Now, an adult, I'm similarly obsessed with vintage romance novel covers. I love the original artwork and the bright primary colors and pastels. Some of them even have unicorns on the cover (you'll be seeing two of them in this list). It occurred to me today that many bodice-rippers share the same color palette and larger-than-life fantasy montages that I loved so much about my Lisa Frank trapper-keepers, so today I'll be sharing with you 10 romance novel covers that have that certain je ne sais quoi. (Or perhaps I should say, je ne Frank quoi.)
Note: None of these images are mine, all were taken from Goodreads.com. I've linked all of their individual pages below so you can go show them some appreciation up close and personal, and maybe even write them a review if you were lucky enough to read them. :)
10. TEXAS WILDFLOWER by Susan Wiggs
I don't know where these two are, but I want to frolic in those flowery, butterfly-laden fields. I bet allergies don't even exist wherever that is, and if you did sneeze, you'd shoot glitter from your nose.
A lot of romance authors who still publish today have roots in bodice-ripper shenanigans. Wiggs is still very active in the romance genre and the covers for some of her older books have changed, but let's not the ones that looked like you could pop them on an ice-cream cone and lick them slowly.
9. SWAN BRIDE by Betina Lindsey
SWAN BRIDE is the only book on this list from the 1990s. You know how I feel about 90s bodice rippers, but I couldn't hold that against this cover. Not when I want to hold this cover against my heart. The swans in the lake, the buttery flowers, the way her gown turns into flowers -
It's magic. It's also only 99-cents in the Kindle store. (And no, that's not an affiliate link.)
8. WILD WYOMING HEART by Sylvie F. Sommerfield
That dude looks way too miserable for this seascape-colored desert (dessert?). Originally, I thought this was one of those few-and-far-between science-fiction bodice rippers, because her gown kind of looks like a tail (or maybe even tentacles if you're into that sort of thing), but no, it's just blending with the plants.
I love everything about this - the pose, the colors, the everything. All it needs is some glitter.
7. VELVET CHAINS by Constance O'Banyon
Those butterflies in the foreground! The seagull! The fact that he's straddling the clouds like he's ready to go right now, and who cares that their ride is slowly floating off into the cherry sunset?
I'm not sure what's happening here, but I'm loving every candy-colored inch of it. BTW, this one is also available on Kindle, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, it's free.
6. TIME-KEPT PROMISES by Constance O'Day-Flannery
There is a LOT going in this one. The hero and the heroine are sitting on a giant bunch of neon roses, about to get it on while some horses watch. So, you know, a typical Saturday in bodice-ripper land.
I'm not sure why there's a floral border, or why it only extends around 3/4 of the book, but I'm not mad at it. The colors in this one are just great.
5. TIME-KISSED DESTINY by Constance O'Day-Flannery
This cover is from the same author as #6, but it's even better. I love the detail of the background, and the way the birds fill that empty space in the upper-righthand corner. What's with these characters and getting off in front of animals? Do we care? Obviously not. What's that glittery gem thing she's holding at his pelvis? Is it symbolic? Probably. Phallic. Definitely. But it glitters! OH, YES.
4. SUMMER OF THE UNICORN by Kay Hooper
This is the only book on the list that I've actually read (you can check out my review here), and the story is just as crazy as you would expect (I mean that in the best possible way). The heroine's apathetic expression as the hero sniffs her hair while surrounded by birds, more birds, and even a rearing unicorn is priceless to me. I love everything about this cover, and the story is fun, too.
This book was also recently re-released in a Kindle edition, although the new cover has nothing on the old one. If the author's name sounds familiar to you, it's because Kay Hooper is a fairly well-known mystery and romantic suspense author, although she too dabbled in the 'rippers once.
3. TIMESWEPT LOVERS by Constance O'Day-Flannery
This cover is SO BEAUTIFUL. The tulips in the foreground, the hair turning to gold coins, the painted in lens flares, the rainbow pastels - all of it is totally gorgeous. I'm even digging the hero's porn 'stache, since it's period-appropriate for the 1987 release. I would frame this on my wall.
2. CRYSTAL PARADISE by Johanna Hailey
WE HAVE GLITTER! WE HAVE GLITTER! THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
We've reached peak Lisa Frank territory here. The rainbow, the pink butterfly, the crystal rose, the clouds, the glitter, the sparkles, the gauzy gown - I wouldn't be surprised to see this on a binder or a backpack. Hell, I'd carry this around with my on a folder, and I'd carry it with PRIDE.
There is absolutely NOTHING about this cover I hate. I would be the second for this cover in a duel.
1. ENCHANTED PARADISE by Johanna Hailey
And here we are, at #1 - the most Lisa Frankiest cover to ever Lisa Frank. I am so in love with this cover; it's the perfect blend of artistic and sexy. The giant butterfly, the deer in the background, the galloping unicorn with the oddly-placed horn trailing a rainbow, never mind the fact that the heroine is apparently trying to wear a scarf as a dress and the hero is sporting some Fruit of the Loom -
THIS IS THE BEST COVER EVER, and I'm not lying when I say that it's probably one of my favorite romance covers that I've ever seen. This is pure, unadulterated 80s cheese at its finest. Also, apparently the story itself is about unicorns and elves?? Someone needs to bring this back into circulation ASAP, with the original cover, because I'm dying to see how that turns out.
Honorable mention goes to Lynette Vinet's PIRATE'S BRIDE. The only reason it didn't make the cut was because it was a little too monochrome, but it's still a gorgeous cover.
I hope you enjoyed my (click bait-y) blog post. I am very passionate about romance novels and Lisa Frank and was super excited to see some overlap between two of my favorite things, even if that overlap is purely imagined on my part. I'd like to imagine that one day, 80s bodice-rippers will come back and talented artists like Lisa Frank, but also Pino Daeni and Elaine Duillo, will rise again!
P.S. I've made a cover-is-a-lisa-frank-porno-shoot shelf on Goodreads to keep stock of all these pretties, and the others I will doubtless find. Feel free to bookmark my shelf!
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