Heads, Shoulders, Knees, Toes and Shoes

For awhile now, on historical romance covers, we've been looking at backs, or, more specifically, women undressing from the back:

Eloisa James A Duke of Her own - walking away, undressing without a bra on, it seems.Caroline Linden - Blame it On Bath (again, undressing, from the back, no bra)

I love how all these women in historical times went around with their gowns laced over nothing. It's like the upper-body version of going commando. Boobmando! 


Sometimes there are faces shown on the female models, and sometimes only part of a face.

But now it seems the cover models are turning all the way around, and we're not only getting faces, we're getting some leg!

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Some people talk to their flowers, others show a little ankle to keep things growing.


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I am confused by the inexplicable slit in the front of her gown. And is she walking out of a furnace? 


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You might not have read this part of the story, but she totally used to be a Rockette before she became Cinderella. That's why she's running away from that shoe.


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A lot more leg! I think that cover is so stunning, from the color to the opulence to the contrast between her hair and the fabric. But I can't help but hearing, in the back of my mind, as I look at her pose: SCOOTCH DOWN!

I bet she's friends with this lady, too. They lie about all day, eating sweetmeats, drinking wine and gossiping while they let their spray tans dry.

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“Get me a snack, would you love?.”
“No, you go. I'm having a nap.”
“Drat. So am I.”

I also think that cover art designers have been paying attention to how much the romance community talks about shoes, especially as conference season nears, because I'm seeing more shoes appearing on covers. Cute shoes, too! It's like we can read books and go shoe shopping at the same time! 

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Red shoes – I like the point at the top, don't you?

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Not crazy about these. I swear I had shoes just like that when I was 8.

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Oh, pink pumps! I rather like those.

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I love this cover art, from the texture of the fabric to the detail on her shoes, which I totally covet.


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I really, really hope she got a bikini wax before she put on that dress. Especially because it might help distract the garden party when her right breast pops out of her dress. 

Anyway, what do you think of those shoes? I think they might be the white version of the pinks ones in the Quinn cover. 

But fear not! If shoes aren't your thing, and you prefer to go barefoot in your formal wear, that's cool, too: 

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Even the men are barefoot! This is an especially good fashion choice for men whose legs are attached to their rib cages.

The one thing I can't wait for? A romance cover featuring someone wearing Vibram Five Fingers. 

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Just think of all the ballgown matching opportunities! If it's good enough for the Golden Globes after parties, it's good enough for romance!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    The white ones cannot be a version of the pink Quinn ones—look at the heel! The ones on the Quinn cover have something that might even be a remotely historically accurate heel (although I feel sorry for the woman who’s running with her hip dislocated like that), while the ones on the Jordan cover are definitely post-1980-heels.

    But I have to say, the cover of The Duchess Diaries has done what very few covers have ever done: I now must hunt down a physical copy of that book!

  2. 2
    Estara says:

    What I find especially grinworthy is the idea that all those ladies either wear nylon stockings or nothing on their legs. Why the heck aren’t artists drawing the silk stockings in? They could even do nice teasing, because after all people were wearing garters at the time.

  3. 3
    Rose says:

    I don’t think the lady on the Carolyn Jewel cover is eating sweetmeats of gossiping with anyone, because she looks too drugged to care.

    For some reason the historically inaccurate shoes on some of these bother me more than the historically inaccurate dresses.

  4. 4
    JenniferH says:

    At least the red shoes on the cover of Just Like Heaven appear in the story

  5. 5
    arnique says:

    19th century Crocs!—Twin sisters star in Flawless and Not Wicked Enough!—Shoeless seductions! The reasons why I read on an e-reader and only buy paperbacks from Arrow. But I have to admit, the cover of the Duchess Diaries is quite good, though a too pink and a Jillian Hunter book.

    I think the best non-Heyer covers were Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt series. They were so good—tasteful, accurate depictions of the story, and cohesive—it’s a pity her latest covers look like the ones above. Sigh.

  6. 6

    Thank goodness we haven’t seen the Crocs crop up yet!

  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:

    If I see a hint of Croc, I will so order a poster-sized version of that cover and hang it in my home.

  8. 8
    Jen says:

    I’m wondering how many bales of curtains were sacrificed to make these impossibly long dresses!

  9. 9
    snarkhunter says:

    I don’t think that guy’s leg is attached to his rib cage, b/c he doesn’t have a ribcage. As far as I can tell, he’s literally growing out of the bedsheets.

    …is this like a historical version of the Real Doll?

  10. 10
    Lori says:

    The model on the Flawless cover looks like Blake Lively, aka “Boobs Legsly”. Somehow that seems appropriate.

  11. 11
    MaddBookish says:

    These “ladies” are all suspect. No chemises, corsets, petticoats or drawers? Harlots!

  12. 12
    Plaidsneakers says:

    Does this explain Angelina Jolie’s leg at the Oscars?

  13. 13
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    The cover model for “Ravishing the Heiress” looks incredibly uncomfortable. Seriously, the only time I get into contortions like that is when I’m trying to scratch the back of my ankle without bending over. It’s too precarious to be sexy; after all, it’s hard to feel seductive when you’ve got a dislocated shoulder.

  14. 14
    Jessica_HookEm says:

    Here’s what I don’t understand: why do publishers think that women want to see the heroine scantily clad on the front cover?  I would think that most romance readers are heterosexual and therefore would prefer to see the hero slightly undressed versus the heroine.  Or am I the only one?

  15. 15
    Darlynne says:

    Sarah, you’re right. The only thing missing from the Flawless cover is stirrups, which wouldn’t go so well with that gorgeous dress. I keep thinking (a) I would love to dress up like that provided (b) my underarms and legs were nicely shaved and (c) my hair could be all long, thick and wavy.

    I feel the need to Photoshop myself into a couple of these covers.

  16. 16
    Darlynne says:

    Because she’s us, at least that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I read your question. I prefer mantitty myself, but oooh, those dresses (see comment re: Photoshopping myself above).

  17. 17
    cbackson says:

    I must admit that I love the Just Like Heaven cover.  The book left me underwhelmed, but I still think about that cover.  And it has the bonus of being actually relevant to the story!

  18. 18
    Linda Hilton says:

    “Because she’s us” Darlynne wrote and I think that’s the point exactly.  We read these to put ourselves in another world, in another body, in another existence if only for a little while and very, very safely.  But looking at the cover is like looking into a magic mirror.  That’s ME in that gorgeous dress with that luscious hair and anticipating being delightfully loved by that hunky hot (and most likely rich) guy.  Is that the essence of fantasy?

  19. 19
    Emily says:

    Not only are many of these ladies tan, they all shave their legs. Historically accurate?

    Dude! The guy in her Ladyship’s companion looks swallowed by tablecloths/ wall paper. If Sarah hadn’t said he was barefoot, I would have noticed his leg or thought is was the heroine’s.

    I kind of like many of these covers. The Caroline Linden cover (Blame It on Bath) is really good for a Caroline Linden cover. I don’t why but I tend to dislike the covers on her books. The cover for One Night in London was absolutely awful. The coloring was okay but the image and particularly the pose.. It was one of the worst I ‘ve seen and she had legs too. Not to mention her neck was weird…

    I agree with other people the Just Like Heaven was good because the heroine wore red shoes.

    I personally prefer having my feet covered even in socks, so I am surprised so many of the women are barefoot. In romance novels people always comment about how sensuous it is but I prefer the shoes covers.

  20. 20
    Zee says:

    I, and two of my totally hot, athletic male roommates, wear vibrams. I think capoeiristas make better romance fodder than hikers, personally.

  21. 21
    Karen H says:

    Flawless, Not Wicked Enough, and The Duchess Diaries were all painted by Jon Paul.  He posts covers he’s done on his Facebook page and will frequently provide the model’s name.  So I know there are two different models on the Flawless and Not Wicked Enough covers.  He gets many of his costumes from a professional costume designer, Alethea Sayers, who has a webpage (http://www.bustledress.com/cgi… and sells her dresses.  I love his painting style and the detail of the fabrics.  But I much prefer his covers when they depict good-looking men instead.  I have always said exactly what Jessica_HookEm says and I don’t buy books unless there’s a good-looking man on the cover or stepback (I get the no-men books from the library instead).  I think of them as my little art gallery.  I just don’t understand the “I’ll imagine myself as the heroine who’s on the cover” idea and I never do that.

    As for Her Ladyship’s Companion, I’ve always thought that the cover is looking down from above.  So the man is actually sitting up and that makes his torso look too short.  I like that cover a lot since he’s naked and she’s not—what a concept!

  22. 22
    The Other Susan says:

    Pretty dresses on those Eloisa James covers.

  23. 23
    Brooklyn Ann says:

    The very bottom image: Dear God, what is that thing?

  24. 24
    SAO says:

    Pointy-toed shoes = discomfort and bunions. Very sexy.

    You note, I’m not a shoe fan. Although if you put a cover model in some brightly colored Vibrams, I might be inspired to ask about price and availability.

  25. 25
    Jenny Lyn says:

    I gotta be honest and say that I think nearly all of them are pretty, regardless of whether there’s a man present or they’re historically accurate. Guess I’m the odd bird. To me that Flawless cover is stunning, from the model to the colors to the dress. If I had a dress like that I’d probably wear it all the time too. Hee!

    And I think I need to read Her Ladyship’s Companion, just for what the cover implies.

  26. 26
    Ghengis Mom says:

    I’m obsessed with the woman’s torso on Not Wicked Enough. Her shoulders and ribcage are disturbing to me. Am I alone?

  27. 27
    delphia2000 says:

    I would like the Duchess’s shoes also. I’m going to go look for reviews for that one before I decide to buy tho. I have to say that in general, it’s not the cover that makes me buy a book. I look for reviews before I decide. However, I will admit buying an SF book once for the cover because the guy on it was so attractive to me.

    And I must defend my Crocs…I’m on my feet for hours at a time. They are life savers (and foot/leg savers). If you googleimage the Malindi style, you’ll see how darn cute they are too. You won’t catch me in a pair of flip flops.

  28. 28
    April V. says:

    The model on Not Wicked Enough not only looks like she’s extremely uncomfortable but that she’s wearing her older and much larger sister’s dress.

  29. 29
    April V. says:

    And I agree that I absolutely love looking at all the sumptuousness of these dresses.  I’m not even a girly girl and don’t wear dresses at all IRL but I love looking at all the prettiness.

  30. 30
    Wisemouse says:

    I completely agree with this statement.  I likes the Immortals After Dark series covers by Kresley Cole because they did exactly that.  Mmmm…

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