Random (but not really)

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Books of 2021: Romance Covers

Apparently “cartoon” covers are the current big thing in romance, and I’ll be honest–I don’t hate it. I’ve never liked clinch covers, or models with the clothing falling off in a ridiculous manner. So I liked most of the covers this year.

Which means that pretty soon it will once again be shirtless men and clinging partially-clad women.


The Charm OffensiveThe Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun

Published by Atria Books. Cover illustration and design by Sarah Horgan

Contemporary, LGBT

This cover does an excellent job giving you an idea about the characters in the story. Charlie lost his job as a tech CEO due to his compulsive (and other) issue, and is looking to rehabilitate his image by going on a reality dating show.

Dev is a handler for THE reality dating TV show, whose job is trying to keep Charlie from losing it.

I really love how Charlie looks uncomfortable in the spotlight, while Dev is hovering in the background, waiting to come in with a quiet word.

The Love StudyThe Love Study (2020) Kris Ripper

Published by Carina Press

Contemporary, LGBT

This cover is also cute, and the heart as an O actually fits both the concept of the podcast episodes the two are doing and the feel of the story.

I think they could have done a better job making it clear the story centered around a podcast, but at least they have the technology bits correct.

It is an appealing, eye catching cover, with bright colors and easily readable fonts.

Rosaline Palmer Takes the CakeRosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (2021) Alexis Hall (Winner Bakes All)

Published by Forever. Cover design and illustrations throughout by Lila Selle.

Contemporary, LGBT

Rosaline is a single mother who loves to bake and so decided to take a chance on a popular British baking show.

This is one of the few covers I really liked that does not have a couple on the cover, but instead has Rosaline standing by herself, in the kitchen.

Despite the hearts in the background, that might make people think this was not a romance, however, as there are several things about the story that are not traditional for a romance, I think that works quite well.

I also really like the clean look of the solid background, which drew my eye to the title.

Sweetest in the GaleSweetest in the Gale (2020) Olivia Dade

Published by Hussies & Harpies Press


This is another drawn covers, but unlike the three above, the characters are more detailed, and it’s absolutely clear this is a romance.

It’s also clear that the women (women) in these stories are plus sized, which is Olivia Dade’s thing, and absolutely fantastic.

Even though yellow is not one of my favorite colors, it works well here, and I love the dappled light.

Best Laid PlansBest Laid Plans (2021) Roan Parrish (Garnet Run)

Published by Carina Adores

Contemporary, LGBT

I love the sunrise / sunset color here.

It is interesting that all three books in this series have very different covers. Especially since the series prior to this (Riven) had covers that were very strongly all of a series.

I don’t think the elements of home renovation are quite as clear as they could be, since this house is barely visible, and the drafting lines aren’t at all clear in a smaller size, however, the wide open spaces around the couple do match the feel of the characters, that they are just a little bit apart from the world.

Especially since this isn’t initially the case with Charlie, who seems to be friends with everyone in town, but still feels isolated and alone.

A Ladys Formula for LoveA Lady’s Formula for Love (2021) Elizabeth Everett

Published by Berkley. Cover design by Rita Frangie


I really love this cover: the color, the silhouettes, the flask of bubbling chemicals. Even the mismatched fonts work for me. All of it makes it clear at a glance this is an historical with a lady scientist.

I also love the two-color look, with everything seemingly in shades of the two strong colors.

Sadly for me, the story didn’t live up to the color.

Bringing Down the DukeBringing Down the Duke (2019) Evie Dunmore

Published by Berkley. Cover design and art composition by Farjana Yasmin


Another silhouette design (which I really like). Everything tells me this is an historical romance.

Although he is most likely the one in charge of the horse, she is still in front of him from the viewers point of view, and they are off doing something and having some sort of adventure. I especially love the sense of movement that comes with the horse.

I also love the font and bold blue for the title and author.

Sadly, the story wasn’t for me.

The Labours of Lord Perry CavendishThe Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish (2021) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne)

Self published. Cover art: Natasha Snow

Historical, LGBT

I love all the covers she has done for this series. They are simple and evocative. I could probably have done without Lord Perry being in a super curly script, but at least it’s a legible even at a smaller size.

And the blue is very very pretty.

Especially the splat of paint, which very much fits with the story.

My only ding is that it’s not clear this is a romance–and a MM romance at that–which could be problematic for some readers. However, it is obvious it’s an historical, and since it’s a later book in a series, you’re probably already aware it’s a MM romance.

A Ladys Guide to Mischief and MayhemA Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (2020) Manda Collins

Published by Forever. Cover design and illustration by Sarah Congdon.


Another book with a very pretty cover. The title font should have been easier to read, but it’s illegible at a smaller size. Just a bit of a struggle to parse initially. And like Bringing Down the Duke above I very much like the line drawings of the city behind them, as well as the two primary colors for everything.

Sadly, I didn’t like was the romance. Or much about the story.

Here is a breakdown of the publishers:
Carina – 2
Berkley – 2
Forever – 2

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