Friday, April 1, 2011

Cover Critique: Fun With Titles

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.

Hi everyone! The blog has been a little crazy the past several weeks with book tours and fun interviews and things so I haven't been able to do a cover critique. This week I have a special treat– Ruby of Ruby's Reads enthusiastically volunteered to do a guest post and thought she would try her hand at the Friday fun here at Supernatural Snark. This week however, just to shake things up a bit, Ruby is going to take a closer look at some superior book titles because, let's face it, some of them are even more hilarious than the covers themselves. Take it away Ruby!

We're all familiar with Jenny's uproarious Cover Critiques. It's that special time of the week when we all need a little something extra to get us through to the weekend, and we tune into Supernatural Snark for our weekly dose of uncontrollable giggles. For my guest post, I thought I'd do something a little different, but not entirely so. We all know that romance books are cursed with the most unfortunate covers you can get for your money, but what about their equally unfortunate titles? Today, I'm going to look at a few of the choicest gems I could find, starting with:

Did you catch the title? In case you didn't, let me reiterate in bigger letters:


There's no doubt in my mind that the title is purposefully small. If I were Sharon Kendrick, I'd be asking my publisher if my name could possibly be smaller than the title. Like, microscopic. Like, why does my name need to be visible at all? Then again, check out the description:

Claimed by the sheikh -- for her innocence! Polo-playing sheikh Prince Kaliq Al'Farisi loves his women as much as his horses. They're wild, willing, and he's their master!

Stable girl Eleni is a local Calistan. Raised by her brutal father on the horse-racing circuit, she feels unlovable. When her precious horses are given to Sheikh Kaliq, she refuses to be parted from them.

The playboy sheikh is determined to bed Eleni--and when Kaliq realizes she's a virgin, the challenge only becomes more interesting....

So, Kendrick is clearly into the whole sheikh/stable girl thing. That's great! I have to wonder, though, can a man be a sheikh and a prince at the same time? A sheikh is an Arab leader, and a prince is, well, a prince. Wouldn't a prince object to being called a sheikh, given that it's not a royal title? It'd be like calling the Prince of Wales the managing director. (Heh: The Managing Director's Pregnant Virgin Governess Bride). One thing I'm grateful for is that the publishers didn't add insult to injury by adding "Playboy" to the title. Though I suspect that's only because The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl wouldn't fit comfortably across the cover. Especially since their contract with stipulates that at least three inches of SexySatinSlip must be visible to the viewer at all times.

Also, while I applaud Kendrick for writing a book where the heroine isn't a housekeeper/governess/secretary, why a stable-girl? It makes me picture a heroine with horse manure encrusted boots, hay-studded hair, horsehair ridden clothing, and general odor of the stable emanating from her person. Though, this is a romance novel, so she's probably exceedingly lovely beneath all that grime. But at least she's a virgin. What a relief! Plus, she's wild, willing, and he's her master! What more can a sheikh ask for?

*butting in* Funny that you should mention "playboy" Ruby, as I think this book either was previously, or is currently, titled The Playboy Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl, which, clearly, makes it even better:) For those of you who haven't read the review of this one by the hilarious ladies over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, PLEASE take some time (it's long) to read it, you will be crying and struggling to read all the awesomeness through your tears. Their review is HERE.

A description:

Alexa Harcourt only ever spends one night, perhaps two, with Guy de Rochemont—never more. On her arrival at his Italian villa or his Monaco mansion, designer dresses and diamonds await her. But Alexa knows she can never be anything more than the de Rochemont Mistress.

Guy's name is a byword for wealth and power—and now his duty is to wed. Virgin heiresses covet pride of place in his marital bed. But Alexa—the one woman Guy wants—is also the one woman whose reputation forbids him to take her as his wife….

This one is totally groan-worthy. My first reaction when I read this title was, they so did not go there. Oh, but they did. But when you put aside the terrible pun (is that the right word), the title makes even less sense. Forbidden basically means for bedding, especially in the romance world. What you don't do with forbidden women is marry them. The title should be Forbidden, or For Marrying (Despite the Fact that She's Not a Virgin and Therefore Unsuitable)? Unless I'm reading the description wrong? Or maybe this is another case of an accurate title taking up too much cover space?

Speaking of the description, poor Alexa! How can she compete with virgin heiresses? Sister to sister, here's my advice: next time, choose your lover more carefully. It's never a good idea to succumb to a man who considers you good enough to go to bed with but not good enough to marry. No amount of designer dresses and diamonds are worth the heartache. Especially since you spend only one or two nights with him, and I'm guessing the designer dresses will be off more than on.

A description:

When Zarios D'Amilo meets Emma Hayes again, she is no longer the awkward teenager who tried to kiss him, but a beautiful, confident woman. Now he wants her!

To claim his inheritance, this untamed tycoon must curb his wild ways. He needs a convenient fiancée, and Emma needs a million dollars. So Zarios seizes his opportunity—he will have her! But passion soon leads to pregnancy, and suddenly, the stakes are higher…..

This title was chosen by Jenny herself. She shot it back to me lickety-split, as soon as I pitched my idea for this guest post. Her words?

I have a fantastic one for you, I saw it at Target the other day:

Bedded for Passion, Purchased for Pregnancy

What!? Greatest. Book. Ever.
Seriously, who comes up with these titles? Because I want in on the action. I could totally sit in a room and come up with romance titles All. Day. Long. Do you think there's a group of people (men) sitting around a table, coming up with these gems? Here are some more delicious examples:

  • Expecting: Baby (Besides a baby, what might be expected? An alien invasion? Her copy of Kiss of Snow?)

  • Officer Daddy (Suggests wildly inappropriate bedroom games)

  • The Governess and the Sheikh (Cliche squared)

  • The Billionaire's Housekeeper Mistress (Does he makes her wash the sheets after they sleep together? That's cold.)

  • Untamed Billionaire, Undressed Virgin (What is a virgin doing undressed? Doesn't she know that's the best way for her to lose her title?)

I can totally do this. What do you think of these?

  • Housekeeper or Baby Mama? (The story of a cattle baron's housekeeper, who becomes pregnant after a torrid, stormy night with her boss.)

  • The Billionaire's Virgin Governess (When his former lover dies, a billionaire is suddenly saddled with the daughter he never knew he had. Because he's too busy trying to stay a billionaire, he hires a governess who turns out to be an angel with children and, despite her virginity, a maven in the bedroom. Score!)

  • The Sheikh's Virgin Scullery Maid (Hey, if a sheikh can afford a stable-girl, he can afford a scullery maid. Especially a pretty, virgin one who's life has been miserable due to her genius, but temperamental, alcoholic French chef of a father. Whose both emotionally and physically abusive.)

  • Playboy Doctor, Unexpected Pregnancy (A hotshot neurosurgeon beds his devoted nurse, never realizing that their night of passion will lead to a nine-month surprise!)

In researching romance titles, I've come to wonder: if, a hundred years from now, the only record archeologists have of our time consists of a list of Harlequin Presents titles, what conclusions will they come to? I can only determine that they're going to think certain things: That men had a limited choice of occupation: shiekh, billionaire, tycoon, or nobleman (count/duke/prince), and playboy. That women were similarly limited: housekeeper, secretary, mistress, governess. And that women, in addition to, by and large, being virgins, were singularly uninformed about birth control. No to mention easily susceptible to money woes.

I don't read a lot of category romances, though I make an effort to glance through the selections when they are newly released. I've even been known to flip through Margaret Way's titles (Outback stories, with lovely heroines who speak cryptically, and with plenty of emphasis!!). What I like best about category romances is that they remind me that romance novels are as fantastical as books about angels, vampires, werewolves and magic. It's just a different kind of fantasy. Who, I ask you, doesn't dream of being rescued by a handsome playboy sheikh after putting in a long day in the stables?

Thanks for letting me indulge myself in an exploration of Sobriquet Study (too fancy? I wanted the alliterative element. Is Title Talk any better?). Thanks, also, to Jenny for being her awesome NBF self, and for letting me purloin her blog for a while.

Thanks so much for stopping by Ruby, I think I might have to make you a frequent contributor to the Cover Critique segment right along with my dad:) If you haven't checked out Ruby's blog yet, pop over and check it out, she rocks (and she has spectacular taste in fictional men *cough HAWKE *cough)! Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. *giggles* That was a fantastic post. I don't read romance, being a teenager, but this is so very entertaining!
    I hate the exclamation points in the summaries! It's so unproffessional!

  2. That's me! It's just like seeing my name on Broadway. Only shinier! Woo!

  3. Oh these titles just made my night! I laughed so hard at the pregnancy one that I was forced to explain it to my husband. He couldn't believe it was an actual published book.

    Thanks for stopping by during the hop! Returning the follow in hopes of more great laughs to come.

    Rachel-Endless Reading

  4. Lmao! Yes, please be a frequent contributor along with Jenny's dad. You guys are hilarious. Where do they come up with these covers and titles? But how do you come up with the hilarious critique? I love the first one. If I were the author I would not want my name on that book! haha And the pregnancy one..omg! I think men do come up with these. Try to say the Billionaire's Housekeepers Mistress ten times fast. Great comment on the archeologists!!

  5. Terrific post. I think the only way these titles could come into existence is exactly as you said, a group of men sitting around a table getting off (no pun intended)at one upping each other.Sadly they probably get paid big bucks too. Thanks for starting my Friday with a laugh fest!

  6. LOL!!! I still can't believe books with this titles get published. What were they thinking???

  7. These titles are beyond ridiculous! Purchased for pregnancy! What is she? A baby machine! That is so not romantic!! LOL

  8. Ruby you did a fantastic job! The titles were just as "WTH were you thinking" as the covers were!

    That last one Bedded For/Purchased For---who, even a man, thought that title was a good idea? LOL

  9. This post was sooo funny!! I was laughing so hard, it's fortunate that I am on my own right now! People would have been looking at me as if I were crazy!
    Other than the actual existing titles, the ones Ruby came up with (with their respective explanations) were just hilarious!
    Romance titles really are cheesy though, aren't they? It must be the work of men... No other explanation.
    Thanks for making me laugh! :)

  10. LOL- hysterical!! Romance titles are so cheesy..!!

  11. Lol, oh Harlequin titles always cracks me up, I half expect them to be jokes but they aren't :=D

    Loved your ones

  12. Too funny!! I can't help but cringe at the names on romance books, right along with the covers.

  13. Wow! What unique titles :D My favorite is "The Sheikh's Virgin Stable-Girl". How can anyone take books with such titles seriously?!

  14. Could I tell you that I was peeing my pants over this post. Then, to pop on over to Smart Bitches had me crying over my keyboard. Gotta love the impressive nature with which Harlequin comes up with this stuff. Although, I'm intrigued by the highly sexed sheik/prince. Someone should tell him little lizard is not a good nickname.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  15. Ruby! You are hilarious! OMG, these book titles are too awesome to be true! Archeologists in the future are going to think we were freaking AWESOME!


    Thanks so much for this. I was really missing CC! You two are a good team. If I ever write a book, I'm hiring y'all to do my cover and give it a title.

  16. Oh-my-holy-shit. I just read both this AND the review on SBTB, and I AM DYING SNORTING LAUGHING at work!!! Two co-workers just came in and were like, "Urm, Linds, what's up?" Based on this critique and that review, I may have to ACTUALLY READ THIS now! Oh the human- urm, the HILARITY!

  17. OH-MY-GOD!!! I came here for the blog hop, forget that! I swear, I did the pretzel dance all the way to the bathroom and that is not easy when you can't walk very well (I've been sick).

    I thought I had a sense of humor? You girls are are near and dear to my heart! What a freakin' riot and you do this every Friday? Where the hell have I been? I know where I'll be on Friday's now!

    Thanks for the hilarity, Buddha Belly knows I needed it! But you owe me a new pair of panties!

    Come see my pranks: Kristi-The Book Faery's BBH & FF

  18. Lol its cracking me up. I laughing like a maniac at some of the titles you came up with.

  19. Lol, I love the titles on the romances and the titles you guys came up with. The Billionaire's Virgin Governess totally sounds like it could be a Harlequin story.

  20. I think the same thing when I hear stable girl ;)

  21. I'm laughing and smiling over here! When I saw THE ROYAL HOUSE OF KAREDES on this first book, I initially read it as THE ROYAL HOUSE OF HARDS...I guess that's what I expect with these books.

  22. I think I just found a new gem of a blog. I had to use the restroom lest I pee myself.

  23. ROFLMAO! Great post, Ruby! I think you have a future in the biz!

  24. With that first one... my question was about being a stable girl. Other than being a virgin why would he want her. Not about the encrusted boots but because she might discover he is not hung like a horse. *ahem*

    The titles of the others. I just have to say.. You mean that passion (otherwise known as smex) leads to pregnancy?! Unintended pregnancy? I'm shocked! ;) Oh LOVE that you found these titles.

    Such a great post!

  25. WTF was the though process behind these titles?!?!?! Purchased for Pregnancy? Brb DEAD.

    blahhahahaha thank you for this post :D

  26. Always look forward to these! You did a great job Ruby! Thanks for continuing this Jenny. I read the review at Smart Bitches, more laughter!! That sheik/playboy/prince is an asshat. I really like that word.


  27. LMAO that was awesome!

    "Bedded for Passion, Purchased for Pregnancy"

    Really? I mean, Really??


  28. These titles are indeed, a total trip to sillytown.
    Somebody should come up with an internet randomizer for romance titles! Just throw in some key words and soon you'll be rolling up titles such as The Ruthless Billionaire Duke and His Pregnant Princess Virgin Bride.

  29. As a girl who spends so much time in a stable she might well be a stable girl, I can tell you we stable gals aren't so crusty and we aren't covered in horse manure. (Most of the time ;) That said, I'm also not sure how so many of these women can be virgins and yet still frequently sleep with billionaires/sheiks/princes.

    The title critique was hilarious, and I'm really glad Jenny is continuing the series and inviting equally hilarious guests to critique. You guys make my weekends. :D

  30. LMFAO how ridiculous lmfaooo. How people even read those is beyond me!

  31. Oh my gosh, as if romance covers weren't reason enough to buy an e-reader, their titles are just as bad! Great critique Ruby!

  32. This was a perfect post! I laughed at the titles and wondered WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!

    You have to do more of these!

  33. LOL! I cannot believe that last books title! Awesome post :D

  34. I feel like I should take a bow or something. Thanks for all the compliments guys, and to Jenny, who allowed me to do my thing. I had a lot of fun writing it up. And sometimes, when I let my mind wander, I still find myself thinking up new titles.

    And Kat: I meant absolutely no disrespect to stable girls, or girls who spend time in stables. I'm sure they're as lovely and sweet-smelling as the housekeepers, governesses and secretaries.

  35. Oh my Good GOD! The 3rd title sounds like a news segment on 60 minutes not a book title!

  36. Oh you had me screeching with laughter. I'm all for the idea of Ruby doing frequent guest posts :) As someone who often tends to be influenced by book titles, these would certainly make me run a mile. Brilliant, brilliant post!

  37. Bwhahahaha I am shaking with laughter at my desk right now and my boss is looking at me like I'm a crazy lady. Well done Jenny, well done :)

  38. Holy crap, those are some awesomely awful titles - good job!

    FYI - When I lived in Kuwait, sheikh seemed to be used as another word for prince ("emir" being the other word but that was saved for the ruler of the country). It could just be a Kuwaiti thing, or the words might be interchangeable now.