The Top 10 Worst Romance Covers

Romance novels have notoriously terrible covers. Is it intentional? It must be, right? For that, I sort of love them. They're eye-catching and their genres are easily defined. That's the pinnacle of advertising success! If you're looking for a romance novel, you don't have to read the spine or the summary to know you've found one. Just grab the most hideously covered books at the store and you're set.

So yeah, they're all bad - but these are the worst.

1. 'Baby Bonanza' by Maureen Child, 2008

First impression: There's an entire series dedicated to billionaires and babies? 

WTF is going on: This particular billionaire looks a bit bemused to be carrying twins (in his arms, not his womb). Were they thrust upon him? Are they his? How is he so surprised by these babies? One presumes this unsuspecting tycoon was just baby-blitzed by a one night stand from his recent past. 

 

2. 'Bushwhacked Groom' by Eugenia Riley, 2004

First impression: This is a creepy little tableau.

WTF is going on: So something's been recently shot in the boudoir, and they're happy about it. She's in an ugly nightie and he's got muscles and sideburns. He's all, "You wily minx!" So she must have just defended his honor against some diabolical interlopers, I guess.

 

3. 'The Cowboy and the Cossack' by Merline Lovelace, 1994 

First impression: Code Name: DANGER!

WTF is going on: I can't tell - are they riding a horse? A motorcycle? Straddling a diner table? Is that a bell on his boot? So many questions! One thing's for sure: she's a cunning person of Slavic descent, and he has cowboy boots. Fish out of water hijinks ensue!

 

4. 'Discreet Young Gentleman' by M.J. Pearson, 2006

First impression: Lovers of gay romance the world over deserve better than this.

WTF is going on: Wolverine is banging Gaston, no?

 

5. 'Leaving L.A.' by Rexanne Becnel, 2006

First impression: Those are not maternity pants.

WTF is going on: This young lady is going home again - who says she can't? She's taking her giant teddy bear, and her hat box, and her midriff shirt, and her citrus print pants and her enormous baby-stuffed belly and going home!

 

6. 'Nighthawk' by Kristen Kyle, 1997

First impression: So much hair on this cover!

WTF is going on: An Elven princess falls in love and lust with Richard Marx, who gives up his highly successful recording career to hunt gazelle with her in outer space.

 

7. 'Promise Me Paradise' by Ellen Tanner Marsh, 1998

First impression: Who are Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss?

WTF is going on: She's a genie?

 

8. 'Rumor Has It' by Cindi Myers, 2004

First impression: I legitimately do not understand how these two forms fit together.

WTF is going on: Hot and heavy make-out sesh in the car, for sure. But where is his head? Where is the rest of her body? How is her hand at that angle from her feet? I've stared at this cover for several minutes, and my brain cannot make sense of what my eyes are seeing.

 

9. 'The Very Virile Viking' by Sandra Hill, 2011

First impression: Well, hellooooo

WTF is going on: He's virile. He's a Viking. And he's victorious over those empty fields! Also, he's hot - even though his nipples are slightly askew. But who am I to split hairs?

 

10. 'Yule Be Mine' by Jennifer LaBrecque, 2008

First impression: That review quote seems a little ambiguously attributed. 

WTF is going on: Well, it's Christmas. There's some wine, some foreplay, some intense staring and the ugliest rug I have ever seen. It's love-making time!


Go crazy with your Google Image searching and link to your worst in the comments. Fair warning: this could suck hours out of your day, trust me.

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Comments

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading Tons of LGBT nonfiction so he can judge a literary contest June 8, 2012 - 8:39am

The cover of BUSHWHACKED GROOM turns me on. I feel dirty. That's what turns me on about it. I'm ashamed. That, again, is what.....

The list goes on.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson June 8, 2012 - 8:49am

What does that discreet young gentleman have in his pants? It looks like a kumquat.

alisia's picture
alisia from Byron, NY is reading The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt June 8, 2012 - 8:50am

Ha! This is fun!! Great post and here's my submission:

Loveswept - The Courting Cowboy by Glenna McReynolds

First Impression: Who exactly is he courting? Those are cows in the background, but I'm 99% Pedobear is hiding somewhere within them.

WTF is going on: I can't say for sure who the cowboy is. Judging by his belt buckle, I'm assuming it's the minor. So, the minor teenage boy is either courting the grown man beside him, or getting tips to hit on whatever they are looking at. Presumably more farm animals.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson June 8, 2012 - 9:13am

MASTER OF THE MARSHLANDS!

First Impression: If you put it up to your ear, you can hear the ocean.

WTF is going on: Is there anything as unsexy as Marsh Sex? The sand, the humidity, the flies. But apparently she loves it. Because he is the master of HER marshland.

Meredith's picture
Meredith from Houston, Texas is reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith June 8, 2012 - 9:20am

@alisia - that cover should be illegal. I am affronted.

@Josh - that lady's pantsuit is AMAZING.

Hannah Kincade's picture
Hannah Kincade from Minnesota is reading Splintered June 8, 2012 - 10:21am

I ran the genres at a bookstore for a many years. I would read the front excerpt of the romance books for entertainment and dramatic readings in the back room. Good times were had. Here is my all time favorite:

 

First Impression: I think he'd be warmer with more chest hair.

WTF is going on: I'll provide a quote.

"I'm going to make love you, angel. Real nice, hot, hang-onto-your-hat love. If you want me to, that is. I'll keep you warm all night. Fact is, I'll make you sweat. I'll even make you burn."

"You...will?"

"Yep. And you won't need clothes, and you won't need fires."

You heard it yourself. Hot, hang-onto-your-hat love. That's WTF is going on.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated June 8, 2012 - 10:50am

If she doesn't need cloths why does she have to hang on to her hat?

Nighty Nite's picture
Nighty Nite from NY is reading The Forever War by Joe Haldeman June 8, 2012 - 1:49pm

First Impression: The Legendary Warriors? That's what I named mine, too.

WTF is going on: I have a feeling she's about to find Lone Arrow's Pride.

Miranda Moth's picture
Miranda Moth from Guelph, Ontario, Canada is reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner June 8, 2012 - 2:01pm

@dwayne bahaha!

Tony Koval's picture
Tony Koval from Jesustown, Bible Belt, Texas, USA is reading more and more and more July 5, 2012 - 1:05pm

I can't stop laughing.

My eyes are watering. The last two were the best.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 5, 2012 - 1:49pm

Did that just happen?

Tony Koval's picture
Tony Koval from Jesustown, Bible Belt, Texas, USA is reading more and more and more July 7, 2012 - 4:32pm

Yeah. It did. I Googled 'The Very Virile Viking', then shared the book cover with everybody in my close circle of friends.

I'm thinking we need to get in a circle and do dramatic readings.

alisia's picture
alisia from Byron, NY is reading The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt October 18, 2012 - 10:01am

I found another good one:

 

First Impression: How does that little girl define sexy? Clearly by odd body shapes, sagging ears and uncomfortable smiles. 

WTF is going on here: Is that baby pedo bear in her lap? Now we know how that all started. All pedo implications aside, clearly this is a book about a single father. This is in such poor taste. How does an author get something like this through a publishing house and onto shelves? Not one person thought to themselves, hey this cover suggests this dad is sexy to his four year old daughter? No, they all realized it. They were hoping they could bank on three markets: 

1. Single fathers who read depressing romances

2. Single ladies wanting to date single fathers. 

3. Perverts. 

Tony Koval's picture
Tony Koval from Jesustown, Bible Belt, Texas, USA is reading more and more and more November 1, 2012 - 7:39pm

That's better than the Viking!

Amber Ellie Vokes's picture
Amber Ellie Vokes August 22, 2013 - 9:58am

@alisia: Wow, One Sexy Daddy is...is...well...that's terrible!! What is wrong with these people. "I think I'll check out romance and I'm looking for a DILF kind of book because that's the kind of mood I'm in. Oh, this one looks hot (looks at spine and pulls book out), oh jesus! It's kiddy porn!" When dealing with romance, children should NEVER be pictured on the cover. oi.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading A lot of Brian Evenson June 29, 2015 - 4:57am

Amazing.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 1, 2015 - 12:26am

@Josh - Thanks for the threadomancy man, I hadn't looked at this in a few years and it still makes me laugh.