Romantic Times Rewind: May 2014 Ads and Features

Smart Podcast Trashy Books Romantic Times RewindIt’s time for part two of our Romantic Times Rewind visit to the May 2014 issue, where we take a tour of the ads and features inside!

As I said two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what having the images inside the podcast entry would do so I’m doing a separate post for each one. PICTURES AHOY Y’ALL.

You can also find all the RTRW content at our category page for Romantic Times Rewind. 

And, most importantly, if you want to listen and follow along with this entry, we have more detail in the audio, but you can click play and listen and read and absorb all the visual goodness:

For this episode, we’re looking at the editorial features, the ads, basically all the content that isn’t reviews. We talked about the cover briefly in the last episode, but since we’re looking at editorial…

The cover of RT Book Reviews which features the cover of Valerie Bowman's The Unexpected Duchess which has a white woman in a green dress that's being pulled off her shoulders and down her back by a shirtless man but you can't see any of their faces. their heads were cropped out, poor models. The headliners are Valerie Bowman, Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Brenda Novak, Megan Hart, and Bella Andre
Check out the headline for the top story: The end is nigh for Sherrilyn Kenyon and Brenda Novak!  That’s rather ominous.

As we discuss a bit later in the audio, the article itself is neat. Lisa Kessler wrote an interesting and thoughtful profile of the author’s point of view when their long running and beloved series comes to an end. It’s a clever angle for an article, especially since Kessler spoke to so many different authors about ending a series and what it’s like.

Editor’s Letter

The editor’s letter from Kathryn Falk is a wild ride from gardening to pig roasts, special cabbage to longevity! Oh yeah, and then some authors are in this issue.

The author's letter from Kathryn Falk, and the top three paragraphs are a JOURNEY. There's also a photo of Aimee Thurlo, who had recently died, with her husband David at the top, but the caption jsut tells you who they are, not why they're there? It's weird. The text reads: Dear Reader, Here in Texas we’re enjoying beautiful spring weather and dedicating ourselves to tilling and weed- ing, fertilizing the gardens and trees with microlite and compost and pruning climbers and rose bushes. The peach blossoms are out, meaning we can segue from the last of the satsumas, loqouts and grapefruits into a spring fruit. We also prepared for our first pig roast. Our new building project — the 3 x 5 foot roasting pit lined with firebricks — was finished in time for Kenneth’s birthday in March. A chef friend from Houston prepared every- thing, including his unique fermented cabbage dish. It takes four hours for the pig to cook in the pit covered with coals — and we rehearsed beforehand! My latest discovery from the longevity world is “grounding.” You plug in a grounding sheet/pad into the grounding “hole” of an electrical outlet. It pro- duces a subtle tingling and relaxing sensation. It is wonderful for improved sleep. I am bringing mine to NOLA. I am now hooked! You sleep better, and it seems to clear up degrees of stiffness, aches, pains, psoriasis, etc. You can also walk outside barefoot and lay in the grass for hours for a similar effect: Health is improved by connecting to the earth’s energy. Google “grounding” and go to for product information. I suggest the pillow and long sheet for the bed and a pad for the computer. The yoga mat is also useful.

The photo at the top is also confusing: Aimée Thurlo is pictured with her husband David Thurlo, and at the very end there’s a mention that Aimée passed away in March. But the distance between the photo and the mention of her death, coupled with the “hey here’s some people” caption to the photo, was very confusing for us both.

Say Yes to the Dress!

Then we come to the cover story, featuring Valerie Bowman, whose book The Unexpected Duchess was the cover image. In the interview, Valerie mentions that she was on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta!

I played a bit of the audio but here is the complete episode on Tubi. We’re going to have an episode with Valerie herself telling us about the dress, the experience, everything. We’re not only going back to magazines of May 2014, but television reality shows, too?

Sure, why not.

Stock Image Funtimes

Amanda flagged this ad for the Proposition Series by Katie Ashley:

Katie Ashley Proposition series ad. There's a set of four books with very clearly a cover template used to block the title and the uathor name with a different stock image in the middle The one all the way to the right is the one we're talking about - I'll have a close up and description in the next image

Specifically this book:

The imagery is a little bit violent!

THE PARTY by Katie Ashley, featuring a picture of a woman with long blonde waves in a white button down straight up pulling the hair and shoving away a man in a button down who is facing away from her. it is surprisingly violent?

I’m wary of learning the keywords for this stock image. Better I not know.

So. Much. Information. On. Three. Pages.

We also talk about the absolute monster truckload of information about book series and which ones had a new title, and a separate page of reissues, reprints, and paperback releases of former hardcovers. There is SO MUCH INFO my gosh.

Here’s a sample of part of the two-page list:

A screenshot of the Series rap sheet feature showing new titles from Jennifer Probst, Hope Ramsay, Karen Ranney, and Theresa Romain.

That’s four listings from a full page of four columns of book data.  SO MUCH information in one place! It’s visually overwhelming but I imagine extremely useful for librarians and booksellers.

And look, there’s a HaBO!

A corner of the series info page is BOOK sleut h Solved ... Reader Maureen Welch cracked the mysterious case of the series romance with an amnesiac DEA agent who is taken in by a female ranch owner (March ‘14, RT #361). According to Maureen, the romance in question is Devil in Disguise by Ann Williams (Silhouette Intimate Moments #302, ‘89). Send your questions and answers to Book Sleuth, RT, 55 Bergen St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 or Correct answers receive a free book (specify historical, contemporary, paranormal or mystery, U.S. residents only.) Be sure to visit RT’s BOOKsleuth message board at

As long as romance fans have been reading, we’ve been remembering tiny plot details while forgetting any inkling of the title or author.

Cover Trends, Part I

We spent some time with this full-page ad from Montlake:

12 titles from Montlake romance with A Husband's Regret by Natasha Anders (stock image ohoto dropped on a blue background) The Best Medicine by Tracy Brogan - FEET. White people's feet in a hammock, and Just one Thing by HOlly Jacobs, again, stock photo with some words on it, and Nancy Herkness The Place I belong, which is a violet and orange lit photo of a very opulent outdoor buffet table.

There was indeed a time when much of women’s fiction had pictures of hats, or pictures of feet.

Cover Trends, Part II

Anne Tenino talks about Frat Boy and Toppy, and about crocheting penises in the Erotic Romance Q&A written by Mala Bhattacharjee.

In the article, there’s a group picture of four of Tenino’s books, causing Amanda to recall when m/m romance was all “butts and lots of gelled hair.”

Four books by Anne Tenino feautring men with abs, butts, low rise pants, and a lot of hair jel. They're all white and young. the titles are Frat boy and toppy, good boy, love/hypothetically, and Sweet Young Thang

Story checks out!

Amanda also flagged this black and white ad (on a page with some purple text and solid purple borders so the lack of color was eyecatching):

An ad for The Gatekeeper's sons by eva pohler, with four books featuring white women looking at the reader against gate stock photos, the text reads When thanatos the god of death meets a girl and falls in love for the first time he doesn't know what he's infor and neither does she. They're all floating, and all the books are slightly out of focus, too.

The books aren’t in focus, either – it’s weird.

Cover Trends, Part III

If you’re playing along at home, here are the 2014 cover art trends we’ve discovered:

  • Women’s fiction: feet and maybe hats.
  • M/M romance: butts, abs, and hair gel
  • And Inspirational?

An ad for Revell featuring While Love STirs and her perfect periwinkle hat, and a place in his heart which feaures a woman with gorgeous red wavy hair and a green gown the caption is Fall in Love with Timeless Stories A Place in His Heart Early American history comes to life in this epic love story of a heartbroken widower and the woman determined to win his heart. This heartfelt tale of love and devotion is based on debut author Rebecca DeMarino’s own ancestors, who came to Long Island in the mid-1600s to establish a life— and a legacy—in the New World. While Love Stirs Fan favorite Lorna Seilstad is back with a breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep readers guessing. Attention to historic detail adorns the timeless story of a young woman looking for true love and making her way in a rapidly changing world. An ad for Cathleen Armstrong's ONe More Last Chance and Welcome to Last Chance where both models have perfect, perfect hair. The text reads “Armstrong’s style is as comfortable as a pair of well-worn jeans.” —Crosswalk After ending a tumultuous engagement, Sarah Cooley returns to the one place where nothing changes—or so she thinks.

Inspirational covers: Perfect, and I mean ABSURDLY perfect hair.

Don’t lean on an old wood fence, like the model on One More Last Chance is doing. Bad idea jeans, per Amanda.

Specially priced!

Do you remember when a gallon of gas was $1? I liked knowing how to do the math to fill my tank. It was around $10. Easy, peasy for broke college student me. Ah, the 90s.

How about book prices to give you a similar feeling of financial nostalgia:

A piece of a full page ad for Laura Griffin's Far Gone, which features a rose inside a glass vase that is exploding. The text reads: To save her only brother, Detective Andrea Finch must face down a criminal mastermind, a smoldering —Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author FBI agent, and her own demons in this thrilling novel from the author of the bestselling Tracers series. “A tense, exciting romantic thriller that’s not to be missed.” —Karen Robards, New York Times bestselling author Specially priced hardcover— just $18.00!

Eighteen dollars.

That’s the cost of a trade paperback now.


Amanda flagged this ad for uncanny valley dimensions on the model in the back:

STUFF by Josephine Myles When Mr Glad Rags meets Mr Riches the result is Sexy Fun. Both models look so young they're dew, they're bothing wearing waistcoats and shirts with collars and they are posed between racks of clothing. but the one in the back has a head that is twice the size of his shoulders and it's weird.

Also, the person in the front looks like Tilda Swinton now that I look at it again.

Another Set of Cover Trends, Part IV

We spent a lot of time talking about the cover design on these books:

Magic shiters and vampires pleasure filled paranormals for all tastes featuring enigma by moira rogers which has a woman in very very low rise jeans and a jacket standing on front of a wolf Illici Passions by Crystal Jordan which has a topless woman being groped by a guy Make me Burn which is a woman standing with her legs wide apart and the capitol building is pointed straight up her cooch moonshine by vivian arend which has tank tops and toplessness to signla hot sex and shifters and carnal magic by lila dubois, a clsoe up of a white woman with bright blue eyes and very red lips

Hang on! I think Illicit Passions by Crystal Jordan uses the same stock image as one of the books reviewed in this issue.

Is this Butt Grope…A close up of Illicit passions by Crystal Jordan featuring a black and white image of a topless woman in tight jeans being embraced by a guy

…the same as THIS butt grope?

A clsoe up of a woman with no shirt on and long blonde hair and very tight jeans with a shirtless man embracing her against a dark backdrop. He is cupping her ass so you KNOW it's filthy.

I cannot believe I recognized a stock image by the butt grope.


Enigma by Moira Rogers features a blond woman and her jeans have like a four inch rise they are SO LOW


Finally, in this collection of wild cover trends:

Make me Burn by RG ALexander, featuring a woman in a black skirt nd the urban fantasy belt, with whind swept hair and sunglasses, standing legs apart with the capital rotunda pointed right up her cooch

The Centers for Disease Control do not recommend posing with the capitol rotunda pointing straight up your skirt, not even with the possible protections of the urban fantasy belt.  

And then there’s this ad from LooseId:

Loose Id wish you a divine Easter get your sexily ever after from Eostre's Baskey with books pouring out of a chest beneath a chess set and little cards and games and it's weird.

We honestly have NO idea what’s going on here. None idea.


Aw, hey, remember when m/m hockey romance was a big trend?

An ad from Riptide for Heidi Belleau's series with a hockey player. his book is called striaght shooter

Ah, such a time.

And our last ad before the conference preview:
Ellora's Cave Presents sexy sirens of summer - cris anson and kerry adrienne the kerry adrienne cover features a white man with a lot of eyeliner and hair gel holding a paintbrush that's clearly been added after the shoot, and he looks a LOT like adam lambert.

That really does look like Adam Lambert; Amanda’s right!

RT New Orleans 2014 Conference Preview

RT BookLovers Con New Orleans May 13-18, 2014 there's a picture of balconies in the French Quarter, crowds and mardigras floats, and a jazz band

Did you attend RT in New Orleans in 2014?

And do you remember this buffet?

A listing of the buffet sponsored by publishers: Sponsored By Ellora’s Cave Crawfish etouffée is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine, typically served as a savory shellfish stew over rice. The dish employs a technique known as smothering, a popular method of cooking in the Cajun areas of southwest Louisiana. Enjoy this New Orleans favorite. Sponsored By Gallery & Pocket Books Sausage Jambalaya is a favorite New Orleans dish that originated in southeast Louisiana. This mixture of rice, smoked and hot sausage, along with plenty of spice, makes for a hearty meal. Spanish and French food cultures both have a hand in the creation of this wonderful Creole favorite. Sponsored By Sourcebooks Be adventurous and try this delicious local favorite for the ultimate New Orleans culinary experience. Golden fried alligator fritters, served with a creamy white remoulade sauce, will be the talk of the night as many will try this delicious delicacy for the very first time! Sponsored By Tor/Forge & Tor Teen The word “grits” derives from the Old English word “grytt,” meaning coarse meal. In the Low Country, it is combined with shrimp as a tradition- al breakfast dish. This delicious version of shrimp and grits includes fresh seared shrimp served with a buttery sauce. Yum! NEW ORlEaNS ClaSSIC SWEET TREaTS Sponsored By Samhain Publishing Beignet, synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux paste. Beignets were brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by French colonists and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking. A venerable local classic, this golden delight is made on-site and served hot.

Have you had alligator fritters?

I took a look through my photos from RT, and if you haven’t been to a signing as large as those were, here’s a look at the ballroom:

A wide shot of a very full ballroom of authors with banners for Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis from the ceiling

If you have been to the RT convention signing, then you can probably hear this picture.

Our next episode on November 3 will examine the reviews for the June 2014 issue!  And remember, if you join the Patreon, you’ll get access to the entire issue as a PDF. You can find all the RT Rewind recaps, episodes, and visuals at

What about you? How much of the marketing budget do you reserve for the alligator fritters? Did you attend RT in New Orleans in 2014?

Do you remember any of these books? Or the publishers (it’s astonishing how many no longer exist)?  How did you like this first edition of RTRewind?

Add Your Comment →

  1. HeatherS says:

    I loved RT Book Reviews and I’m loving this new feature! It’s so fun to revisit romance as it was a decade ago – and marvel (and/or feel sad – RIP, RT) at how much things have changed. I was a bookseller at the time, and reading through that publisher info on which items were new, paperback releases, or retitled releases was definitely very helpful!

    I went to RT in Atlanta in 2017 and I can definitely hear that ballroom.

    All I can think is that there must not have been many options on that buffet for folks who were vegan, vegetarian, or didn’t eat seafood or pork for whatever reason.

  2. Kareni says:

    It’s fun to see all this, Sarah.

    The Claimings series by Lyn Gala, an absolute favorite of mine, was originally published by the now defunct Loose Id.

  3. MsSolo says:

    This definitely makes me sad about how many digital presses Amazon destroyed using Kindle to create the self-pub market. A lot of them imploded for other reasons as well, but the financial pressures shifting from consumers buying direct to through Amazon really just destroyed the viability of the whole market.

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