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Let me move into specifics by category and I'll tell you what I think I learned from the rankings and comments. Mine is but one interpretation; I am simply your guide through the results.

About Contemporary Covers

Pearl Cove and River's End nabbed the top two spots in our contemporary category with covers that show beautifully rendered landscapes, setting the mood for their stories. The fact that these two images struck a chord with our voters is somewhat contradictory. Romance readers often say they don't like landscapes. They also often say they don't care whether or not covers are well-painted pieces of art work. Clearly, when presented with well-painted landscapes, readers respond positively.


Here are a smattering of comments we received about Pearl Cove:
  • Elena "liked the colors and dreamy look on the cover."
  • Jaycee fell in love with this cover "the first time" she saw it, and, "months of pondering hasn't changed" her mind.
  • For Traci, there was "no contest." Though she usually prefers "bodice rippers," she found this one "stunning."
  • Lisa wrote, "Although I liked all the covers and I generally go for covers with people on them, this one was artistically very beautiful."
  • Kimberly found it to have a "nice, watercolory look."
  • Carla felt the cover was reminiscent of "a romantic getaway."
  • Genia found it had "perfect colors for a 'pearl'."
  • Licia wrote, ""This cover was 'pearly', like the title."

Avon,
Patricia Barrow;
Wendy Popp




Putnam,
Wendall Minor
We can sum up what we heard about River's End with these comments:
  • Liz found it to be a nice change to have a "scenic picture to go along with the title."
  • Sarah wrote, "This one caught my eye right away. That's what a cover ought to do."
  • The winding river drew Janet in, and made her think the story would as well. She added, "There is also a certain amount of dark mystery about the scenery. What will I find at the end of that river?"
  • For Lynn, the beautifully illustrated scene was "somewhat forbidding, like the book itself."



In comparing both top vote-getters, Judith wrote, "I like the picture for Pearl Cove better, but it doesn't say anything about Australia, where Pearl Cove is. River's End gives a good indication of the actual location, as well as a beautiful landscape."


While Mary is not a big fan of the "naked chest" or the "man's face" on romance novels, Naughty, Naughty, with its full-monty naked chest approach, came in third place. This cover featuring a man's torso as he takes off his t-shirt features wash-board abs and reeks of raw sexuality. Sex does sell, after all.

Here's what we heard about Naughty, Naughty:
  • An author known for her sexy series romances found this cover "very, very sexy." She loved it.
  • VL found Naughty, Naughty simply "nifty." She did, though, get some "ragging when caught reading the book," so she has some reservations about its overt sexuality.
  • Jennifer likes pretty landscapes and most assuredly "works of art," but found "the guy on Naughty, Naughty" to be "the best work of art" she's seen in a long time.
  • Angie doesn't like "gaudy clinches", but has no problem with images of heroes such as this on covers.
  • Chandra won't buy a romance if there isn't a picture of the hero and/or heroine on the cover. She prefers "something sexy" to draw her attention.
  • And, finally, there's Kira, with tongue in cheek, who wrote, "Please send the model for this cover to my house."

St. Martins,
no credit



Third Heiress came in fourth place in our polling. This cover went on and off the initial ballot a few times when the committees couldn't make up their minds. It finally made it onto the final ballot and many voters commented on how much they liked this new and unusual look.


St. Martins,
Anne Twoney;
Herman Estevez
Some highlights about the cover for Third Heiress:
  • Sabrina found this a "very classy look," but one that "may not fit for every contemporary."
  • Sue found it classy as well, and "very appealing, but not too obviously romancey."
  • For Chris, the look was dignified, and "an indication of what the book is about."
  • Suzanne wrote, "This cover treats the material within with dignity and respect."




Avon,
Melanie Carr/ Zephyr Images

LoveSpell,
John Ennis
When I Fall In Love, in fifth place, mixed a woman, the sea, seagulls, and the wind, to create a rather new assemblage in romance. The voters who picked it gave that as precisely their reason. While the beach and the ocean were mentioned most often, we thought we'd share that artist Patricia found that this cover "set a wistful mood." And, Jennifer wrote the cover was "romantic, classy, intriguing," and "would be comfortable carrying it anywhere."Sixth place's Love Potion moves the hero's face into an extreme close-up shot, also a new idea. Those who commented on Love Potion stated that reason, especially being better able to see his eyes. In committee, the only problem this cover had was its use of the color orange. Many women in choosing clothing avoid colors that don't flatter them and will tend to also avoid those colors in other purchases. Not a lot of women can wear this color; however, it certainly stands out on the bookshelf.




Signet,
Jae Song

Fawcett,
Tony Greco
Dangerous Games came in at seventh with the wolf being the biggest selling point, then the color mix and finally the woman being superimposed. Heart Throb's eighth place finish indicates two opposite possibilities. Those who liked it did so because they found it fresh, different and that it fit the story. Those who didn't like it found it not fresh enough because they say they've seen strips of film on books outside the romance genre.



A Chance On Lovin' You came in last. This didn't surprise me because it was the only cartoon cover that had survived going through the two committees, the members saying they were tired of seeing so many cartoons. Although there were other cartoon covers considered originally this was the only one to make it onto the final contemporary ballot. Although some voters really liked it, the fewer numbers suggest that perhaps others may be tiring of cartoon covers as well.

Avon,
Tsukushi



I didn't vote except to break a tie in series so I'll do so now: fifth place's, When I Fall In Love. I don't buy fiction hardbacks so my buying record is that I bought every paperback cover book here when it first came out except for the hardbacks' River's End and Pearl Cove, plus the paperback of A Chance On Lovin' You. I did check Third Heiress out at the library, which is what I do with hardbacks that I find intriguing.

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