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Newly Released Romances

Everyone loved these new Mary Jo Putney covers. particularly since Putney is one of the most discussed authors at AAR. I certainly read and collect them all. I’ve noticed that all white covers, when really well done, seem to score very high with romance readers. They score well with me because the other books on the romance aisle are typically very colorful. The all-white covers stand out in contrast.

This is the cover for Putney’s China Bride, the sequel to Wild Child. I suppose this is the ultimate mystery: the woman seen from behind. What will she look like when she turns around? She certainly looks beguiling from the back. You must read the novel to find out more since you can’t turn her around on the cover. Thus, you must buy it! I’m sure the publisher is ecstatic about that visual message.

This is the paperback cover for Putney’s Wild Child. The hardback version differed – it was a scattering of wild lilies in color. Everyone likes this version better. First, because of the all-white and, next, for the sense of mystery beyond the arch. Although I normally don’t like flowers on a cover, this is a much more imaginative use of flowers and it immediately caught my attention.

The Kat Martin cover you see (to the left, below, in teal) for The Dream, a contemporary romance with the central characters experiencing the same dream at night, uses flowers and a house, two elements that don’t usually appeal to me. However, it’s what Ennis does with those two that made me sit up and take notice. He puts white flowers in tropical waters as the big image and then insets a smaller image of a house in the tropics. The effect upon me was almost hallucinatory and I did feel as if I was caught in a dream. This melding of one image within a larger image is also a very big look in the art world for paintings.

Since I’ve shown three covers so far featuring flowers, all three of which I love, I must come to the conclusion that it is the unimaginative use of flowers that I don’t like, not flowers, or even houses, per se. Ennis’s covers thankfully do not look like Mother’s Day cards as so many flower-based romance covers do.

Midnight Kisses by Kimberly Raye hit the bookstores earlier this year and received Desert Isle Keeper Status from two of our review staff. The cover (directly to the right) is a continuation of the look we saw on Ennis’s Love Potion cover, which was a Best finalist in our Cover Contest, featuring a close up portrait of John DeSalvo. This cover features a close up portrait of the hero and heroine in an in-bed pose. This is a fairly hot cover even though we don’t see their bodies. In fact, the woman’s face looks orgasmic. The book is supposedly hot, fun and frothy. So the cover is apt plus the background is magenta, a red-purple, which really made it stand out for me on the bookshelf.

Still Life Covers

We looked at this subsection, not expecting to like the covers because of the dullness that the words “Still Life” seem to convey. We were amazed to discover that we really were attracted to them. These are either romance or relationship-based novels.

Gentleman Caller is written by an oft-praised romance writer, Megan Chance. This is a historical set in New Orleans where the hero must woo the less beautiful sister, who would rather be a nun. New Orleans is famous for its flagstone and wrought iron courtyards as seen in the the cover’s setting to the left. The top hat and opera scarf suggest the hero and that the story is historical. It is romance because of the idealized purple-hued setting and the roses he brought to the lady of the house. I bought this one too. Actually, it is hard for me to think of any purple cover I haven’t bought.

I expected the women to whom I showed this cover to prefer the more old-fashioned looking Gentleman Caller. Although they liked it, much to my surprise, they liked better Ennis’s more modern depiction of a similar idea. This is Déjà Vu, authored by Louise Titchener. It is a New Orleans romance involving a woman who lives without aging in present day New Orleans and a male scientist who researches aging. I tried buying this one at Amazon on the strength of the cover and this synopsis alone but it was not available.

On this cover, the bench is out in the open somewhere in an outdoors of purple air. A single rose is on the bench. The orange leaves on the tree branch, which are about to fall, suggest time that has passed. The leaf color complements the purple. Further, the branch and the bench cast shadows. Jagged, fine white lines travel from left to right, background to foreground, and suggest either lightning and/or the strands of time. This is a more abstract way to suggest the events going on in this story, which I tend to prefer. In general, both readers of this column and those who assist in its preparation, do not prefer visual abstractions of story ideas.

Be still my heart, for this particular cover was an exception to the rule. The abstract conception of this cover for Jan Hudson’s Angel Hours, about lovers reincarnated from an earlier time, was a tremendous hit to those with whom I shared it. It shows angel’s wings in a cloudy sky. I am presently reading Sharon Shinn’s angel trilogy, which has fully depicted angels on the covers. I was expecting that the women would prefer that kind of winged cover. But, no, they really loved this cover, which is also very close to being all white with just a lavender tinge throughout. The simplicity of every aspect to this cover really connected with all of us. Notice though the slanting individual lines on each feather of the wings. If Ennis had not put that lined emphasis in, the image would have been too amorphous.


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