Romance On Grey Covers

A close friend of mine recently asked me to read a book and let her know if I thought it was appropriate to add to her stable of books. I do this sort of thing for her on occasion because our tastes invariably run along the same styles. She sent me the book to check out through my Kindle app. I’m not going to lie…I LOVE books. I get excited over books. I enjoy discovering new authors. Libraries and bookstores are my third home! (What can I say…Coffee shops trump bookstores for me…which is why I absolutely ADORE Barnes & Noble for combining the best of both worlds.)

This time was different…and prompted this post. Many of you already know how I feel about 50 Shades Of Grey. It’s simply not my cup of tea (yes, pun intended). I’m not going to rehash that…because the reality is that it’s different strokes for different folks. The part that made this new book so different with my excitement level was simple. It had one of those trendy “50 Shades” style covers. Blah. Ho hum. Boring! (I know, ask me what I really think, right?)

If nothing else, 50 Shades will have a legacy of 2 things:

  • Gaining exposure for awesome writers in the BDSM realm of erotic romance (And I’m THRILLED about that! There are some amazing writers out there with great work who are finally getting the recognition they deserve.)
  • Those danged boring covers are everywhere these days. (Though this is all the rage that the NY Publishing houses kicked off, I no likey!)

Honestly, I get why the publishing houses are going this way. The younger set aren’t bothered by the lusty covers. The senior set don’t particularly care what people think of them anymore, love them or leave them (LOVE that attitude!) and they realize that no one can really see the covers of what they’re reading if they’re reading from an ebook anyway.  It’s the women in my age bracket (and no, I’m not going to get into that…and it’s rude to ask) that remember when there was a nasty stigma attached to those lusty romances with the half naked men and the heaving bosomed women. Personally, I enjoyed them. There were certain authors I might never have read if it hadn’t been for their racy covers.

And I know I’m not the only one. Like my friend Emma who wrote an entire post about it, I, too, judge a book by it’s cover. When all you see are grey tones and inanimate objects (ties, flowers, masks, handcuffs) how can you really gauge heat levels? How do you even know if it’s a romance? Heck, handcuffs could signify bondage or they could be a police/mystery novel! And THEY’RE BORING!!! I want my fun. I miss my spice!


Here’s a Lynsay Sands cover from her Argeneau series! It’s a bit sexy, but quite a bit more classy than the old historicals. There’s no question it’s a romance. The man and the tattoo give us something to fantasize about. And we know it’s going to be in the paranormal romance realm. Love the cover, love the author, love the book…!


Or here’s a cover from Keri Arthur. This is from her Riley Jensen series. She’s also a paranormal romance writer. Hers is a bit more subtle, but you still know you’re getting a sexy romance. She, too, has fun, excitement and suspense rolled into her books.


Of course if you don’t want to do couples but still want to let a woman’s imagination run wild and sell books, Gena Showalter does an awesome job. No heaving bosoms…just man. And yes, I’m a HUGE fan of her Lords Of The Underworld series. She, too, in case anyone was wondering writes paranormal romance.


Of course one of my most favorite mainstream authors is Lori Foster. Obviously this is designed with women in mind. Definitely a romance…and in the ever growing popular realm of Sports related romance. This is from her MMA series…. If you’ve read the books, I’ll tell you Simon from Simon Says is my favorite…both character and book.

c phillips

Here’s another one, also tastefully done, but still completely droolworthy! Yes, Carly Phillips also does the whole Sports Romance (though both from player and agent perspectives) quite successfully. Love her characters, but probably never would’ve picked up her books had it not been for the fun covers.


Rachel Gibson proves that fun covers and books don’t always need men on the cover. With this whimsically fun cover, combined with the awesome title-was there any doubt that this is a romance or fun? And it isn’t overly risqué, either, is it?


If you need something even more subtle, but still sexily appealing, how about this cover by Susan Andersen? I loved the strong hand around the waist, the hint of romance and seduction with just a simple pose.


Even this one, by one of my all time favorites…Julie Garwood. Simple, but still lovely, and nothing overtly racy about it. A cover like this would have you expecting a romance, maybe with a bit of mystery.


And if you needed something even more tame? How about going the route of the wonderful Susan Elizabeth Phillips? Her cover shows nothing but foot and ankle and still gives off the fun, playful vibe.

But if you absolutely HAVE to go grey? Do it right, people! Do it like one of my all time favorites, Kresley Cole! I’ll buy her kind of grey any day. And the truth is, her writing is amazing!


I can’t be the only one irritated by this cover trend, can I? How do you feel about it? What things are driving you nuts about the “popular” books of today? (BTW, though I LOVE romance books, they aren’t all I read…it just seems that their covers are the most impacted by this new “trend”.)

Since I started off knocking on those shades…let me leave you with a black and white video…and one of my favorite songs as I continue my Valentine’s Day music countdown to love…Shania Twain is absolutely beautiful, and so is this song.


44 thoughts on “Romance On Grey Covers

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Haha! You are cracking me up. You know what I’m learning? Don’t underestimate the work and dedication that goes with a well designed cover. The covers that have caught my eye over the years have gotten me to read the backs. If the cover and the back intrigues me, rarely am I disappointed in the book.


  1. Jessi Gage says:

    Long live the male torso! I request it on my covers, and can’t envision ever writing a book where a partially clothed or naked male torso couldn’t be featured.

    Love your selections, Kitt! May I say, you have impeccable taste, darling?


  2. Michael Allan Leonard says:

    Great post. People underestimate the power of the cover image. A good and interesting title on the spine can catch a reader’s eye, but if a potential customer isn’t familiar with the author, then it becomes the face of your work. I come from a comic book background, and the covers in that arena are supremely important, since the publications are mostly displayed facing outward in racks. You’ve got a few seconds at best to catch a casual browser’s eye while it scans over an overwhelming amount of visual data, so you have to make your shots count.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Absolutely! I think that’s why I’m so disappointed with this new trend. It tells you nothing. (And to be honest, the couple of books I’ve attempted to read with those kinds of covers on them have either been deadly boring or depressingly sad or just plain bad)

      I think I’ll stick to my original plan of enjoying the covers and titles and going from there. I refuse to be brow beaten into that kind of boring cover. 🙂


      • Michael Allan Leonard says:

        It is, but there’s the same sort of thing going on there — kind of generic covers that are nice illustrations but don’t really give you an idea of what’s going on inside. Covers used to be a sales pitch, often with copy and dialogue on the cover, a single ‘panel’ of the story that tried to pique your interest enough to actually pick the book up and thumb through it . . . sometimes the covers might have been a little misleading, but it was more interesting than a static poster-like image.

        I guess part of it is genre expectations, too, each genre has certain tropes to adhere to, and sometimes breaking the mold can work against you, too. ( And sometimes it’s just fun to embrace those tropes and go with it, kind of pay tribute to what has come before.)


        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          I think I liked it better when covers were sales pitches. Back then there was fun and originality. It wasn’t “canned”. It seems that epidemic is going through everything these days. It’s a shame. I’m beginning to miss the joys of original discoveries.


          • Michael Allan Leonard says:

            It’s all a misguided attempt at applied psychology, which is kind of sad. I once worked with a graphic designer on a project and he gave me a list of twenty reasons why his logo design was effective, all of them based on the deep Freudian meanings behind them. He missed the obvious point that it just didn’t look very good or appealing. The marketing folks want to try to find a one-size-fits-all and that never works — sometimes you just have to go with the gut creative instinct, which is NOT something you learn in a classroom or a textbook. You develop it on your own through practice and confidence.


          • Kitt Crescendo says:

            Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. It’s the same way people learn their writing styles. I guess there’s a bit of ironic humor in the fact that a person is expected to take a chance, be original, find a voice and write a book…only to have a “one-size-fits-all” cover put on that piece of originality. 😡


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      But of course covers influence us. To different extents, we’re all visual people. You know that if you stick to your general preferred genre you’ll at least stand a chance in being interested in the subject matter. Then you simply look for the other aspects that draw you in. It doesn’t surprise me that beach scenes tug at you.


      • sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches. says:

        Recently a shipment of 30 or so books arrived from Amazon and much to my dismay, tucked in the bottom of the box was a title, ‘The One Night Stand’ and a racy cover. I set the book aside and noted it wasn’t on my inventory. Somehow the book tugged at me and I was drawn to read it. The cover wasn’t particularly inciting but what I discovered as I read was a story of a woman entering her 40s and she’d never really allowed herself to live. She’d always lived the ‘straight and narrow’ and represented herself to be everything her mother wasn’t’ Although it’s not my regular genre to read – I’ve decided to break out of my own review box some after I come back from surgery – blame it on too much anesthesia in the last 6 hour surgery – I believe I have an obligation to my blog followers to review this novel. It’s also self-published and while not written by a rocket-scientist, it’s darn good writing and held my interest from beginning to end and the author brings the story on home. Besides, my government days are over and I don’t want to read legalize!


        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          LOL! I completely understand. I like to change up my reading habits every now and then, too. It helps keep us fresh. I’m glad you’ll be doing the review. 🙂

          I know many people turn their noses down at romances, but oddly enough, back in Jr High & high school I fell in love with historicals. It’s funny how much history I knew and retained compared to my peers…and how often I understood socio-political climates better than they did all because of my “trashy romances”.

          As long as we’re reading, I believe we can learn something new and interesting.


  3. Audrey says:

    I feel like the boring cover trend started with the Twilight books. 50 Shades was written as a piece of fan lit originally, from what I understand, so it makes sense that the monochromatic/single inanimate object thing started there. And while I get that the images are supposed to be symbolism, it’s not like we’re reading some high brow philosphy here so it seems a bit pretentious.
    I’m with you though, it’s very blah and lacking in any creativity. Not that I need a lusty lady on the cover necessarily, but a little imagination and art isn’t a bad thing.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I thought about Twilight, too, actually. I don’t mind a little imagination and art…I don’t. In fact, I used to enjoy Amanda Quick’s covers, but then, like you said…those covers weren’t pretentious. I think sometimes it’s a fine line…


  4. L.J. Kentowski says:

    I’m with you on this Kitt! I love those covers! And I’m a HUGE fan of a lot of these authors, especially Kresley Cole. I’m devouring that series right now as a matter of fact! Those men are HAWT and I’m not afraid to stare at the cover 😉


  5. ramblingsfromamum says:

    Steamy covers is what attracts the reader – I wait for you to read my memoir 😉 hmm though it ain’t steamy it’s the cover on this gravatar, so unless you call a nest steamy… which you can’t obviously. I DO so like the ones with the chiselled abs though – ok I’m old but I can still admire 😉 Have you heard my accent yet woman! I did that post for you 🙂


  6. Katie says:

    I’ve never been a romance book gal for the same reason I’m really not a story-line porn gal–the cheese factor is just through the ROOF, and it makes me laugh more than anything else. It then becomes more something for entertainment rather than, well, “entertainment,” if you know what I mean. 😉


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      OH. You’re one of THOSE friends… As for cheese factor, I’ve read books where if they’d been the only books I read, I’d wholeheartedly agree with you, so I understand. Different strokes for different folks.


  7. viveka says:

    Not familiar with any of those authors – I loved Sidney Sheldon – but the cover here are steaming hot, so I have to look one or two up … When I packed up my apartment for moving abroad I packed away 1452 books and I had read every book. The last 15 years I have only open 3 books and read none. Maybe it’s time for a bit hot romance again.


Don't Be Shy, Reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s