Why Dudes Are Weird on Romance Covers

I think the title of this entry might be misleading. I don't actually know why dudes are weird. And I certainly don't have an explanation for the dude behavior on these covers, except to possibly suggest that Photoshop and poor image layer integration might possibly be involved. Or, it could be because dudes on romance covers are just weird. You decide. 

 Book Woman in a bathtub on a hillside with a shirtless cowboy hat wearing dude behind her like he's about to climb in the tub and push her out

 Look, bathtubs on the hillside only mean ONE THING. 

Cialis-  two people on a hillside in separate bathtubs. No I have no idea why.

Look. If that cowboy is trying to get into the tub and possibly push her out, then we know what that means. Not that there's anything wrong with pharmaceutical assistance – but she's hogging his pharma-bathtub, and that won't end well for either of them.

I think the bathtub on the hillside motif is probably not what romance heroes want to hang around with. I mean, they're the ones who are ready to go again two minutes after they shatter/explode/fall/devolve/disintigrate/swim upstream with the heroine.

The bathtub of love is better than what this hero is up to: 

 Book Dude in an open shirt and cowboy hat leaning up against barbed wire I shit you not


I grew up in a medium sized city, and know very little about ranch and farm life. But even I know that you do NOT lean up against barbed wire, with or without your shirt open. 

OUCH. Jeez, dude. 

Also: there is an outstanding accidental dong in that photograph: 

The muscle ridges of his abdomen totally look like a two foot dong coming out of his pants


See it? 

No? Here's a larger closeup: 

close up of dude's abdominal muscles and possible mega dong


It's extremely large and incredibly close, that dong. Why that guy would want to mistreat his back by leaning up against barbed wire is beyond me – unless he's trying to make it go down by inflicting pain upon himself. A cold bathtub on a hillside would probably be a less bloody alternative treatment for that condition. 

And then there's this guy, who isn't himself all that weird, except for his magical sunbeam dog: 

 Book Cowboy leaning up against a fence with a dog clearly photoshopped in next to him


Is he being hunted by Sunbeam Dog? Wait, is Sunbeam Dog a GHOST DOG? Maybe he's a CLOCKWORK SUNBEAM GHOST DOG! I'll have to ask Carrie S to read it and find out because CLOCKWORK DOG.

Either way, hunted or not, how can a rancher just ignore his dog like that? I mean, really. That dog is working so hard to avoid all the shadows cast by an alternate sun in that universe. Dude who looks a little like Woody Harrelson has all kinds of fence shadow action,but the CLOCKWORK SUNBEAM GHOST DOG is without shadow – and looking so hopefully at the oblivous rancher. Really, what is up with that guy? (We won't begin to discuss the creases on his jeans in the zipper-area. Too much, too much).

Got any additional examples of heroes being weird on book covers? I know you do – feel free to share! Just don't ignore your sunbeam ghost dog. He needs a drink!

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Dread Pirate Rachel says:

    A few days ago, Bookbub recommended Bound by Blood, by Tracey Jane Jackson. Here, have a look at the cover, courtesy of Goodreads.

    The dude on the cover is so fucked up that I actually consulted the Viking to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. What exactly is he doing with his mouth/jaw/chin area? Seriously, he looks like he’s passed out (or possibly dead) and she is checking to see if she needs to resuscitate him.

    I didn’t buy that book. It was just too weird.

  2. 2
    Laine says:

    I’m more concerned about the heroine in that bathtub. That’s not foam on her boobs. Why has she jumped into the bath fully dressed and why does she want to eat the sponge?

  3. 3
    Lostshadows says:

    Maybe the second guy is completely blocking our view of a fence post? I’m certainly hoping that’s the case.

  4. 4
    3ffervescent says:


    This dude has the shiniest knob that I have ever seen on a cover…

    to the point of almost being disturbing.

  5. 5
    Susan D says:

    Not only a ghost dog, but a miniature ghost dog.  So tiny…

    Meanwhile, a bathtub in the pasture area means one thing, all right… drinking trough for the horses.  I wonder if she knows.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Penny says:

    Let me introduce you to another cowboy in the tub, this time in the desert. Hard Case Cowboy (aka “I Scare Myself”) indeed:


  8. 8
    kristy says:

    GHOST DOG should be less concerned with our hero and more concerned with the fact that he is melting into shadow from behind!

  9. 9
    MissB2U says:

    I have no explanation for any of the above.  I think that it’s high time dudes got their fair share of weird times on the cover after all the batshit crazy poses the women have done.  (Hines and Scalzi excepted of course…)  I just finished going through 697 Harlequins from the 1970’s and WHOA NELLIE talk about weird.

  10. 10
    Clovia says:

    That looks like Duke, the Bush’s Baked Bean dog. So I’m assuming this book is about a man who has fled to the country after being framed for stealing the secret recipe. That dog is the villain!

  11. 11
    MelMc says:

    I stand by my long held conviction that all guys on romance covers are just coming out of a lost weekend blackout and are as desperate to know what is going on as we are. All these guys faces just scream “Where am I?” “Who is this chick?” “Didn’t I put a shirt on this morning?” “How far down does this wax job go?”

  12. 12

    THE KNOB!! Although I was also bugged by how white his eyes were in that photo. Almost as blindingly glowing as the knob. The post was certainly getting more action than … well, most people.

    “free22” – the laughs are free, hope to see 22 links to covers…?

  13. 13
    BlueM says:

    <img src="http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328718768l/2745729.jpg" width="150" height="242" alt="Lakota Princess"/> 

    I feel like this should be captioned “Stand up, jackass!”

    Owning a used bookstore provides a seemingly endless fount of hilariously bad romance covers. This author, Karen Kay, has covers that never fail to amuse me.

  14. 14
    BlueM says:


    Sorry, thought I could embed an image. There’s the link again.

  15. 15
    kris says:

    And on that first cover, what about the flames shooting out of his ass?  Is that why it’s called a Blaze?

    (Is anyone else disturbed by that?)

  16. 16
    MKthor says:

    I’m just wondering why the guy in the third cover has his entire right hand down his jean pocket? Shouldn’t we see the thumb hanging out on the outside of the pocket. Also what happened to his right foot after his left leg took center stage? I think the sun beam dog is trying to get his attention to tell him that his left foot has disappear.

    “Hey Friend, maybe you should spend less time admiring that sunrise and look down at your feet. One of them’s missing. And why don’t you dig out that dog treat from your pocket while you’re at it?”

  17. 17

    Barbed wire… Ouch, ouch, ouch!

  18. 18
    RebeccaJ says:

    I loved your comments about the barbed wire fence, Sarah:)

    I don’t get why they have to photoshop the pets in all the time. It looks ridiculous. Surely there’s a Retriever SOMEWHERE in the U.S. who can sit and look up on command!

  19. 19
    Andrea says:

    What’s funny about accidental dong guy is that his gaze appears aimed in that direction, like he’s contemplating his accidental dong.  “Hey, how’d that get out there.”

  20. 20
    Alexis says:

    If you wanted to do a series on snarking on romance cover art I would totally jump in on that, help, share, whatever. As a reader of romance I’m often ashamed by the cover art of what I’m reading and will laugh about all the ridiculous things going on in them. Your post had me laughing out loud!

    Uncle Walter riffs on bad romance covers. Here’s 2 good ones keeping in the cowboy theme:

  21. 21
    Jenn Burke says:

    There’s a great Tumblr blog that you might be interested in that points out all the weird and wonderful (mostly weird) romance novel covers out there:


    Captcha: Expected45 …I expected there would be 45 bad covers, but no. Maybe 4500!

  22. 22
    Alyssa says:

    @Jenn Burke *is alternately trying not to wake her napping boyfriend up with her hysterical laughter and longing to wake him up and traumatize him by sharing this with him* Oh, god, that site. I will get nothing done for the rest of the day. And I have not laughed so hard while sober in months. Thank you.

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