Cover Contest 2003

Two-Image Covers

(Teresa Snow Galloway, Ballot Chair)

In the past, this category was limited to historical covers. Last year, we tried out a ballot for contemporary covers with stepbacks. This year we've combined the two types of covers into one category; any cover with two images (whether the second one is a stepback or is found on the back cover) is eligible. As it happens, all of the covers on the final ballot are historicals this year. As marketing changes and printing costs have gone up, we've noticed a decline in nominations for this category. It seems there just aren't as many stepbacks as there used to be. Many readers think this is a shame, as a stepback can be the best of both worlds; a tasteful, discreet cover on the front, and something more daring on the inside.

Avon
Cover artist: Doreen Minuto

The favorite Two-Image cover this year was Dance of Seduction. Voters loved that it was a very sexy cover that didn't descend to the level of sleaze. Several noted that the front and stepback covers worked well together.

Coverballot's Elaine was one of this group: "This is the only cover where the two covers work together to tell a story. The temptress lounging alone in her chaise lounge and then resting with her lover. Extremely sensual."

Several others mentioned that they loved the coloring. One author noted: "[It's] sensuous, and I love the great color. There are very few green covers."

It also won Melonie's vote: "The front cover teases you enough to open the book...the inside imagery encourages you to read, read, read to find out more. The colouring is spectacular...fits the title of the book well. I'm heading out to buy this book today!"

The book's author voted for it as well, and had these interesting comments to add: "Believe it or not, this was a very hard choice. These are all fabulous covers. I'd be hard-pressed to choose between them even if mine WASN'T one of the choices. But my favorite thing about Doreen Minuto's work still makes her cover stand out for me—one of the few artists working today who manages to make those pretty-boy models look like real men."

Harlequin
Cover artist: Alan Ayers

In second place was Bride of the Tower. Voters liked that the couple seemed comfortable together rather than forced into some unnatural pose. Several also commented on the dreamy, fantasy feel of the cover.

Amanda had this to say: "The castle fronting a darkened sky is bathed in a golden glow, as if promising hope, then the interior depicting the protagonists in a 'loving' embrace, as opposed to the nakedness rampant today. (Nothing wrong with that, just overdone, IMO.) These two look extremely happy with each other—they look like they can enjoy moments such as these where their love is a quiet oasis."

It was Emelyn's choice as well: "I adore castles, and think they make marvelous covers, and the mixture of stone and flowering tree I thought very beautiful. I like the two of them lying peacefully together by the fire (I notice many of these covers are predominantly cool in color) and her red dress is a delightfully crisp contrast to his white shirt. The man I find very attractive, so that may have something to do with it."

It also got Coverballot member Maili's vote. She happened to be voting on a night when a warm fire was more than a little alluring: "This one won me over. The models look so good together. And the fireplace! How could one resist it, especially on a cold night like now? That fireplace makes me want to kick her out of the picture and put myself in her place and huddling up to him. It's a lovely warm cover."

Avon
Cover artist: Rick Johnson

The third-place cover was One Night of Scandal. The dreamy quality, the soft blue and lavender colors, and the castle were the main draws for readers.

Kristie said: "I really like castles. I love the otherworldliness of this one and then on the inside the mysteriousness of the forest. And yet again, I like the colours."

Kate agreed: "I like the blues and purples. It sets the characters apart and gives them a world of their own." And Sondrea said: "I like the midnight-tryst feel of the stepback and the blue/purple coloring in the background."

Patti liked several of the choices, but ended up choosing this one because she liked the artistry: "I prefer art, not photo-like covers. It appeals to my sense of whimsy and mystery."

It also won Janet's vote: "I love the lavender hue that is carried through. And the publisher was sensitive to the placement of the barcode not to ruin the artwork! The shades of the heroine's dress and the hero's shirt make a perfect cover!"

Avon
Cover artist: Jon Paul; Art director: Anthony Ramondo

In fourth place was Winter Fire. Voters liked the way the front cover and stepback worked together as a harmonious package.

Joan made it her choice: "The cover makes the book look like a present you can unwrap. The illustration fits the title by showing both a winter scene outside the window and a fire in the fireplace."

Jade had this to say about her pick: "The color scheme of cool blues works with the Winter title. The credit 'she's bold' is clearly personified by the barely dressed model. The strategically placed bow on the front cover would definitely make me want to open it and see what was inside."

Manjari thought that the cover matched the mood of the title as well: "I like the cool winter colors of this cover. The contrast of the white and icy blue is gorgeous. The lit fire and the Christmas-like gold bow also make you think of winter."

Dell
Cover artist: unknown

Coming in fifth was Almost a Princess. Voters were especially attracted to the multiple images inside the stepback, which they felt were a better illustration of the story. Tami liked it for this reason: "The beautiful blue color pops. I like the multiple images in the step-back. I feel like I see more of the story with those pictures than the others."

Several readers, like Lisa, loved the dog: "I don't think I've seen so many clothed men on the cover of a romance novel! I chose Almost a Princess because I like the close-up angle and the detail of the cravat. Plus we get a cool dog. On a romance cover!"

It was also the choice for Teresa, the ballot chair for this category: "It was a real toss-up for me between Almost a Princess and the Beauty and the Baron, but ultimately I loved the montage that makes up the AAP stepback, and which is absent from any other of these covers. I like that it gives me hints as to the story line, and that it's beautifully executed."

Harlequin
Cover artist: Alan Ayers

In sixth place was The Beauty and the Baron. Readers were drawn to its mysterious feel and misty/foggy look.

Coverballot's Linnae made it her choice: "I love his majestic full length cape. The misty background creates a romantic setting and both covers match in colors and tone. They belong together instead of being two separate pieces of art."

Melissa thought the colors added to the book's atmosphere: "Deb Hale's books all have excellent covers! This one is beautiful with the fog-shrouded forest, and the hero and heroine clinging to each other. The purple adds to the fog and the couple make it so romantic."

It also got a vote of an inspirational romance author, who called it "very mysterious, ethereal, classic."

Pocket
Cover artist: Alan Ayers

The seventh-place cover was The Devil You Know. Voters admired the bold red color of the cover, as well as the faraway image of the hero and heroine.

Loraine had this to say: "I love it when the artist gives you just a hint of the hero and heroine...everyone has different tastes and this sort of lets you fill in your ideal. Even though you see both on the inside they are still far away."

Alison liked it as well: "The red color just 'pops' for me. I love the not quite complete picture on the front cover. I like the 'what's going on in the garden' step-back."

Anja was another fan of the color scheme: "It has bold and sensual colors and I think it goes very well with the title of the novel."

Avon
Cover artist: Vittorio

Fool for Love came in eighth. Voters found themselves intrigued by the image of the heroine reading a letter, and several expressed a desire to find out what the letter was all about.

Jo-Ann was one such reader: "I love desks so this instantly caught my eye. I also really like the solitary woman, alone with her letter. The nightgown is a nice touch, rather than day clothes, and gives a strong hint of the time of day. So what is she reading? And why now? Makes you wonder...."

Karen liked it enough to search out the book: "This is extremely appealing! I love the sun rays beaming down...my curiosity is piqued...I MUST read this book!"

Coverballot's Mary Lynne made it her choice also: I really love the stepback image--I want to find out what that letter says! And the continuity of the sunbeam from the front cover to the stepback is a very nice touch. I like the way the simple image of the room expands on the stepback to include this woman and her air of mystery. I also like the slightly rough quality of the artist's work here." The observant Mary Lynne also asked "BTW, did anyone notice that the same female cover model is on no less than *four* of these entries??"

I confess that I didn't even notice. I did however, choose Fool for Love myself. I found it different, and I thought the scene with the heroine reading a letter was intimate and fun.

Pocket
Cover artist: John Ennis

In ninth place was The Tiger's Mistress. Voters liked the tiger, as well as the fountain on the front cover.

Joelle called it "a cover as sumptuous as the book!"

Nijenna said: "Had to pick the cover with the tiger, plus the man inside is yummy."

Eric voted for it as well. He liked the composition and use of color, and added: "It stands out and looks very different from the others. Too many of the others remind me of still-life portraits or slightly overdone passionate poses."

Harlequin
Cover artist: Anthony Russo

Rounding out the ballot in tenth place was The Golden Lord. Janice liked that the clothing was accurate for the period, but still sexy.

Nana especially admired the colors: "I like the color scheme of green and gold—if I never see another pastel bluish-purple cover again, it may be too soon. I really like the back cover picture because for once the heroine is at eye level with the hero, and what's more, the hero gets her to look him in the eye by lifting her chin, not bending her in half or towering over her until she folds her head back onto her spine. Sometimes these covers just make my neck hurt."

Jen found the image intriguing: "The inside image feels like a peek behind the gate on the cover. It's like an invitation to a private party. And there is some serious chemistry going on between these two. You just know that dress is going to end up on the floor!"

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