Are Romance Book Covers Starting a New Trend?

Have you noticed a new design trend in romance book covers?

Join in the discussion about what type of romance book cover you like the best and which design concept you believe best represents the genre.

*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Romance book cover trend discussion.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

I’ll admit that it definitely factors into my decision making process when selecting a romance book.

Why? I have no idea because it honestly doesn’t reflect on the author’s writing ability and that’s what ultimately counts, right?

The Historical Romance Novel Cover

Bride of the Wind romance book cover.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s when model, Fabio Lanzoni seemed to be a household name when it came to romance book cover models.

If you mentioned Fabio, you could picture the long haired man, or at least the type of romance book covers that he became famous for.

Though mostly for historical romance novels – they were the novel covers with a strapping, shirtless man with a bodice-ripping woman falling on him or at his feet.

Sure, those covers still exist today in the historical romance genre (but even those have gotten an update), but not so much in the more contemporary romance genre.

The Contemporary Romance Book Cover

Royally Yours is a hot romance book cover.

I’ll admit, I like contemporary romance books that have a hot man gracing the cover (like on these hot and steamy covers). I want some eye candy to help me conjure up the main hero in my mind.

Am I objectifying these male models? Maybe, but I do love a good 6 pack of abs hinted at or a tattooed arm or even a sculpted back gracing my romance book covers.

Romance Book Covers – Starting a New Design Trend with Cover Art?

When I started to really kick my romance book reading up a notch in 2019, I started to notice an increasing trend however with a different romance book cover design.

Several of the authors I follow were changing the look of both their new releases and their previously released titles with what I’ll describe as a more graphic art cover than male model cover.

Romance Book Cover Design Changes to Graphic Art

Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series is one example of this new romance book cover design change.

Her original covers didn’t necessarily have scantily clothed male models to begin with but she definitely shifted to the graphic art look with her new cover designs.

I love the new covers as they give her series a very cohesive look than than previously had.

Knitting in the City Series: Old and New Covers

Neaderthal Seeks Human romance book cover
Neanderthal Seeks Human romance book cover.
Friends Without Benefits romance book cover.
Friends Without Benefits romance book cover.
Love Hacked romance book cover.
Love Hacked romance book cover.
Beauty and the Mustache romance book cover.
Beauty and the Mustache romance book cover.
Happily Ever Ninja romance book cover.
Happily Ever Ninja romance book cover.
Dating-ish romance book cover.
Dating-ish romance book cover.
Marriage of Inconvenience romance book cover.
Marriage of Inconvenience romance book cover.

Smartypants Romance Book Covers

Reid’s publishing endeavor, Smartypants Romance, has also gone with this design trend with all its new covers having this same graphic art look and feel (even among the different romance book series).

Code of Conduct romance book cover.
Love in Due Time romance book cover.
Give Love a Chai is a romance book cover.
Heart Smart romance book cover.
Upsy Daisy romance book cover.
Been There Done That by Hope Ellis is a wonderful second chance romance that I highly recommend reading. Check out my full book review by She Reads Romance Books.

Authors Choosing Graphic Art Romance Covers

Helena Hunting is another author who has changed the cover design look of her new standalone romance releases such as Meet Cute and Good Luck Charm.

Her previous books in a series, however such as the Pucked series, and her new series, All In, still have some real hotties on the cover.

Same goes for Samantha Young and her new stand alone romance books. Fight or Flight has the new graphic art feel to it and she even made an alternate cover to her popular, On Dublin Street, to reflect this trend.

Meet Cute romance book cover.
Good Luck Charm romance book cover.
Fight or Flight romance book cover.
On Dublin Street romance book cover.

Other romance book authors who seem to be joining this trend include: Lauren Layne, Helena Huang, Sally Thorne, Tessa Bailey, Alexa Martin, Alisha Rai, Jasmine Guillory, Staci Hart, Jen Deluca and Abby Jimenez to name a few as you can see in the cover designs below.

Bringing Down the Duke romance book cover.
Blitzed romance book cover.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown romance book cover.
The Hating Game romance book cover.
The Proposal romance book cover.
The Right Swipe romance book cover.

Why the Cover Design Change?

Chick Lit and Romance Genres Blur Lines

When I look at this new cover design trend toward graphic art, I immediately categorize the book as a chick lit read. It doesn’t make the book stand out as a romance book to my eyes.

Is it just because it’s not what I’m used to? Probably. But I also think there has to be more to the story as to what is prompting authors to make this change.

I believe that part of the reason behind the new cover design trend is the hope that romance authors can draw not only their romance book readers in to purchase their book but also chick lit lovers as well.

Are chick lit readers less inclined to buy a book with a half clothed male model on the cover or a couple embracing in a slightly suggestive manner? I don’t know, but I think this new trend is here to stay.

What are your thoughts on this new style of romance book covers?

Do you like them?

Do you think they are here to stay and will be a growing trend among new and established authors alike?

Let’s Talk! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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8 thoughts on “Are Romance Book Covers Starting a New Trend?”

  1. I absolutely hate these “comic” character book covers. I retired 5 yrs ago, got into reading for my zen hour. My favs Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas, Kat Martin, Johanna Lindsey. The book covers is what drew my attention. I personally refer back to the cover throughout the read. It brings a face to the name. I connect with the characters. What doesn’t work is a cartoon or these stick people. Another annoyance is when the character depiction on the cover doesn’t match. If he has a patch and a scar, give him one. If she’s blonde with long flowing hair, make sure it’s not a brunette on the cover. It kills the read!
    I believe it’s the woke group that’s encouraged this change because they are “offended” at the supposed submission reference. Then don’t buy the book! Heck I’ll settle for a picture of the castle rather than a childish cartoon. I refuse to read or buy anything with these silly, low budget art, if you want to call it that. Just make sure the picture is accurate or a point and time reference in the book. Keep writing..Thank you.

    • Thanks for sharing Vanda! It’s really interesting how much cover art is changing and I wonder how far it will swing…

  2. I personally hate them – I think these covers are childish and trivialise the work that the author has spent hours crafting. They aren’t realistic or even appealing. I feel like they are unsophisticated and aimed only at an “tween like” audience. They are kind of embarrassing. When you read, you transport yourself into the story and the visualisation created with the words are of real people so having a naive “cartoon” on the cover is a big disconnect from the story within the cover. I actively avoid books with these covers – the few I have read have also been “tic tok sensations” and they were very average an uninspiring – it feels like an overcompensation.

  3. I find that the cartoon/graphic art covers suggest that what’s inside the covers will be fluffy, funny and sweet a la chick lit, whereas a photo or something more realistic suggests something more towards the suspense end of the spectrum. In spite of being told not to judge a book by its cover, we do get an idea of the genre. Guy with gun = romantic suspense; guy with sword = fantasy or medieval; lady in long gown = Regency or Victorian; guy and/or gal plus an animal = shifter romance

    • I totally agree Megan. I definitely utilize a book cover to give me an idea of what’s inside on the pages.

  4. I fell out of my hobby of reading for a good decade , just purchased myself a kobo to catch up on my series and looking for new things outside of it I find myself seeing all these covers and wondering why its in my romance section.. These are the types of covers I would see as a teen/early 20s and think .. Well I know I don’t want to read that cause thats ment for less mature readers. Something I’d find in a young adult /teen section. As a person who only got into reading at age 12 (now 33) cause of a slightly smutty paranormal romance book their mother picked up at the store for them while grounded these covers just aren’t what I look for in a book and sadly like many I do judge a book by its cover.

    Needless to say I’m definately less likely to bother with a cover that looks like this.

  5. I’m conflicted that this type of covers is a romance trend because my books would fall into “joining the trend”. However, many of my romance books from over decades ago had these covers. Why? Because I love chick lit covers haha, so I didn’t care if it wasn’t the norm, I just want the books I’ve written (another name) to have it and now that it’s a trend… it’s sad. Why did it become a trend? Yes, I want to know too!

    • I personally love the new trend. I’m actually more apt to pick up a book with an illustration rather than a photo as the cover art. And I find the cutesy graphic art characters more appealing than half-naked men, especially if you are reading in public. They are more discreet. And the covers are cute. On top of that, I find less detailed faces better for imagining the character. Often, when I am reading a novel, the person on the cover does not match the picture in my head. I like the vague suggestion because then the character on the cover is just enough fleshed out to resemble the character but I can fill in all the details. If it is going to be more detailed, I prefer illustrations like the cover art for “The Six Crimson Cranes” by Elizabeth Lim, which is not a romance book, more fantasy adventure with a small hint of a romance, like a grain of sand amount, or The Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn.


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