The Windflower: A Cover Restrospective

The Windflower is one of the romance novels that I read, finished, sat back, and despaired that I'd ever find a book like it again. It's long and complex and more than a little old skool, but also incredibly rich and features some deeply memorable characters. If you want to see a massive interpretive dance of arm gestures and deep sighs and about sixteen sentence fragments, ask a bunch of romance readers about it. If you liked it, you probably really liked it. I know it gave me Book Rebound. One of the things about the story that has stuck with me is how unique it was in so many different ways. If you say to me, “Give me a recommendation of a historical romance that's like The Windflower,” I'd have some difficulty. 

Over the years (holy smoke, almost 9!) that SBTB has been in its hot pink corner of the internet, we've mentioned The Windflower many, many times. It's been out of print, sometimes hard to find, and only available digitally in pirated form. Now it's being re-released in April 2014, and you can pre-order your copy if you'd like. 

But oh, the new cover. Is it better or worse than the others? Has there been a romance with a more sad history of absolutely bizarre and clusterfuck cover art? I don't think so. Let's have a look. 


Red haired heroine kissing a dude with blonde hair in an extreme close up with sunset behind them. it's weird.


This book was originally published in 1984, according to GoodReads, anyway, and, well, that cover looks like the 70's were haunting the cover department at Dell. Her neck scares me. His shirt is alarming.They look like they jumped off the back side of the amateur makup artist wagon (of course there is one) scarce half made up. 

I mean, I think he's wearing the same blush as Robert Pattinson in Twilight

I haven't seen many covers with the yearning-from-the-margins-to-kiss-you pose though, so much like the story itself, it's one of a kind. 


Then we got this one. 

purple fabric with a ship and a brooch of some sort


It's not Battle of the Adam's Apples like the yearning margins above, but it's still…meh. A ship squished a brooch? The ship IS the brooch? Is this a plot point I'm not remembering correctly? I mean, if you're going for plot points, hide a rutabaga in there somewhere. 

But then… we travel across the Ocean of WTF, the sea air in our faces, the piratical pirate-ness chasing us, all the way to… WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? 

PINK PIRATE background with boobs and pink jolly roger and oh my god so much pink


I guess, with The Windflower, you can either hose it down with roses or you drop a ship on a honking piece of jewelry and call it a day. Whatever acid was involved in the creation of this version, I want to study it. I didn't know there were that many shades of rose! I can't tell if they're on a rock, or a boat, or just magically hovering over the very red sea while the crew sails away. Even that seagull is drooping his head in despair for this book.

To quote Candy: Dear lord. That cover looks like what would happen if a host of My Little Ponies, after a weekend bender in Vegas, decided to puke it all back up. 

Sweet merciful fuchsia, even the JOLLY ROGER IS PINK.

I don't think we can top that cover, really. It's… SO VERY PINK. Because pink is the color of getting to second base? I have no idea.

For a brief change of pace, have a peaceful moment with this international cover (which I believe is in Malay?): 

Windflower with pastel hydrangeas


Look, nothing says piratical romance like pastel hydrangeas! When mine bloom next summer, I'm going to be all pirate talking, all the time.

Have another look at the peaceful blue peacefulness, because it's time for another trip across the Ocean of WTF… this time for the new cover. Brand new! Coming out in 2014! And what do we get? 

Book The Windflower


WHAT THE HELL. It's like this book is destined to never have a decent cover. For the 2014 edition, we have some of the most bizarre parts of the previous three US covers: some fuchsia, some sunsets (mercifully without Adam's apples), and some big jewelry (no pirate brooch but whatever)… along with the new and improved waxed manchest, erect nipples and five o'clock shadow. Plus what looks supiciously like a Photoshopped flower in her hair.

I appreciate the homage to the original cover (which is more obvious when you see them side by side): 

Book The Windflower Red haired heroine kissing a dude with blonde hair in an extreme close up with sunset behind them. it's weird.

But still: oy. I'm not a fan of photograph covers, especially on historicals – it's too big of an anchronism for me, and yes, I know that's very strange. But this cover for this book? Oh, the sadness. Is this book cursed? Is that what's happened here?  

I can appreciate how difficult it would be to do a cover for this book, believe me. There are so many things that make this story unique, and it's difficult to represent the story visually. I totally get that. But wow, that new cover is a big letdown for me. You can still pre-order your own copy at GoodreadsAmazonBNSonyKobo, or iBooks. It'll likely arrive with this cover. Poor, poor Windflower.

Have you read this story? Did you like it? Which cover do you have? 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    I’ve got the My Little Ponies Gone Wild cover and I love it! Love it, I tell you! It set the standard for pirate tales in historical romance. When I look at that cover I can convince myself that no plot device, no situation, no villain or trope is too over-the-top in a good piratical lovefest.

    I am glad the book is being re-issued. Are the Curtis’s still writing?

  2. 2
    Elyse says:

    In the 2014 cover it looks like his nipples are staring at her nipples

  3. 3
    LovelloftheWolves says:

    I have never read this book before so I cant be a “does the cover represent the book” judge but… I have to admit I love the original cover. I’m a sucker for that photo-painting look. Despite the odd job on the lady’s neck. I even like the 70s font.

    While we’re making fun of the new cover’s pert nipples, lets not forget the original’s chest hair. Look at it. Shining. Right between the title letters. Thats a lot of chest hair. :P

  4. 4
    Susan Reader says:

    Cover #1 is the cover for me! Although the lighting is strange—it only works if the title is blasting out enough radiation to power Manhattan.

    I’m glad to have missed cover #3, which has just about everything wrong with it that could be wrong.

  5. 5
    nightsmusic says:

    Isn’t cover number two totally different authors?

    I’ve never read this but after all the awful covers, I think I need to.

  6. 6
    Barb in Maryland says:

    I have cover number one.  My copy is so old I’m afraid to open it for fear all the pages will fall out! (erm, I did re-read it several times, which helped contribute to its fragile state).
    I will have to get an e-edition when it comes out.

    @5 nightsmusic—Tom and Sharon Curtis wrote as Laura London—so, same author.  The book is definitely one of a kind.

  7. 7
    Kelly S. says:

    What is the hair color of our heroine & hero in the book?  Seems to change with the covers.

  8. 8
    nightsmusic says:

    @Barb, thank you! I did not know that.

    As a side note totally unrelated to these covers, why do writing teams take a single name? It’s too confusing for me…

  9. 9
    Emily A. says:

    Maybe more than one name is confusing, especially when the author is unknown. Jennifer Crusie kept her name when she wrote with other people, but people know the Crusie name. I also think maybe to keep people from trying to figure out if the guy wrote this section and the girl wrote this one.

    I really like the last cover. The first isn’t bad, although I hope for her sake, her neck doesn’t look like that. I don’t like the Broach although that’s cover I think I have seen the most. (haven’t read it) I dislike the my little pony one not for pink, but for the whole package and wtf.

    What color is her hair in the book?!?!!!?!? In the first she’s a red head and then she’s a blonde and now she’s brunette. Same with the dude is supposed to a blonde, and why does he a little mullet in the new cover?

  10. 10
    Sally says:

    Has ever an author been so badly served by atrocious covers as Sharon & Tom Curtis?
    THE WINDFLOWER remains on my Top 10 of all time romance novels (dated and old skool though it be.)  This newest cover has a self-published look.  The steamy, overblown covers do this wonderful book such a terrible disservice. 

    As for other books like the WINDFLOWER?  I’d recommend Laura Kinsale….especially SHADOWHEART.  She has the same lush language and gorgeously realized characters.  She is also tragically served by atrocious covers.

    I’d also recommend Elizabeth Camden’s AGAINST THE TIDE.  Camden lacks the gorgeous language, but her characters have phenomenal chemistry and the hero is deliciously naughty (odd, since it was an inspirational) and reminiscent of Cat from the WINDFLOWER. 

    I own a tattered, well-loved copy of the WINDFLOWER all the way back from the 80’s, but will probably cave and buy the kindle version when it comes out next year.

  11. 11
    Julie M. says:

    I have cover #2, circa 1994. I liked the cover and never really thought much about the pirate-brooch. When I did see a copy of the 1st cover at a used book store I much preferred my slightly boring #2 cover copy. But I’m not a big fan of people on the covers because as has been pointed out, they rarely get the details correct.

    Ha!@Sarah good one re: Rutabagas. A quick glance at the first page states Merry was sketching rutabagas as the book begins. Also her hair color is red-gold, so I guess cover number 1 is the most accurate with respect to that.

    Oh how I wish there had been a sequel for Cat. Sigh.

  12. 12
    EC Spurlock says:

    In the new cover, where is that hand on his shoulder coming from? There’s just this disembodied couple of fingers up there with no arm attached…

  13. 13
    EC Spurlock says:

    Also on the original cover, I looked at the small copy on the bottom and for a minute I thought they were talking about her “rare boobs”. Bad font choice, there…

  14. 14
    dianna says:

    Thanks for the post!  I pre ordered it!  I’ve been reading about this novel for as long I’ve been reading this site!  While I am really excited to read it-I’m also sort of nervous that it won’t live up to my expectations.

  15. 15
    LaineyT says:

    @LovelloftheWolves …Egads!  Until you pointed that out I’d assumed that was ruffle from his shirt not chest hair but I believe you are right!  To be clear I have nothing against a hairy chest…I grew up in love with Magnum P.I. afterall ;) but holy crap!!

  16. 16
    Heather S says:

    I love the covers – with the exception of number 2. The whole brooch/jewelry/gems-on-the-drapes thing has never worked for me. It’s boring. LOL Love all the pink on #3. Honestly, you don’t have to buy Pepto-Bismol anymore. Just look at this cover. Voila! Good as new.

    I love the ebook cover most of all. I just do. I’ve never found a copy of “The Windflower” in any book store (and I have searched… and searched… and searched), sadly. Looking forward to finally getting it this year! ^_^

  17. 17
    Heather S says:

    Thanks for the cover snark, SB Sarah! It has been WAY TOO LONG since the last cover snark post. As much as I enjoy the reviews, the webcasts, and especially the book sale notifications, I love the cover snark most of all. It’s wonderful to see people who love a book genre also be so willing to poke fun at it when the occasion calls for it. :)

  18. 18
    DonnaMarie says:

    Having finally read Flowers from the Storm after how many hundred recs on this site (and finding it for $1 in a used book store) and totally falling in love with it, I really look forward The Windflower. I was a huge fan of the pirate romance back in the day, but somehow I seem to have missed this one. Laurie McBain’s Chance the Winds of Fortune was my pirate catnip, and oh, that epic Avon cover art. I’ve tried to find the artist’s name may times, but no luck.

  19. 19
    KarenH says:

    I am now determined never to own or read this book until I can have the My Little Ponies on a Vegas bender edition.

  20. 20
    clew says:

    Does `old skool’ in this context mean just melodramatic and full of fading assumptions, or outright rapey?

  21. 21
    Sally says:

    Clew….. “old skool” in THE WINDLFLOWER is not rapey….more “kidnappy.”  Hey, they’re pirates!  It also means florid language, over-the-top emotions, and some dashing aristocratic heroes.  It has a very dated feel…..but still a wonderful, deeply emotional and complex characters once you get deeply into the book and just roll with it.

  22. 22
    Crystal F. says:

    Just looking at the pastel hydrangeas cover makes my spring allergies want to act up.

    I found this novel with the ship/brooch cover, in a used bookstore back on Halloween. (Only mine has a corner cut off the top, and you can tell someone tried taped part of an old Woodiwiss cover onto it. O.o )

    Haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, but I picked it up since I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

  23. 23
    Elle says:

    Coincidentally, I just finished rereading this book yesterday.  I have cover #1 on both hardback and paperback versions of this book.  I don’t love the cover, but I do love the book, despite the very naïve, 18 year old ingénue heroine.  I love all the characters, even the heroine, sweet, hapless little Merry. 
    Regarding the hair colors, Merry has reddish blonde hair (described as coppery at times and blonde/fair at others) and Devon is very definitely a blonde.  So cover #1 got the hair colors right and the 2014 cover..not so much.

  24. 24
    SusiB says:

    I had the book with the original 1980s cover and I could still kick my own ass for giving it away sometime in the 1990s! I like the 550 shades of pink cover too. So if I was going to buy that book again, I would probably look for a used copy with either of those covers.

  25. 25

    I have the “surfing the Crimson Wave” cover and I remember *clearly* the very day I bought the damn thing. It was because I was dating a blonde guy at the time (my 16 year old self did not yet know that Blonde Guys Are Evil(TM), but this one was less evil and more just sadly dumb, but I digress). I bought the book because the cover was the only cover in Waldenbooks’ entire romance section with a blonde guy on it.

    I was also on a Pirate Romance bender at the time that lasted through several years and more than one foil-embossed cover in eye-bleeding pastels. But remember, it was the 80’s and mankind had just discovered the secret of making neon pastels. Heady times.

    I fell in love with the book. Haven’t read it in many years, but I still remember parts of it. Lovable pirates, hapless heroine, subplot with wildly adorable androgynous cabin boy.

    I dumped the guy a week or so later, because he didn’t understand why I liked to read. The book, I may still have in a box in the basement. The story is a hell of a lot more memorable than the guy was.

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