. Thanks, Diane!

  12. A year ago, I would’ve answered “flowers” unequivocally. Now I say “men” just as emphatically. A fundamental shift! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love A Reputable Rake‘s cover the best of all your covers, Diane.

    I like Innocence and Impropriety‘s cover, too, because the couple is placed in Covent Garden, but by being in the foreground, are not overwhelmed by it. The cover adds interest at different layers. Very classy artwork!

    I also like art portraits or other types of arty coversโ€”for example: Candice Hern’s latest two books. JoBev’s Hazard cover is also like that.

    Other than author names and back blurbs, covers play a large part in my buy decisions. Colors, artwork, font, and models (clothed please and dressed historically correctly.)

    For the record, almost-naked clinch covers are my least favorite, but if it is an author I want to read, I don’t let it stop me. There’s just a lot of blushing if I am forced to read the book in public.


  13. Seton, I’m so glad my “strip piquet” intrigued you! It was a fun scene to write. Maybe next week I should explain how I figured it out. And if you like the colors of A Reputable Rake, that is great–were there colors on it??? I only remember the Rake (grin)

    Wandasue, I knew that Rake would sell my book! His name is Ted Whitaker and that is all I know about him. I have never seen him on another book. But sure would like to see more of him (what did I just say??????)

    Judy, I still drool over RR! I looked at the cover of Ready and I see what you mean. It is intriguing
    I’ve added your question to my list for Richard.

    Everybody, I enjoyed hearing what you like in covers!


  14. Elena Greene says:

    I always answer these questions with an “it depends”. Flowers are better than mantitty but an interesting and intelligent looking man on the cover is better.

    I also like fine art covers and covers that evoke the Regency setting. They seem to imply a more intelligent read–though one really cannot judge books by their covers.

    Loretta Chase is one of my favorite Regency historical authors but she’s had some truly awful covers. Her books are still an auto-buy for me.

  15. Elena Greene says:

    if I go 20 years without seeing another shirtless man in a cloak, it’ll still be too soon

    LOL, Susan!

    Off the Regency topic I think the shirtless man in a kilt is even sillier. I’m no expert but I’ve heard kilts are a more recent invention. I also spent a few weeks in Scotland and the weather is hardly balmy. I suppose those heroes are just so hardy they would never have anything so unsexy as goose bumps… ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Oops I made a mistake! the model for A Reputable Rake is BEN Whitaker, not Ted…is there a Ted? It must have been a brain burp.

    Richard Cerqueira’s publicist read the blog and had a few interesting things to say about the modeling experience, but I’ll share them in a blog entry.

    Keira, we must have been responding to the blog at the same time, otherwise I’d have said hi!


  17. Mina says:

    I love all of those covers! I get more caught by the back cover text than the picture on the front.

  18. Mina, what happens to me if I’m browsing, is I am attracted by the cover, then I pick up the book and read the back cover copy.
    The cover makes me pick up the book but the back cover copy would make me buy it.
    If I know the author or have heard good buzz about the book, then the cover doesn’t matter.

    And, Janet, I am so dumb! I just now got what your comment about Impropriety meant. I never noticed it before…DUH Placement on the BOOKCOVER!!!!


  19. Judy T says:

    Sigh… Diane, did you have to tell me his name? Now he isn’t just a gorgeous face. He’s a real person (who can’t be found in Google, except here and Scribes Sanctuary). I hate feeling like a twelve-year-old with a crush! LOL! And now I have to revise and say that there are books I might buy for the cover! ;-D

  20. seton says:

    Ms Perkins, I would love it if you would be willing to discuss the strip piquet scene next week ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think I would prefer mantitty/moobs covers over flowers. At least, I would have a good laugh even before I open the book!

  21. Judy T says:

    Found Ben listed only one place, a model search site. He’s listed with Gilla Roos. I like him better as Cyprian. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. QLDiane said…
    Keira, we must have been responding to the blog at the same time, otherwise I’d have said hi!

    Thanks, Diane. You’re always so gracious.

    BTW, it looks like Blogger ate one of my comments.

    I laughed out loud at your comment, Janet. I’m sure Diane is just glad it isn’t her name that is so strategically placed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    i know the guy personally on the cover of the reputable rake book i went to school with him.he has always been very handsome and sweet his name is ben whitaker and you can also find him on and just type his name in

  24. Anonymous says:

    im sorry i told you the wrong site it is

  25. Cara King says:

    i know the guy personally on the cover of the reputable rake book

    How neat! And thanks for the URL!

    Diane, here’s a nice pic of your reputable rake:

    (And lots of other nice pics too!)


  26. Diane Gaston says:

    Anonymous, Thank you for the url to Ben Whitaker. He is such a handsome guy, I felt very lucky to have him on my cover.

    I’m sure any of us would love to have him do more covers!


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