Tag Archives: Book Covers

Guest: HelenKay Dimon on Mercy and Book Covers

I’m alive! And I got HelenKay Dimon here today! Whee! Really she needs no introduction, so let’s just get to it!

Hello!  Thank you for having me here today to talk about my upcoming release, Mercy (out May 6th). I thought I’d talk about the one thing you see right away – the cover.  People ask all the time how book covers come about. Depending on the publisher, I either get a lot of say or no say at all.  No matter which end of the spectrum I’m at, I fill out a cover form of some sort to help the art department come up with the design.

In the case of Mercy, I wanted to play up the dynamic between the hero and hero. See, Becca Ford is a former CIA agent who was undercover in the hero’s club and started living with him…then set him up to be arrested. Yeah, not the best start to a romance.  The book starts eight months later, after Jarrett Holt (our hero) has cut a deal and the charges have been dropped.  Now Becca is in trouble and turns to Jarrett for help. He agrees, so long as she agrees to be his and, of course, abide by his rules, which include her not wearing clothes. She fights the rule and steals his shirts, hence the idea for the cover.  I wanted strong and sexy but I wanted any female on the cover in a man’s shirt.

Since so many romance covers feature men, many times shirtless, there was some worry about a more female-focused cover. I provided some photo samples. You can see them on the pinterest page I set up for the books: http://www.pinterest.com/hkdimon/books-mercy-only/. I thought I’d end up with a cover  with a  guy in a suit and a woman in a man’s shirt, and I was fine with that.  What I got was a strong, bold, hot woman in a man’s shirt, which I think I like even better.

And just to give you a taste of the ongoing shirt battle in the book, here’s a short teaser:

Attuned to every sound, when she picked up the soft click of the door, she yanked open the top drawer and grabbed a knife. With her back shoved into the corner of the kitchen cabinets, she crouched down, ready to spring.

Jarrett walked in and came to a sudden stop.  His gaze zoomed right in on her and the corner of his mouth twitched. “Not the usual welcome home.”

Words tumbled out of her in relief. “Maybe not for you, but this is my life lately.”

“What’s with the attack mode?’

She forced her fingers to ease up on the death grip on the knife handle. “I’m a bit vulnerable up here all day.”

“Ah, I see.” He nodded as he closed the door behind him. “But what you aren’t is naked.”

That again. She set the knife on the counter and picked up the coffee pot. “I didn’t want to burn myself.”

“Does that happen to you a lot?” As he walked toward her, he draped his suit jacket across the back of the sectional and loosened his tie. “You, the woman who blows up buildings and can carve up a man three times her size in ten seconds.”

Forget walking. The man was stalking her. She put the pot down and held onto the counter behind her for support. “You forgot to mention my sniper-like shooting skills.”

His gaze traveled along the length of her open shirt – his shirt – and the significant slip of skin open to his view. “The shirt comes off now.”

Something about his hands mesmerized her. Always had. Lean fingers, nice clean nails but hints of calluses on his palms from the harder life he once lived. He wore a stainless steel watch. Nothing fancy. Just practical, expensive but subtle like he was.

Her fingers clenched against the cool marble countertop. “Why are you upstairs?”

One of his eyebrows lifted as he undid the top button of his dress shirt. “Why do you think?”

A ball of desire whipped around inside her. “Afraid I’m digging through your drawers?”

“I could probably say something crass, but I’ll refrain.” Still, he did smile. “The shirt. Remove it.”

She looked down. Thanks to her stance, the opening between the edges of her shirt now reached down to her stomach and one of her nipples peeked out. “It’s basically unbuttoned.”

“That’s not the same thing, now is it?”

See, this is one time where the cover and the book match up pretty well.

And now that we’ve talked about it – here’s the book information and cover.

MercyAfter she infiltrated his business and betrayed his trust, a disavowed CIA agent must seek sanctuary in the bedroom of a man who will either help her, kill her, or bring her to her knees…

Becca Ford is on her own. Eight months after she headed up a sting operation to take down millionaire club owner Jarrett Holt, the other agents in her special ops team have been eliminated under odd circumstances, and she needs a place to hide.

Jarrett is a man who prefers darkness to light. He deals in the only truly valuable currency—information—and his supper club caters to an exclusive clientele. It was an uncharacteristic moment of weakness when he let a woman into his life. But it’s not luck that the criminal charges disappeared . . . as did the evidence.

When Becca returns to the club seeking his help, Jarrett doesn’t want to hear her story. But he does want her body, and demands that she give it to him. He’ll keep her safe—for now—but it’ll be in his bed and on his terms, until he says they’re done.

What do you think? 😀 Some lucky girl (or guy?) is going to win a copy in digital or print – your choice!

Author Spotlight: Manda Collins

Hi friends! We’ve got Manda Collins visiting with us today, as you can see! She was supposed to be here last Thursday too, but got a bit overwhelmed with her blog tour(s)? so she decided to condense. Which worked out for us, right? Because Myke Cole was here! We’ve got a totally different perspective about romance from Manda, which is also fun. So without further ado… Manda’s post as an AAD author!

Cover Me!

One of the first aphorisms one learns as a child (and I’m not sure why) is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And as a grown up romance reader, I long ago realized that sometimes the books with the most deplorable or boring covers are the ones I most enjoy reading. Look at the original Fabio cover of Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, for instance. There’s no way I could have known from looking at that prime bit of cheese that the tale inside would be one of my all time favorite romances.

When the time came to see my own cover for the first time, I have little shame in admitting that I teared up. In part because of the excitement of seeing my first book brought so starkly to life with real people in the key roles, but also with gratitude that it was so beautiful. And secure in the knowledge that I’d have no qualms about showing it to my romance-skeptic family and friends. What can I say? I blush easily. And I’m darn tired of defending the genre from the Fabio stigma. It’s been twenty years since he was on a cover, people! Move on!

One of the things I adore about my cover is that the hero’s face, Lucas I suppose I should call him, isn’t visible on the cover. I know that some people deplore the headless romance cover, but I have a huge affection for them. Mostly because I prefer not to have my own imagining of the hero and heroine interrupted with the faces of the cover models. And as I get older the cover models seem to get younger and younger.

So, with those thoughts in mind, here are a few of my favorite cover trends of the past few years, in no particular order:

1) Gowns! – Largely due to the advent of digital publishing, which requires there to be texture to set one cover apart from another, it is difficult to browse a row of historical romances without there being at least one cover showing the heroine in a billowing gown. I particularly love the richness of the colors in gown covers. Like this one of Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened. The tone on tone, coupled with the nuances of the velvet gown make this one pop for me. Especially with the contrast of the heroine’s red hair against the backdrop.

2) Breaking the Fourth Wall – This is a term from theatre, that describes what happens when an actor speaks and looks directly at the audience. The first cover I can remember noticing that did this was Julia Quinn’s The Lost Duke of Wyndham which shows the heroine looking out at the reader. And lots of covers since, including my own, have followed the trend.

3) In the Middle of Things – These covers are those, like Eloisa James’ fairy tale novel covers, that seem to capture the heroine in the middle of things. The first fairy tale story, A Kiss at Midnight is an especially good example of this, as it shows the heroine  running down the stairs, her glass slipper left behind. Another author whose covers follow this pattern are Kate Noble’s which often show the heroine racing off somewhere.

So, now I’ve told you what some of my favorite cover trends are, tell me some of yours! Do you prefer your hero and heroine with heads or without? Or perhaps you have some ideas about contemporary romance covers! Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know! One commenter will win a copy of How to Dance with a Duke.