Book covers must be important, right? If they were not, publishers would merely wrap brown paper around the book and write the title and the author’s name on it. Book covers are meant to attract buyers and readers. But of course lots of people–publishers, authors, and readers–have their own ideas on what will best do that and what the attraction ought to be. What should the cover of a romance suggest, for example? That the book is sexy? That it is a heart-melting romance? That it is a deeply passionate love story that may appeal to a broader audience than just committed romance readers? The answers to these questions and others can lead to vastly different covers. And who knows which approach will sell more copies and attract more new readers?

proposal new face  proposalrevises


Consider these three covers of THE PROPOSAL (out in paperback this week of May 28). These are the hardback cover, the British cover, and the mass market cover. It is hard to believe that they can be one and the same book, isn’t it? They represent different visions of what the story may have to offer readers. Which would be more likely to make you pick up the book if you had never heard of me? There is no correct answer, by the way!


I admit that occasionally I choose a book because I am attracted to the cover. I will even admit to rejecting a few books because I dislike the cover, even though I ought to know better–we all know that a cover is not always a good representation of the story within, and it is the one aspect of the book over which the author has least control. However, in the vast majority of cases, my choice of a book has nothing whatsoever to do with the cover. I buy it because I like the author or because I have heard good things about it. The cover is merely the icing on the cake–and I don’t always like icing. It is the cake that matters.

How important is a cover to you? What is likely to attract you? Or repel you? Which of the three PROPOSAL covers do you like best?

To one person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, June 4, I will send another advance copy of THE ARRANGEMENT. Last week’s winner was Sue Harrison. And thank you for all the wonderful comments on the Cinderella theme. I assure you I read them all.



    1. I like the British cover, but I almost always read a book by the description in the back.
      Sometimes the books are bad, and I wont waste my time by trying to finnish reading them.

      The first Mary Balogh book I read, was Simply Unforgettable, the paperback with the yellow cover,
      It’s not very flashy, but the description in the back sounded interesting.By the first chapter I knew I had found something special.

      Also one of the worst covers I have ever seen is Laura Kinsale’s, Flower from the storm, the one with Favio, on the cover but also one of the best books I have ever read.:)

    2. The cover will sometimes be a lure. In this instance, I like the British cover the best. But as for all my books, it is definitely the author that drives my purchase.
      My only objection is if the cover is too racy then I dont want my kids to see it… and there is one benefit of an e-reader! Several years ago, I bought a book that had a very graphic cover. There were so many comments by family and friends that I ended up putting duct tape on it to obscure the picture!

    3. Covers really don’t factor in on my decision. If it’s one of my favorite authors I am going to buy it regardless of how nice or hideous the cover might be. Which Mary B is on my favorites list, so it doesn’t matter. I am going to buy it. I really liked the covers of the “Slightly” series though. There were no pictures. I thought that was unique.
      On book purchases that are impulse buys, I always read the synopsis. I never judge a book by it’s cover anymore. I have gotten too many flops in the past and wasted my money. I am also an old schooler, I love to hold the book. Just curl up in the chair….. None of this ebook stuff for me.
      Although I don’t think the cover of Flowers From the Storm was that bad, it was one of the best books I have ever read as well.

    4. Although I don’t choose a book because of a cover; if the cover turns me off then the plot has to be extra compelling to get me to pick up the book. Bodice rippers or shirts open to the navel just don’t appeal to me. This is why I like the British cover the best. However, I REALLY like covers that don’t have peoples’ faces on them because I like to imagine what the characters look like based on the author’s descriptions. having said that, I have to say that I have a list of about 30 or so favorite authors and I track them monthly to see when they are releasing a new book. If it’s a favorite author of mine, like Mary Balogh, I will read anything regardless of what the cover looks like. The cover only has a significant impact when I am deciding to order a new book from someone I have not read before.

    5. I agree w/the thought that it is extremely easy to choose a book by it’s cover. I have the hardcover as well a the mm paperback covers. I think the mm paperback is my favorite because it shows an interpretation of both the hero & the heroine. I tend to go back to these when I read the description you write of the characters to see how close they are. In the end, I use my imagination to picture ur description but it’s still fun 2 see if the publisher even pretended to pay attention. As far as getting someone’s attention 2 purchase, I would probably pick up this same cover to read the back because there’s a very attractive man on the cover. Even old women, like me, enjoy the view. Unfortunately, I would only buy it (if I didn’t know & love ur writing) if I was interested by the description of the story on the back. My English teacher always told me to not judge a book by it’s cover & I have tried to remember that, always. I have been collecting books since I was 18 yrs old (4 over 30 yrs) & when my income has limited me, I choose books by authors I know & love. It is very rare 4 me to pick up a new author anymore since, I have accumulated 2 many favorite authors during the years & have enough trouble keeping up w/their new publications. Most of the time, if I do, it is because I have had an opportunity to read something they wrote (usually in a novella or someone giving me one of their books). So… I truly have to say that the cover is not my main decision maker.

    6. I tend to read only authors whose books I already know and like, since I’ve been disappointed too many times. But to be honest…I’ll avoid a cover that I think is trashy, simply because I don’t to be seen reading it 🙂 So I would choose either the hardback cover or the British cover, even though the mass market one is quite gorgeous 😉

    7. I think that the cover is what initially attracts me to a book, unless it is by one of my must-buy authors. Then it doesn’t matter what it looks like. I am usually not drawn to really lurid covers, since my husband always makes a comment or two!

    8. I actually am attracted to the book cover 1st and then go by the book descriptions. If the book descriptions is terrible I wont read the book no matter how great the cover art is.

  1. I like the girl looking back at the reader before moving into the garden.

    My favorite book that I found thanks to a gorgeous cover is The Dress Lodger. Wonderful!! It’s not always my end all be all decision maker, but I have picked up books just because the cover caught my eye!

  2. I totally have picked some books because of the hot guy on the cover . .. of course I have also picked up books because of a cute dog so I’m just a book slut (I know it so I accept the title with grace and dignity 🙂 I do get upset when I see a UK cover that is just so much better and have no way of getting it. So basically I’ll buy anything that is good . . .and sometimes not so good but it better have a great cover. Oh and favorite cover . . .I know SHOCKER . . the guy does it for me 🙂

  3. I ADORE the 2nd cover … the close up of the lady in period dress. I would have been drawn to that cover over all the others immediately. I’m a sucker for romantic, period dresses though and tend to avoid the sexy beast-of-a-man covers. (usually) 😉 I’m also a lover of pretty fonts and the second cover also has that!

    Thanks for an amazing giveaway!

  4. I do sometimes read/ pick a book be oz it’s cover is interesting.
    To avoid being prejudiced, what I have started doing at the library is pick a book by its side and then turn it over to read the extract before I even look at the cover…sorry for being vain, but in the end the photo/ picture on the cover does matter.

  5. I like the 3rd cover the best, although I do find the second one intriguing as well. I tend to not pay much attention to covers when selecting a book. The title grabs my attention more as I hope it will give some clue as to the general type of romance contained within. If I like the title or recognize the author’s name, I’ll read the back cover to decide if it is something I would like.

  6. The cover only matters to me is so far as to represent the basic genre. That being said however, I do get mildly erked (not sure that is really a word, but it fits my feeling) when the cover is changed to look like a new book after it has been in print for a while…I think it is a new book. Fortunately, with my Kindle Fire and Amazon account it now tells me that I have already purchased that particular “story”, so I do not end up with multiple copies of the same book. I value the time and attention that the process includes to put together a quality product. Thank you for the many hours of mini vacations you have given me and will continue to give me! 🙂

  7. I love the original HB cover, because it’s different and refined. The British cover is just another headless girl, albeit with a nice dress than most. The paperback cover is just another open-shirted guy. I guess that sells paperbacks, but IMO they all start to look alike. This one looks like one of the many Grace Burrowes books coming out this year.

    I never judge by the cover, since I’m a Kindle reader.

  8. I prefer the second cover (with the period dress and looking back toward someone unseen), maybe because it has more mystery to it, allows my imagination to add to the scene? I usually do not like the “beefcake” covers because they are a bit too cheesy, but that would not keep me from reading a book if I had heard it was good or if I enjoyed the author. I recall adoring Laura Kinsale’s “Flowers From the Storm” despite the huge picture of Fabio on the cover!!!

  9. I most always choose a book because of a review or recommendation. If a cover is too out there, it turns me off. Reading the first couple of pages if more of a clue to me.

  10. I do tend to pick a book by it’s cover, not necessarily for the people depicted but for the creative feelings it inspires – if the cover shows something that I tend to stay away from (i.e. not into witches, dragons, etc.) then I don’t even pick it up. Love a cover that implies a good love story, historical setting and a good happily-ever after. I like the hardback cover personally but they all would catch my attention.

  11. Oh I LOVE the second cover, with the ladie’s face turned away, the close up. I would pick it up before the other 2, even without a title or author listed. And, LOL @the ‘book slut’ comment! I’m one of those, too. I love a pretty face, a pretty dress, pretty six packs, pretty words etc. I read the back of any book but a cover might seal the deal.

  12. I judge a book by the summary more than the art, but…the picture does put a face to the character I am reading about. So in more ways than one, that picture can be just as important as the back cover teaser. Can’t wait for the book!

  13. I have similar feelings about book covers, generally I know something of the book before buying it. A cover can influence some things though. I would probably not take a book with the third cover out in public with me. It looks rather tacky. The first two I like a lot, they give a far better sense of the refined elegance and sincere romance in your stories. The third one seems out of place and would probably grab the attention of someone looking for something a bit steamier. I would read your books no matter the cover. I think I would just buy the ebook if it had that cover. 🙂

  14. I love the covers of books, the only think I have against ebooks is the lack of same! But I love to window shop the book isles and I can pick out my favorite genre blindfolded! Yes, the cover is very important!

  15. I love the UK cover!!! I like when covers don’t show faces. When I read a book, I’m there watching the story from the corner. I picture them and most of the time, the people on cover don’t look like anyone I picture! Lol

  16. I would have to say my favorite cover is the second cover. I like covers that don’t show the woman’s face because odd or not I imagine myself as the persons face. I know ODD right!

    However, that fella in the 3rd cover is extremely handsome.

  17. Covers are nice, but I often find them misleading. Some of my favorite books have the plain brown covers. I have found that the synopsis on the back of the book is often incorrect in the books structure. It would be nice if the front and the back would actually hint at what is inside the book. I have found if I don’t know the author I don’t really pick up a book at random as pictures so often are NOT worth a thousand words.

  18. I will pick up a book because I like the cover. Can’t remember not buying a book because I didn’t like the cover. I have hidden a book I was reading from view because of the cover.

  19. Even as a very avid book reader, i don’t always go to the bookstore with an exact book in mind, and even if I do, I’m still (very much) open to new books. Although everyone knows a book can’t be totally judged from the cover, the cover is part of the advertisment of the book. In a bookstore with god knows how many books, i think the covers are a way to stand out and also give some hint to the reader what kind of book is that. I’m not gonna read the backs of every book in the bookstore, so I pick a book that has a cover that appeals to my mood. Of course what really matters is what is inside the covers, as some of my favorite books have uninspiring or downright ugly covers, and some books with the most beautiful covers(and even promising plots) leave me disappointed I spent my money on the book. Alas, in my opinion, in the end of the day, a book has to picked up and to catch the interest of the reader to be read, and the cover must appeal to its target reader. What good is a delicious novel if no one is bothered to pick it up and see what is inside?

  20. I like the British cover… that being said as I read mostly e-books now I find covers don’t matter so much any more (and I really loved step back covers). Instead I buy my go to authors and recommended books through various sources.

  21. I love your hardcover book. I am not loving this sexy guy picture, it is one of those covers you/I want to hide when in public. I know what your books are about I hate being judged by others by the covers…then there’s they whole having to educate them that these books are a serious read. This is just another reason I love my kindle/ e-reader, I can read and not be bothered by people’s opinions on the type of book I love to read.

  22. I too like the cover with the heroine standing in the garden. I like seeing the whole girl, face and body, looking as she might look in a scene out of the novel. I like the garden setting, with the aisle stretching out behind her. It is evocative of a young woman about to make a choice of paths for her future, which stretches into the distance behind her. And it’s pretty – the colors are lovely.

    My second choice would be the headless white gown one. I don’t like faceless covers, but the gown is pretty.

    I would never have chosen the studmuffin cover. I laughed out loud when I saw that. 50 shades of stupdity 🙂


  23. I try not to but I almost always judge a book by the cover! I like it to pop out and speak to me. Also as a graphic designer I’m all about the font choice, layout and other design elements that grab my attention. The wrong font could turn me off a book I would buy for the story. If the cover didn’t look good, it would be much easier to put it back on the shelf! I think the cover with the girl looking back is most appropriate for the book but for some reason my eye keeps going to the man cover. I like the sensuality and mystery it seems to scream!

  24. This is a tricky question because there is not one definitive answer, at least not for me. If a book is by an author I have read before and enjoy I buy the book no matter what the cover looks like. However when it is to an author I have never read it is usually based on what catches my eye (along with the synopsis on the back). Background colors are very important as well, not just the picture or people shown. I find myself drawn to emerald and red backgrounds for whatever reason. As for the three covers of yours above, I like the hard cover the best. It is more original & fitting to your books. I also like the British cover, it is beautiful. I am not as fond of the third. It reminds me of every other authors cover. Yes the guy on the front is good looking, but it seems too superficial to the qualitiy of writing I know a story you write will provide.

  25. If i had to put the covers in order i would say the guy first, the girl standing outside second, and the up close girl last. But when it comes to your books i never have to worry about the covers i always love them. My favorite books to read are historical romances so i love seeing the couple just looking at each other and you can see the love they have for each other.

  26. I never cared about book covers until I published my own books. . . .and even then, I had no discernment whatsoever. Happily I am surrounded by people who have excellent taste and a little has rubbed off on me, so that now I can at least recognize bad covers. I have always loved Mary’s book covers. In this case, I think the green garden one is my favorite, although a very close second is the white dress. I do not like open shirt man at all. It doesn’t capture the story whatsoever in my eyes. But no matter the cover, I’m thrilled when I know there’s a wonderful Mary Balogh story waiting within!

  27. The cover is one of my biggest helpers in deciding a book if I like the cover I’ll at least read the back to see what a book is about. I like the girl in the white dress the best I think of all three covers.

  28. I like all the covers. I think the one I like best is the one with the garden. True what some people say, I hate being judged by the cover. If it’s hard-backed I will a lot of times take the cover off. That way it doesn’t get ripped either. If I am unfamiliar with an author I have bought the books based on the cover.

  29. The cover of a book may tempt me to look closer at a book, especially if I’m not familiar with the author, but it is not the main thing that will prompt me to choose the book. I am more drawn to the synopsis, but probably would not read it, if the cover art were not appealing.

    I like the hardbound cover art the best, with the British version second. If you read much historical romance and pay attention to details, you know that men’s shirts did not button down the front in those days. All the heros pull their shirts over their head. I always think the artists of those covers have not read the book, so have no idea about the content.

  30. I usually don’t pick up a book if I don’t like the cover. If I have read the author before, I will pick up the book regardless of the cover. I don’t like the covers that are really cheesy. I liked the covers of the girl in the garden and in the white dress best. Thank you!

  31. The British cover is very beautiful and enchanting with the period dress and the colors and the scrolling of the font and I do tend to go for covers like that. They are just so beautiful you have to know that the story will be too and without a face you can make the main character look as you please. But I have to say the hardback cover is beautiful as well. The atmosphere and simplicity of her standing there makes me want to know what story does she have to tell. The third cover, granted what woman doesn’t like a hero on the book cover but honestly I would just ignore this cover. I would still pick the book up to read the back of it but it just doesn’t appeal to me like the other two. They would pull me in more. Regardless of the cover it’s all about the stories and thank you for creating some amazing adventures, Ms. Balogh.

  32. The covers are ALL great! The first one reminds me of something from Jane Austen. The second one, I adore the details on her dress. And the third, well the guy is hunky and delicious, no question about it. I think my favorite is probably the second one (dress). Although if I didn’t already know and enjoy your work, I might be more inclined to buy the book based on the first cover. It’s not a typical romance novel cover, and I can be somewhat puritanical/straight-laced at times, so I shy away from covers that have too much implied sex in them, such as the typical bodice-ripper covers with half-naked people.

  33. I’m a sucker for a gorgeous guy, so I’d be attracted to the mass market cover. I don’t do much cover-shopping these days, relying on word-of-mouth and that ever-important back cover blurb. Reading on an ereader has really taken the punch out of cover art. That being said, I’m still easily made unhappy when a publisher doesn’t put a decent cover on one my my own books. I wonder what that says about me. 🙂 Thanks for the opportunity at the giveaway, Mary.

  34. This was a very interesting exercise. I have never really thought about it before but I believe the cover influences me most when I am looking for something new. Once I know and like an author I barely glance at the cover. So , if these were just three random covers during a “browse” I would pick up the first and reald the jacket and then decide. I would probably buy the second as I like the period dress and it really attracts me. The third I would not even pick up. The third is the one that influences the most though, negatively. Give me a break!

  35. some books I buy unseen and unknown because I like the author. Some books have a genre cover, ie romance or texas or small town contemporary that gets me to read the write up on inside cover or back cover about it. I chose mystery / thrillers based on write ups in Book Page. There are some romance covers I don’t want out in public like the open shirt one. Heyer books are being reissued with lovely painting covers, not necessarily correct period but pretty any how.My daughter and I are collecting as I have old falling apart paperbacks from much rereading. Frankly I read so many authors that to chose a new author some trusted person has to suggest it.

    1. Your mentioning Georgette Heyer reminds me to say, I don’t know why modern authors of Regencies feel they have to include porn, unlike Heyer. I really don’t want to be in someone else’s bedroom.

  36. I usually look at the cover first, then the synopsis and the author. I enjoy your books immensely because they always appear inviting. Thank you.

  37. I like the second cover of the book (the one of the dress). It’s true that you should not judge a book by its cover. However, the cover is the first thing that catches your attention, so the cover has to be good. This is specially for those who have never heard or read books from that particular author. I love all your books so when I see your name on the book, I just pick it up.

  38. I love the covers that have the lady in a gorgeous flowing gown, they are very appealing to me. I also tend to judge a book by its cover, I will pick up a book with a gorgeous cover and pass on the plainer ones. Though I do eventually pick them up. But usually pick up the book with a cover I love first. I am not much for the covers with just a man on the cover, I don’t know why that is though.

  39. I like the second and the third covers. Mainly I look for books by authors I love or like. Then it could be a toss up between the Title or the Cover or both. One or the other will catch my eye and I will stop to pick up a book by an author I don’t know or recognize. I will then read the back or some times the first couple of pages to see it the story grabs me or appeals to me.

  40. I usually buy books based off word of mouth or reading the blurb on the back or inside jacket. However the cover is sometimes what makes me pick up the book to read that blurb. I am attracted to covers to be honest, it just doesn’t make it or break it for me. The only thing I don’t like is when there is a character on the cover and it fails to match the description of them in the book. Just a weird quirk with me.

  41. I like the second cover best. I look for my favourite authors first . I seldom choose a book for its cover!

  42. I seldom choose a book based on the cover picture. I tend to be annoyed by the exposed manly chest/plunging bodice/swooning damsel covers even though I do enjoy reading that genre. I rarely choose books randomly off the shelf, but if I do, it’s because the title piqued my interest, then I read the back blurb. I primarily read specific authors, (and I have lengthy TBR pile!!!) but occasionally read new authors based on recommendations by “my” authors.

  43. The cover is the first thing that will catch my eye, then I look at the description, maybe read a few paragraphs if it is a new-to-me author. I have to admit to a weakness for fabrics so the second would be my fave. Otherwise it’s the eyes or the look of the model on the page. Thanks!

  44. I usually read the jacket notes when choosing a book, more than choosing by the cover. However, I had chosen not to purchase books whose covers I find embarrassing.

  45. A great cover can definitely pull me toward a book, but they’re much less important since I got a Kindle (the second version). Very rare to get a cover, and if there is one, it’s in black & white.

    Of the three for The Proposal, I like the mass market version with the sexy hero,

    I’ve found it interesting, the shift (1 year? 2 years? ago) toward lone men and their abs.

  46. I read the Hardcover. But If I was a first time reader of your books I would pick up the new US paperback cover. Something about a good looking man grabs my eye.

  47. The covers on all three books grab my eye and I would purchase the book. I like all three, however, usually and I do mean that, I don’t judge a book by its cover. The author is what I look at. I would buy a book by my favorite author even if the cover was a brown wrapper with just the title and author on it. I know that Mary Balogh delivers a well written story, one that moves my heart, brings tears to my eyes and smiles to my face. Why wouldn’t I want that book when I know that it will not only end happy, but that there will be much work involved to bring that happiness as the final page is read. I read lots of romance by several authors and am reading some of the up and coming authors and the bottom line for me is if that writer can put me somewhere other than where I am at. If I can disappear into another era, smile, laugh, cry, and return to the everyday world with a renewed attitude to find the best in others, give the best I can, and move on to the next day. Reading is my nerve pill, my calming song, my reward after a long rough day and I give thanks for those who have the ability to provide a book that can take me away. Calgon doesn’t do it for me….a well written book does!

  48. If I don’t know the author, the cover is paramount. It needs to not just be pretty, but to intrigue me. Of the three covers for The Proposal, I am most drawn to the woman in the jeweled dress. I really like the garden setting one also, but that dress is gorgeous and I want to know about the woman who wears it.

    Can’t wait to read it, whatever cover it has. 🙂

  49. I try not to judge a book by its cover, but it really is unavoidable. I think readers have been conditioned to expect genres to have a distinct look.

    Of the three covers shown, the view of the garden and girl looking back makes the book look more like a classic Regency story (or other historical) written in the 1980s or 1990s (Signet Regency style). The close-up photo of the girl’s bodice makes the book look more like a modernized historical novel, and the photo of the shirtless man makes it look like a cheesy bodice-ripper that will include detailed sex scenes.

    I prefer the classic Regency cover, but that’s because I prefer that type of novel. 🙂

  50. I like the hardback cover and the British cover. I am not a fan of the new paperback covers for this series. I love it when a cover truly represents the content of the book. I get very annoyed when publishers decide to change a cover in the middle of a series. I like them to stay consistent. I like it when the cover tells part of the actual story inside, rather than one person’s interpretation of what the title might infer.

  51. I prefer the second cover. It shows classic elegance and the conservative feeling of the era. I agree with one of the commenters that you wouldn’t like to carry around in public a book with the cover exposing the chest of a hunk. In my dreams, yes. In public, no!

  52. When I was younger it was definitely by the cover. Now I usually read ebooks so covers don’t matter. I hate to be embarrassed by some covers but I brave through if I know the author.
    I love the first cover and would never choose the last one if it didn’t have your name on it.

  53. The third cover would make me not want to read it in public… Luckily I have a Nook and no one can tell what I’m reading!

  54. While cover is important it’s not always everything but it does go along way to inticing me to buy it. I will admit when there is a sexy guy on the front it makes you wonder what the main hero character is going to be like and I may be more inclined to buy it but at the same time especially with historical period stories I see this beautiful young woman is dresses and jewellery of the time and I instantly feel transported along with the characters. Covers with scenery don’t do much for me as I don’t really get a “vibe”. You could be anyway at anytime.

  55. What I found interesting was the content of the cover that was featured in each country. I wasn’t sure if the British cover is also a smaller paperback? The only time a cover really affects me is if it’s poorly done (I suppose it’s my definition of ‘poorly done.’ 🙂 Or if it has a model that I really can’t identify with. There’s a cover on stands now that features a female who looks exactly like a former student. it isn’t, of course. But I absolutely can’t read that book, thinking of her in as the heroine.

  56. Ok, I admit I tend to judge a book by its cover, but its not the picture its the authors name that draws me. I love knowing what a character “looks” like but usually am disappointed. I usually expect them bigger our to have liner hair if mentioned etc. and if I find a book with an appealing cover, I randomly open and read a few pages, I never read the back because it tells me the storyline and I like surprise…sometimes the first characters encountered aren’t the”main” characters do its fun to guess. Your covers are neat, I liked the simply series to without people on the cover, it really let me determine what they should look like in my mind and gave no real clue to the story. Pleasantly surprised and the Bedwins plain cover were the first books of yours I read and fell on love with!

  57. I like the two with the women on the cover, and actually like the close up where you can’t see her face best. I like to get a picture of a character in my head, and without a ” portrait” on the cover, I can still use my own imagination. The picture of the man is not at all how I pictured Hugh. I do like an attractive cover, but I don’t want it to be embarrassing in public ( a real ‘bodice ripper’) . But I will pick up a known author even with a less attractive cover because I can count on what’s inside.

  58. I like the HB cover because it seems the girl is bidding me to follow her into the story. It is classy looking, which to me is more appealing than the overly sexy looking covers.

  59. I prefer the top two covers. I get so annoyed with historical romance novel covers that seem so much more dirty than the actual story ends up being. The third cover seems more suggestive to me. I read historical romance because I like the time period and I enjoy happy endings, not for the dirty parts. I end up being embarassed by the cover of some books when I read them in public because it is so much more extreme than the actual story.

  60. I am very much influenced by the cover I see…Although if I see the book is written by one of the authors I like to read — the cover won’t matter… But I have picked more than half the books I read by the cover picture…So this important to me… when I read someones work and I love it , then it won’t matter

  61. If it’s an author I read already the cover normally makes very little difference, although I admit to getting pretty passionate when the cover model looks nothing like the description. How tough is it for the marketing team to actually read an excerpt or simply ask the author what they had in mind? That being said if the cover is pretty it may mean the difference of splurging on a hard cover addition rather than a paperback. I still love the hardcover US version of the Proposal and am disappointed that the rest won’t be the same, I may just have to order the British versions since the US has gone a bit typical. We get it sex sells but honestly I think leaving a little to the imagination sells more.

  62. I have to say that when I go through the book section at my local walmart
    or when I’m a my local bookstore, the cover is the first Thing to catch my eye.
    Its what makes me want to pick it up, unless their a favorite author of mine then I pick it up anyways.
    My favorite cover by the way is the british edition…I love the charm of it.

  63. I prefer the second cover as well. I love the detail on the dress, and just find the lines very graceful. I am not very drawn the books with “beefcake” pictures on the cover. I would buy the third book based on the blurb and the fact that you are the author and I am a fan, but were it not one of yours, I might find the cover a little off putting (sorry). I think what bothers me the most about the cover with the man on it, is (a) I don’t find it classy, and (b) I don’t think it represents the hero of the story as he has been described.

  64. I like all three but I prefer #2 – with period dress. I would prefer to see her face, but the outfit is so pretty and becoming.

  65. I like both of the hardback covers the best, but it is nice to gaze at the guy on the paperback. When I was on facebook earlier today, I came across a book cover contest. After choosing my favorites, I decided to look up the reviews for those I had chosen. They were bad reviews. I do look for books that are more on the tame side, so I seem to gravitate toward the classier covers. But it is true you can’t always judge a book by its cover.

  66. The cover is a determining factor for me in picking up a book for an author I don’t know. I am attracted to the 3rd & newest cover of your 3. I like having a handsome face & hunky body to relate to when I read the story. Although pictures of just a woman & a pretty dress, or scenery pictures catch my eye, too. My problem comes in when the predominant color on the front turns me off, the picture of hero or heroine doesn’t fit their description, or if the picture is just “cheesy” looking. Your covers have always attracted me to look at the book, but I also already know you as an author, so that may be a factor.

  67. As covers no longer seem to relate to the story itself I try to look past them. That is easier said than done. That being said I love the first cover because it brings your books to mind for me. The second cover might get me to pick the book up and take a look without knowing the author. And the last…I wonder what he’s proposing. It doesn’t put me in the frame of mind for the time period even though he’s fun to look at.

  68. Hi, Mary!

    Very excited for the paperback release of The Proposal.

    I had one very good experience of judging a book by its cover: that’s how I discovered Sherry Thomas! The cover for Private Arrangements isn’t a typical historical romance cover. It was very artfully done so I picked it up and I’ve followed her ever since.

    But, if it were a Mary Balogh book, I’d still get it even if the cover was plain carton with only your name and the title on it. Big, big fan. 🙂

  69. I like the UK cover best, the hardcover second, not so crazy about seeing the guy’s face on the cover – I want to picture him myself. A cover may catch my eye but what I really look for is a catchy title – something that will make me pick it up and turn it over to read the back cover. These days with so many authors out there, I do a lot of my picking and choosing based on other author’s recommendations.

  70. I too tend to go for lovely girls and sinfully rugged dark brooding looking men pictured on the covers but what grabbed me most is the color scheme. It should be beautifully co-ordinated.
    Purples, Lavendish and some sinful maroons etc…. would be an added attraction.
    It would be unfair to you or me if I have to pick a favourite- there are too many.
    You know some had become my personal wallpaper on my ipad and iphone, its real pleasure to have on the background . Lovely!

  71. First of all, you are one of my favorite authors and a plain brown cover would not stop me from buying one of your books. I have learned through reading that I can trust your work to be always good. However, I do think covers sell a book. As a reader, I am frustrated when a cover has nothing to do with the story, that is characters that don’t look like the described characters in the book and locations that don’t match the story. Bad artistry too brings attention to that weak trait, and makes a reader wonder if the book is also badly done. The three covers for “The Proposal”, I think are well done. The girl in front of the garden speaks of adventure to me, a character in a historical romance that draws on my imagination. The woman’s torso cover, speaks of the time and beauty of a historical romance, the detail of the costume and the glamour of the period. There is a heroine promised in both covers and they are both intriguing. The cover with the hunky man grabs the sinful and wicked daydreams I have of a hero that will save the heroine from anything at all. He is dominate. If there is a man on the cover, he better be hunky and confident because every woman wants a powerful hero.

  72. The third cover caught my attention immediately, but I really love the second cover. I may be put off a book if the artwork looks awful or too cheap, but the author and back blurb would be most important to me.

  73. I would pick up the girl in the garden over any of the other books. It feels more like a book with an interesting story line.

  74. A cover will get me to pick up the book but then I immediately read the summary on the jacket flap or back and the excerpted reviews pages (if there are any). The author’s name will get me to pick up a book too if I have read a book by that author or am familiar with them. I like the hardcover version of The Proposal the best although I do love the dress on the UK version. I don’t like the look of the guy on the PB – he reminds me of someone I don’t like! Looking forward to the next installment in this series!

  75. I never pick a book by the cover but by the author & the “preview” on the back. I like the yellow cover.

  76. I love reading your work. To be honest covers are really what catches my eye. That’s actually how I got turned onto reading your work. After that I was hooked. A few of them I wasn’t empressed with the covers but then I knew you where the author so I read the back and ended up reading all the series. I turned my mom onto your work and her sister in turn. I sent my mom the picture of the most recent one and her reaction was funny. I can’t wait to go buy it and start on a new series. 🙂

  77. Hi Mary- I’m enjoying your new website and so glad you keep your personal information stories and pictures.

    In answer to your question, a cover is important in that I need to see clearly the title and the author. One way of zeroing in on that is by the picture from a long way away (say, down a shopping aisle). Once I know it’s one of your books, I not only double-check the title, but I check the synopsis and date of original publication.

    With the three books, I love the second one of the “headless” woman– normally that sounds horrible– but in this case, it’s the best of the three. The first is a little more scenery than substance, and the last one is a little more salacious than literary… and I think you’re books are high, high, HIGH above mass market books with that kind of marketing ploy. It’s simply not needed for you.

    Sending my best to you, your family, and to the wonderful readers on here and your Facebook page.

  78. I think we are all guilty of having bought a book for it’s cover (HeartMate the original one by Robin D. Owens). In your three choices that you offered today, I like the British cover of The Proposal. Earlier today, I saw the British proposal for the 2nd or 3rd book in the series and I really liked that one as well.

    The hardback version, for me, was always a little too distant. The American version of the paperback is too blatant and I thought it looked just like the 2nd book in the series that is coming out. Not until I saw the two covers side by side did I realize that it was different.

    I have found over the years that I tend to prefer the British versions of covers over the American versions. I don’t think that is something that I could put into words, but, that is the way it is.

    I read your books regardless of the covers and I think I have all or almost all of them. I am eagerly awaiting your next offering.

  79. Mary, I love your books and am always happy to tell friends about your books and that you are a Canadian author. My cover choice would be the close up of the dress with no clear facial picture. I prefer this because I like to picture the characters in my head based upon the authors description and I don’t like it being tainted by a models image, no matter how appealing that model may be. Thanks for the great reads!

  80. To me covers are unimportant. I find authors that I like and work my way through their collective works and then move on to the next one. And these days with e-readers you barely notice the cover anyways. If these three books were placed in front of me however (and this is true of most book covers I’ve looked at) I would probably be picking up the British cover book first.

  81. I prefer the cover that I own myself- the one with the close-up of the dress. It speaks ‘romance’ to me. I like it that the face is hidden so I can use my imagination to picture Gwen and Hugo. If I didn’t know what an excellent storyteller you were I would be reluctant to buy your book if it had the man undressing on the cover. To me it looks a bit cheesy and gives the impression that the story is sex-orientated instead of being focused on a love story that explores the characters so deeply. Of course I do know what a great storyteller you are so I would buy any book you write, no matter what the cover looked like, but it would then perhaps end up on my Kindle instead of on my shelf. I love some of the covers so much that I have to have a physical copy of them. (Simply series and Mistress).

  82. I am really happy that many of your early titles are being re-issued. Whoever had the idea to put two books into one wins first prize from me.

  83. I am mostly drawn to the type on a cover. I love the soft movement and the gracefulness on the British cover. To me it adds to the athmosphere you create in your stories.

  84. A cover is very important to me, I browse in the library, in the bookstore, on the internet and usually the cover is the first thing that attracts me to the book. But it depends on the mood I am in and what I want to read as for what kind of cover I am looking for. If I like romance with a bit of action between the sheets I go for cover no.2, if I like it steamier, I would go for cover no.3. If I know the writer (in this case you!) I look for the name of the author and therefore cover no.1. This one has also my fav colour purple in it so I am more likely to look, come closer, turn it around and find out what it is about.

  85. While the covers do attract my eye [and I like all three for different reasons], I read the back blurb and then whether or not I know the author are usually the deciding factor. Yours… I always purchase!

  86. I love the UK cover. If I weren’t familiar with you as an author, that one would get me to pick it up and check it out. It’s elegant and suggests regency to me (my favourite period for romance novels). For me, once I’ve found an author I like and trust to deliver a quality product, the cover is not really important as I’ll read everything they’ve ever written, but as an initial “hook”, the cover is vital.

  87. I must admit that I too judge a book by its cover. I good cover will at least get me to read the book jacket. I may not even do that with a “bad” cover. I wish that I could say that I read the “blurb” before dismissing all books that I purchase but I don’t. *blush*

  88. My initial judgement of a book is based on the cover. I’m more likely to pick up a book that has an artistic element to the cover. To me it denotes the creative effort that went into the writing of the book. I would most definitely pick up the version of The Proposal with the young lady in the garden. To me, that cover indicates a book that has an in depth story that brings the characters to life. The second cover to me, would indicate a typical romance novel. The third cover represents as my friend’s husband calls it, “female porn”. So, yes, the cover of a book is extremely important. It should represent the content. Unfortunately, I believe that there are publishers out there who believe that women are just interested in that formulaic romance novel filled with sex and not on romance with literary value.

  89. I seem to judge a book by the cover more critically if I am not familiar with the author. I used to believe it didn’t matter if I loved reading the author’s book, however that proved to be wrong when a book came out about two years ago with a cover that I felt was just trashy. I was really happy when she changed the cover so I could actually pick up the book.
    The covers I seem to be drawn to the most are the ones that can capture what the book is about or some aspect of the book. My favorite cover of The Proposal is the third one. I love a sexy man on a cover of a book.

  90. The second cover is compelling because the subject remains elusive. Attractive enough for a second look with the delicate décolletage hinting at more but the would be reader is persuaded to open the book to satisfy further curiosity.
    A book cover has to appeal to a wide range of readers. Young and old and in between although a plain brown paper cover delivers it’s own message when the reader is sitting not he tube!
    The bare chested hunk is rather a raw statement and leaves little to the imagination; Clearly the book has sex and sensuality. The girl in the garden is to remote and possibly an unnecessary reminder that she lived in the past far from where the reader is sitting; Evidently the subject is chaste and remote but not disinterested. The second cover gives away just enough, wisdom and sensuality all delivered with style and taste. Much like Mary Balogh’s books.

  91. I found the US hardback cover most appealing – walk down the path and discover the story – but I preordered the book sight unseen. Your name is the most important thing on the cover as far as I am concerned. That said, I really dislike the paperback version. Your editor is, in my opinion, trying to lump your books into that mass market of ‘historical romance’ where the cover is the catch. I guess they are trying to catch the new readers, and in some way I understand that, but … a slightly different cover, that stands out instead of blending with the masses, might be more effective. Whatever the cover, anyone who reads ONE of your books will go for the backlist and read, and read, and read, and love them all.

  92. This book looks to be part of a series. If so, in my opinion, the cover for each book in a series should be similar, including having the same artist illustrating each cover. Based upon that, I select the cover with the man.

  93. Personally, I prefer the hardback book cover, then the British version, and lastly the one with the man undressing. Why? Well, I’m a hopeless romantic, so I love romantic book covers and have been known to choose a book just by it’s cover! Also, I have three kids (and a husband!), so if I’m reading a romance, I don’t want it to look like a bodice-ripping (or shirt-ripping, as the case may be) story. I do tend to stay away from books with just a man or a life-like man and woman in suggestive poses on the cover. Guess it’s the “straight-laced” side of me. But hey, those “bodice-rippers” can be good books, too, but I prefer books that aren’t filled with over-the-top sex scenes — I skip those, anyway. Rambling complete, now!

  94. If I go to a bookstore and browse, covers are very important. The gentleman on the cover of The Proposal is not attractive to me and I would most likely pass by the book on the shelf. I also tend to avoid books with the words “seduction,” “wicked,” and the like in the title because I’m not interested in a series of sex scenes strung together by a very thin plot and that is what those words convey to me.

    I understand that I might be passing up a great book, but those are things that mean a lot to me. I want a love story, not an erotic/lust story. Seeing a photo of an extremely modern man with those ridiculous abs and waxed to kingdom come will not sell a book to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want the hero left to my own imagination, not have some marketing team’s idea a hero shoved down my throat.

    If I know the author, I won’t let it guide me but I really don’t want those books on my shelves. I think in future, I’m going to look for UK versions of Mary Balogh books because I love the British cover.

    I am a bibliophile. A bibliophile is not just a reader, the book itself is important and I want to put books on my shelves that are beautiful to me. Heck, I’ve been know to buy a book, usually much older books, more for the beautiful binding than the content but modern romance paperback covers leave a lot to be desired.

    I would probably be more likely to buy a good book with a really awful cover in its digital format than it’s print. Black and white covers help to mute the awfulness of a bad cover and I don’t have to look at them.

  95. I love the British cover. The hardcover one is nice and classy. I don’t like the mass market one at all. There’s nothing about that man that says regency. But the British one is beautiful. I love historical clothing and this one is lovely. One thing that always puts me off of a cover is poorly done historical clothing. Many times the person is dressed in clothes from the wrong time period or there are seams where there would not have been historically, etc. What happens most often on regency covers is that the woman’s dress is undone and half off and she has no underwear on. I’m always ‘where is her corset? where is her chemise?’

    So here’s a thought. Do publishers think all American women have no appreciation for anything other than a man’s chest? Why can’t we get the beautiful covers? Can I buy that British one somewhere?

  96. I love the British cover!!! The first thing I look for while browsing for books is the author. I will pick up a book to read the blurb on the back if I like the cover of an unknown author!

  97. I love the one that’s a close-up of the dress, it looks like a wedding dress, and makes me wonder if there’s a wedding in the story. The necklace is gorgeous too, and I wonder if it might be featured in the story too? The more questions a cover raises, the more interesting it is!

  98. I like the garden picture – and the British cover is lovely and graceful. I think the thd cover is so very unfair to the reader. The hero of the book is a rugged man who is a long way from being a pretty boy.

    I generally choose a book because of an author I know or an author I have had recommended to me, or I have read good reviews. The cover may make me look at it, but it would not be a driving reason for me to buy a book.

  99. While I don’t generally buy a book because of the cover, I will reject a book because of the cover. I will read the blurb on the back and maybe even the first page or two. That is how I normally decide on a book. Personally, I liked all three but the mass market cover was the one that caught my eye first.

  100. Guilty as charged.

    I know it’s not the best way when looking for great books to read (because some may have the ugliest covers but one of the best stories). But yes, I do judge a book by it’s cover. Whether it’s simply done, sexily done, or just nicely done–I look at it like a jewel. I want the very best. Of course that isn’t always the case. Other factors like storyline and authors come to play as well.

    Usually, a book’s cover captures my attention. I will give more time and attention to it if it’s beautifully done or is just very attracting. If it’s a new author, I would consider buying it only if the storyline is interesting. But if it’s an author I have read its work before or recommended by friends, I would consider buying it without too much regret. But that also goes with book covers that are not the best. As long as I like the author, I will buy the book cover (though I would complain about why the cover is made so unattractive.).

    In regards to the book covers, I don’t really like the British cover one, but I adore the other two. especially like the one with the garden. It was beautifully done and I just love the color contrast. As for the other one, I always adore a handsome man and almost shirtless.

  101. I think that most people so judge a book by its cover, although it is unfair to the author to do so. I try not to let a pretty cover catch my eye when it is a book by an author that in the past I did not care for. My favorite cover for the new book is the one with the ivory dress, it is classy and doesn’t scream sexuality like the cover with the man on it. I have not bought the book yet, but as I am in America I would assume the one I am able to get will be graced by the gentleman. I love Mary Balough books, however, and blame her for my newfound obsession with Regency romances, so no matter the cover I will buy it.

  102. I think that someone who is too lazy to pick up a novel and at least read the back cover and perhaps comments on the inside front cover is not being fair to themselves. Granted, many books jump out at the potential reader faster than others due to beautiful clothes, gorgeous heroines and heroes and even background pictures. What grabs one person may not necessarily grab another. I prefer print books because I enjoy studying the covers. I appreciate the fact that a lot of work went into selecting the perfect picture. Of course, the author is another thing that grabs the reader. We all have our favorite authors and when we see their name(s), we smile and pick up the book. Or maybe that’s just me. 😉 Mary Balogh, I must say that you are one of the most amazing authors I have ever encountered. I love your novels and cannot wait for a new one to come out. “The Proposal” was delightful and I am “chomping at the bit” to read “The Arrangement.” Congratulations on your incredible successes.

  103. Dear Mary, even though I know I shouldn´t be influenced by the cover of a book, the truth is it influences me a lot. The cover is what calls my attention first, its the first impression; afterwards, I read the summary, & take into account if I have read other books from this author & liked them. But even the author in unkwown for me if I like the cover & the summary makes me want to read more, I buy the book. It´s like first meeting a man; generally I´m first attracted by him fisically, he doesn´t have to be handsome but there should be some kind of “chemistry”, then I talk to him & see if his conversation attracts me. Finally, if both things appeal me, I accept dating him or try to call his attention. I´ve also avoided buying many books whose covers I´ve disliked, especially if the cover is a photograph because it´s difficult for me to forget the image. That´s why I prefer covers like the second cover of the Proposal, the one where we don´t see the face of the girl, so that I can image it the way I like it. Of the three covers, I would chose that one, even though I also like a lot the first one. Regarding the third cover, I really don´t like it. The problem with photos used in covers is that I generally don´t believe the expression of the character. Most of the time it looks as if they are posing like a model or acting, like in this one. That´s why I prefer photos where the face is not shown. Hope this is useful to you! Best Regards!!

  104. I like the hard back cover the best. Having read The Proposal, I do not like the mass market cover at all. I don’t think it goes with the book at all.

    Covers are important. I will pass on a book if I don’t like the cover or if the cover doesn’t interest me. I have also been mislead by covers.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if all books were put out with the same plain cover?

  105. I will admitt, when I began reading Regency Romance back in the 70’s I was a cover snob. The sexier the better! As I have continued to read my Regency’s over the decades I’ve realized that not only the covers have changed but also my taste in covers. Oh don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a firmly muscled male chest and a woman’s loveing look at her man, and I won’t NOT purchase because of the cover. I hope that over the years as I have matured I have evolved enough to enjoy the details of a dress, or country scene, or a view of an ocean, and color means more to my eye. Bottom line for me is I have learned my authors, how they think, how they write, and the wonderful stories they weave, the emotions that are brought forth and how I can completly imerse myself in the lives of the current hero and heroine I am reading. I no longer judge a book by it’s cover, but by it’s author and it’s content…although a “hot” couple is good for the soul once in awhile too!

  106. I choose first by author, then by cover. I prefer pretty books to books with men on the cover (partially because I have a house full of children). So, I would pick up either of the first two books – the first book is the one I’ve read but the second (British) is the one that I would reach for first.

  107. I echo your sentiment that the book cover should no longer dictate if a reader should buy a book or not especially when it is an author one is already familiar with. With the onslaught of readers getting attached to their e-devices, book cover shouldn’t matter much at all anymore, correct?

    Alas, very recently, I found myself unable to purchase the 2nd book of a series because of the book cover. It is a shirtless male model (which is not necessarily unusual) but the smirk on his face is what I abhor. The art department of this publisher has gone bananas the day that they have approved the release of the cover! What even baffles me is that they have edited and improved the other covers of the upcoming books of the series except for this 2nd one.

    Book covers say a lot of what to expect on THAT particular novel. As a reader, I expect that the model’s physical feature will match the description of the h/h, their dress will adhere to the era, the pose I will eventually read in the book.

    I am more forgiving for lesser known authors but for a well-published author, I expect more on book cover choices.

  108. I don’t necessarily pick a book by the cover but it is nice to read the book and see the cover and find that the cover reflects what my mind saw in the book. I have to admit most covers have the heroine on the cover, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the heroes more prominent on the cover too. I guess my summary is the cover should help you visualize the main characters.. Then again sometimes my imaginations is better…

  109. I always look at covers and have to convince myself I want to read a book by a beloved author despite a cover I hate. I hate two things that unfortunately are included in The Proposal’s many covers: headless people and Regency men (particularly soldiers or former soldiers) who appear to be rakes relaxing in their private quarters. If I’m supposed to take the book’s characters seriously, why do the covers start off by mocking them? (I realize that my comments probably make me ineligible for a copy, but, well, you asked for an opinion!)

    Bottom line: For me, a cover should accurately convey what’s in the book.

  110. I love covers 1 and 2. I don’t like to carry around books with half naked people although I love books that have romance. A cover will not influence me. I look for the author. Mary is number 1 on my list.

  111. I like the British cover best, actually. I would pick up that book, if I had never heard of the author. The mass-market…well, it looks like a bodice ripper, and I tend not to like those, so I would hesitate.

    I did love the covers of your old Signet Regencies. Snow Angel was the first I read and that cover just drew me in.

  112. I usually choose a book by the author or the info on back cover. The covers look nice makes looking at it interesting, but I want the story. And, Mary, I like all three of these covers. Of course, the great looking male is very nice to look at. lol

  113. I like the hardcover best as it seems classy. I am disinclined to pick up books with what I term “smutty” covers as I tend to think they contain stories reflecting their look.

  114. I believe I had commented on the cover issue the last time I responded to your Cinderella post. May I reiterate how much I don’t care for the guy on the cover? 🙂

    Let me start from the beginning. If I am browsing for books, the cover will attract me, but more often then not, I will look to see whom the author is and what the story is about and not really gaze at the cover. My preference is for the Hardcover edition of The Proposal. I like that it is a painting or a picture, rather than a real, live person. Like some of your other fans, I prefer to leave the hero and heroine up to my imagination.

    I am fairly new to historical romances (aside from a light flirtation with Barbara Cartland and one or two books by Georgette Heyer) and so, I was astonished by all the headless heroines on historical romances. The British cover is pretty and I don’t mind it as I can appreciate all the details of the dress, but for me, the hardcover edition is by far the most appealing.

    The guy on the cover, may appeal to some, but if I don’t find him attractive, then it somewhat ruins my enjoyment of the book, even though rationally, I *know* I am reading the book for what is within the pages and not what is on the cover. I would rather read a book with a plain brown paper wrapping than one with a presumed hottie on the cover.

  115. I do notice covers very much, but that HAS to be combined with a favorite author or a new author that has a lot of good rankings and great reviews. But with your books, we know what a great story we will be reading, and the covers are secondary now. Have not had time to read your latest ones, and I think redoing some of the previous ones is a great idea. A whole new reader list that way. Keep up the great writing.

  116. Definitely the girl in the garden. Normally I would go for the man with the blue cover next, but he looks like the kind of proposal he’ll make is not one I want to hear, so I’m hesitant since he’s not my type. The girl’s bosom is a distant 3rd. Why the art department thinks I’d want to look at another woman’s bodice is beyond me.

  117. I choose a book based on author, then storyline blurb on the cover, then the cover. But the cover will attract my eye to pick up the book to investigate its story if I am just browsing. I prefer covers 1 and 2, as they convey the time period the story is about. I don’t mind the headless figures with the high focus on the clothing; I don’t usually like the publisher’s idea of what the characters look like and prefer to use my imagination. I do like the clothing detail, as it’s usually beautiful costuming.

    As for the naked chest guy, it screams sex more than romance, and I would be hiding the cover when I am reading it, as it in no way reflects the story within. There are a lot of snap judgements about the book and reader with that type of cover, which IMO belongs to the erotica genre, and I guess I’m uncomfortable having those judgements directed my way. But it wouldn’t stop me from buying a favorite authors book, I just wouldn’t show it in public. And when I read on my kindle, I really don’t care what the cover is!

  118. I like the UK cover best. It has elegance. However, I don’t chose a book by it’s cover, unless it is a coffee table book. I pick books first by author, then by inside and back cover blurb. Finally, I read the reviews on Amazon–not the 5 star ones, they are written by the author’s friends, and not the 1 and 2 star ones, they are written by jealous other authors, but the 3 and 4 star ones.

  119. When buying a new book, I look first for my favourite authors. If they don’t have any new books out, then I look for interesting titles, which lead me to read the description on the back. The picture is not very important to me because it so seldom matches the storyline or characters (If the heroine is blonde, why does the front cover have a brunette?). Also, I treasure hardcover books by my favourite author. Of the example covers for The Proposal, I actually think I prefer the UK cover. The artwork on the hardcover book is “off” somehow–as if it is unfinished.

  120. I liked the British cover best, but I don’t buy a book based on the cover. I get them based on the author, I always get yours, and the bulurb on the back cover.

  121. I like the cover where you see the dress up close. When I look at a cover I am looking to see if it will be a romance novel and in what time period. I read many books but my favorite are those set in England during the Regency era.

  122. I’m kinda partial to the first/HC cover – perhaps because that was my introduction to the new series, but it & the 2nd cover really say romance and indicate the regency time frame because of the dress. The 3rd cover is also gorgeous & the guy is a good representation of Hugo.

  123. When looking for a new author, in a book store, the cover plays a bigger role in my choosing. If the cover attracts me, not a big fan of the bare chest heaving bosom covers, I will pick the book up and read the description and a few pages of the first chapter to see if I want to buy. If it is an author I normally read then it doesn’t matter what the cover looks like. With that said, I like the US hardcover the best.

  124. If I had NEVER heard of you or read any of your books, I’d probably be most intrigued by the British cover… Regency clothing is my favorite part of the period! Though I like the green garden and ‘pretty picture’-ness of the hardover, as well. I am totally against shirtless men on covers. *I* know what I’m reading, that I’m completely absorbed in a love story between layered and believable characters living in a beautiful time gone by, but anyone who would witness me reading a book with a shirtless man on it will probably assume I’m reading something more akin to the “50 Shades” series. Or something that is just meaningless, shallow sex for sex’s sake. That I’m just a lonely woman who reads my porn instead of watching it. I try to avoid these books. I’ve inherited a box full of them from a friend, but will never read them outside of my house. I much prefer books with an artistic rendition of the heroine, some detail of her gown, or some picturesque landscape to set the scene. The first book of yours that I ever picked up was “At Last Comes Love”, because I liked the cover so much. Then my friend gave me the previous books in the Huxtable series, and I was hooked!

  125. The woman in the exquisite white dress is a far more romantic cover than the garden scene. The man is handsome, but he doesn’t have the same romantic appeal as the woman in the lovely gown.

  126. I never like the guy on the cover–don’t get me wrong, they can be pretty–but they put me in mind of the cheesy bodice-rippers. I like the romance of Mary Balogh’s novels, and I like the whole world she creates. A tanned, semi-shirtless man doesn’t really evoke that for me. I much prefer the hard-cover of Gwen in the garden, and I like the other, faceless shot as well. They suggest the world of Balogh’s characters and invite me into that world.

  127. The Brit cover enthralls me; but then I am in raptures about period costumes and beautiful jewelry. Major disappointment with the mass market cover. Why? I expect to see a Regency gentlemen who is dressed (or maybe a little mussed) with a Regency haircut. OK, so I expect to see Colin Firth ala Darcy. But he is what I picture. They really got the hair all wrong. To me, this would be equivalent to putting Elizabeth Bennet in a Scarlet O’Hara hoop skirt or a Victorian My Fair Lady hat. Somebody just didn’t do homework on this mass market cover. I have an imagination. I don’t need to see the abs. This is not Magic Mike. I’ll rent the video if I want to see male strippers. Where is their Regency sensibility? It is a truth universally acknowledged that somebody blew it on the mass market cover.

  128. The hardback cover is absolutely my favorite. If I didn’t know you as an author, I would never have chosen your book with the mass market cover. I abhore the covers with the men on the front, I find those covers cheesy and cliche. The men used on the covers all look like Ken dolls insead of real men. These covers do not give me a romatic vibe, they give me a sleazy vibe instead. I usually do not buy books with this sort of cover. There are only 4 authors that I will buy no matter what the cover looks like, and you happen to be one of them. I really with publisher would back off and let authors choose their own covers.

  129. A cover might catch my eye, but I’ve never actually purchased a book because of it.

    I like all three covers, but think the hardback version is my favorite.

  130. I really like the first two covers. The one with the guy taking off his shirt not only is tasteless, but it looks like the publishers are recycling the same guy, his pose and his chest on every historical romance they can. Are American readers really that much crasser than British readers, so we get this cheesy cover palmed off on us? Not only does that cover put me off, but I’d be embarassed to be seen reading it!

  131. I would choose the second cover in the period dress first, then the girl at the garden entrance next. I would avoid the one with the gentleman missing shirt buttons.

  132. I would pick either of the two covers with a picture of a lady. While we shouldn’t judge books by their covers when buying them, we readers are often judged by the covers of the books we read. Not only by strangers but by friends and family as well. So more often than not I tend to choose books with less suggestive picture on the cover. But now, thank God for my kindle I could still buy and read your books even if your publisher continues to insist on a more sexy picture for your future books.

  133. I love the woman in the period dress. I don’t think I pick books by their covers but I do reject them because the cover. I agree with the previous comment, I get embarrassed if the cover has too blatant a cover.

  134. I would love it if the cover didn’t matter, but it does! The problem is it matters to my husband who likes to derogatorily say I’m reading a slut novel when the book has a macho guy or half naked woman pictured on the front. I can’t imagine that the women who enjoy these novels will pick a romance book with these macho guys or naked girls on the front more than they’d pick a book with the simple lacy dress (I like the second cover by the way). Please give us more credit than that! Could all of you publishers please stop putting these illicit covers on the front of the books so we can stop being embarrassed! I think these romance novels usually are well written and have intrigue and so much more to offer than a good sex scene. Please step up to the plate and show some respect for both the readers and the author!

  135. I like the British cover and the mass market cover w/ the guy. I am guilty of choosing a book by it’s cover.

  136. I admit when I was younger and Fabio was, too, I bought some books based on an interesting cover. Recently lots of books have generic pictures. It is true it can ruin your inner picture of a hero/heroine if cover photo does not match your imagination. I prefer to read a synopsis and reviews but some authors are automatic buys–for. ex. Mary Balogh. My favorite of The Proposal is girl outside.

  137. The book cover matters to me, although only as one part of the entire package. The choice of font inside and the design (I’m a former art director), a quick read through a paragraph or two for the writing style, and the complete presentation of the book all contribute to my sense of what is being offered. I don’t want books that I would feel embarrassed to carry around with me. I do hope I’m purchasing a well-written, well-thought-out and engaging story. The cover with the man on it is the least appealing of the three to me.

  138. I do like covers, but I am also a big fan of the blurbs on the back. I like to get a feel for what I might purchase.
    I don’t care for raunchy covers where the characters are half dressed, although I love spice inside the book plenty. For this particular case I like the woman by the hedge. It gives me a better idea of what the heroine looks like and that really works for me.
    Love your books!

  139. You know, actually it depends on my moods and what I want to read when I go to a bookstore. It might be that I am in a mood for erotica, so I would choose the third cover. Or I might want to read a peaceful book, that gives me positive thoughts of a happy family. And for that I might pick the first, green cover. Even if there is only one woman in a garden, that image tells me there is also a family in there, somewhere. She looks happy and at peace in that beautiful garden.
    But my top pick would be the second cover. It’s glamorous, it’s beautiful, it has style, it makes me think there will be an interesting female character in there and probably also an interesting hero as well, for whom the girl dressed up… 🙂

  140. personally i love the first two and would definitely buy it over the 3rd cover (not that the one of the guy is not gorgeous, it should have just been used on the inside cover flap) because the first two are more classier 🙂 and they both offer me more liberty to imagine the characters in my mind, no offense to the publisher’s arts department, because most of the time they really get it wrong and it just disappoints me even if the story is really great. Yes I’m guilty, i do judge a book by it’s cover.

  141. I have learned not to judge the book by the cover – or I should have. I like the two covers which concentrate on the heroine, not least because on the other one, yet again, the man’s shirt is all wrong. The one with the pretty dress is lovely, but I think the one with the girl in the garden is the best: she seems to be inviting us to follow her into the story.

    Though it doesn’t matter here, I’m often attracted by the colour of the cover as much as the actual picture. Lovely lilacs, greens, blues especially.

  142. I admit that I always look at the cover, and then I look at the back of the book to see if the back cover synopsis matches what I think the front cover conveys. I especially love to see the good looking men on the front cover.
    After all, that is what it’s about, the romance and the guy right?

  143. I’ve been reading romance ,as well as other genres, for over 50 years ,I’m 68, so I have seen many different types of covers. I really prefer “non-people” ie; scenery, items or decorative lettering but I realize that is totally out of fashion. Of the three covers shown, I prefer the British with the hardcover second and the American paperback a very distant third. The paperback looks like the soft-porn romance is often thought of being, with, IMO, little justification, and none in Mary Balogh’s novels.

  144. I like the original hardback cover, am indifferent to the British cover (too generic) and hate the mass market cover. I am not interested in pictures of half-naked men on covers; it usually doesn’t have anything specific to the book and the men all look much the same-often not at all like the hero.
    I actually almost didn’t buy Laura Kinsale’s book because of the cover-half-naked man etc. I’m more interested in the summary on the back cover or on the inside page. If it intrigues me, then I read one or two pages to see if I like the author’s style (new authors). In sum, covers can turn me off totally or make me want to read the blurb, that’s about it. After all, Jane Austen didn’t have an illustrated cover or even her name on her books and people still seem to want to read them.

  145. A cover has one job–that’s to get you to pick up the book. That way, you might read the back cover, the front teaser, or do something else that might induce you to buy the book.

    So ultimately, the cover has to have elements that make readers curious about the book. For some, that’s beefcake–and they’d pick up the paperback version of The Proposal. For others, it’s a more abstract cover–and they’d like the British version, where the woman’s face is purposefully anonymous. Then there are covers that emphasize design elements like a palette of colors. The US hardback cover would be appealing to them.

    So there really isn’t a wrong or right cover (unless, of course, something’s poorly drawn or executed). It can even be an antagonistic cover–it drives you so crazy, you have to look more closely at it. But as long as you pick up the book, the cover has done its job.

    For me personally, I like the US hardback cover. The pastel colors on it are amazing, and not ones you see on books all that often.

  146. If I am familiar with the author (like Mary Balogh), the cover doesn’t matter. I’ll buy it anyway. There are about seven authors that if a new release is announced and preorders are being taken, I just automatically preorder — cover, excerpts, synopsis — none of those matter because I just KNOW it will be good.

    Cover only influences me if I don’t know the author at all or if it is outside my usual genre. But even then, if the title itself is appealing enough, I will view the synopsis and/or an excerpt before deciding to purchase or not.

    And after 25 years in the printing business, it says a lot that a printed/digital image doesn’t drive me towards or away from any particular book.

  147. I still love Allan Kass’s covers of your earliest regency romances!! He is my favorite illustrator. I wish books still had great artists creating the covers.

  148. I am also a blurb reader and tend to pick my books by their descriptions rather than the cover. Nevertheless, if the cover reads Mary Balogh, that is enough for me!

  149. Oops…I have paperback favorites from my teen and college days that I covered with brown grocery bag covers to preserve. All these years later they are in perfect condition. I love the dust cover to The Proposal and the original dust cover for The Arrangement. They would make beautiful posters. While I will buy a book from a favorite author with yucky cover, an enticing cover from an unfamiliar author will get me to read the description to see if I’m intetested in reading it. I have been known to buy a new edition of a favorite book if I love the artwork on the cover.

  150. The close up photo of the girl would probably draw me in first. If I was buying the book in an actual store I would never buy the one with the guy as it looks so sleazy lol.

  151. I’m tired of the guy with the unbuttoned shirt. Not everyone has the same idea of male beauty. Same with the half-dressed women. I want a book cover I can take into the lunch room or my livingroom without offending someone. It doesn’t advertise the book if I have to hide it.

  152. Hi Mary!
    I have to say, the British cover suits me just fine. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but I usually form a picture of the hero and heroine in my mind. Some heroes don’t look like Fabio or Gisele, and that’s okay. It bothers me when I see something totally different on the cover. By the way, I can’t wait until the new book comes out! Looking forward to many more.


  153. Hello Mary!

    I agree with you in regards to the covers. As for the one I prefer, that would be the one with the gorgeous hero on it, although I would have bought it regardless of the cover 😉

    As a matter a fact, your name even on a plain brown paper bag cover would have sold me on a story. I’ve just finished THE PROPOSAL [got it the other day at Target] and it made my heart melt. I read just a bit of THE ARRANGEMENT and it sounds like another hear warming love story I just HAVE to have!

    August can’t come soon enough!

    Unless I win ;D


  154. I like both the hardback cover and the British cover better than the paperback. I usually don’t pay a lot of attention to the cover of a book. I look for authors or titles first, then the synopsis on the back cover.

  155. I so totally buy my books by the cover. Or at least pluck them from the shelf. But then I read the back and make my decision. I’m drawn to Regency Romance by the look of the cover – esp those that have the single girl on the front, in Regency clothing – they look so much more interesting! Almost every other romance has some guy with bare chest, etc – or a cowboy! – how boring and predictable! But then again, so many interesting books (eg Mary Balogh) aren’t available in Australia, that I’ve given up looking in bookstores and search instead on Ebay and Amazon by author & title. Such a shame Mary’s books are starting to look like all the others!

  156. The second cover would get my attention, then the first one. The latest cover does not work for me at all. When I look at a book from an unknown author, the cover can make a difference, but from the authors I like, the cover won’t matter.

  157. I am actually over joyed that covers are still in vogue even for digital books. I love good art and am always interested in how an artistist visualizes and interprets the story and characters – hopefully with the authors input.

    I will read a favorite authors book – cover or not but an interesting cover will draw me into exploring a new book or author.

    I have admired the covers of many of your books. They are absolutely beautiful. It was a joy to see such beautifu art – which honestly reflected the beauty and vibrancy of your writing with accurate period dress and vibrant illuminated colors done in a rich paiting style.

    I like all three covers proposed for your book – though I favor the second one with the up close view of the dress as more in keeping with your former covers. It also maintains the mystery of the heroine’s appearance while playing up her beauty, style, and of course period dress.

    I honestly don’t know which one makes more sense based upon your story, and that is important so as to not mislead the reader… I would guess the first two covers, with heroine featured, are possibly more true to the first person character telling the story? But that is only a guess..

    On the other hand, the male hero cover is very sexually appealing and would draw in more younger market readers looking for more erotic literature.

    I see no issue with releasing a book with diffrent covers targeted at different audiences. We do the same thing with our appearances depending upon our own targeted audiences – formal, informal, etc. and even resummes – playing up relevant aspects for the targeted audience.

    For good of bad, people are VERY busy and somewhat superficial in their analysis. They tend to draw quick, even subconcious, conclusions about whether they like something or not. It is even more important than ever to make that first impression a very good one. Your books covers do just that. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” came about because that is precisely what the average person does – judge by appearance!

    Book covers are fantastic marketing tools and also help support another underfunded “artistic” profession.

    Thanks for asking for feedback. Looking forward to seeing the final book covers and reading your new book.


  158. I definitely don’t like the cover with the man on it. Of the remaining two, I like the cover of the closeup of the woman in the white dress cropped at her chin. It reminds me of the covers of the Huxtable books, which I liked.

    I don’t pick or reject a book by its cover. I pick books based on readers comments on Amazon reader forums and other forums. I do like a good cover if I buy a book and put it on a shelf at home. I particularly liked the old Signet covers on Mary’s first 50 books. They told a story.

  159. I prefer the cover with the gorgeous dress, as it makes me think of fairy tales – isn’t that what we’re all looking for in a romance? I’m not a huge fan of the covers with virile men, that’s selling the sex aspect rather than the romance of it. That said, I typically pay no attention to covers when purchasing. I tend to stick with my favorite authors, or authors recommended by my favorite authors. 🙂

  160. I bought the hardcover edition of The Proposal and thought that cover was just perfect and looked like what I imagined Lady Gwen to look like. I understand that there won’t be a hardcover for the next installment in the series, but the cover for the paperback just doesn’t work for me. If I was someone that bought a book based on the cover I wouldn’t buy it – It doesn’t look like a Mary Balogh book -Sorry only my opinion – and this is from a fan who owns all but maybe 10 of your books. No worries since I have you on my pre-order list – As for appealing to prospective new readers – I think the initial description or blurb that is put out is more important than the cover.

  161. Of three I like the 3rd one best (I’m a sucker for a handsome, smoldering man), but I think I would have been most drawn to the interior picture of the mass market version of Gwen in all purple. The gown is beautiful, the color is striking. Both would have gotten me to pick up the book and read the synopsis on the back. Other covers I’ve loved we’re the mass market versions of your Huxtable series. Again, the gowns were beautiful and simple, and I loved that were only saw the bottom half of the heroine’s face, to add some mystery. Color is probably a big thing for me. Something with a rich, solid color tends to immediately draw my eye.

  162. My favourite period is the Regency period which came from reading Georgette Heyer’s Arabella which I found in my mother’s bookcase one rainy day many years ago. I therefore look for romance authors that cover this period. I would be attracted to cover No 2, the British cover with the dress, as this would initially indicate to me that the book was of this period and it also allows me to draw my own picture of the character in my mind. I will then look at the story outline to see if it captures my interest. I have only recently discovered your books on a recommendation and I have not been disappointed.

  163. Dear Mary,
    book covers especially for Romance depend mainly on the country in which they are published and who publishes them. What I like about the English/American book covers is that kind of understatement, only the title and maybe some other feature (like the Slightly series) and maybe a picture of the hero and the heroine on the inside. In Germany there are very often covers that have no connection to the book contents (a man and a woman in various states of (un)dress), that is something I will never understand or like. So I would go with the British cover.
    But whatever the cover is, I hope your publishers will keep to the same type of cover through the Survivors’ Club. Septet
    BTW I like the new layout of your website.

    Greetings from Germany

  164. I had to laugh when I read some of the comments about the cover. I AM GUILTY! I really hate to admit it, but the cover makes a huge difference. I recently just had this conversation with my husband. I have promised myself not to judge the merits of a book until I have read the book flap or the back of the book. If it’s a book from a favorite author of mine, and I’m not crazy about the cover, I will definitely purchase the book. If it’s a book that I’ve picked up from a local “book sale”, I CURRENTLY, try to ignore the cover and give the book a chance. I recently read “Beloved Honor” from Mallory Burgess. Case in point, in the past, I wouldn’t have purchased it because the cover is just so dark and non-descript. The impression it gives of the book is misleading. The book was actually so fast paced and filled with adventure. I loved the book!

    I also really hate when the hero and/or the heroine are depicted incorrectly on the book cover. I have read books were the hero is described as tall, dark, and handsome and the cover shows a blonde!

    I love the hardback cover of “The Proposal”! I find the cover very alluring and it draws on my imagination. Luckily for me, I couldn’t wait for the paperback, and bought the hardback cover version as soon as it was released. I have to admit that I am not crazy about the cover of “The Proposal” in paperback form. He looks too much like a male model in today’s age, versus the Regency period. I’m also not crazy about the British version. It really doesn’t draw me in.

    1. Yes, isn’t it bizarre when the cover artist hasn’t even taken the time to read the characters’ descriptions. What’s with that?

      1. Seems somewhat disrepectful of the author that the artist can’t even be bothered to check out the characters in the book. I prefer the covers without models so I can really use my imagination for the characters – part of the fun of entering the story. Fortunately for me the cover can’t stop me reading the synopsis to see if the plot appeals or reading my favourite authors.

  165. Sometimes I read a book because the cover looks interesting, but more important to me is the story. I would read my favorite authors such as you, Susan E. Phillips, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, etc. no matter what the cover looks like. But, the cover of a book could draw me to a new author.

  166. I actually pay little attention to front covers. All a front cover has to do is clue me in to the book’s being a Regency, and then I check the author’s name. Some authors are automatic buys. With authors whose work I’m not familiar with, a Regency cover will cause me to sample the description on the back cover and the beginning of the book. to see if I want to buy it.

    As to the covers above, I prefer the hardback cover. It has more context. The British cover is like a photograph that’s too close up; you have to work to see, what is it, is it the right era? I don’t like the mass market cover – the guy is too young. With more left to the imagination, readers have a lot more leeway to imagine a hero they prefer, including, of course, the description in the book.

  167. I admit I am drawn by particular book covers. I find myself picking up a book because of the beauty of the cover, only to discover the blurb on the back doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love the UK cover. I can’t wait to read it!

  168. I like the first two covers with slight preference for the British cover. The bodice ripper cover is not one I would like to be seen with as it felt cheap and cheesy to me. The covers do attract me to pick up the book but it is the story summation that makes me buy.

  169. I like the hardback cover, I think it’s classy, elegant and romantic. In fact that is the first thing that attracted me to the book, before I noticed the author. Once I saw the author I new I would love it, even before I read the description.

    While the cover isn’t everything it is the thing that gets our attention. To be honest the paperback version of the cover with the leading male makes me think the story will be more steamy or more sordid. Of course that isn’t true and it’s just the packaging, but the hardback cover makes me think artistic and high class, while the paper back cover makes me think of a Playgirl magazine. Neither cover changes the content of the book, but they change my response to the book and effect my decision as to whether I’ll check the book out or not.

  170. As an avid reader since 1949, I choose my books first by author, and by title, then synopsis and cover. I dislike the covers that show the hero with different color hair than the content of the book, or a modern GI haircut instead of the longer Regency, Victorian or Medieval styles of the era. It is a terrible disrespect to the author by the publisher. I admire the manly physique of the male, or the illusion of passion with both a male and female. Even an artistic title with no artwork can lead me to purchase a known author – as Mary Balogh’s Simply and Slightly great series. I like Amazon’s website now telling me that I have purchased a book, so I can finally stop buying duplicates. Many duplicates are due to publisher’s re-issuing my favorite author’s earlier books but with new covers and not mentioning it is a re-issue, just a current release date – not fair to the customers. I do not always recognize the title or even the synopsis, and end up with a duplicate. They don’t go to waste though as I donate them to Senior Citizen Centers or to a friend in a living-assisted home. Thank you to Mary for many years of great enjoyment and vivid, totally “human” characters, who go through life’s trials and tribulations so we, the reader, can identify and celebrate their successes.

  171. For me, it’s all about you Mary! As soon as I know you’re the author, I’m sold. However, my preference for the cover is the British one. It’s classy and a reminder that the story will be rich with interesting characters and events. Although I don’t like to judge my books by their cover, I must admit some covers have intrigued me enough to buy the books – sometimes I’ve been disappointed, other times the cover enhanced the story! I’m looking forward to seeing which one you’ve chosen to use. Hope we’ve all helped.

  172. I like the HB cover best. (the one with the girl looking back) It’s the best and most intriguing of the lot. The one with the guy on front with the shirt open? Cheesy! I wish historical novels would stop using these covers. They are down right embarrassing and they usually don’t jive with my vision of what the hero should look like. It won’t stop me from buying the books but I do like my e-reader so I don’t have to look at them anymore.
    I buy books based on authors I have read or recommendations. I always read the back and inside covers before I buy. I keep my favourite authors websites bookmarked on my computer so I can check back often and see what new books are coming out.

  173. I love and have read all of your books. It does make me pause if one cover of a series does not “match” the others. I like the woman in the garden pose and am ready to read the next one!
    Thanks for all you add to writing.
    PS – I don’t want to have to worry about a racy cover at school or in front of my kids either.

  174. This aggravates me when they say you didn’t fill something out, then delete all you have written. Most just bring it back for corrections. So wil write a shorter one now. Cover choice: Lady outdoors. Yes, Cover attracts me first, then the story on back. I don’t really like them to cut heads off, but still take the book. I don’t like the near naked pictures. Please enter me. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  175. When looking at the choices for covers, I like the cover with the woman and the formal gardens. It might be because I’m older but the cover with male and skin is just not appealing. To speak the truth – the male and skin reduces the cover to all the same as the other romance novels out there. It is funny that the publishing world has begun using the male partially disrobed to sell paperbacks, as women supposedly aren’t so much into the visual. I ignore the cover and try to read an excerpt of the story. Wouldn’t a picture of the man and woman together in a manner to display conflict or emotion be more helpful in selling a book? Oh well, this is my opinion on the subject.

  176. I love the original U. S. hardback cover the best (good thing – it’s the one I have!), and while I like the British cover, the Huxtable series all had the same type of cover with beautifully dressed women, not showing heads or faces. I loathe the stud muffin cover – it says cheesy, bodice ripper, and is beneath a Mary Balogh novel. I mean, really, would the Duke of Bewcastle look/pose like that?!?

    With all that said, I *don’t* judge a book by it’s cover, only buying favorite authors or from reviews and recommendations.

  177. I am sometimes drawn to a cover, but some of my favourite books are classics and they are all bound the same with only the title to differentiate them. My favourite of the three shown here is the British version. I love the detail on the dress. I also like the garden cover, but totally dislike the half undressed man. If I didn’t know that it was written by Mary, my favourite author, there is no way I would even pick it up. I buy very few books anymore, but prefer to borrow them from the library. Then only if I really like the book I will buy it.

  178. I LOVE the British cover. If the book were released with all 3 covers, that’s the one I would choose. I don’t mind a cover with a man on it (especially if he is good looking!), but this cover is not how I think about the men in your books. If he were fully dressed, he could still be just as sexy (ala Colin Firth) and sometimes even more so. These are not “sex” novels, they are *romance* novels, that’s why I read them. The mm cover of the hero doesn’t even make sense to me for this story. And while he is nicely built, he just doesn’t do it for me; I don’t see any mystery or suppressed emotion in his eyes. I do own this book already, and I love the picture inside the cover. The girl’s dress is gorgeous. I’d have been happy with that on the cover. But I like the British one even more 🙂

    1. And Mary, I hope your publisher is seeing and reading all the hundreds (thousands?) of comments here and on Facebook about covers. For some reason, they think they need to attract readers with cheesecake; clearly you have a HUGE fanbase, and there are not many of us who want to see that. We like your writing because you are beyond the usual romance smut; your stories have depth and insight, they are beautiful stories. The covers should reflect that. I feel insulted that the publisher thinks of your readers, including me, as people who need bare skin to induce us to buy a book, rather than good writing. There are so many books out there with similar covers. Yours always stood out as extra classy. This one is just another in the crowd.

  179. Even if we all know we should never judge a book by its cover, covers very often influence us and determine how we perceive a book without even knowing its contents. Entering a library, a bookshop or even only browsing books on webshops it’s very easy to be charmed by certain covers and instantly reject others. It’s obviously mostly a matter of personal tastes, but sometimes indeed we prefer certain bookcover because of what they express in relation of what we look for in a book. I’ve quite often commited the mistake of purchasing books I didn’t like because they had wonderful covers and on the other hand I have also discovered books whose covers I didn’t like but whose stories ended up being very precious to me. Now I always read both the synopsis and several reviews before choosing a book…I’ve learned my lesson well.
    In relation to the three covers I actually love both the first and second one, even if I had to choose between the two I’d pick the second, because I prefer not having clear pictures of characters on the covers since I love imagining the characters myself through the writer’s words. The third one, the mass market cover, I don’t really like. I tend to associate books with bare-chested alpha males to thrashy erotica books, and this was one thing that actually prevented me from reading romance books for quite some time. Call me narrow-minded, if you wish…

  180. I have looked at many of the comments that have already been posted. It is fun to think about the influence of a cover and have this discussion. The cover does affect the reader but how much I think depends much on the buyers mood. If it is just an impulse in an airport bookstore, I think the cover helps you decide. However if you are watching your budget but want a good read, the cover comes in last as a deciding factor. The author and the synopsis are more important to the decision and even if the cover is not appealing may be ignored if the other two are strong.
    I prefer the cover with the close up on the dress (2ne cover). I lked the dress details since how people dressed in those days was such a focus and often the absence of the stylist clothes made such a difference in acceptance. It seemed to fit the era. I disliked the 3rd cover of the bare chested man. It was trite.

  181. The three covers are lovely…well, in fact the one with the gorgeous man is sexy and there’s nothing wrong with being sexual ;o). Although, I think my favourite is the hardback cover…I feel it suits Ms. Balogh’s writting style.

    I can’t deny a great cover usually attracts my attention.

  182. I always check out the cover, but if something is written by a favorite author, the cover doesn’t really matter. I would go with cover #1.

  183. I could ramble on a good bit because I am a devoted MB reader and follower, but I’ll just address myself to the question at hand: cover art.

    While it is very likely I will purchase the mass-market volume before the day is out, were it not for Mary Balogh’s name I would never give it a second glance, much less be interested enough to pick it up and read about the story inside. In that way I suppose I do judge a book by its cover, but only because, while reading has always brought me great enjoyment, the time I have available for it is limited and the person shown on this cover is not someone I want to spend time getting to know. Handsome, yes, but he obviously knows it and doesn’t need me to validate his quite-possibly inflated opinion of himself.

    I expect it is popularly thought — at least by publishers! — that readers of romance novels are attracted to covers of this type and so are happy to keep the model shown here (and his clones) busy posing to represent the contents of whatever is due next off the press. No thanks. I have other options for ways to spend my time and my money.

    And finally, no matter whether I judge a book by its cover, observers of those who read books do, to a certain extent, judge the reader by the cover of her book. I am not at all embarrassed to be a reader of romance novels, but I don’t like having to explain or justify my choice of reading matter. So, please, don’t put something I really want to read inside a cover that is likely to inspire snide remarks or salacious curiosity. I just don’t want to be bothered.

    Bottom line: I love cover 2, like cover 1, hate cover 3 . . . but it will likely be in my hands before the day is out, because Mary Balogh wrote it.

    Thanks for the chance to share my thoughts.

  184. Good question! I have to say being in the UK, the 2nd cover (close up of the dress) is what I’m used to seeing and I do like it, I love the costumes of the regency era and so I like to see the detail! However, its also nice to see a bit of eye candy as well!! tho to be honest i don’t always like to see men on the front, as not all of them are to my taste and it can put me off! Saying that, I think the first 2 are similar and suggest different things to what the book is about compared to the 3rd one…so I guess it depends what readers are looking for in a story!! Not really conclusive, but me personally I’d go for he 2nd one.

  185. If I know the work of the author, the cover is not very important to me. However, if i’m just shopping for a new author (bookstore or library), the cover can determine which book I’ll pick up to look at further. The synopsis on the back of the cover is usually more of a determining factor as to whether I’ll read the book or not.

    Having said that, I really don’t care for the “sex sells” covers weather it’s a man or a woman with their chest hanging out. I much prefer something more subtle. Of the three covers I’d pick #2. I also must say that the men on the covers for “The Proposal” and “The Arrangement” look like the same guy and not at all like I pictured them from the description within the stories, especially the guy on the cover for “The Arrangement”. Where are Vincent’s “unruly overlong fair curls”? Did the people who choose these covers know anything at all about the stories?

    However, I’m a romance junkie and a tried and true Mary Balogh fan, so I’ll buy the books regardless of how goofy their covers are!

  186. Each of the covers definitely presents certain expectations. My choice would be the first cover. I love the Regency period, and this picture presents the embodiment of the age in the formal garden with the charmingly clad Regency heroine at the entrance. For me the fascination of the Regency novel is the ability of a heroine to achieve her heart’s desire despite all the rules and restrictions for females of the time. The woman who has the good fortune; gumption with assistance via hero, society lioness, or deus ex machina; or ingenuity and resourcefulness (best) to win the day is as compelling as The Little Engine That Could when I was three years old. An example of this would be Henrietta in The Double Wager, a young hoyden who arranges her own marriage. She tends to step outside the bounds of proper behavior, but is gently nudged into good form by her eagle-eyed husband, the Duke of Evesleigh. He loves her obliviousness to ladylike behavior but protects her place in society by persuading her to toe the line in public and enjoy her freedom in private. My most favorite heroine is Priscilla of A Precious Jewel who, stranded without resources, turns to an old friend who helps her into a career as a prostitute. Despite this seemingly irretrievable fall from grace, her gentle patience and genuine love for her hero lead her to a happy life if not a place in society. This was one of the most poignant and genuine resolutions of the dilemma between genteel destitution and indecent survival that I have read.

    The second cover, the faceless lady with the necklace, seems more appropriate for a self-assured heroine, a lady with a fortune sizeable enough to give her some independence; or the wife who has riches unaccompanied by happiness. This reminds me of the Earl and Countess of Lisle in the novella “The Star of Bethlehem,” a lost necklace whose value lies in its symbolic representation of their love rather than in pounds and pence. I would buy it.

    The third cover? Really? Sorry to be a snob, but did the village blacksmith steal a clean shirt from a local gentleman? This is not the image of my Regency hero: a landed gentleman who, like his prospective lady, has some restrictions upon his freedom and many responsibilities. I want him to be well educated, well-read, and have a thirst for knowledge. He enjoys country life, but not exclusively. His attractiveness lies in his intelligence, fairness, and sense of humor far more than his looks. If he doesn’t possess these qualities at the start of the novel, he should certainly undergo a transformation that takes him in this direction. And even if he starts out as a rascal, he should know that a gentleman does not appear in public in an unbuttoned shirt! Even Lord Edmond Waite, The Notorious Rake, the most deliciously decadent of all Balogh heroines, has more decorum. So maybe our cover stud is working his magic in the bedroom? Well that shouldn’t be on the cover of one of my Regencies! I want the cover to give me an idea the conflict of the novel, the reason why I want to read it. Best of all is when the hero and heroine are both on the cover. Please skip Lord Peter Pectorals, sideshow act in the tawdry carnival that too many Regency novels have become.

  187. I like the hardback and British covers both, and if I did not already know who you were, I would still pick up either book to see what it was about. I would prefer the British cover more if it were a painting rather than a photograph. I’m not a fan of photos on covers.

    I would not buy the mass market one based on the cover at all, so good thing it has your name on it.

    That cover (and its “ilk”) implies that the story focuses on sex, and the thing about a Mary Balogh book is that there is always more to it than just sex. Which is as it should be.

    BTW, this topic reminds me of the cover of Cecilia Grant’s “A Gentleman Undone”. If that insouciant-looking layabout is Will Blackshear, I’ll eat my hat!

  188. The hardcover one.Tasteful and Beautiful.

    The mass market one doesn’t make it stand out.It only looks like every other romance cover to me.

  189. The second cover is my favorite; I prefer to imagine what the characters look like and the second lady with face averted lets me do that.. I choose books by the authors but if looking for a new author, the cover can make me decide not to purchase a book. I also dislike it when covers show a person who does not fit the description inside, such as a different color hair, etc. I heartily dislike male cheesecake on the cover.

  190. Since I do most of my reading on my ereader these days, I’m less influenced by a books cover. I tend to choose what I read based on reviews I’ve read, or recommendations from people who have similar tastes to my own. That being said, a book cover will sometimes capture my attention but only so far as to make me check out the blurb on the back or inside flap, to see if the story appeals to me.

  191. My preferred cover is definitely the one of the girl in the garden, which I gather is the hardcover cover. I will not read a book in public if the cover looks trashy, and I cannot read a book with a cover like that in front of my teenage sons either because I would be teased mercilessly. The third cover, the one with the man on the front, is not a cover that I would ever wish to purchase. I used to wish that I could slip steamy covers into a portable book cover, and frankly I think there could be a market for such covers. I would buy them. Now that e-books are available I solve this problem by purchasing books on my kindle. Although I often prefer to read a real book I would choose an e-book over a real book with a cover that shows bare chests, heaving bosoms, bare legs and close embraces.

  192. Am enjoying these discussions- good to drop in on conversations among other Mary Balogh fans. I enjoyed the bare-chaested man on the US cover , though it was my least favorite, partly because it was so far from the image I had of the hero. I wondered what his reaction would have been to seeing himself portrayed like that- the brainless hunk? On the other hand, someone who is drawn to that cover will undoubtedly get a happy surprise at the complicated, attractive man that Mary has described. Being a man-loving feminist myself, I always look forward to her books, which love and laugh at both sexes as they twist and turn on the way to contentment.
    Happy summer, all.

  193. I will admit that what first draws me to a book, especially when I am in the store or the library, is it’s cover. I like sensual covers but I also like unique ones. Of the three above, I personally like the the hardback cover, mostly because I associate romantic and simple covers with Mrs. Balogh’s books. I have already read The Proposal and specifically with that one, I knew from reading the previous books what Gwen looked like and that really does her justice. I don’t like the one with “Hugo” on the front because it isn’t him. Or I wouldn’t believe it was him after reading the story. I believe that although most say it doesn’t decide for them, the cover is what draws you in, it is what makes you pick up that book and read that synopsis. I have learned the hard way that simply because an author is a favorite, it does not mean I will immediately or always like a book but the cover , the cover is what makes me give everyone a chance. Have a wonderful day Mrs. Balogh!

  194. I prefer the hardback cover, including the path inviting and leading us into the garden/story, though I think this one could be better too. It’s static and grave, which, while not entirely inappropriate, doesn’t actually convey the full internal dynamic of the story. The cover with the close-up of the dress is OK, I suppose. It’s pretty enough, certainly, and at least inoffensive and innocuous, giving historical/cultural placement, while still allowing us some imaginative latitude as to the possible contents of the story. It could do for any number of novels, however (as we know many re-used covers do!).

    But while neither of these covers is brilliant, at least neither is one of those clicheed and insultingly obvious bodice-ripper covers. The fact that we are seeing more men with their equivalent of “ripped bodices” in no way compensates me for the attendant insult to my taste and intelligence that is quite blatantly implied by trying to tempt me into a story in such a one-dimensional way. Don’t get me wrong: the sex can be quite fine–and indeed stirring–in many stories. I have no objection to that, and can be as “stirred” as the next person. I have always appreciated, however, that in your stories, Mary, sex is invariably and realistically one of the many intrinsic and valuable developments in the relationship story itself, and not merely part of a formula for selling books (sex required by page 120, and at least every chapter and a half thereafter, or whatever…).

    Unfortunately, I find these covers that focus on the sexual aspects of a story as though they were the main thing of value within the package (and certainly all any potential reader could possibly be looking for?) to be somewhat worrisome when I see them. Not always, by any means—but still all too often—I find that these covers really do only package that unfortunate tripe that gives the whole genre a bad name. You know, the set-piece and embarrassingly clicheed sex scenes that, even while execrable in themselves, are nevertheless presumably the “treats” being delivered by the surrounding plotless, characterless, edit-free teenage-fantasy mess.

    It has been my experience that, in the romance genre, I am more likely to find this time-wasting content in books published between “ripped bodice” covers (whether of males or females). For this reason, even with writers that I already admire, such as you, Mary, I flinch and hesitate a bit when I see these covers. And this third mass-market cover for The Proposal, which besides everything, doesn’t look anything like what I would have imagined it’s character to look (perhaps also in features but most importantly in mien, for heaven’s sake!) seems to me to be entirely irrelevant and inappropriate to your book.

  195. By far, the second cover is much more appealing. I like the understated elegance and the mystery. The cover with the garden scene comes in second. It isn’t particularly appealing, but it isn’t a turn off either. The last cover, however is a complete turn off. It reminds me of those embarrasing Fabio covers in the 90’s. While a cover might not make me buy a book, an embarrasing cover might (and has) kept me from buying one. Thank heaven for Kindle!

  196. Mary

    Just wanted to thank you for this website. It has been so interesting to read the comments from other readers who enjoy your work as much as I do!

  197. I have to admit to not being able to make myself read some books because I despise the cover — even when I know the book might be good. I am irritated by covers that show a character’s face. I want to invision the characters myself. I like the headless heroines though I know you do not 🙂

  198. My mother introduced me to Mary Balogh when I became her caretaker and part of my inheritance at her death was all of her Mary Balogh books. During Mother’s last years I collected many of the older books so she would have additional Mary Balogh to read before the next new book came out. What I always liked about the books was the relationships, family, class, and how well written they were. She doesn’t rely on the sex scenes to sell the books. For that reason I don’t appreciate the last cover. The only reason I bought the book was because it was a Mary Balogh. If I hadn’t seen the cover on her website, I might have overlooked the book because I don’t buy the “bodice rippers.”

  199. I’m finding it difficult to imagine not having heard of you. At least I didn’t know then what I was missing!

    The hot guy would attract my attention, but any of them might prompt me to pick up the book. I think the close up of the woman represents the story best.

  200. I like the UK cover. I am like the others, I don’t buy a book due to the cover but if one catches my eye I’ll pick it up to see what it is. The bare chested guy is a negative for me, I don’t want something that looks trashy and several other authors seem to be going that way.

  201. I love all Mary’s covers so far. I just wish that they would stick closer to the physical traits of the main characters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *