Classic Romance Covers

Watching: Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief
Listening to: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Reading: Charlaine Harris’ True Blood series (Eric… yum!!)

So during these school holidays, I’ve been blowing off the dust from my book shelves and checking out my old historical romance covers of yesteryear.  I remember how awesome I thought these were when I bought them (mumble mumble) years ago.  But now, of course, most are extremely dated.  So I thought I’d share a few memorable ones.

1981 cover

Bitter Passion, Sweet Love by Patricia Ott – I would say this was my first erotic romance read.  Classic English beauty gets kidnapped by wild sheikh.  There’s group sex, multiple partners and some forced seduction scenes (one aided by drugs that was so graphic, I regularly read it aloud to my enthralled/horrified girlfriends when I was 12!).  Wow!  All for the bargain price of 79c.  Sadly, I can’t find any mention of the author any where on the web.

ahhh, the memories of 1983!

While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee – check out that lurid red!  That billowing hair!  That back-breaking embrace!  I adored this cover at the time (hmmm… I guess I had limited taste at 14).  And the story, as I remember it, was just as fab – kidnapping, forced seduction, arrogant hero.  The heroine was feisty, too, but the issue that continues to grate on me was that the hero never believed she was a virgin until the very end, when he overhears her talking to a maid about it.  Until then he thought she was a bit of a slut.  Hmmm… I should probably re-read it again and see if my memory is reliable.

original 1980 cover

Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee – loved, loved, loved this book!  One of my first historicals I ever read – around the age of 11, I think.  Shirlee Busbee (along with Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss) was one of the first greats of historical romance for me.   Heroine (Nicole) had the same name as my best friend at the time 🙂  She runs away from bad relatives, dresses up as a boy (the heroine, not my friend!) and stows away on a ship as a cabin boy.  There’s an arrogant alpha male, a bit of intrigue/mystery about spying, soft violence (he ends up cracking her wrist when she won’t release a weapon), and – I’m pretty sure – a few forced seduction scenes.  I especially loved her return to her rightful place in society.  And I loved the cover art – I ended up reproducing it as an art project in high school.

ahhh, that's better...

original 1978 (!) cover

A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey – there’s pirates (of course!), an abduction, some forced seduction.  The heroine’s eyes change color when she’s angry.  The hero whips her for disobeying him, which is pretty un-PC these days.  And while the original cover wasn’t exactly bad, this later version is beautiful and elegant.  Interesting to note that from Once A Princess (1991) onwards, Marketing started putting flowers/symbols on Johanna Lindsey’s covers, but still had the clinches on a step back (inside the front cover).  Me, I much prefer the style of the revamped A Pirate’s Love.

can you believe this was done in 1986?

Angel in Scarlet by Jennifer Wilde – it’s high time I read this book again.  Such fun, such a great heroine.  And how gorgeous is that cover?   She’s a street urchin, he’s her rescuer, teaches her how to act, eat, socialise, so a huge Pygmalion theme going on there.  Gainsborough paints her portrait.  Umm… I think she writes a book?  See, told you, I have to read this again!

Do you have a favorite book that has  a less-than-flattering cover?  A revamp that does the story better justice than the original?  Or just a cover that makes you howl with laughter?  Share!


8 comments on “Classic Romance Covers

  1. OMG, great post, Paula. Really got me thinking. And ferreting through my bookcases. Wonderful excuse to procrastinate instead of writing that scene I have to insert in my revisions 😉

    As for the fave book with an unfortunate cover? For me it’s Marian Keyes’ Sushi For Beginners. The cover of the version I’ve got has the author’s name at the top in lime green, and the title in cerise at the bottom, on a dark purple background. Which wouldn’t be so awful, except that in between author’s name and title is cartoon-style sushi with chopsticks. On the spine of the book, they’ve carried on the theme by opting for a bowl of soy sauce instead of the sushi.

    Don’t get me wrong, I loooove sushi! And the book is fabulous — one of my all-time favorites. But I just can’t get past the cartoon sushi!

  2. I totally remember that one, Maree! They did a running theme with her books – Watermelon had a huge slice of watermelon on the cover 😆

  3. Paula I totally adored Lady Vixen and was probably about the same age as you when I read it. Still have it on my bookshelf, it’s my keeper! I’d love to read the other one you mentioned by the same author, can’t recall which other book I read by Shirlee Busbee but was sadly disappointed by it!

  4. Mel, there’s a few Shirlee Busbees that I loved – Gypsy Lady, Tiger Lily, Deceive not the Heart. GL was her first and I remember I was stunned when the heroine was raped by the bad guy. But it made me cry and cheer for them at the end because the hero helped her work through it.

    I notice she’s written a new three-book series – Scandal Becomes Her, Seduction Becomes Her, and Surrender Becomes Her. The covers here are gorgeous! And one of my favorite authors, Jude Deveraux, has returned to historicals with Days of Gold – hurrah!

  5. Paula

    I have all of Shirlee Busbee’s original covers somewhere here or they are at my sisters she was one of my Mum’s (and mine) favourite authors along with Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss and I have a few of Jennifer Wilde’s somewhere as well, covers have changed a lot over the years as have some of the stories but I still love them.
    I will have to go looking for some of these older books.
    Great post brings back lots of memories

    have Fun

  6. Paula,
    Love the old covers,
    Makes me feel old as back in the dimmest reaches of my memory I seem to remember a time when ‘Pirate’ covers filled the bookshelves.
    And all the heroines looked 17 years old,

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