Random (but not really)

Friday, December 22, 2023

The Covers of 2023: Romance

Many dedicated romance readers–particularly Old Skool Romance Readers, hate the trend of illustrated covers.

I kinda love them. Almost as much as I hate clinch covers. (I’m not meaning to yuck anyone’s yum, I just do not like to look at click covers, old or new.)

The drawback is, of course, that you can’t tell the level of spice/heat in a book with an illustrated cover. If a cover has a naked or mostly naked model, you know there is going to be boinking. But you can’t easily tell with illustrated covers, unless you know the author’s reputation.

But to be fair, there are plenty of books with high heat/spice that don’t have hot/spicy covers. And I am always going to be a sucker for a pretty book cover.


Four Walls and a Heart (2023) by Celia Lake

Four Walls and a Heart

Cover design by Augusta Scarlett


I’ve read several books by this author–related and intertwined romantic fantasies, and although I love the world-building and the setting (late Victorian and early Edwardian eras) the writing … well, it feels like it was dictated and then published without editing, which I find extremely frustrating to read.

But I want to note this cover, which I really love. It’s set during the Mahdist War, and one of the characters was severely injured–which is made clear on the cover.

Of course there are silhouettes, and a two color scheme, which I liked.

And of course this is self-published and the author made sure to get a good cover that represented the characters.

Just wished the book had held up to the cover for me.

Bergman Brothers by Chloe Liese

Only When It's Us Ever After Always

Only When It’s Us (2020)
Ever After Always  (2021)

Cover Art by Jennie Rose Denton of Lamplight Creative


This series has been picked up by Berkley and is getting all new covers, and, to be honest, I really really prefer these covers she commissioned when she self-published them. Here, on the cover of Ever After Always, Freya is clearly curvaceous AND confident enough to wear a bikini.

I also like the solid color backgrounds that make the characters the focal point.

The new covers are illustrated clinch covers and nowhere near as interesting.

Bergman Brothers: Only When It’s Us (2020), Always Only You (2020), Ever After Always  (2021)

Donut Fall in Love (2021) by Jackie Lau

Donut Fall in Love

Cover illustration & design by Vi-An Nguyen

Published by Jove Books (Berkley)

Honestly, I just think this is a cute cover.

The Holiday Trap (2022) by Roan Parrish

The Holiday Trap

Cover illustration by Kristen Solecki

Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

I hadn’t realized until I put this post together that these two covers used the same shade of blue.

As is the theme for many of the other covers I loved this year, it has a solid background and a relatively simply design.

I like the arrows, signifying the house switching the main characters do. I suppose the felt they had to use evergreens to signify Christmas, but that makes it hard to guess the second location is New Orleans.

Overall I find it pleasing.

Gouda Friends (2022) by Cathy Yardley

Gouda Friends

Cover design & illustration by Philip Pascuzzo

Published by Montlake

Cheese DOES in fact play a major part in this story, being both the reason Tam leaves her ex and the impetus for helping her get a new job.

My only ding is that I totally didn’t expect the amount of boinking this book had. The cover feels far more light-hearted than super-sexy.

Ponto Beach Reunion

Role Playing (2023)

Role Playing

by Cathy Yardley

Cover illustration by Leni Kauffman

Published by Montlake

Montlake is Amazon’s publishing wing, so I wonder if she had more say than she would with other publishers.

I hope so, because I really like everything this cover is doing. I love the moon as the “O”. The cuddling is adorable as is the look he is giving her, and the mini-figs on the table are marvelous.

Also, her comfy sweats and slouchy socks!

Teacher of the Year (2023) by M.A. Wardell

Teacher of the Year

Design & cover illustration by Myriam Strasbourg


I’ll be honest, the reason this cover made the list is solely because it’s a self-published book and she clearly went out of her way to have a cover that matched both the characters and the tone of the story–pastel and sweet.

And like all the other books on this list it’s got a solid background, emphasizing the characters.

Teachers in Love

Jove Books: 1
Sourcebooks Casablanca: 1
Montlake: 2
Self-Published : 4

The Books of 2023: Yearly Reading Roundup

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