Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In Praise of the Clinch Cover - Kimberly Lang

All right, I know that right up there with the argument about the titles of romance novels is the argument about romance novel covers. Specifically, the clinch cover.

The “Clinch” is the term for that moment-in-time cover where the hero and heroine are pressed together, sometimes in a state of undress, and wow, you can feel the heat. I know some folks object to the clinch cover, usually claiming the embarrassment that comes from being spotted in public with a cover like that, but I’m not one of them.

Personally, I’m shameless and therefore don’t care what other people think – especially about my choice of reading material – and I’d rather have a clinch cover over a generic, anemic flowery cover.

See, I’m not inspired or swept away by flowers. They’re pretty, yes, but they’re also rather run-of-the-mill. In a word, I’m “meh” on flower covers. A flower cover isn’t going to make me not buy the book, but it also won’t inspire me to pick it up, either. Flower covers don’t give me a sense of what the book will be like – unless, of course, the book is about flowers.

But romance novels are about people, so I want people on the cover. Romance novels are about the relationship between the hero and heroine, so I want to see that on the cover. I want to see the emotion, the passion, the excitement that I’m expecting to find in the pages on the cover. A little sizzle on the cover primes me for the sizzle to come.

Others disagree. I’ve participated in many a heated conversation about clinch covers, and if you hate them, well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that. ::grin:: Again, it helps that I’m shameless and have no problem reading even my classic Fabio clinch covers from the 90s in the Parent Pit at the dance studio.

Needless to say, I’ve been very pleased with the covers the Cover Fairies at Harlequin have given me. My books are considered sexy, and the covers capture that attraction between the hero and the heroine. Check out the cover for THE MILLIONAIRE’S MISBEHAVING MISTRESS (October 09). Aside from that moment of passion, check out my hero’s arms! I’m a sucker for great arms and shoulders, and mercy, does he have them. Or the cover for my February book, MAGNATE’S MISTRESS…ACCIDENTALLY PREGNANT! That blond, lean-hipped hero on the cover is perfect. It’s easy for me to want to put myself in the heroine’s shoes when a man like that would be nuzzling my neck! Yowza!

A hot clinch cover will cause me to pick up a book – if for no other reason than to get a better look at the hottie on the cover. From there, it’s a short trip into my shopping cart.
So, the clinch cover works for me.

I won’t start the battle of the clinch cover in the comment thread here, but let’s talk about people on the covers of romance novels, in general. Do you like people on the covers or pictures of the setting or something from the book? Do you prefer flower covers? Do you like the covers with just a hunky hero on them?

Kimberly has been very lucky with all of her covers, and you can see them all at


Jane said...

Hi Kimberly,
Your covers are lovely. I like hunky covers fine, but some of my favorites feature the setting instead of people.

Caroline Storer said...

Love clinch covers. You can feel the temperature rising before you've even opened the book! Take care. Caroline x

Playground Monitor said...

I much prefer the clinch cover to one with a shadow on the sand or against a barn (I've seen those covers for real). Give me a hottie holding the heroine any day. I agree with Caroline that you can feel the temperature rising before you open the book.

Linda Henderson said...

I do prefer people over a generic cover, but I've never bought a book because of it's cover. Don't get me wrong, a good cover is great. I would just never base buying a book because of it's cover.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your write-up, Kimberly.

I think the cover should reflect what the book is about. If it's about flowers, there should be flowers. If it's about two people in love, there should be two people in love.

I'm all for clinches, but I hope the romance publishers don't limit cover art to just that. I also go for dramatic poses for the hero and heroine. This kind conveys a tense situation, a sign that there's a conflict going on, a crisis that must be resolved.

Or it could be a picture of the hero and/or heroine doing something central to the story. For instance, if it's a romantic suspense novel, someone could be uncovering a clue, running from a bad guy, or holding someone at gunpoint.

But my favorite type of cover art shows the hero and heroine standing close together and looking forward with hopeful/determined expressions on their faces. If I get a romance novel published, that's the kind I'd want.

Mary said...

I love the book covers you posted and they are great. I do believe the book cover should reflect the book and if it's a hot sexy book then the cover should be hot and sexy. If the book is about a tame marriage of convenience that never gets beyond room temperature I would be upset if the cover represented a very hot looking couple in the throws of a passionate embrace.

Kimberly Lang said...

I'm glad I'm not alone in wanting people on my covers.

And I agree totally that the cover should match the book. I wouldn't want a guy with a gun on the cover of one of mine -- there aren't any guns anywhere in my books!

I know better than to judge books by their covers, but I'm with y'all in that the tone of the cover should match the tone of the book. Otherwise, it seems like false advertising!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

I agree with Marilyn (The Playground Monitor) first of all lovers and then if there's sand, surf, sunset, etc. the better.

You have been blessed with great covers and I love the latest. Just keep writing your wonderful stories, Kimberly!

penney said...

I love your covers, I think the presents have great covers. I enjoy reading them
wonderful blog today thanks

Alison said...

I love the idea of the cover fairies! I'm not so bothered about the cover, as I know the pictures in the book will be different, if that makes sense - I'd rather read the book and form my own idea of the hero than rely on a picture. And (whisper) I really need my glasses to see properly and I'm too vain to wear them, so I just see pink blobs in the picture anyway!

Kimberly Lang said...

Thanks Marilyn and penney -- I'm rather pleased with them :grin:

And I have to believe in the Cover Fairies! (After all, I've never actually met anyone from the art department, so they seem like rather mythical creatures anyway!) And if I believe -- and I clap my hands -- maybe they'll keep being good to me!

EllenToo said...

Clinch covers are okay depending on how the clinch is portrayed. I prefer covers with at least one person on the cover rather than only scenery.

Michele L. said...

Hi Kimberly,

Ooo...your cover is amazing! I do like couple clinch shots on covers. Some of my favorite covers involve a picture of animal with the couple. Also, I love covers that are artistically drawn. I have several books that I keep just for their artistic covers alone. :-)