Romance: Building The Perfect Hero

Ah, romance covers. They say so much with so little. It occurred to me recently that the perfect romance hero has pretty much been assembled through the artistic renderings of the romance cover.

Don’t think so? Have a look.

The perfect romance hero must:

Have excellent dental work

Hi Sassy and blind readers! Have some descriptions! First: This guy has six inch fangs. I swear. It's ridiculous.

Really. We expect the finest in dentistry. (He should wipe his chin, though.)

And of course, man-titty with extraordinary buoyancy in a maritime emergency:

This guy is holding onto a girl in some giant swirling waves, and his man titty is like a goddam life preserver.

and crazy mountainous abs:

Abs like the Appalachians. No lie.

And in addition to a mullet (duh), the hero needs…a really big sword

Of course dude is holding the sword out from his crotch. Wonder what THAT means?

No, bigger than that.

This guy has a HUGE and I mean GIANT THREE PRONG sword, and he's holding it over his man junk.

That ought to do it. 

This cover was infamous because it's a man's backside in baggy breeches with giant curls of green smoke emanating from his butt.

And not too much gas, please.

This guy is standing in some sort of hip-deep wave of green and yellow ... something. I presume it's gas.

No, really, that’s too much, thanks.

But honestly, what we really want in a hero is also a partner. A partner who, if we desire to procreate together, must love children. No, REALLY love children. Shirtlessly.

This is a shirtless dude with a huge cowboy hat on, bent awkwardly over a naked baby with a drooly expression on his face. The man, not the baby.


This is a close up of the expression. The baby looks horrified.


Says Samantha, who sent me a scan of the original cover, “I think the baby either has bad gas or wants to get the hell out of there.”

Says I: “That man is asking to get barfed on.”


And, finally, we expect men to be equal partners in the parenting, right? So if he’s going to love babies shirtlessly, the least he can do is try breastfeeding, too.

Naked shirtless dude? Check. Baby? Check. Baby leaning eagerly toward the guy's nipple?! CHECK.



Comments are Closed

  1. Oh, god, book covers! Writing as Karen van der Zee I’ve written some 30 plus romance novels for Harlequin Books, mostly Harlequin Presents, and my covers (and titles) were often a cause of great despair, but so it goes.  Once my teenage daughter looked at one of the covers and said, “The guy has more boobs than the girl.”

    Love your post and thanks for the laugh!

  2. Beebs says:



    Cracking up, seriously. LOL

  3. Michelle R. says:

    Miss Footloose,
    I don’t read the Harlequin lines too much any longer, but I recall you well from my teen years. I’d tell you how old I am now, but it just might depress both of us. 🙂

    expect84—er, that’s around the right year and decade.

  4. ocelott says:

    Are… are both those babies naked?  WHY ARE BOTH THOSE BABIES NAKED?

  5. Flo says:

    Latch on … omfg… I started howling and the poor girls I’m watching this morning got soooooo confused.

    There were somedays… where I DREAMED that I could just rip the boobs off and hand them to the husband…

  6. Anony Miss says:

    THANK YOU SARAH!! Covers Gone Wild are what brought me to this site in the first place, and my cheeks hurt from open mouthed hysterical laughing.

    Oh, the humanity!

  7. Michelle R:  You’re too young to not be reading romance novels any longer 😉 but if you want to read something different, read the tales of my adventures abroad on my blog.

  8. MelB says:

    ROTFLMFAO!!! These are awesome and the perfect way to start the morning.

  9. snarkhunter says:

    Dudes are just asking to get peed on. That’s all I’m saying.

    Also, is the Last Man in Montana weeping as he holds that baby? Is he the last man because he and the baby are the only survivors of a Montanan zombie outbreak? Was everyone but him and the kid Raptured, and he’s crying because he was Left Behind(tm) for the Tribulation?

    So many questions.

  10. Alley says:

    1. I swear I read “Water Bound” as “Water Board” and I was horrified, yet intrigued.

    2.  I’m pretty much dying over here at that close up of “The Last Man in Montana.”  The hero looks like he’s singing some doofy, off-key song to the baby, the baby looks like he/she has about three seconds of patience left with this goofball, and the giant boot in the corner looks like it’s about to end the baby’s suffering.

  11. Marilyn says:

    I was rolling by the time I read the last line in the post!  LOVE the drool-worthy bookcovers and your hilarious writing.


  12. LMAO not too much gas….oh gee, my sides are hurting after that.
    But The Goblin King *sigh* is one of my favorite recent covers out there—he totally reminds me of Dean Winchester! HELLO.

  13. “LATCH ON!” Damn, that made me laugh, and brought back memories of snarling at my sleeping husband in the middle of the night because there was that one thing I could do for the kid that he couldn’t.  Thanks for giving us a special covers edition once again.

    I would have traded Ramon the Cabana Boy (oops, sorry, different fantasy) for Hunk who Can Nurse the Baby.

  14. Someone has said it upthread but it bears repeating. Are those babies naked? Because that is just asking for trouble. I think barf is the least of 1990s Montana Man’s worries.

  15. CC Bridges says:

    Anyone else think the guy on the cover of The Goblin King looks a lot like the actor Jensen Ackles?

  16. Kristin says:

    Any post that can have me laughing out loud is a good one. Thanks for the good start to my day.

  17. Karmyn says:

    Yes, the Goblin King looks a lot like Jensen Ackles. I’m guessing that’s not the sword of Bruncvik he’s holding.
    I’ve seen several covers lately that look like Jensen. I don’t mind that. Jensen is pretty.

    thing43? I can think of more than 43 things I’d do to him.

  18. That just made my morning. The latch on damn it had me howling.

  19. Barbara says:

    Poor Kristine Rolofson must have been wondering what she did to rate two dudes with two naked babies in scary poses on her covers.  I sort of want to go to Amazon and look up her other books to see what else she got stuck with.

    The guy’s finger placement in the Last Man in Montana cover has me concerned and probably accounts for that poor child’s expression.

  20. Diane Dooley says:

    Hee, hee, hee. I’m reminiscing about the time my teething baby did try to latch on to my hubby’s nipple. Finding it hairy and milkless, he bit the crap out of it.

  21. MK says:

    I think this shows one of the reasons why ebooks have become popular.  Who wants to be out in public reading a book with these covers.  The quilted book covers never fooled anybody!!!

  22. Shelisa says:

    OMG, what a fantastic way to start the day! Man-titty and captions to make me choke on my tea…love it!

  23. I don’t mind the occasional vampire, but since when did they turn into the sabertooth cat variety? Holy fricken…how has he not shredded the crap out of his own face with those things?

    That cover does nothing for me but make my “are those painted on” brain cells shuffle nervously.

    But why – WHY – ruin such a lovely back shot (would be better with tighter pants, but hey) with a green nebulous cloud of whatever? Dude would have worked just fine on his own. Seriously. Turn a fan on, and then hand it over when the toxic fumes have left the room. =P

  24. Tamara Hogan says:

    Is it just me, or does Mr. SINFUL seem to be…extremely short-waisted and large-buttock’d? Did his internal organs, of necessity, migrate to the buttocks for space and cause his unfortunate flatulence?

  25. Donna says:

    BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!! So, I just managed not to spew my
    coffee doctored with the new Bailey’s Coffee Creamer across the desk. Thanks for the burning throat, Sarah. And the “Demon from the Dark” cover, always a favorite.
    Why the plug? Because once this sucker is empty I’m filling the bottle with the real thing. It’s my diabolicle plan for making this outer circle of hell bearable, and I’m sharing it with you all for your use. Really, can you think of a better way to start the work day than Baileys & coffee with a little bitchery on the side? And abs, lots of abs.

  26. RebeccaJ says:

    Wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve read the “came home to find the baby sound asleep on his chest…awww isn’t that sweet?” scene these days. And every time I read it, I want to scream, “And what if that baby had woken up and rolled off that chest?!!!”

  27. Randi says:

    Wow, that Goblin King absolutely looks like Jensen Ackles. Nomnomnom. Any day with more Ackles is a good day.

  28. Oh my gosh!!! Even my hubs is laughing, and he has no sense of humor that I’m aware of 😉

  29. tikaanidog says:

    THIS! This is why I come here! LATCH ON, DAMMIT! bwaaaahahahahahahahahaha!!

  30. SB Sarah says:

    There was one time Hubby tried the bare chested baby hold, and said baby grabbed hold of his chest hair and attempted to pull it off in patches. NEVER again.

    Maybe that’s why all this shirtless-baby-loving heroes are waxed!

  31. Sam says:

    Ah, the fabled Sabretooth Manpire, a species cousin to the common vampire. (Of the “third cousin many times removed, we don’t talk about them or invite any over for Thanksgiving, EVER” variety, owing to their messy eating habits and near incomprehensible speech, as well as near-endless complaining over accidentally self-bitten lips.)

    And geeze that first swordy cover isn’t even TRYING to be subtle!
    The second sword is just a crime against weaponry. Has got to be one of the most tacky swords I’ve ever seen.

    I’m too traumatized to even comment on the baby ones. So much wrong.

  32. Samantha says:

    When I found The Last Man in Montana I knew that I had to share! I will have to read it just to find out if the baby ever barfs on him!

  33. That last Latch On cover sent me over the edge.  I nearly died laughing so hard.  OMG.

    This is why I adore you!

  34. delphia2000 says:

    Thanks the chuckles, both in the blog and in the comments! Great way to start a day!

  35. Kwana says:

    Haaaa! I’m cracking up here. I know I have a goofy pic somewhere of my hubby shirtless and exhausted sleeping with our twins as babies. He looks nowhere as blissful as these chaps. This was a fun post.

  36. EC Spurlock says:

    This is brilliant. Thank you for a much-needed laugh!

  37. SharonW says:

    Can’t type. Laughing too hard.

    These are GREAT!

  38. infinitieh says:

    Hunks who breast-feed – there’s got to be sci-fi books with that one…

    The model on THE GOBLIN KING (and ATLANTIS UNLEASHED) is Paul Marron.  DEMON FROM THE DARK has David Kimmerle on the cover.

  39. cleo says:

    I love these.  Call me an art nerd, but the Water Bound cover reminds me too much of The Bride of the Wind by Oscar Kokoschka.  It’s not what I’d call a happy romancelandia painting.

  40. JamiSings says:

    @Ocelott – The babies are naked because the men don’t know how to change a diaper. That’s also why both men are shirtless – because naked baby peed and pooped on them.

    You know, romance novel cover men just don’t appeal to me. I guess it’s because I like my men scrawny, not all muscle bound beefcake.

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