Lisa Kleypas’ UK vs US Cover Showdown

This entry was inspired by Abby, who wrote to me and implored, “go to and look up Lisa Kleypas. WHY ARE THEIR BOOK COVERS SO MUCH BETTER THAN OURS?!?!?!! I am so upset about this, it’s kind of ridiculous. They just look so much classier! It’s totally unfair.”

Is that so? Well, let’s have a look, shall we? All the pics are below the fold – but the poll, depending on the browser, may be up here.


Here’s one of Kleypas’ Wallflower Quartet books, Devil in Winter (my favorite of the four) in the US edition:

Book Cover

It also has a hideous stepback:


And here’s the UK Paperback, published by Piatkus:

Book Cover


The US version of Mine Till Midnight

Book Cover


UK version:

Book Cover


This is the US version of Seduce me at Sunrise:

Book Cover


And this is the UK edition – I found two!

Book Cover


So far, with the exception of Mine Till Midnight, I do like the UK covers better.


Here’s another example, this time of a contemporary novel. The US edition of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, hardcover and mass market paperback, looks like this:

Book Cover


And here’s the UK trade paperback edition:

Book Cover

I confess, I like the cover with the actual harbor better—as did folks who nominated books for the Cover Cafe contest this year. This book placed fifth in the cover contest this year.


And while we’re on the subject: what is WITH the communion-hands holding-something position?


Book Cover


Book Cover


Book Cover


Book Cover


Book Cover

It’s communion in the Church of Women’s Fiction Covers!  Take! Read! This is fiction which is given for you, to read this and think that it’s cover is twee.

Anyway, communion hands notwithstanding, do you like one set over the other? Which do you prefer, and why?


Comments are Closed

  1. Kerry D. says:

    As a general rule, I tend to prefer UK covers over US covers, but that’s a broad generalisation that naturally has plenty of exceptions.

    It’s something I’ve thought about before and I’ve often wondered if it is because I grew up in a Commonwealth country (New Zealand) and therefore absorbed a more British sensibility when it comes to covers. Whatever makes them work for people in the UK makes them work for me too. But I don’t know what that “whatever” is.

    I can find a US cover really, really pretty, but when it comes down to which book I’d take home and put on my shelf (assuming I had the chance to choose), more often than not, it’ll be the UK one.

  2. Caroline says:

    I definitely prefer most of these UK covers, and I think a lot of it has to do with how publishers perceive the needs of their audience. The UK covers are much more restrained—they don’t scream “purple prose romance with sex!” so much as the US ones. So I guess that says something about who the UK publishers think is reading Kleypas and why, versus the US publishers. (I haven’t read Kleypas so I don’t have a horse in this race, btw.)

    I really started noticing this phenomenon with the UK covers for the newest reissue of all the Georgette Heyer romances. The UK covers are gorgeous, with period paintings, and seem intended to show that Heyer is a historical novelist, yet at the same time they’re lighthearted and fun and you can tell you’re not going to be bored to death. But for once, the US publisher is using the same covers, just with (IMO) inferior typography.

    If you look at the cover for my favorite Heyer,  Cotillion, at Amazon US, versus Cotillion at Amazon UK, you’ll see what I mean.

    It’s a huge difference from how Georgette Heyer used to be marketed, with generic romance covers that didn’t show anything about her standing as the original Regency writer.

  3. Joanne says:

    I generally like the UK covers better but in this instance it seems the US art department did very well by Miss Kleypas.  Well, except for the one of St Vincent sitting on a bench in the snow without his shirt wearing a batman cape and poor Evie kneeling on the cold, wet ground.

    Hopefully we can say that we’ve seen the last of the ‘headless’ covers?

    The Wicked Lovely cover is gorgeous – Twilight rip-off that it is- it’s still beautiful and interesting. Unfortunately the author’s site – not so much.

  4. Caroline says:

    And now I have to reply to myself, because I’m wrong! Looking again at the Cotillion covers I linked to above, they’re not quite the same, apart from the typography; it looks like the image has been flipped around and also the colors have been pumped way up for the US version. Iiiinteresting.

  5. Ros says:

    I’m from the UK and I like the UK covers better.  The main thing I dislike about the US covers is how generic they are.  The standard historical romance font stuck on standard historical romance images.  Blah, blah, blah.  They’re also somewhat brash with all the gilding and the huge titles and so on.  I really like the restrained feeling of the UK covers.  I do agree about the harbour scene – that’s a very fun cover, compared to the UK one.

  6. AgTigress says:

    There are still fairly profound differences in aesthetic taste between the ‘average’ Brit and the average American, but that said, individual preferences can very easily cross that divide.  In general, the traditional British taste for understatement is involved, a feeling that too much colour, and too many frills and furbelows, are vulgar or even childish.

    I am an extreme example of traditional British taste in that I generally dislike ‘people covers’ of any kind, and prefer typography alone, or at most some kind of abstract image. 

    A few years ago I did a fairly detailed study, for my own amusement, of the cover-art of one book, Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting , which was fascinating in terms not only of UK/US contrasts, but of changing tastes over about 50 years, and the publishers’ apparent perceptions of their target audience and the fiction genre to which the book belonged.

    Heyer was not classed or marketed in Britain as ‘romance’ in the 1950s.  She was simply classed as an historical novelist — shelved well away from Mills and Boon in libraries and bookshops!

  7. The UK Cover of the Christmas book is totally the exact same stock image as Let It Snow written by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle. Hah! I never spot these things, but now I have and feel super accomplished. YAY!

  8. Yeah, WHY are the US covers so garishly cheesy all the time??

  9. ShellBell says:

    For the most part I do prefer the UK covers. The exceptions are when there are covers like the UK editions of Julia Quinn’s book. I absolutely hated the cartoon/caricature images used. Thank goodness for eBooks as I’m definitely less fussy about covers plus I can use whichever cover I prefer when I load the book into Calibre!

  10. snarkhunter says:

    I actually love the lush covers of Mine till Midnight and Seduce Me at Sunrise, though The Devil in Winter is decidedly…meh.

    I suppose I *ought* to like the understated elegance of the UK covers, and I do, but the colors on the US ones are just so gorgeous.

    (And as a homesick Washington State native, as much as I like the UK cover of the Friday Harbor book, I have to vote for the actual harbor out of loyalty and fondness for my home.)

  11. anna says:

    Yeah, the UK covers are prettier. But Piatkus seems to use stock photos, which makes me like the US covers more, simply because they’re less generic. While at the same time being less attractive. *sigh* In particular, I’m thinking of Keri Arthur’s books as published by Piatkus. Pretty, boring, stock pics. Check the credits. Makes me wonder about ze bucketing practices of Harlequin, and the cost involved in cover art. What’s up with the recycling?

  12. BethSmash says:

    I like the US versions better.  I recently moved to the UK and all, and I do mean ALL, the romance novels look the same.  They are all pale colors and you can’t really tell the difference when you’re walking past the romance section.  And they’re BLAND, all pale and blah.  As embarrassing as US covers can sometimes be, I prefer their variety of colors.  OH, and the UK versions often put a girl in a regency type dress no matter the historical setting.  And I know that covers are often really inaccurate – weight of model, guys without scars and or missing limbs, but sticking a girl in a regency type dress when it takes place during the georgian or victorian era really pisses me off.

  13. HelenB says:

    I agee with Bethsmash. I think that these UK covers are dull, boring and just plain meh. I’m English and I generally prefer US covers. They might be generic and garish at times but Uk covers can be restrained to the point of coma.

  14. I guess I’m just a gaudy, glitzy kind of gal.  I much prefer the US covers, but what do you expect from someone who writes romance from an over-the-top POV?

  15. SB Sarah says:

    @joanne: Wicked Lovely isn’t a Twilight rip off. Lovely came out first. And the two of them may have set off the hands-giving-us-things covers trend between them!

  16. AgTigress says:

    OH, and the UK versions often put a girl in a regency type dress no matter the historical setting.

    Whereas US covers often put a girl in a mid-Victorian dress no matter the historical setting… 😉  🙂

  17. snarkhunter says:

    mid-Victorian dress no matter the historical setting

    We Americans do love a good hoop skirt. No matter what the occasion or time period. If it’s old, it better have hoop skirts. ;D

  18. Jen G. says:

    I’m a US reader, but typically prefer the UK covers.  (I actually love love love the UK cover for Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.)  That said, the understated cover for Seduce Me at Sunrise is a bit too understated considering the title.

  19. Chelsea says:

    I’m going with US on this one, because even though their cheesy and gaudy, they also catch my eye and make me think “Ooo, fun historical romance. I’m going to gobble that down in one night!” The UK ones make me think “Oh, serious historical drama! Do I have time for that? When is my next long weekend?” And at this busy time in my life, I’m more likely to go with fun and easy (I need a break from Cancer Bio and Tech Writing at some point!)

  20. JamiSings says:

    I only like the very first cover. ALL the rest suck. I despise headless/half a head covers.

  21. helen says:

    Ok, looked at cover to cover I like the UK versions much more. HOWEVER, I probably never would have picked them up at a bookstore because the covers are outside the expectations here for a historical romance. In other words, I would not have know to check them out because they look more like the covers for a historical fiction novel rather than a historical romance novel.

  22. AgTigress says:

    If it’s old, it better have hoop skirts

    @snarkhunter:  LOL!
    This illustrates the basics so well in itself.  Mid and late Victorian costume was elaborate, fussy and over-decorated (to some tastes), with hoops and bustles and trains and flounces and fringes and trimmings, and even, towards the 1870s, with eye-popping combinations of prints — stripes and spots and plaids and florals —  as well as the use of garishly vivid synthetic dyes.  Regency styles were sometimes over-decorated, but the basic shapes and colours tended to be far more restrained.

  23. USA! USA! USA!

    Yes, the UK covers are classier. But when I look at them I think: women’s fiction, literary, and not sexy. Kleypas’ books have a lot of sex in them and those sedate covers don’t reflect the content (in my eyes). I’m more likely to buy a book with a “trashy” cover because I enjoy reading detailed sex scenes.

    It also seems to me that the dislike of sexy covers, for some readers, might be related to feelings of shame or embarassment for the romance genre in general. I’d rather have the cover match the content. If the book is sexy, let it show! Othewise the image looks like a disguise.

  24. Donna says:

    Call me vulgarthen, cause I’m going U.S. My goodness, who wouldn’t want that copy of “Mine til Midnight”? I’m not a Kleypas reader, and I’m jonesing for it. Look at that color, that dress, that…. OK, stopping now.

  25. Donna says:

    That’s vulgar then. Stupid keyboard.

  26. Kismet says:

    I normally prefer the UK covers, but US definitely wins this round for me. I did prefer the UK Devil In Winter cover, but the rest were just a bit too laced up for me. Especially having read the books. A) Mine till Midnight is Victorian set not a Regency B) The Hathaway family wouldn’t have known proper and understated if it hit them in the head and that was what made them so fun to read C) Nothing says “Seduce Me” quite like a full Victorian day gown that shows no skin between the chin and elbow 😉

    For the record I wish I had all my Julia Quinn books with the UK edition covers. I loved the stylish cartoons for some reason.

  27. Gennita Low says:

    I like the US covers better. In general, I like my covers sexy, with bright colors, and British covers always seem to say “this is a romance in disguise so you can be secretive about your reading!” to me. Growing up as a kid in Malaysia, former Commonwealth, even back then I’d always picked the US covers over British ones, although the Mills and Boons covers were always bright and sexy, albeit very fiftyish in style (man and woman on cover in dressing gown, hee.  Oohh, that made a 12 yr old’s imagination go a little crazy!).

  28. LG says:

    While the UK covers would be likely to cause me less embarrassment, I would be more likely to pick up and get the ones with the US covers, regardless of any embarrassment factor. The UK ones just look a bit boring to me. That said, I don’t like the US version for Devil in Winter – I rarely like building/landscape-only covers, and I cringe at most stepbacks. I don’t like either cover for Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, but at least with the US one I didn’t need to take a moment just to figure out what the cover was depicting – the UK one just looked like blobs of red and white to me at first.

  29. Bri says:

    I’m mixed on which I like better so I didnt vote.  one thing i notcied with the US covers is that it looks more like they fall into the ‘sex sells’ catgory and for the most part the UK covers are a little more demure. 

    And I LOVED the harbor cover for Christmas Eve

  30. Amber says:

    I like the UK covers better, except for Seduce Me at Sunrise. Bad enough there is that the heroine is portrayed as a CHILD, but the word “Seduce” right there with her is just downright disturbing. Actually all those females are rather childlike, honestly, though I was chalking that up to small bone structure – but this girl is definitely a kid.

  31. AgTigress says:

    Leaving aside matters of colour, sexiness, accurate costume and a dozen other things, one of the irritants for me in many US covers is text and typography:  frequently far too many words, in too many different sizes and fonts.  The Friday Harbor cover is a good example.  I don’t care for the harbour picture much, especially all that pink and purple (too much like a cheap greetings card), but the change of both point size and font within the title really annoys me.  I can’t say I care much for the UK version, either.

    But then, my ideal fiction covers are the really old British Penguin paperbacks, so I am past praying for…  (For all of you who don’t know, they were simply colour-coded for genre;  the only graphic image was the small black-and-white penguin logo, and the typeface (only one for title and author’s name) was a lovely, clean sans serif.  In black.  Beautifully austere and subtle.  In the early 1960s, they introduced little engraved vignettes, and it was downhill all the way from there).
    😉  😀

  32. LG says:

    @Amber – Huh, I hadn’t thought any of them looked like children, actually. To me, they almost all look like delicate women who stay indoors to protect their fragile health, but they don’t look like children.

  33. AgTigress says:

    Examples of my ideal covers!

    I know, I am living in an alternative universe…

  34. Kwana says:

    I’m shocking myself and going for the sexy US covers. All except the UK Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (I did not like that US blue boat cover).
    The UK books look too sweet for th content and all look like they are masquerading as Amish books to me.

  35. snarkhunter says:

    Bad enough there is that the heroine is portrayed as a CHILD, but the word “Seduce” right there with her is just downright disturbing.

    Whoa, I didn’t see her as a child, but when I looked again? You’re right. She looks like she’s all of 11. (Now, admittedly, the heroine of that book is so delicate and sickly that she likely is somewhat physically stunted, but … no.)

  36. I don’t care about the covers.  I like those bonus foldout covers, but that curly, long red hair?  I had it and it is a bitch and a half to “pick”.  You don’t dare brush it. 

    But the hands offering thing?  Usually a bit below the waist, usually means “come on in”.  I have an assortment of photos from the public media that I intend to use in a book soon.  It is all lines or groups of men, for some reason, probably source, usually lawmen, and they ALL are standing with their hands folded exactly in front of their fly, protecting their manhood.

  37. Lynn S. says:

    I’m with the minority here in that the UK covers are making me yawn.  The Friday Harbor cover with the boats is much better and I bet there are Adirondack chairs nestled at the shoreline.  I do appreciate the subtle reinforcement of the nourishing qualities of women’s fiction represented by all those hands.

    @AGTigress:  Dream away.  The orange, the penguin, the iconic uniformity.  Takes away all the arguing.  Works for me.  Wait a minute, no arguing??

  38. Lily LeFevre says:

    I like both sets of covers, but I want to know what book is behind them, because BOY do these covers say different things!  On the UK side you have classy historical fiction that may or may not have the sexy times in it; on the US side you have the promise of hella sexy times that may or may not have accurate research or well-drawn characters in it. So not knowing Kleypas’ writing, if I’m in the bookstore which I pick up depends entirely upon what my mood is…and if I get home and find I bought the wrong book for my mood based on false packaging, it would probably make me mad and reluctant to buy one of her books again.

    So for me, the covers that are better are the ones that accurately describe the book.  I did not vote since I don’t know which it is. Fascinating cultural difference, though!

  39. Madd says:

    I was 50/50 on those covers. Mine Til Midnight? I wasn’t all that crazy about the US cover, but the UK cover even less so. I preferred the US cover for the Friday Harbor book. For Seduce Me at Sunrise … purple dress and weak sunlight cover, yes … mostly because I’m a sucker for purple and that is a cute dress … green dress, parasol lady, no.

  40. LMG says:

    How about both? I like the fabric trend lately on US covers (better than the hair trend before that)—all dress, no head. Think Mary Balogh. But good god, can we take the UK’s fonts? Why do our fonts always have to look like Danielle Steel on crack?!?

    I never knew that was called a stepback, but does it exist only to keep book models and painters employed? Because it never adds anything—9.9 times out of 10 the people are in the totally wrong situation for the book—and THAT’S what made me switch to ebooks. Font+stepback=embarrassment.

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