Lisa Baca & Elaine Lee - Ballot Chairs

 

The contemporary category is another one that has evolved and changed over the years. Lately, romantic suspense covers and inspirational covers have dominated the category, and both were present on this ballot. It's interesting to note that the contemporary category had more voter participation than any of the others, and that the votes were more varied. Most of the categories had a very dominant winner, but in Contemporary the top three covers were very close, and the next four weren't far behind.

Kitchen Witch

Berkley
Cover artist: Masaki Ryo

The winning cover, The Kitchen Witch, is something of a landmark; it's the first cartoon cover ever to win in this category (or any category). As a longtime fan of cartoon covers, I can't help taking some pleasure in this. Sure, they can be terrible (as we'll see later in the worst results), but when they're done right, they can be terrific. Many readers agreed that this was cartoon done right. They liked the goth aspects and retro feel, and they loved that it reminded them of Bewitched.

Shelisa was one of many readers who was reminded of the old television series: "I love the Bewitched look of it, the proper housewife from the apron strings up, but witchy and fun on the bottom half. Love the cat."

Voters also mentioned that the concept seemed fresh. Susan found it to be an fun alternative to the same old, same old: "It's fun and interesting and beautifully done. Most of these choices are boring or have been done a billion times before. The art on this is fresh and different, unlike a typical cartoon cover."

MaryJanice liked it as well: "It's adorable. I love the trend in cartoon covers (luckily) and this cover is so evocative for me: is she really a witch? Is that a spell she's working on, or Mac N' Cheese? Like any great cover, you want to pick it up to peek at the flap copy." It also got the nod of approval from Annette, who authored the book. She found it to be "bright and perky" and loved that it represented the story so well.

 

Closely following Kitchen Witch was Pale Moon Rising. Readers described it as mysterious, atmospheric, and evocative. Marianne found that it was "wonderfully atmospheric without being sappy." It took Lindsey right into the story: "such a beautiful scene. I can just see myself sitting at the end of that dock wrapped in my lover's arms being bathed in the light of the moon."

AAR's Leigh voted for it as well: "It's beautiful and intriguing, perfectly setting the mood for what must be a suspense story. It's the only one of the choices that really jumps out at me as a book I'd want to read to find out what's happening in such a mysterious place."

Diana mentioned that it is one of the few books she's purchased just for the cover, and added, "Maybe it's that Diana, Goddess of the Moon thing I've got going." I chose this one as well, for the beautiful scene and cool color scheme (though I did nearly vote for the winner).

Pale Moon Rising

Mira
Cover artist: Unknown

 

Secrets

Bethany House
Jennifer Parker

The third place cover was Secrets, which shows a partial close-up of a woman's face. Voters liked the European feel and the heroine's modern and different look. Ballot co-chair Elaine chose it because she felt it had a Tuscan feel. Shelly and LFL both liked the portrayal of the heroine. Shelly said: "The cover has a mainstream look about it, I think because of the contemporary stylish heroine in non-sexual clothing, and because the font is more classical and not like most mass market fonts. At the same time the shadow of the man lets you know there's something going on between the sexes."

LFL agreed: "I love the warm colors, the border around the author's name, the chipped wall, and the woman's unconventional appearance for a romance heroine (her short hair and brown eyes). It all makes for an unusual and appealing look." Reyeusela also chose this one: "The title and the portrait of the woman work so well together. And the shadow on the old stucco wall -lovely. It's original and lush. Love it."

 

Passionate Destiny came in fourth, and it's a real milestone; this is the first e-book cover to make the ballot in a category other than worst, and a fourth place showing is quite an achievment.

Voters were drawn into the scene, and they wanted to know what was going on. Jocelyn’s inquiry was echoed by several others: “Two empty chairs, only one shadow. Is she waiting for someone? This cover makes me want to pick up the book.” Cora also felt curious about the story: “They're all very good, but I particularly like the mysterious atmosphere of this cover and the ghostly shadow figure. It's very gripping and makes you want to open the book to see what happens.”

Lorien was intrigued as well: “It is a cover that is evocative of a bit of mystery/longing and the comfort of sitting on a front porch looking out at a beautiful setting. I want to know who is the woman? What does she see? For whom is she waiting?” One author offered the ultimate compliment: “It's haunting and thought provoking. I love the superimposed silhouette, and the attention to detail is incredible. (How can I get this talented artist to 'do' one of MY covers?”

Passionate Destiny

Liquid Silver Books
Cover artist: April Martinez

 

In Your Eyes

Ivy
Cover artist: Aleta Rafton

In fifth place was In Your Eyes. Voters described it as romantic and sensual, and several expressed a desire to be on that beach. Nana said it best: "I want that dress and I want to look like that in it. I want the ocean, too, if I can get it. It's sexy without being tacky, it's pretty without being bland, and it's pastel without being cliché. It's just a great cover."

Maria agreed: "I think this cover is sexy yet classy. The woman doesn't seem to be consciously posing for someone, but the mood is still very sensual in a lovely natural way. I also quite envy her nightgown, it looks it would feel wonderfully soft to wear."

Sherry thought it was just about perfect: "The mood set in this cover is dreamy, romantic and sensuous, current and timeless. Sigh."

 

Coming in sixth was The Summer I Dared, which also has a water theme. Voter comments on this one were very similar; they all loved that the title matched the image so well.

Kate said, "There's something so feminine and innocent about the arched foot and the delicate ripples. It really reflects the title, I think; the anticipation of that first step, the courage that it takes to leap...both into cold water and into love."

Kerry liked it as well: "I just really like the simplicity of it and the whole feeling of a tentative step into something enormous." Peg had this to say: "What a beautiful simple cover! The idea of the toe in the water - testing the water before daring to jump in - was great. Emphasizing the author's name made sense for a well-known author who's an auto-buy for many."

The Summer I Dared

Scribner
Jacket design, John Fullbrook III;
Photo, Sean Justice/Getty Images

 

Almost to the Altar

Harlequin
Cover artist: unknown

Almost to the Altar was the seventh place pick. Voters loved the idea of an autumn wedding, and several mentioned that it wasn't embarrassing; they could read it on the bus without fear.

Coverballot's Marian picked this one: "The first thing that attracted me were the colors. Next was the untraditional cover for a wedding. I love having the dress hanging there - waiting. Barbara found it serene and refreshing, and added, "I enjoy looking at it. I can almost smell the sunshine."

The cover also Malvina's choice: "Nothing is more romantic than the sight of a gorgeous wedding dress. Combined with the title, this cover makes me dream about being a beautiful bride, marching up the aisle to marry the very loved groom. Sigh."

 

The eighth place cover was Pink Moon. Voters liked the sailboat/nautical theme and dreamy look.

It was Marian's top choice: "I love the use of color on this cover. The wash of pink gives it a hazy, ethereal feel. Plus I guess I'm just drawn to water, maybe that's why I also liked the Pale Moon Rising cover."

Anna was also a pink fan, and admitted that she chose the book for "the most girly of reasons - the pink. I love the way the pink clouds and moon are reflected in the pink on the water." Bina had this to say: "There's such a sense of place with this cover. I noticed that SAH seems to get covers that really fit her stories and as a reader, I appreciate that and wonder why that's so often not the case."

Pink Moon

Harlequin
Cover artist: unknown

 

Miranda Blue

Avon
Cover artist: Honi Werner

Miranda Blue Calling came in ninth. The most 'Chick Lit' of all the choices, it got the vote of the other contemporary co-chair, Lisa. The most common word used to describe this one was ‘fun.' Teresa called it "fun and sassy." And Simone agreed: "I love the cute outfit, and I'm wondering what she's talking about on the phone. This book looks fun." Yuri chose it as well: "The whole thing just makes me want to smile. I think this is someone I want to know. I especially like the crescent moon tattoo. The font, and the cloud thing down the bottom were a good choice too."

Rounding out the ballot was A Special Place. Oddly enough, many voters mentioned it as a second place choice. Voters giving it the top nod liked the happy and romantic feeling of the couple. Susan had this to say: "It's sexy without being raunchy or embarrassing to read in a public place. I like that the hero and heroine are looking at each other, and I want to know what's making her look so radiantly happy." AAR/Coverballot's Jennifer chose this one too: "A very intimate, romantic cover. It's the only one that shows couple, and the warm colors and dark background emphasize that these two are alone together. It says ‘romance' to me." LaShelle couldn't help noticing the beauty of the heroine: "She is so beautiful. You can see the emotion in her eyes."

A Special Place

Arabesque
Cover artist: Unknown

 

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