Burgeoning Cover Copy

Book Cover Bitchery reader Lynn sent me an email that tickled me so much, I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

I was recently wandering around the internet searching for a new category author to add to my ebook library because my personal mission is to help insure the solvency of Books on Board. I came across Annie West through an old recommendation to you from Courtney Milan and, as I was reading through the titles in her back list, I pulled up Protected by the Prince and read the back of the book description. The third thing I thought after reading it was that I had to share it with you.

Right there in the back of the book copy was the phrase “…and he finds himself drawn to her burgeoning purity!” (exclamation point included) and, well, my first thought was What? I was mystified, as my understanding of those two words made their usage together puzzling, so I looked up the definition of burgeoning and then I looked up the definition of purity and my second thought was double What?! Is this any relation to ripening virginity or possibly the shy younger sister of fermenting sexuality?

Although it’s a humdinger, I’m fairly certain it is not the wildest hyperbole out there; so I thought you might pose a question to your readership as to their favorite What?! moment in flap copy, back of book copy, or cover blurbology. I can see a good game of one-upmanship in the making and would love to know what turn of phrase tops “burgeoning purity”.

Lynn isn’t even kidding: here’s the cover copy.

Prince Alaric of Ruvingia is as wild and untamed as the remote kingdom he rules. Women fight to warm his royal bed, but he ensures that none outstays her welcome. Then reserved, bespectacled archivist Tamsin Connors uncovers a shocking state secret….

Now Tamsin has Alaric’s undivided attention—and he finds himself drawn to her burgeoning purity! Duty demands only a temporary arrangement…but soon their powerful passion is enough to fuel a lifetime’s love….

I’ve got a crisp burgeoning dollar (US) that nothing tops “burgeoning purity.” My burgeoning curiosity is hopping to see your answers to this burgeoning question on cover copy because it is burgeoning awesome. Do your worst: what cover copy description sent your burgeoning eyebrows to your hairline?



Random Musings

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  1. 1
    KatherineB says:

    The cover title that sent me scrambling for my small change purse at the yard sale:
    Love’s Fiery Jewel, by Elaine Barbieri.
    Yes, the heroine’s name is Amethyst…her eye color? Violet. It’s a TBR for me….

    The rather lengthy blurb on another yard sale find makes me hesitate to read the book itself, I mean, how can it beat the blurb?…I can only present it, dear Bitches, with my inner snark commenting and my sense of WTF firmly screwed down:

    Passion’s Paradise
    by Sonya T. Pelton

    As the beautiful


    of course>, fair-haired

    Angel Sherwood sailed from England to Louisiana Louisiana being a natural mecca for all angelically blond English women> , she sense that her destiny flowed with the rough waves of the ocean

    . Frightened by the harsh sea

    , Angel prayed that perhaps, just perhaps, she would find happiness and romance in her new home.

    But Angel’s fate changed course

    when she was kidnapped by the cruel, yet captivating pirate, Captain Ty

    . And even though her future was suddenly in the balance

    , Angel was strangely warmed by his manly touch Yes, it IS strange, considering your sad kidnapped fate, Ms. Stockholm!>. Her strong captor stirred in her a delicious pleasure, a burning fire that made her whole body tingle with precious thrills.I hear you – a light dose of searing flame gives me precious thrills too. Darling ones, even.>

    Captain Ty’s black heart was softened, too, by her golden presence

    ; she was an untouched treasure

    , full of charm, wit and innocence – a jewel that he feverishly desired

    . But rather than taint his savage and foreboding name, he kept his feelings hidden.

    First he had to be sure that her heart belonged to him – and then he would send her to ….Passions’s Paradise

    Oh, it’s FINE to hide your feelings, Captain, act like a jerk, make sure the girl’s well and truly hooked before revealing your feelings, because only then is it ok to taint your name? O captain, where’s the end of the line? I want to get in on that.

    You see why I’m saving this one fer-special, right?

    Password saw28. Because the book blurb makes me feel TRAPPED.

  2. 2

    Since I do a few Harlequin reviews over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread, I’ve come across a few. How about this one from Chantelle Shaw’s “His Unknown Heir”?

    “She committed a sin. And hides a shocking secret. Ramon Velaquez, heir to the Velaquez winery, clearly stated his cardinal rule to Lauren Maitland – he can’t promise her more than a red-hot affair. Whilst she heard the words, her heart wasn’t listening, and her punishment for falling in love was to be sent away. Two years later, and Ramon still can’t escape the memories of the woman he banished. But when he finds Lauren again she’s independent, strong, and harbouring a shocking secret.”

    Two things in that one. First, I didn’t know hearts had ears, and second, bet you can’t guess what the “shocking secret” is! (title + blurb = secret bun in the oven).

    There are sometimes non sequitors, like this sentence from Maggie Cox’s “The Man In The Mask”
    “when Eduardo sees innocent, pretty Marianne Lockwood literally singing for her supper, he impulsively offers her a job as his live-in housekeeper”
    Like you go to nightclubs to interview housekeepers? How did that go? “I loved your version of “Over the Rainbow.” Do you know how to use a vacuum cleaner?”

    Sometimes I could tear my hair out, because these blurbs do their best to hide some really great reads (I can recommend the Cox). The author gets the blurb she’s given, like the cover.

  3. 3
    Laurel says:

    I can’t offer anything to compete with “burgeoning purity.” But I can hazard a guess as to what that might mean. Perhaps mousy Tamsin is in fact a reformed trollop, her purity being a newfound thing, and growing each day under careful cultivation? In which case her spectacles were an excellent choice since everyone knows that pure girls don’t wear contacts.

  4. 4
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    There was a Marjorie M. Liu book with the phrase “variegated hair” in the cover copy.  I remember this because I don’t think I’d ever seen those two words together before, let alone in cover copy.  But then the supermarket in town hired a girl who actually has variegated hair, and I was glad that I knew the phrase.

  5. 5
    LG says:

    Sometimes I could tear my hair out, because these blurbs do their best to hide some really great reads (I can recommend the Cox). The author gets the blurb she’s given, like the cover.

    I definitely agree with that. I’m a relatively new Harlequin reader, and another thing that’s struck me is how often things I wish had been mentioned on the back cover aren’t. It’s usually serious stuff, like the heroine’s mother has Alzheimer’s, or the heroine is recovering from a recent home invasion that has wrecked her emotionally. On the back cover, everything looks light and fluffy – I hate going into a book expecting that, only to discover that there’s heavy stuff going on. It’s not that I mind heavy stuff, I just like to know what I’m getting into so I’m in a frame of mind for dealing with it. I feel like I can never know what to expect from a Harlequin, not unless I’ve looked up reviews or read the author before.

  6. 6

    I can’t top burgeoning purity, though for some strange reason the phrase that leaped into my mind to accompany it was “…and the heartbreak of psoriasis.”

  7. 7
    AgTigress says:

    Variegated hair I can easily envisage (in fact, one sees examples on the London Underground daily):  burgeoning purity, however, absolutely defeats my imagination.

  8. 8
    AgTigress says:

    Deleted – posted by mistake.

  9. 9
    MariDonne says:

    Nowhere nearly as good as “burgeoning purity,” but I remember the hero (not his apparel) of a Fern Michaels novel being described as “sumptuous.” Not being Hannibal Lecter, it never occurred to me to use that word to describe a person.

  10. 10
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    A sumptuous hero? Wow. Male pros, perhaps? (Sumptuous = “splendid and expensive looking” per OxAm)

    Sorry, have nothing to top burgeoning purity. (Have a nice image in my head of a sweet potato vine putting out new shoots, though.)

    school22: clearly refers to where that copy writer should be on today’s date.

  11. 11
    notsurewho says:

    everyone knows that pure girls don’t wear contacts.

    @Laurel … I’ve never thought of contact lenses as phallic…but now…I’m not too sure.

    Next time I put my contact lenses in shall certainly be an adventure!

  12. 12
    Sybylla says:

    I can’t top the blurb, but this seems like the perfect thread to mention a line that I read recently (admittedly not in a romance) that sent my eyebrows burgeoning well past my hairline.

    In The Emperor of All Maladies, a “biography” of cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee writes: “With that seminal observation, the study of leukemias suddenly found clarity and spurted forward.”

    I kid you not.  I’m still reading it, but it’s with divided attention because I keep looking for more crap like that.  O editor, where is thy pen?!

  13. 13
    Ri L. says:

    I kept a log of these from my days in ebook distribution.  This was probably the worst:

    After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Riley Covington is living his dream as a professional linebacker when he comes face-to-face with a radical terrorist group on his own home turf. Drawn into the nightmare around him, Riley returns to his former life as a member of a special ops team that crosses oceans in an attempt to stop the escalating attacks. But time is running out, and it soon becomes apparent that the terrorists are on the verge of achieving their goal: to strike at the very heart of America.

    Only mildly amusing, but then you get to the title: Monday Night Jihad.

    Then there’s this one from Harlequin, back when they were trying to make Historical Christian Romance happen:

    When night fell on the lawless streets of old San Francisco, Matthew Covington—seemingly just another wealthy society idler—became the mysterious crime-fighter known as the Black Bandit. Nothing could tempt him to reveal his secret identity, until the English gentleman met Georgia Waterhouse, whose pseudonymous newspaper accounts had made his daring exploits famous. He was coming to care deeply for this woman, who shared his passionate devotion to justice—and the Lord—but she could never know he was her shadow-shrouded hero.

    What makes a Christian superhero? His amazing power to turn the other cheek?

    More Harlequin:

    Personal trainer Terri Whalen breathes car exhaust fumes the way other people breathe air.

    Nanette might have been able to withstand Charles’s sexual assaults in the flesh, but when he infiltrates her dreams, she’s powerless to resist.

    Actually that one’s pretty egregious.  Marketing copy that’s trying to appeal to women (or, really, anyone) should never, ever contain the words “sexual assault.”

    The best one isn’t actually romance at all, but something from Simon and Schuster’s pathetically toothless Christian imprint; a biography of some baseball player (I forget who) that went like this:

    ”[Our hero] has experienced many struggles, victories, and life lessons both on the diamond and off. Throughout his life, the one thing that has kept him focused on walking clean is the glimpses he has received of God’s goodness. He addresses the issues he has faced—such as the temptation to cheat while pitching, the unhealthy desire to cheer against fellow teammates so he could benefit from their failure, and his personal battle with pornography.”

    That’s a truly difficult life you had there, killer.

  14. 14
    TaraL says:

    …and his personal battle with pornography.

    LOL@ “battle.” Bet it was more of a wrestling match. And just arm wrestling at that…

  15. 15
    Airman's Wife says:


    Hey, we’re not the only ones that found “Monday Night Jihad” ridiculous.

    $9.59 for an ebook???  It sounds like they had trouble giving it away…

    Spamword:  service69.  I’m not touching the double entendres there with a barge pole

  16. 16
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    This past Saturday, I purchased a bag of romance novels for $1 from the Friends of the Library book sale; so, upon reading your post, I just grabbed the bag and perused the back covers.  While I encountered “wanton, white-hot desire,” “the dazzling dream that their destiny promised,” “feral at heart with glittering green and gold eyes” (not to mention amethyst eyes, emerald eyes, obsidian eyes, violet eyes, and masses upon masses of “flaming hair”), I have to say I did not encounter anything approaching the WTF-ery of “burgeoning purity.”  It’s almost like “recovered virginity.”

  17. 17
    Hannah says:

    I see a lot of overwrought language in cover blurbs. In fact, I think it’s a requirement for Harlequin Presents. It’s interesting to not the original (UK)  title of the Annie West book depicted was Passion, Purity, and the Prince. The oxymoron is even in the title! I can’t top “burgeoning purity.” It makes me think of ripe fruit, and reminds me of “being plucked” as metaphor for losing one’s virginity that Judi Dench used as Queen Elizabeth in the movie Shakespeare in Love.

  18. 18
    SusiB says:

    Personal trainer Terri Whalen breathes car exhaust fumes the way other people breathe air.

    Oh my, in that case she probably has all sorts of burgeoning health problems.

  19. 19
    Missy Ann says:


    Did you see the cover to Jaci’s Perfect Play? Seriously, I cannot focus on anything (else) when that cover is present.

  20. 20
    Linsalot says:

    I can’t beat “burgeoning purity” but I recently went looking for the first romance I read which was Bride of Danger by Katherine O’Neal and found the heroine described as such “her flame-haired beauty drawing all eyes, her innocent charm wresting from men the secrets of their souls”.  As for her love well “she couldn’t resist surrendering to his searing passion.”.

  21. 21
    EbonyMcKenna says:

    I love Annie West,
    she’s been a guest speaker at our writers’ group and she’s awesome value.

    Plus, in Australia, “Presents” titles are packaged as “Sexy” , so Annie is a Sexy author!

  22. 22
    Nadia says:

    OK, this isn’t quite as good as “burgeoning purity,” but it’s a riot all the same.  From the back cover of Woodiwiss’s “The Flame and the Flower.” (hear it in your head in that voiceover guy’s voice)

    In age of great turmoil, the breathtaking romance of Heather Simmons and Captain Brandon Birmingham spans oceans and continents!  Their stormy saga reaches the limits of human passion as we follow Heather’s tumultuous journey from poverty…to her kidnapping at a squalid London dockside…to the splendor of Harthaven, the Carolina plantation where Brandon finally probes the depths of Heather’s full womanhood!

    “probes the depths of her womanhood”  Hee hee.

  23. 23
    Jessi says:

    The back of Jayne Castle’s second book of the Ghost Hunter’s series actually turned me off so much that I have never bought her books retail since.  Other people must have had issues as well because the newer releases have a different blurb.

    Life is complicated for Lydia Smith. She’s working at that tacky, third-rate museum, Shrimpton’s House of Ancient Horrors, trying to salvage her career in para-archaeology—and dating the most dangerous man in town. Just when she thinks she might be getting things under control, she stumbles over a dead body and discovers that her lover has a secret past that could get him killed. Just to top it off, there’s trouble brewing underground in the eerie, glowing green passageways of the Dead City.
    Of course, all of these problems pale in comparison to the most pressing issue: Lydia has been invited to the Restoration Ball and she hasn’t got a thing to wear.

    Really? She’s being chased by murderers and might get killed but the most important thing in her life is getting a dress? I say thhpppppt to that! Thank god that’s not what the story actually emphasized.

  24. 24
    Susan says:

    Wow.  Just…wow.  Isn’t there a contest for purple prose that’s like the “It Was A Dark and Stormy Night” contest?  Can’t remember the name.

    BTW, it’s possible to have eyes with 2 different colors. I mean, in the same eye.  It’s called central heterochromia, per Wikipedia. I know, ‘cause I have it – grayish blue eyes with hazel around the pupil, much like the picture on Wikipedia.  However, my eyes do not, and never have, glittered.

    Does that make me a mutant? And I wear contacts, too…hmm.  I’m an impure mutant?

  25. 25
    MariDonne says:


    It’s called the Bulwer–Lytton Fiction Contest, and the goal is to write the worst possible opening sentence of a novel, in honor of its namesake’s classic, “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

    There’s also an award that I think is given out yearly for worst sex scene in fiction – not written deliberately.

  26. 26
    Maddy says:

    I’ve read Love’s Fiery Jewel. It was okay, a bit old-skooly for my tastes though. And the hero’s, like, twice her age, or something—but that didn’t bother me too much.

    This post sent me scrambling to find a book I snagged a little while ago (I couldn’t find it), which had a somewhat unusual sentence—for a romance novel—on the back. All I remember is “…so when her lover insisted she undergo artificial insemination, she couldn’t refuse him.”

    Then there’s this one from the back of McCrory’s Lady, which sent my friend into hysterics when I read it out loud: *dramatic voice* “But the sharp-tongued madam finally met her match in a rancher with the burr of a Scotsman and the body of a god.”

    girls23… nope, I got nothing.

  27. 27
    Lynn S. says:

    And, of course,  I bought the book.  How could I resist.  It is now parked in my burgeoning e-library.  You will be either happy or sad to know that the actual book is burgeonless. 

    @KatherineB “Strangely warmed…”  I’m thinking inappropriate touching might be at work here or, given the high seas setting, some flogging along with the touching. 

    @Lynne Connolly In the world of Harlequins, “Live-in housekeeper” is a euphemism just waiting to happen.

    @Laurel That’s what we all need, a Brita filter for bad behavior.

    @EbonyMcKenna I hope to love Annie West too.  She has a wonderful smile.

  28. 28
    Niveau says:

    Oooh, there was a Presents – I think it was a bargain buy at eharlequin last month? – that recently made me scratch my head. I don’t trust my Internet to stay connected long enough to find out its actual title, but the back cover copy started out with something like:

    Three years ago, they’d had a passionate affair.

    Good start, good start… except it was followed by something like:

    Their relationship had never been consummated.

    …so how exactly did they have an affair? (Not that a relationship between two single adults would count as one in the first place, either.)

  29. 29
    Laurie says:

    My favorite craptastic back cover is a Tom and Sharon Curtis book called Moonlight Mist. 

    Lovely Lynden Downpatrick raged helplessly, her newfound woman’s pride aching.  For surely her newly wed husband Justin Melbrooke must believe her an accomplice in the infamouse scheme that had made her his wife.  Was he not the prize catch of London, this handsome celebrated young poet-Lord?  Schoolgirl she might be, but she had heard the stories of the titled ladies who had given more than their hearts to this aristocratic rake.  Indeed, they were wed less than a week and already the stunning Lady Silvia, Justin’s mistress, was installed at nearby Crant Castle.

    Well, she would show him she was no conniving society miss.  Trapped into marriage he might have been, but she was resolved, though her heart might break, that he should be free…

    I didn’t know pride could ache and a back cover should not be written in Yoda speak.

  30. 30
    Maddy says:

    @Laurie …What the hell? Craptastic indeed.

    I found another one:

    Cherokee Embrace, by Teresa Howard


    Lacy Dawn Hampton sighed with exasperation as she fanned herself in the gazebo at Paradise Plantation. How sheltered and boring her life was! She longed for passion and excitement, but her father and three older brothers protected her from everything! Then she heard a splash and her green eyes widened as a towering Indian emerged from the lake and walked straight toward her! Modesty fled as Lacy crossed the lawn to meet the handsome half breed. She felt the heat of his impassioned flesh, then his first touch, finally a kiss that made her tremble with desire. Tomorrow she’d be a proper southern belle once more, but today she must savor a fiery forbidden rapture in the arms of a savage lover!


    Chase Tarleton had traveled the Trail of Tears when his Indian family was driven from their native Georgia. Now, back for a reunion with his white grandparents, Chase found himself torn between two worlds—the Cherokee camp he’d left behind and the vast plantation, Towering Pines, that would someday be his. Nearing his destination, Chase paused for a refreshing swim and spied a vision in peach colored satin. The luscious golden haired belle was staring straight at him! Instinct overrode caution as Chase clasped the delicate maiden in his strong arms, crushing her velvety softness against his bronze chest. He knew he must taste those teasing crimson lips, span that tiny waist with his muscular hands, and caress every satiny inch of her tempting, creamy body!

    The cover is …interesting, too. It’s apparently a Fabio.

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