Recently, I was at the Chicago North Spring Fling, a bi-annual conference hosted by the Chicago North chapter of RWA. This was the second time I've attended the Spring Fling, but I've been to enough RWA conferences that I recognize more and more people each time I stand in the lobby of a conference hotel. 

This year, two writers I know, Sonali Dev and Robyn Bachar, introduced their books to me, and I think the books look so interesting that I wanted to share them with you. What grabbed me first about these books are their covers. Oh, those crafty cover artists. Get a look at these.

First, here is a truly gorgeous cover and you should look at it and enjoy with me. 

Bollywood Affair

Isn't that just beautiful? Sonali was telling me about A Bollywood Affair, and I was staring at the postcard of the cover the whole time and not looking at her while she spoke like a giant mannerless doofus. 

Sonali Dev was nominated for a Golden Heart for this book in 2013, and I met her at RWA last year in Atlanta when she attended my Mustache Party after the RWA book signing. So, I knew this book was on the horizon (it comes out in November 2014). 

But dude. 


Beyond the cover, the romance is about a woman whose arranged marriage as a child has allowed her a considerable and unique freedom growing up, and the brother-in-law who comes to find her to ask for a divorce from the husband she's never met. (Is someone's catnip alarm ringing? I...think that might be mine—sorry.) 

Sonali wrote about her cover at the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, and the meaning behind the image is equally powerful: 

In the cover concept sheet I had done for the art department, I had pasted together a whole lot of pictures that represented freedom and yearning to me in the context of Indian culture. My heroine is an abandoned child bride who doesn't let her circumstances hold her back. Like all women all over the world she's trying to walk that tightrope between the roles and expectations society thrusts on her and finding the freedom to be whoever she wants to be.

Somehow, the artist took what I had sent her — a hotchpotch of dancing feet, henna on bridal hands, and cutesy Bollywood posters — and gave me this.

What you see on the cover are hands making an offering, or accepting one, depending on your point of view. It's an age-old Indian concept and there's actually a word for it — Anjali (which, by the way, is a popular Indian girl's name and also happens to be the name of the heroine of M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions, one of my favorite books of all time). It is a gesture that symbolizes opening yourself up — giving and accepting gifts with both hands, with devotion and thankfulness. It symbolizes reaching for things, praying for them, but also honoring what you are given, cherishing it. It symbolizes giving without holding back. And it's perfect for Mili and Samir's story. 

I'm not one to hold on to postcards of book covers, but the image is so beautiful, I keep it in my notebook. 

Another two covers I wanted to share with you are from the same writer, Robyn Bachar. First, there's the WHOA DAMN THAT IS SOME MANTITTY cover: 

Night Fall

This book was published in 2012, but because mantitty is a thing I talk about quite often, I clearly needed to see this mantitty. And really, wow. it looks like his sternum has lifted up to support his pectoralis.

But beyond the mantitty (that's a good book title, now that I think about it), this book would likely set off the catnip alarms of many readers. It's a menage erotic romance with two women and a man set in space. Or, in shelf-tagging terms, that's f/f/m sci-fi erotic menage. IN SPACE. And it's the first of a series! 
I know some of you just got wide-eyed and twitchy with excitement. Sometimes, epic mantitty leads to epic discovery! 

Another of Robyn's covers from Samhain that I love to look at is the cover for Poison in the Blood:

Poison in the Blood

I don't know if you can see this on your screen, but the postcard I have shows incredible texture on the purple peplum jacket, especially on the puffed sleeves. Anne Shirley would be straight up jealous of those puffed sleeves, right?  

After I was drawn in by the purple and the texture of the fabric, I turned the card over to read the copy. Given the pose and the symbols I was expecting steampunk, and I was sort of right: This is historical fantasy romance, the second in a series about a witch named Emily whose talents as a seer are not powerful enough or interesting enough in that world to warrant much attention. According to the cover copy, Book one, The Importance of Being Emily, is about how Emily and her husband Michael meet. Book two, Poison in the Blood, continues their relationship with one another, and magic, and all the things that interfere with both.

Cover art still plays an important role in tempting the reader, and these books definitely tempted me to add them to my read-that-soon-dude list. What about you? What covers have tempted you lately?

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Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned toward a book.