The Glamour of Romance

By Poison Ivy,

I was talking to a writer recently who has been immersing herself in the romantic era of King Louis XIV of France. The Sun King had a keen sense of the importance of appearance. He made the court of France the most glamorous and romantic of Europe. He turned his palace of Versailles into a world-famous exemplar of luxury: an enormous and ornately decorated building with lavish gardens packed with the most glittering, richly-garbed courtiers ever.

This writer I was talking to was enchanted with the idea that someone could draw a story of hers about Louis XIV’s era. Although right now only publishes contemporary romances, maybe some day we’ll do historical novellas, too. Just picture it: The Sun King in his mountainous curly wig and gold-embroidered satin suit, the ladies of the court in their elaborate gowns, wearing ringlets and fabulous jewels, dancing in the famous Hall of Mirrors. It could be an artist’s delight! Or it could be a disaster if the artist takes shortcuts. The glamour that is created by complex costuming and attention to architectural detail—the glitter of the Sun King’s court—would be lost.

I hope you have noticed that in our romance novellas here at we make a big effort to show our heroines and heroes in credible styles of hair and clothing that women and men actually wear today. Our graphic medium has great storytelling potential and we want to use it to the fullest. We ask our artists to emphasize glamorous settings and romantic locales. But we also want to anchor our romantic tales in reality. So we try for the variety and look of real people and places. Sometimes our characters live in cutting-edge, modern apartments. Other times they reside in homes decorated with classic comfort in mind. And some of our rich heroes live in out-and-out mansions with museum-grade furniture. These homes have wallpaper and decorations, textures, distinct styles. We try to make sure that our artists show you these differences, because they are important in setting the tone of the story.

Yes, faces of our heroines and heroes are smooth and attractive, probably more so than in real life. Bodies, too. But as in real life, our heroes and heroines change their clothes. They wear visors and sneakers and midriff-baring T-shirts. They wear patterns. They wear skimpy underwear or no socks. It’s all part of fully using the visual aspect of our romances to give the stories extra dimension. We don’t allow our heroines to wander around exotic locales in boring, shapeless duds. A romantic, formal evening out calls for a fancy gown and the hero in a tux. We provide examples of trendy modern clothing for the artists to copy, culled from major magazines and other current sources. When you read a love story, we want you to recognize the heroine’s haircut as something a person of her age and background would wear, something you could have seen on a model in In Style Magazine or on a normal person in your local mall. We’ve even had heroines with obvious tattoos when it seemed right for the story.

We want our characters to have distinct looks, too. For instance, in Master of Fusion, new this month, the heroine, Shelley, has a style she adheres to as the owner-hostess of her restaurant. Usually, it’s a form-fitting long gown. But it’s never exactly the same in color or cut, and sometimes she wears a sharp, short-skirted dress instead. When it’s not showtime at the restaurant, she often wears a jacket, as managers do. The hero, Daniel, doesn’t get as much choice in clothing because he’s a chef and there is prestige in appearing in his white uniform. But when he’s not in uniform, he’s wearing softly flowing shirts that look like silk and encourage you to get a sensuous, tactile impression of him. And check out another new story we’ve put on the site, Dangerous Seductions. The story takes place in the glamorous fashion industry, and each character, even the people in the back of the office elevator, has a distinct look. The heroine, Jenna, isn’t competing with the trendy styles seen on the models, but she’s making a fashion statement with her every outfit. She’s no Ugly Betty.

It is not an accident that the graphic medium of comics is presented to you in full color, either. The choice of color, and especially the artistic application of color shading, gives each story vibrance and visual depth. When you look at a heroine’s face and see a shadow on it, you often are seeing the physical representation of emotion. When a hero embraces a heroine in the moonlight and they are bathed in its glow, we hope we are transporting you to this romantic setting and bringing you close to their emotions. In our story Summer Love from a few months back, the beautiful ocean and the gorgeous sunsets are virtual actors, too. When the heroine and hero reunite at the end, every physical part of their world—the sky, the sun, the beach, and the ocean—echoes their joy by being beautiful and perfect.

We’re hoping our attention to detail is giving you a romantic read equivalent in glamour and glitter to a night at Versailles with the Sun King.