Friday, February 18, 2011

Cover Critique: I Heart Harlequin

Let me preface this post by saying that my design critiques of these covers are in no way, shape or form a reflection on the author, the content or the publisher. I know the authors have very little, if any, control over the design. These are strictly my thoughts meant simply to be humorous and not insulting.

Um. Is this vampire sheikh's armpit on fire? That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for his personal hygiene is it? If he manages to emanate a smell potent enough it can catch fire, I'm not sure he's a romance hero I want to spend a great deal of time with. Imagine your just snuggling in for the night (or day since he's a vampire) and you lay your head in that comfortable juncture between a big strong arm and a solid chest, take a deep contented breath and find yourself inhaling noxious flammable fumes. Ah, the romance of it all. I wonder what kind of deodorant he uses? I don't know that even the clinical strength ones could possibly douse flames, so he might want to have that checked out by a professional.

And just look at his face, he's got a look that practically dares us to make a comment about his fiery pits, cocking that eyebrow in challenge and as he seems to be silently letting us know that his sweltering stench doesn't affect his bedroom prowess. In fact, he seems ready to pounce on us, enveloping us in hot, sweaty, armpit man smell. I'm aroused just thinking about it, aren't you?

Looking more closely I realize the odd shapes making up the flames are actually fingers and it's just poor hand placement causing this unfortunate underarm situation, but it took me a few moments of concentrated staring to come to this conclusion. Or maybe I just have an odd fixation with armpits after doing all these romance cover critiques where pits seem to be an unusual focus. The latter is a strong possibility.

Oh my. This is quite possibly one of the least romantic covers I've ever seen. What is going on here? Has she passed out? Does his tie smell of sugar and spice and everything nice and she's just lost in the bliss of the sweet smelling fabric? He seems to be completely uninterested in the fact that he has a woman unconscious on his chest, instead staring out at us as though there is no cause for alarm and women often inhale the scent of his ties and then go limp. That's actually really creepy.

Her eyes are closed, her mouth is wide open, she might even be snoring, and he's just hanging out there against a piano? desk? some piece of dark wood furniture, not a care in the world. He actually seems quite tame to me, I'd say she doesn't have much work to do at all. And if the way she goes about taming men is passing out upright against their chests, I think she has a thing or two to work on in the seduction department. I'm no expert, but I believe naked armpit fire sheikh above has more to offer than our well dressed but snooze-worthy couple here, don't you think?

Whoa. She's going after that end-of-date kiss with a vengeance isn't she? She's leaning in at a rather extreme angle–as though she wants to make absolutely sure their noses won't get in the way, her hair blowing back with the sheer force of her forward thrust to suction herself to his pursed lips. One would think the speed with which she appears to be attacking him would catch him off guard and he wouldn't have time for the pucker, so maybe he has just spent the whole evening with his face in that position to ready himself for this moment.

Based on this title, I think it's safe to assume this couple went on a blind date (please try to refrain from applauding me for my deductive reasoning skills, I know they're extraordinary), and I have to say it seems to be quite the successful one. Now, as someone who has never gone on a blind date, I'm a bit confused about the flower situation and might need someone to explain it to me. If he showed up at her door with flowers, wouldn't she take them inside first and put them in water before they left? If so, why would she have flowers in her hand at the end of the night? Perhaps this is their first meeting and those flowers are the greatest flowers ever grown and she has to show her immediate appreciation by assaulting and undressing him. That's completely normal right?

And can we just review the tagline for a moment? "Let's see Cupid pull this one off..." it says. Um. Dear Cupid, your presence is no longer required. The magical bouquet of sex roses has done your job for you, and our semi-shirtless gentleman no longer needs any assistance as he is moments away from being romantically mauled. Thanks anyway though. What exactly does Cupid have to pull off here? They seem primed and ready to me, no winged cherub necessary Harlequin Blaze.

Happy Friday everyone!


  1. *giggles* I so love your Cover Critique's ... Happy Friday girl!

  2. LMAO. That first cover is my favourite, the look on his face and the fire in his armpit! I suppose at least he would keep your warm on those cold nights!

  3. "Magical bouquet of sex roses" - I'm going to try to use that in a sentence today.

    Have a great weekend!
    Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)

  4. All three of these are a hoot, but what is even better is your running commentary. The guy with the flaming armpits is just a burning example of art gone wrong, and I have never had a blind date where I wanted to tear off clothes.

  5. LOL! Another hilarious week of cover critiques.

  6. LOL
    Passing out can't help you land the boss ;)

  7. You have a knack for the finding the pit covers LOL

    1) He has a beautiful face they should put a shirt on him *sigh*---I am really kind of tired of the without shirts on thing. But the fire "pit" is hilarious!

    2) He roofied her---at least that is what it looks like!

    3) The last one screams "goofy commercial kiss"---YIKES!

  8. Love your Cover Critiques! The last one is really confusing because it looks like he's just gotten to the door, she's opened it, and pow! She's on him like white on rice. And then Cupid can move on to the next guy in need of his services.

    Thanks for the laugh!


  9. That first cover is fun. I like it in a weird way. It just looks like he just came out of the shower, looked in the mirror and said to himself "hey babe". :) Hilarious.

    Happy Friday to you too.

  10. OMG! Ookay the armpit thing make me laugh hard. I mean seriously? What is up with that? The second cover, she looks like she wants to sleep. And instead of the guy helping her out he just leaves her there, hanging. LOL, nice critiques!

  11. ok, seriously? who the heck makes these covers?!?!?! haha these kill me everytime. I want to know why the guy in book 1 is flaming up.

    great analysis, jenny ;)

  12. Is his armpit on fire LOL. I would love to meet the person who designs these covers...

  13. Where on earth do you find these? They are all too hilarious!

  14. Thanks Jenny, I needed a good laugh this morning!
    Truly Bookish

  15. I don't always love the Harlequin covers but I've never been disappointed with any book I've read from them.

    Stephanie G
    Paranormal Haven

  16. "Taming Her Billionaire Boss"... WOW! What a creative title! *head meet desk***


  17. Danny - Glad you enjoy, Happy Friday to you as well!

    Nic - The first is my favorite as well, it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize they were fingers, I thought he was an amputee with his armpit all ablaze:)

    Jennifer - Please do! And then write me and let me know how you used it:)

    Jan - I haven't either. I was perfectly content to let hubs remained clothed when I first met him, but that's just me;)

    Bells - Thanks sweets:)

    Juju - True statement. Sleeping on the job or on the boss will not win you any favors I don't think. Sleeping with the boss is something different;) She has apparently misunderstood that concept.

    Felicia - I do don't I? It's a gift. A weird one:)

    Selena - Exactly! I'm confused as to the order of events:)

    Nina - He is definitely saying "hey babe":)

    Savy - The first one is my favorite, it just makes me happy:)

    Melissa - I want to read it and find out how this vampire sheikh wields fire (on weird parts of his body) and doesn't turn to ash. He's got some special vampire powers:)

    Tara - I just wonder sometimes when I know a whole variety of people must look at this and if his hand was just a little lower his armpit wouldn't be on fire:)

    Madigan - I just look at their site and there they are! It's like they're waiting for me:)

    NC - You're welcome, glad I could make you laugh:)

    Stephanie - Nor have I, the covers of some of them just make me giggle though:)

  18. Avery - I just wonder when they went on the photo shoot for this cover (or bought this stock image) if they thought about the title? Because she's not taming much of anything sound asleep is she? No:)

  19. No! That's just too delicious to be true! I didn't know Axe made clinical strength deodorant! Brilliant. Old Spice guy must be seething with jealousy!

    And yeah, that is totally cupid fail right there. ;)

  20. Holy crap- When I first looked at the armpit cover I thought it was a fire mouth coming out. Seriously there is something going on with you and armpits...LOL

    Ugh- my stomach hurts from laughing....

  21. Dear Ms. Snark,

    As a cover designer for a major (and I mean MAJOR) publisher, I take umbrage (yes, we designers have a vocab too)over your Friday morning rants. So much umbrage, in fact, that we thought of filing a suit against you charging you with Defamation of Character until our lawyers advised us that the characters have to actually be living for them to be defamed. So instead, I just have to respond.

    Up first, today you criticized our -- as you would say -- "Flaming Pits" cover design. (Hey, it works for BBQ sauce.) Obviously our intention was to preview how "smoking hot" our hero is. That was a VERY creative solution to our communication task. Otherwise, our hero would just look all sweaty and gross, and even we don't want that.

    We had a similar solution with our "Electric Man" cover you reviewed recently. Now THAT guy has POWER, and we all know what an aphrodisiac power can be, don't we? Just ask certain presidents.

    But back to the pits (so to speak) for a moment. You recognized our "Chest Appreciation" category (We're all guys, so we have a different label for it, but yours will do) a couple weeks ago. But as a designer, you must recognize that when we're shooting pecs for our covers (and we do, clearly) then every once in a while a pit is bound to creep in there. You just can't crop them all out. I mean, you don't want a bunch of armless men on the cover, so pits are a necessary evil.

    Then there's the awkward pose. Yes, some of them are a little bit strained. But come on! We've been doing these covers for 75 years now, and we've run out of poses. What do you want us to do? Rerun something from 1930? A guy and his moll on the running board of a 1928 Packard?

    I could go on and on, but I won't. I just need to say that we men who design book covers have an honorable profession. Some of us have managed whole design departments. (We have hired women designers, but frankly, they come up with kind of wussy men. We need MANLY men, not GIRLIE men as Ahrnold would say.) We can take constructive criticism, like maybe "he should have had blue eyes instead of purple." But please, I'm begging you, could you just critique the BACK covers from now on?

    Sincerely yours,


  22. Dear Mark,

    I appreciate your comments and as the disclaimer above the critiques states, my critiques of these covers are meant simply in fun and are in no way a reflection on any of the individuals involved in the writing, designing or publishing of these books.

    As I designer myself, I've been exposed to numerous critiques of my own work and completely understand where you are coming from. Again, none of these Friday segments are meant as a mockery of your profession, as that would be a mockery of my own.

    Never have I stated that I could do a better job with these covers, and I have no doubt coming up with these designs is a challenge. These critiques have never been about pointing out in all seriousness what you could have done better, as stated previously they've just been to find a bit of humor on a Friday and point out certain aspects of these covers that are amusing. I certainly never intended any offense, and I apologize for any offense caused.

  23. LMAO! I can't stop laughing about all of your comments. You are hilarious, girl! Fiery pits. Yikes. I think that man gave something to that passed out woman. Look at his face? Doesn't it say he's up to something? She looks uncomfortable to me. As for blind date, I definitely think it's the beginning of the date. She took one look at him and said "Whoa, baby! I'm so happy I was fixed up with him. He's hot. I want to rip his shirt off!" Yea, I don't think cupid is necessary either. If this time they meet, wonder how the rest of the night will go? *raises eyebrow* Have a great weekend!

  24. Ok, now that I know Jenny's dad was "Mark", I LOLed though his entire comment. He was definitely being snarky - I see where Jenny gets it from!!

    I'm glad these critiques aren't going away. That would be a major SAD.

  25. Okay, now that I've learned that "Mark" is my Dad, I can stop freaking out. My above response remains true to those who did actually design these covers though.

    And Dad, please don't leave me fake comments anymore:)

  26. Blaahhahahaha

    Jenny, your dad brilliant. I was completely getting offended by the women designers thing and I was about to rip into him. I don't know what I would have said, but it would have been something along the lines of women designers can do better that fiery pits.

    Gotta love CC Fridays!

  27. I don't know which I enjoyed more the post or you and your dad's comments :) Thanks for the smiles!

  28. ROFL- armpits on fire , I look forward to these cover critiques thank you.

  29. Julie - Thank you, so glad you enjoyed these covers. I just don't know what to say about the middle one, it's just awkward:)

    Ash - His comments are definitely amusing now, not so much when I thought Mark was real:)

    Missie - He is! I get some of my snark from him I think:) I was going to say something about the women comment as well, and had to talk myself into a "professional" response so as to not incite drama. Obviously he said that just to irritate me. Mission accomplished:)

    Kristina - Yes, it was an exciting cover critique today, lots of family drama:)

    BLHmistress - You're welcome!

  30. ROFL at Jenny's dad. I was just about to ask if this person was even close to being serious. Oh Jenny... I think he out did you this time. LOL

  31. Hahahahahaha...oh dear Lord, this was so full of awesome!! From your original post to your dad to you thinking your dad's comment was real..
    This whole thing may just be my favorite blog post EVER!!
    Still laughing....

    ...yup, still laughing

  32. I believed your dad's comment was real. Thank goodness it was out of fun! I have one question about cover #1: where is his right hand? Is it by his pit? And as for #2, I think someone slipped her an ambien before that cover shot. LOL!

    Have you seen the Photoshop Disaster's blog? ( is hysterical. They featured a HQ book where the guy had 3 hands. Have a great weekend!

  33. Melissa - Don't encourage him! He definitely one-upped me this week:)

    Pam - He certainly has his moments:)

    Angelique - Glad you enjoyed, I can laugh at it now that I'm not really going to get sued:)

    Rummanah - As did I! I was freaking out this morning thinking I had spectacularly offended some Harlequin designer. Going to check out that blog now...:)

  34. And Rummanah - those weird wiggly lines in the flames under his pit are his fingers, that's his right hand. I never would have guessed it if his other hand wasn't also on fire.

  35. Jenny no fave for me but have to say on the third I am guessing they came from a wedding from his half on half on formal attire or maybe it was a Valentines Day date and at the beginning of it he gave her the flowers with an aphrodisiac in the petals which made her so hot she tore his shirt open and then backed off only to change her mind and once again go on the attack!

    Anyway it has been awhile since hit one of these posts and Kudos to your Dad, he got us all!

  36. The titles of the books are as funny as the covers! :D I wonder how people come up with them.
    Oh and Hello to "Mark"! LOL

  37. As ridiculous as I find the cover of Vampire Sheikh, what really amuses me is the marriage of two of the most cliche romantic types possible. Vampires are in and sheikhs never went's kind of a no-brainer. But it makes wonder what's next? Outback Werewolves? Billionaire Playboy Angels?

  38. Love the vampire sheikh and the freaky fire! I don't think he's that good looking, really. He's not the type of guy I find attractive. I go more for the skinny type like cover #2. I wouldn't snore at him :-)

  39. Jackie - Yes he certainly did:) And I like your thoughts on the last cover, she certainly is on the attack!

    Misha - Yes, "mark" was an unexpected addition to the critique this week. He will be returning next week as well to dazzle us with his wit:)

    Rubita - So true! Sheikhs are big in the romance world, so why not toss a vampire into the mix? And I have to say I would absolutely have to read a book about billionaire playboy angels, please write one:)

    Alison - I'm not overly attracted to fiery pits either, and I quite enjoy model #2, though he seems to inspire more snoring than lust, so that doesn't necessarily bode well for him;)

  40. Lol, are you sure the flames are coming off his fingers? I can clearly see it from his left hand but not so much on the right side.

    Love your comments for #3!

  41. I can see where you get your humor! "Mark" is hilarious, too! Awesome pops there, Jenny. That was great. LOL

  42. I love these post - They actually make me laugh so loudly I have to explain to my other half what the hell it is I'm reading. :D Thank you!

  43. LOLOL, fiery armpits! And I wish I had a portable wind machine like the girl in the third cover apparently does...

  44. LOL I Love your critiques Jenny! =P

  45. Oh wow, I think you and your dad should co-commentary for these posts, Jenny! I can definitely see where you got your 'snark'.

    More pits, I see... and I'm going to have to show the 'Blind Date' cover to my parents, who met on a blind date and ask my dad if he won my mom over with a 'magical bouquet of sex roses'. Ugh. On second thought, maybe I won't. Love your commentary. :)

  46. LOL! Ok, I don't know which is funnier, your cover critique or your father's response :P What a good team you two make!

    I never noticed it before, but armpits really do seem to be all the rage on these romance covers. Smelling them, lighting them on fire, what will they come up with next?

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