Historical Romance 101: Favorite Book Covers

Welcome to another segment of Historical Romance 101. Today we will be discussing book covers, what we love about them and share some personal favorites. Please join in and visit the other fabulous ladies : Jennifer @ Feminist Fairy Tales, Amanda @ On A Book Bender, and Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook.


I am excited to talk about book covers in historical romance. I have a deep love for a beautiful cover, and I am one of those types that like pretty much most romantic covers. Whether they be old or new, I highly respect those publishing companies that go hard into find a good cover to match the book in the right way. There are many aspects that go into making a good romance cover. A little while ago I stumbled across an article that talked about cover artists—You can read the full article HERE. Such as Jon Paul, Chris Cocozza, James Griffin and Alan Ayers. Many aspects go into a cover and even the stepback. Many of these artists work both traditionally and digitally in their works. They put alot of time and effort into creating a beautiful cover. It’s always interesting to see the changes in covers over the years. In the older romance covers, there was no digital imagery at all. Mostly it was mostly paintings and drawings from artists. There have been many changes over the years and the evolvement. I read on Historical Editorial, that in the 80’s where the Bodice Rippers, became known, those covers with scantily dressed women, was to appeal to men not women. I found that most interesting, But most women back in those days would hide these

There have been many changes over the years and the evolvement. I read on Historical Editorial, that in the 80’s where the Bodice Rippers, became known, those covers with scantily dressed women, was to appeal to men not women. I found that most interesting, But most women back in those days would hide these books, since there was a stigma of these covers and many misunderstandings about these books. I have read quite a few bodice rippers, and I will say this, many of them are TAME in comparison to many books written now.  But are some of the most realistic romances you can read. Since they show and portray real historical authenticity. The most popular of them are known as the Zebra romances. This is the one publishing company that was the most popular for these romances.


Then around the 90’s and early 2000’s, we have the covers that show only images of objects and fancy lettering. Now these were quite popular, because many who read these didn’t feel the need to hide them away in their closets. I actually really fell in love with these when I first started reading romance and discovered some of my favorite books with these covers. I liked that the covers portrayed the stories quite well in various ways. In some covers we have images of castles or buildings and these covers are still popular in many historical covers. I just love a pretty castle or home.


Then we have those “Out of the Curtain” covers. Where we see a cover that we see through a window or curtain on the side with a pretty landscape or setting relevant to the story line of the book. These are so fun, and I really like these covers because it really helps the reader picture the environment the author creates. Some will show a couple pose, it just depends on the cover.


Next up we have those covers that show horses or a sense of adventure….usually, these covers go with the theme of “on the road” romances. I really like these covers quite a bit. For one I love horses (one of my favorite animals, they are so graceful and majestic) and they fit so well in historical romances.

Up Next we have covers in two different groupings. I wanted to show Only Male Models and Female Models. This has been a trend in romance for quite a long time. I have enjoyed seeing these types of covers on romances, whether it’s a nice set of muscled manliness or some gorgeous dresses….I love both. And many times with these covers we have some great backdrops that sets the theme or set up of the story.

Male Models:


Female Models


Now, another popular style of romance covers are some beautiful scenery. I really like seeing these types of covers, and even though they aren’t as popular as they used to be….I still love seeing them quite a bit. Mostly because I love a great backdrop.


Up Next, is a personal favorite, is pairs. I love seeing a great romance cover, but I love seeing both together in a sensual embrace of some kind. Especially if it has a pretty backdrop. These always convey the perfect set up for the story. These type of covers have evolved over the years and below are some of my favorites: both old and new.


Finally I want to touch on stepback covers. These are still popular, although not as much as four to five years ago. These covers are an extension of the main front cover. Sometimes you would find these right behind the main cover or on the back. These depict sensual poses.

Twitter Chat Reminder:

On April 26th 9PM EST, we will be doing a #HistRom101 twitter chat. I can’t recommend enough how much y’all need to join in on this. One its so fun chatting with each other about historical romance!!! Every time we do this…we always have a blast.


So as part of Historical Romance 101—we are offering a giveaway. There will be five winners. 1 Grand Prize winner, 2 Runners Up and 2 Second Runners Up. One entry per day per person through April. Winners must live in U.S.

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25 thoughts on “Historical Romance 101: Favorite Book Covers

  1. You did a fantastic history of HR cover art, there. I’ve been reading HRs for over 30 years and I remember all those styles. That’s interesting about the bodice-rippers appealing to men. My dad was the first person telling me to ‘cover those half-naked people’. LOL You’re right that those books are tame to many nowadays.
    I personally don’t have a preference other than the cover reflect the story inside.

    1. Thanks!! While writing this post…it just gravitated toward doing a history. Not in the plan beforehand hehe But I have loved any romance cover over the years. I agree…as long as the cover relates with the story I will love it.

  2. EPIC collection of covers here, Renee! I especially love the 80s covers, and cool to know they were trying to appeal to men!

  3. I did not know that the bodice ripper covers were actually to appeal to men! How interesting! I’m a huge fan of the scenery type covers and also the pair the most. Some of the new ones are stunning! One of my all-time favorite cover (and book!) is Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knot. It captures the adorableness of the book so well!
    Fantastic post!

  4. I love the pairs the best too Renee. I especially love when it captures the feel of the story. Of course I like the male covers too and ooo the dresses the lovely dresses. Ok, I like all of them..pfft.

  5. I wrote an article for Harlequin Junkie where we discussed book covers and readers clearly stated that a cover sales the book to them. I have to agree. I love a romantic book cover and I am easily swept away by such a design. My favorite design is the pairs as well. In my opinion Avon has the most stunning covers! Absolutely love the publisher’s designs! 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

  6. The cover for Alanna is so pretty. I love her dress. It looks like the pink dress in Cinderella that the mice help her make. I always really loved the setback cover for How to Marry a Marquis. The main cover isn’t all that eye catching, but I love the stepback cover.

    1. You know…I never though about the pink dress in Cinderella…but you are so RIGHT!!! Love it even more now. I agree about How To Marry A Marquis though, great book too. I love that romance.

  7. I love how you divided this post up. I am partial to the female model and object covers though I found ones I liked in all the categories. I think my favorites that I saw were To Seduce a Sinner, Wed to a Highland Warrior, To Pleasure a Prince, and The Secret. Lots of beautiful covers here!

  8. Oh my so many covers! I love the stepbacks!
    I love couple covers, and totally loving the Sabrina York covers right now! And When a Scot Ties the Knot cover, so cute! Great compilation!

    1. oh yes the stepback are wonderful right??!! Oh Sabrina York covers are great, but have yet to read her yet or I probably would have put them on here. I do like the cover for Scot Ties The Knot but then again there were so many great ones to choose from too!!

  9. I love seeing how the covers change as time goes by and marketing changes. I love them all, honestly, but I think my favorites are the covers with objects or scenery…although I really like the ones with the heroines in their fancy dresses, too! Oh, maybe I can’t choose a favorite! *haha*

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