Linnae Crady - Ballot chair


Series is a category that continues to grow and change. Every time I think back to the series ballot from our first contest, I can't help thinking, "We've come a long way, baby." This year's ballot features an inspirational romance and two Harlequin Bianca covers (these are series romances published in Spanish and aimed at the Latina market. It's also a well-balanced slate as far as the heat factor goes; we have some steamy Temptations and more staid Special Editions.

Suddenly Married

Love Inspired
Cover artist: Peter Gloege, Lookout Design;
Art Director: Vivian Ducas

The winner, Suddenly Married, was over fifty votes ahead of the competition. It's the only Inspirational romance on the Series ballot, and the first one to get the top nod. Voters found it classy, dreamy, and unique. Comments fell mostly into two camps: About half the voters simply loved the church, and the other half loved that the cover didn't have any people.

Cora was a church fan: "I don't read Christian romances, but this cover is truly lovely. The green and gold color scheme, the small church, it looks both serene and romantic. Plus, the series banner is less intrusive here than with the other covers in this category." Nana wasn't the only reader who wanted to hold her own wedding at such a beautiful spot: "Suddenly Married is so different from the other covers. The color scheme is striking - generally covers use purples and blues for a ‘fairy tale' look, but here yellow works just as well. Can I get married in that church?"

Phyllis liked that it was tasteful: " No blatant sex on the front cover - I'm not embarrassed to leave it on my coffee table where my kids or their friends can see it." Diana and Barbara both fell into the "we're sick of people" camp. From Diana: "the models on the other covers look they're moonlighting from the soaps." Barbara agreed: "I'm so tired of Series covers being simply variations of two people on the cover. I picked this one because it was simple and peaceful, a good representative of the title, and was not typical."

The author herself was quite pleased with the cover, and she gave it her vote as well: "The artist captured the mood of the story with the dark and light images. The 'straight to the chapel' walkway hints at how the story will end, without being obvious. I love the attention to detail. And that"


In second place was the very different Ghost of a Chance. Several voters who picked this cover mentioned that they bought the book because of it, which is obviously exactly what the art department should be shooting for. And how many romance readers have pirate fantasies? A lot, as it happens.

Karen was one of them: "ok, maybe I'm shallow, LOL....I still find sexy pirates irresistible. Yummy… what visions entering my head..." Denise echoed these sentiments: "I'm a sucker for long hair, a little scruffiness and an eye patch. The artist nailed it in this illustration of the hero. This is a case where I'd buy the book for the cover alone." Zee was more succinct: "I'm SO digging the pirate ghost. He's hot!"

The author liked it as well: "Yeah, it's mine . But this is a seriously good cover. Captures the book perfectly. Great colors and mood."

It also won the vote of ballot chair Linnae, who generally doesn't like covers of this type: "This was difficult because all of the covers appeal to me. However, Giant Floating People (GFP) covers [usually] do not float my boat, but the sexy floating pirate fits well with the clever title. Let's face it....Ghosts float and creating a GFP cover I like deserves my vote."

Ghost of a Chance

Silhouette Intimate Moments
Cover artist: Hugh Syme;
Art Director: Deborah Peterson


Sight Unseen

Harlequin Intrigue
Cover artist: Glenn Madison;
Art Director: Vivian Ducas

The third place cover was Sight Unseen. As I read the comments, I couldn't help comparing them to Ghost of a Chance. Some of us fantasize about long hair and eye patches, and others dream of tuxedos. Or in this case, partial tuxedos. Eileen said: "A gorgeous guy in formal wear? It begs the question of whether he's dressing or undressing, but hope springs eternal either way. It's a great story teaser, especially with the Capitol in the background. The blues and violets lend moodiness and intrigue."

Habiba was another "ab" fan: "Abs, abs, abs! First of all: is he just too hunky or what? That open shirt, discarded tuxedo and the very serious/sexy stare make me think: what or whom is lucky enough to have all his attention."

Other readers really liked the hero and the setting; many of them mentioned that they loved the shot of our nation's capital. Jade had this to say: "Washington DC settings are always intriguing, but add twilight and six pack abs and I'm enthralled..." Katherine chose it as well: "It is very sexy without being overdone. I obviously like the hot guy on the cover, but the background is great also. Nice view of DC. Great abs."


Close behind in fourth place was Wickedly Hot, a cover that many voters thought lived up to its title. Coverballot's Jenny voted for it: "This is such a sexy cover. It is definitely wickedly hot." Many of the comments were some variation on that theme. Angie fessed up about her reasoning: "I'll admit it, I'm actually voting for this guys muscular arms and superb back muscles." Don't worry, Angie; you weren't alone.

Interestingly, this was a cover that appealed to many writers of series romance, including one who voted for it even though her own cover was also on the ballot. The author voted for it as well: "Not JUST because it's my book (lol) but also because I think it's one of the most beautiful covers Temptation has ever put out."

Several readers also mentioned the attractive black and white color scheme. T. was one of these: "I LOVE the black-and-white element to this, especially combined with the hot pink. The mix really radiates heat, it's very sensual, and the models radiate chemistry. Just what I want to see in a hot read."

Wickedly Hot

Harlequin Temptation
Cover artist: Kristiansen de Duleba


Bride at Birralee

Harlequin Romance
Cover artist: Phil Heffernan;
Art Director: Maria-Teresa D'Avella

Navidad de Amor

Harlequin Bianca
Cover artist: unknown

A Bride at Birralee was the fifth place book. Readers who chose this one liked the autumnal Australian setting and the romance of the wedding. Several Aussies weighed in, all thrilled to see a cover set in their neck of the woods. Paula thought it was beautiful and accurate: "Romantic and beautiful. As an Aussie I can tell you this cover is totally accurate and depicts our wonderful country perfectly." Peg liked it as well: "This cover is incredibly atmospheric. The landscape is very autumnal - all rusts and browns - yet the bride in the wedding dress suggests new beginnings. It makes me want to read the story to find out what's behind the contradiction. The layout is outstanding, with the curve of the bride's body following the strong diagonal line of the dark tree. Too many of the other covers were very ‘busy' - just not well designed."

The author gave it her nod of approval as well: "I'm the author. But when this cover arrived I just had to prop it up on my desk so I could grin at it all the time. It captures the essence of my story perfectly. I especially love the hero's loosened collar."

Coming in at sixth place was Navidad De Amor, a Harlequin Bianca cover. It had two big things going for it: the snow, and New York City. Sense of place seems to be a recurring theme in this category, and several New Yorkers were pleased to note that the artist got the view exactly right. Sarah liked the accuracy and the depiction of the couple: "It could be my love of New York City, and the fact that this cover appears to be geographically correct, but I really think that it's because she doesn't look waif-thin like most cover models. No one looks thin in a winter coat, but she looks like a real woman, and I love love love that."

Charlotte had this to say: "I love the snowy city night. It captures the excitement of Christmas in the city and the romance of an urban setting." Jill made it her choice as well: "Yay, Harlequin covers are getting better. It was actually hard to chose this year. This one reminds me of the end of Bridget Jones Diary. This cover is romantic, sweet, and we know immediately where and when the story takes place." She wasn't the only voter to notice the similarity to Bridget Jones, by the way.


Seduce Me

Harlequin Temptation
Cover artist: Krystyna de Duleba

Seduce Me came in seventh, in no small part thanks to the hero's sexy back.

Anna was just one enthusiast: "OOH ... that back. 'Nuff said."

Aneesa liked the whole scene: "It's quite simple and effective. The slight smile on the woman's face, the still waters in the back, and the large full moon gives a sense of tranquility and intimacy between the man and woman."

AAR's TaKiesha chose it for the sizzle factor: "You can almost see the smoke coming off the sand."


Family of His Own

Harlequin Romance
Cover artist: Larry Roibal;
Art Director: Maria-Teresa D'Avella

Where You Least Expect It

Silhouette Special Edition
Cover artist: Danny O'Leary;
Art Director: Kathleen Oudit

Habitaciones Separadas

Harlequin Bianca
Cover artist: unknown

The eighth place cover was A Family of his Own. Voters liked the garden and the tender moment shared by the couple. Maya thought it was like a slice of life: "Every once in a while, when I am out in the world, on a walk, or waiting for a train, I'll see a couple having a moment like the one pictured on this cover, and it always gets me. This cover is romance. This is the romance that exists everywhere."

AAR's Liz agreed: "What could be more romantic that sitting with your love in a beautiful garden with a mansion in it? Thought this was a great real-life picture for a change." Janice voted for this one as well: "Some might call this cover very old fashioned, but it appeals to me. I think it's the way the couple are seated, so close to each other. He is looking at her very seriously, and he has his hand on her shoulder. She is softly touching his face. It seems to be saying that they are each very important to each other, as if in that little moment in the garden, no one else in the universe exists for them."

In ninth place was Where You Least Expect It. For many voters (including AAR/Coverballot's Teresa and me) it was all about the glasses. Kate was part of that group: "I love a guy with glasses. And bookstores. And romance. And this cover combines all three...what more does one need?" Rosario agreed: "I just adore men in glasses. Plus, he looks like Dean Cain in Superman."

Carrotbat loved its realism: "I think I knew immediately when I saw this on the ballot that it would be my favorite. It reminds me of a couple I see in my office building sometimes: he's all button-down businessman and she has gauzy blouses and gorgeous bright cotton skirts. I don't spend a lot of time making out on the beach, or kissing in fabulous gardens outside huge houses, or in Paris or DC, or hanging around docks looking wistful - and it doesn't even snow where I live. Despite the fact that romance is about fantasy, I guess I expect contemporary series books to be more realistic, so seeing the people from work (or their slightly younger counterparts) on the cover of a book was a big draw."

Rounding out the ballot in the tenth spot was Habitaciones Separadas. Quite possibly it suffered in comparison with the other Bianca cover; several voters who went with Navidad mentioned that they liked this one as well.

LLB liked it, though; she felt it was "the most romantic of the covers." Stacey liked it too: "Wow, I liked several of these a lot. I picked this one because of the beautiful European city background, but I could easily have picked the other Bianca cover or the two Harlequin Presents. All would attract me to the books."

Tess admired the setting: "Love the view of Paris (at least I'm pretty sure that's the Eiffel Tower in the background)."


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