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Sandi Morris, the technical wizard for this column, has a thing for cats whereas I have a thing for dogs. Since I was able to put a dog into this column, she forwarded a cover and summary involving a cat. The novels are romance paranormals so, hang in there, as I tell you about our favorite furry friends.

The dog is Miss Piggy in Emily Carmichael's Finding Mr. Right. Miss Piggy was formerly a beautiful woman, Lydia, having an affair with her best friend Amy's husband. Lydia and he were murdered. To make amends to Amy, Lydia is sent back to earth as a very bedraggled looking Welsh Corgi. Amy rescues Welsh Corgis while Jeff is a veterinarian who volunteers his time at the shelter. He also spays Miss Piggy! Miss Piggy cannot get on with her afterlife until she has found Amy the ideal mate. She resists the idea of Jeff (Dr. Dull, as she calls him) being Mr. Right until she discovers the guy she picked out is Mr. Wrong. I loved this book, but if you don't love dogs, you probably won't love it as much as I did. A good deal of the novel is told from Miss Piggy's point of view and in her own words.

I thought at first this was an Avon cover because of the cartoon looking front but it is Bantam's cover. It is a cute drawing, by artist/illustrator Bill Garland, of a man and woman but only as seen from ground, or dog, level. Thus, you see Jeff's legs in trousers and Amy's legs in high heels, stockings and short skirt. They are together as if they are kissing and the leash is wound around them. Most importantly, there is an adorable Welsh Corgi on a leash sitting at their feet, looking very happy with herself. This is Miss Piggy. My eye was immediately drawn to the Welsh Corgi and it caused me to pick up the book. A detail of Miss Piggy and Jeff's legs is shown on the spine and back. A person who is not a dog lover might not pick it up so I'd say the cover announces what kind of romance story it contains very well.

Sandi wasn't content with one cat. She went for a race of Cat People who live by sexual laws in The Heart's Surrender, fifth of six titles in Kathleen Morgan's Imperium series published by Pinnacle. Morigan leads the Cat People and Rissa is taken captive so as to mate with him. Their tribe is low on impregnable women due to a massacre by Rissa's father, governor of the invaders. Morigan is injured while saving Rissa's life from an attack and they take shelter in a cave so he can recuperate. However, the Cat People have a compulsion to mate on the Night of the Triple Moon and that night arrives. Cat People only mate in one position (doggy style, ironically) and Morigan is unable to get into that position because of his injuries. If Cat Men do not mate during this time, their sexual urges kill them via terrible, unfulfilled sexual pain. Rissa sees Morigan in the throes of sexual agony and saves his life by mating with him with her on top and him on his back. Another sexual law they observe is that after the first mating, Cat People can't mate again for seven days but can play sexual games instead. Sandi didn't enlighten me about those games. . . yet. Author Kathleen Morgan certainly likes women who take things into their own hands and no one, least of all me, could ever accuse her of lack of imagination, especially regarding an alternative culture.

A visual of a cat dominates the cover of this book, especially its eyes. The rest of its head is transparent so that one can see the cat world in the background. In the foreground are the lead characters. He is dressed in as little as possible, like an animal, with wild mane-like hair whereas she looks normal. The image's colors remind me of those seen in an actual cat, even the shade of yellow in the background. Details of this visual are not repeated on the spine or back. Pinnacle does not give a credit for the artist/illustrator or designer. Again, I think the reader is fairly warned that if she is not a cat lover, this book may not be for her. Actually, considering all of the sexual aspects to this story, the cover is fairly tame. I don't know about you but, visually speaking, I'm still back in the cave.

Conclusion

You haven't seen any scary covers because romance paranormal novels are not scary. That is not their emphasis, in contrast to horror novels themselves, where the emphasis to frighten is huge. If these books were shelved with horror fiction, many horror genre readers would be dissatisfied as the ghastly component is missing. I don't know if it is possible to increase the fright level of these romance novels without losing some of the focus on emotions and relationships. To my knowledge, no romance writer has put that to the test yet.

Please note that whenever feasible, I am including the names of the publisher and the artists/illustrators/designers. I am also noting whether the artists are given credit for their work anywhere on or in the book itself. If neither Sandi nor I own the book, however, this information is much harder for me to secure; sometimes I will not have the information to give. The reason I am trying to share this additional information with AAR's readers is that I believe that the artists and the publishers deserve specific mention since they are the ones responsible for the cover flats and stepbacks, not the authors. They, therefore, should receive the notoriety for the bad ones and the acclaim for the good ones. Their names will also be run with their covers on our final Cover Ballot for 1999.

-- Carol Irvin

with technical assistance from Sandi Morris

 

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