Heartthrobs like Reis have long been a staple on romance covers. “Within the first year or two that I was a designer, they were like, ‘Hey, let’s put a guy on the cover alone and see what happens,‘” says Batour. “Then it was a shirtless guy. They kept pushing it.
But as I got deeper into the room, the cry became unmistakable: It was the howling of a wolf. “Don’t worry about that,” publicist Erin Galloway told me. “We put it on to help the model get into character. ” And because it was my first time on the set of a romance cover shoot, I didn’t question it.
But while these books that are less likely to be judged by their cover might seem like the new normal, Batour points out that’s really just the case for a specific set. “They’re popular for the rom-com genre, where it’s not just about the romance but about the relationship and a point of view.
In my final conversation with Reis, I asked him if this is something he could see himself doing again—like Fabio, who has appeared on 466 romance covers, or Jason Aaron Baca, who holds the record with 603.
But according to best-selling romance author Sarah MacLean, those who criticize them are missing the point entirely. “These covers are designed to basically say, ‘Men, keep out! ’ Because romance novels aren’t for them.
One of the latest trends—especially for some of the more popular and buzzy romance novels of the past few years—have been more “Instagrammable covers. ” Ones that remove some of the stigma out of the experience.
Batour—a seasoned 19-year veteran in the romance industry who’s best known for designing Nora Roberts’s book jackets—worked with her frequent collaborator, photographer Claudio Marinesco, to bring the Neanderthal-meets-Aquaman hero to life.
Marinesco is responsible not just for handling the camera but also for acquiring the props and costumes, of which there were many. “I bought fur and leathers by the yard from a fabric store and cut it up into different pieces for the shoulders, arms, and to wrap around the waist, then purchased knight’s armor on Etsy to complete the look,” he told me of his creative process.
There’s definitely a fantasy appeal to him and that kind of romance,” said Rita Frangie Batour, senior art director for Berkeley Publishing (the company behind A Touch of Stone and Snow).
While those in the fandom are here for these thirst traps—which are clearly good for business, as romance is a billion dollar industry—the covers tend to perpetuate the stigma associated with these novels.
When I asked if he had any hesitation accepting the gig, pointing to the idea of “mommy porn,” Reis assured me that he was “pumped. ” He also added, “I always like hanging with older women more than I like younger women.
When I was invited to sit in on the cover shoot for A Touch of Stone and Snow—the second installment in best-selling author Milla Vane’s “A Gathering of Dragons” series, which drops July 2020—I didn’t know what to expect.
Featuring: plenty of bare chest https://t.co/5HNBf4ncaf— Glamour (@glamourmag) December 4, 2019