Committee Chairs: Lisa Baca & Elaine Lee

Voting in the Contemporary category was somewhat closer than in the others. While the winner won by a very substantial margin, eight of the remaining nine covers were separated by far fewer votes, suggesting that voters preferred them more or less equally. There appears to be a trend away from landscapes, which dominated this category in the previous two contests.

Over the past few years, cartoon covers have become very popular for contemporary romances. They've made inroads into other subgenres as well, and can be spotted on historicals and alternate reality books. Readers continue to identify them with contemporaries more than any other type of romance, and a cartoon cover can often signal the reader that the book is intended to be hip and humorous. Though many contemporary cartoon covers were nominated, few of them fared very well in the comittee's voting. While some readers continue to love cartoon covers, others see them as overdone, or feel annoyed when a book with a cartoon cover doesn't deliver the humorous read they are expecting. Nonetheless, at this point cartoon covers continue to be pervasive in romance.


Ivy
Cover artist: John Ennis
The winner was Hide and Seek, which makes this a second winning cover in a row for lucky author Cherry Adair (last year's Kiss and Tell tied for the Best Contemporary cover title).

Readers thought it had a misty, romantic look, not unlike the look of last year's winning counterpart.

Reader Audrey had this to say: "I guess I'm a sucker for these "I am the hero, protecting the heroine" covers. It's kind of a misty, sweet depiction, very romantic."

Rose also made it her choice. For her, the title simply said it all.

In second place was The Cottage, which reader Cheryl found "very inviting and soothing."

A pure landscape design with an inviting mix of colored flowers and greenery framing a cottage with a white picket fence, this cover has widespread appeal for both romance and women's fiction readers. While not a cover that took any chances, it is nonetheless lovely, with title/author text fonting that doesn't detract from the imagery.


Zebra
Cover artist: Giana Graphx


Jove
Cover Art and design:
The Springer Design Group

The Gingerbread Man came in third place.

Reader Laura made it her choice, and had this to say about it: "This cover is great. I'm compelled to keep looking at the cover over and over just to see if that haze will lift, if that image will become more clear. This is the kind of cover that makes me pick up the book to read the back, then keep it in my hand as I walk through the store."

In fourth place was Her Bodyguard.

One reader said, "[I chose] Her Bodyguard, because I liked the lighting, the half-revealed faces, and the resemblance to romantic movie posters. Very classy."

It also got AAR Editor Marianne's vote: "I liked most of these, but I chose Her Bodyguard. It was his eyelashes that did it for me. Very sexy."

It reminded Susan of the cover of The Lady¹s Tutor, which she also loved: "I like the romance of the man behind her, leaning in to kiss her neck, with her head tilted slightly -- a very romantic pose."


Avon
Cover artist: Avon Art Department


Multnomah
Art Director: Chris Gilbert; Images: Uttley DouPonce Design Works, Index Stock Imagery & Tony Stone Images
Coming in a very close fifth and sixth (they were separated by one vote) were Dee Henderson's The Protector and The Guardian. Voters chose these two either because they found them touching and patriotic - or because they really liked the eye candy.

One anonymous reader said, "The tragic events of 9/11 make this cover extra special to me, hands down winner in my eyes!"

Caseyanna agreed. She had a hard time choosing between the two Henderson covers (and Snowfall as well) but ended up going with The Protector. She had these thoughts about it: "The Protector squeaked to the top based on sentiment. Since 9/11, the national affection shown to firefighters makes this cover a commercial and emotional winner. That said, I also liked The Guardian (by the same author) because of the intense, yet sexy look on the model's face."

Our own LLB chose The Guardian for the "less patriotic" reason: "The Guardian wins hands down because this man is simply gorgeous!"


Multnomah
Art Director: Chris Gilbert;
Images: Tony Stone Images





Jove
Cover artist: Unknown

Seventh was Season of Storms. Some reasers who voted for it were unimpressed by the contemporary ballot as a whole, and saw SOS as the best in a lukewarm field.

From AAR's Mary: "Love this composition; hate most of the others. I have a feeling that several of the more monochromatic covers work better in real life than on my screen; however, I don't really like that trend unless it's carried over across a whole series a la Anita Blake." Reader Catherine was also unimpressed: "I'm not very fond of any of these covers; none of them 'jump out at me' or look very romantic. I find Season of Storms the most visually attractive with its tall landscape and night sky."


Mira
Cover artist: Unknown

Two covers tied for eighth place (each with a healthy share of votes, which is rare this far down in the rankings): Snowfall and Unbreak My Heart.

Caseyanna said about Snowfall, "If I was in the mood to read a scary mystery, I would definitely pick up this book at the newsstand based solely on the cover."

Unbreak My Heart's cover got my vote; there was something about the pen and the writing that I found romantic, and I found the overall compostion very attractive.


Onyx
Cover artist: Unknown

The last place choice was Dangerous Dilemmas.

Like most voters, Marianne preferred another cover in the end, but she mentioned Dangerous Dilemmas as a close second: "Another great cover is Dangerous Dilemmas. Excellent artwork, very contemporary and beautifully done."


Pocket Books
Cover artist: Bryan Haynes; Cover design: Anna Dorfman

Historical: Stepback Results

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