Fascinating Covers, Tempting Books

By Poison Ivy,

I’ve always been a sucker for a good cover. At the recent Romance Writers of America annual national conference in Washington, DC, I met or picked up the promotional pieces from several authors who have been lucky enough to get strikingly attractive covers for their latest books. Their book promotional material—most of it printed at their own personal expense, by the way—simply leapt out at me.

The combination of colors, for instance, in Your Magic or Mine, by Ann Macela, was both eerie and just right for a book styled a paranormal romance. Green historically has been the color of weird stuff—starting with Frankenstein, later the Incredible Hulk, and in between, all kinds of comic books with supernatural elements. Of course, sometimes, the comics didn’t even bother to color things green, as witness this startling cover of Strange Adventures from many decades ago, with a giant hand about to cause serious trouble. It doesn’t have to be green to be menacing, does it?

On the other hand (ha, ha), the cover of Highway to Hell, by Rosemary Clement-Moore, is very appropriately dominated by the oranges that suggest hellfire and big trouble for the two teenage girls on a road trip. This one’s a young adult novel, part of a series in which Maggie Quinn finds herself fighting evil. There may not be much—or any— romance in it. But the line art style signals that humor should abound, and the breezy feel of the cover says this one ought to be fun. I’m sold.

The cover of Anna DeStefano’s newest, Dark Legacy, signals perfectly that this is going to be paranormal romance with a strong romantic suspense element. And so it is. This cover also would be fine for promoting a straight Gothic romance, if such existed anymore. I have to mention that Anna also attached chocolate to her covers at the conference, a sure draw for hungry romance writers roaming the public rooms of a large metropolitan hotel in search of contracts, contacts, and inspiration. Thanks, Anna!

Dragonbound, by Jade Lee, is another cover that is a happy confluence of color and design that grabbed my attention. The strong reds and browns contrast well with the heroine’s green gown and the green sky. Then the multiple touches of white and yellow highlight the hero and draw the eye down to the heroine below—pulling the reader right into the book. Just the way a cover should. Cover designers know that once a potential reader has opened the book, the chances are good for a sale. I picked up the bookmark with this cover on it instead of many others that were available. Buyers at bookstores are likely to pick up this book for the same reason, the striking cover.

And then there is Love’s Pursuit, by Siri Mitchell. This is religious romance, featuring a heroine from a “rigid community where appearance is everything” who “begins to question the rules and regulations of her childhood faith.” And, oh, yes, there are two men interested in her. The cover suggests Amish or Mennonite, or even Puritan. Since the promotional copy does not give the time period, this could be a historical romance set nearly four hundred years ago, or a contemporary in Pennsylvania or Utah, I suppose. The cover is a tease. But it’s a very effective one. The cap loosely sitting on the heroine’s head, and her gloriously messy red hair signal that rebellion and the quest for individual happiness, not to mention passion, will likely be elements of this romance. And it’s a beautiful cover, of an idealized, not-quite-real young woman whose eyebrows have been plucked and shaped despite the rigidity of her circumstances. Interesting dualities, and just begging for me to find this book and look inside.

This is what good cover art does for me. It lures me in, makes me ask questions, and tempts me to look for answers inside a book. The lush colors and the polished artwork appeal on a sensual level. They promise that inside, the words themselves will deliver what the cover promises.