One of the amusing aspects about clinch poses is that no matter who the artist is, no matter the publishing house or the author, there are only so many variations the couple can engage in, that some poses become ubiquitous. One of my favorite mainstays of cover art is when…well when a lady loses her stays!
Personally, I find it alluring when a gown is draping off a lady’s back as opposed to other more revealing shots. The sight of bare skin and delicates bones down to the waist is more seductive and mysterious rather than seeing heaving breasts front and center. What say you?
This Covers of the Week for Monday, January 24, 2022, to Sunday, January 30 displays pretty historical romance covers with couples in clinch poses and heroines losing their tops while having a grand ole time of it.
Alessandro Biffignandi was an Italian artist who primarily illustrated comics. He also created album and book covers. His work was marked by a sensual nature, often depicting nude women in extreme sexual situations. He combined sex and horror in a sultry yet almost whimsical manner.
Biffignandi was born in Rome in 1935 and passed away in 2017.
He created many covers for Italian versions of English romances, While his work for English-language romance cover art is limited, his style is lovely and eye-catching, and worthy of appreciation.
For the week of Monday, January 17 to Sunday, January 23, 2022, here are some bright Alessandro Biffignandi painted romance covers. Enjoy!
To see a World in a Grain of Sand/ And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/ Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/ And Eternity in an hour.
This week’s romance cover theme takes to the Middle East. There’s something alluring about the desert-lands of the Orient. Whether it be a fantasy of being swept away by the leader of a caravan tribe or taken into a sheik’s private harem of one, passionate images exist for them all.
For the week of Monday, January 10, 2022, to Sunday, January 16, 2022, our latest Covers of the Week highlights romances set in the Middle East.
Happy 2022! Our first Covers of the Week for this new year features artist Robert Maguire, aka R. A. Maguire.
Robert A. Maguire is a legendary name when it comes to paperback covers. From pulps to romance, he illustrated all genres of fiction. Maguire was born in New Jersey in 1921. He then passed away in 2005. As a commercial artist, he produced artwork for all the publishing companies–big and small. Over nearly 50 years, Maguire would paint 1,300 covers.
In romance, he was prolific, creating covers for contemporaries, categories, traditional regencies, and historicals. Perhaps he is most notorious in the genre for the three-armed heroine on the cover of Patricia Gallagher’s Castles in the Air.
Even so, one “off-looking” cover does not represent the totality of his storied career. Besides the beauty of it, I appreciate his style as it’s instantly recognizable. In addition, Maguire never failed to sign his work, making him an easy artist to spot.
This week we’re focusing on Maguire’s historical covers. Later, we’ll highlight some of his series romances.
For the week of Monday, January 3, 2022, to Sunday, January 9, 2022, we’re admiring a sample of glorious historical romances by talented Robert A.... Read more “Covers of the Week #39”
2021 has been one heck of a ride. We started this site in late March. Sweet Savage Flame was created on a whim.
Our love for old-school romance is something we’re delighted to share with our readers. We’re happy to say that now in late December, our little niche site averages 1,000 views a week. It couldn’t have been done without you.
Thank you so much for making this a special year.
For the week of Monday, December 27, 2021, to Sunday, January 2, 2022, we’re greeting the new year in style with fireworks on romance covers!
December is coming to its end. This week will bring us both the Winter Solstice and Christmas. It’s time to celebrate with some romance covers featuring cold winterscapes.
Cuddle up in a warm blanket because the coldest season is here! The first snowfalls of winter are a magical time with a layer of frosty white covering the lands. Then you get tired of it all after two weeks of endless blizzards and constantly shoveling your driveway! 😁
For the week of Monday, December 20 to Sunday, December 26, 2021, let’s take delight in some icy covers featuring snow.
Have a Jolly Winter Solstice, Happy Festivus, and a Merry Christmas!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is almost upon us. It’s a holiday of giving and love. What are you doing in the upcoming days to celebrate? Busy wrapping presents? Doing some last-minute shopping? Are you baking cookies and building gingerbread houses?
Not celebrating the season at all? That ok, as Christmas is a time of sharing no matter who you are. So we’re sharing some jolly covers!
For the week of Monday, December 13, 2021, to Sunday, December 19, 2021, we’re spreading some cheer and giving our loyal readers an early gift. Let’s get merry over some Christmas-themed romance covers!
For years his face on romance novels has mesmerized me.
Okay, maybe it’s the face plus the terrific, full head of hair. I’ve seen this man pictured on occasion as a brunet or with black hair. Most of the time, though, he’s blond, which I believe is his natural color. He’s one of the rare romance cover models who looks fantastic that way. This dude probably did shampoo advertisements in his day. He could have been a tv anchorman in the 1980s!
He was a prolific model from the 1980s to the early 1990s. I’ve seen him on lots of category and historical romance covers. The artists who painted his image most frequently were Ron Lesser, Elaine Gignilliat and Elaine Duillo, who had great rapport with her models.
I have a Pinterest page dedicated to this guy, with over 35 covers that I’m confident depict his image.
Who is he?
For the week Monday, December 6, 2021, to Sunday, December 12, 2021, I’ve chosen a selection of category and historical romances illustrated by big-name authors, featuring a mysterious male cover model whose name I’ve yet to discover. If any of our readers have any idea who he is, I would love to know!... Read more “Covers of the Week #35”
Did you know George Bush was an artist? No, we’re not talking about that George Bush, although incidentally, he does dabble in painting. And no, we’re not referring to his papa, George Sr, either.
George Arthur Bush, also known as G. A. Bush, was a prolific cover artist in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He was born in 1953 in Reading, PA. Bush worked in various genres and produced fantastic cover art for Jove, Charter, Fawcett, Dorchester, and Zebra, among other publishers. His use of light and color makes his covers stand out. To achieve that unique look, he would use various paints. For example, for The Exiled Heart, first, he coated a foam board with acrylic Gesso. Then he painted the artwork in oils, and finally, he covered it with a spray of acrylic clear varnish to get that beautiful glow.
Bush was also a fine art illustrator who worked in multiple mediums. He has created book covers, worked in comics, designed collector’s plates for Danbury Mint and the Bradford Exchange, and sculpted in clay. He’s also worked for film and television. Unfortunately, Bush suffers from debilitating MS and can no longer paint and sculpt.
It’s time to appreciate category romance covers again! For this edition of Covers of the Week, we’re focusing on Harlequin publishing in the 1980s. Over the years, Harlequin romance covers utilized a stable of in-house artists. This made for a unified consistency in the covers. However, sometimes they seemed as if they all looked alike. Fortunately, there were artists talented enough to make their paintings stand out.
In the early days, covers were just painted, mostly with acrylic, but some illustrators used watercolor, like Will Davies. Eventually, photography and digital imaging would be implemented, but that was mostly later in the 1990s.
For the week of Monday, November 22, 2021, to Sunday, November 28, 2021 (boy, did November fly by, or what?), let’s look upon these passionate category romance covers from Harlequin.
The Regency era is the most popular setting in historicals. From classic, traditional romances to longer, more sensual ones, the time period evokes a sense of manners and wittiness. We’ve reviewed but a few on this site, so to remedy that, let’s take a look at some of their dazzling covers.
For the week of Monday, November 15, to Sunday, November 21, 2021, our theme for the covers of the week is Regency romances. Enjoy!
We love giving attention to overlooked romance book cover artists. Like many fine artists working today, Leslie Pellegrino-Peck got her start in commercial art.
Leslie Anne Pellegrino was born in Buffalo, New York. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. In 1987 Leslie spent a year studying art in Italy at the Scuola di Lorenzo De Medici in Florence. She then apprenticed in Rome with renowned illustrator Alessandro Biffignandi.
Pellegrino-Peck began a freelance career in romance book cover illustration in 1988. She has enjoyed two decades of success painting in that genre, creating covers for St. Martin’s Press, Pinnacle, Zebra, Jove, and numerous other publishers. While still enjoying tremendous success in the publishing field, Pellegrino-Peck’s love for the beauty of people and animals has found its expression in her most recent oil paintings.
For the week of Monday, November 8, 2021, to Sunday, November 14, here are some fabulous Leslie Pellegrino-Peck romance covers to look over and admire. Enjoy!
In the 1980s and 1990s, romance novels would experiment with cover designs. There was the standard passionate clinch, then collages, later the stepback, as well as solo poses for both hero and heroine, and–one of our favorites–the combination of a lone heroine and beneath that, a smaller image of an embracing couple. This always made for beautiful romance covers with so much to admire. Zebra romances would employ this style in their early days. Harlequin Historicals were famous for these as well.
For the week of Monday, November 1, 2021, to Sunday, November 7, please enjoy these lovely “pose and clinch” covers.
Behold the Halloween season! The beauty of autumn is transforming into a period of decay. The leaves on the trees have changed color–if they remain at all–on the dark, skeletal tree branches. A damp coldness lingers in the air. What is that strange light flickering in an attic window? Who–or what–is making those slow, creaking noises that emanate from an empty room?
Whether a haunted plantation in the humid American South, an ominous-looking old house in the North East, a decrepit manor in Cornwall, or a crumbling chateau in the mountains of Europe, Gothic romances are placed in contradictorily romantic yet scary settings. Gothic romances hold an important place in the annals of the romance genre, with dark brooding heroes, strong-willed heroines, and gorgeous covers illustrated by the master artists. For the week of Monday, October 25, 2021, culminating on Halloween Day, Sunday, October 31, 2021, let’s delight and take fright in these creepy Gothic romance covers!
It’s the spooky month of October, and Halloween is just around the corner. As a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. Besides getting tons of free candy and dressing up in fantastic costumes, there was nothing better about that day than getting to watch horror movie marathons.
The romance genre has had its share of “spooky” stories. Paranormal romance became huge in the 1990s. Books would feature ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves, time travel, and all kinds of magic. At Sweet Savage Flame, we’re getting into the Halloween spirit. For the week of Monday, October 18, 2021, to Sunday 24, let’s enjoy these paranormal romance covers featuring werewolves, psychics, vampires, and witches.
We’ve highlighted quite a few romance book covers here at Sweet Savage Flame. A common theme for many is to include animals, particularly horses, in the background to demonstrate passion and vitality. Some equines weren’t content to be cast as mere decoration, however. Neigh, these horses demanded a starring role with the couples engaged in their usual passionate clinches. (That sentence came off a bit odd, didn’t it?)
For the week of Monday, October 11, to Sunday, October 17, 2021, let’s give some love to the horses that make historical romance covers so much fun. (Now that sentence definitely sounded wrong!)
For the week of Monday, October 4 to Sunday, October 10, 2021 (which happens to be my birthday week), enjoy these silly or awful-looking covers that make us smile.
#1– Pino Daeni was a master artist. He was also prolific, producing 3,000 romance covers in a span of 20 years. Sometimes he had to work quickly. So it’s understandable that some of his works might fall short of his best. Bandit’s Brazen Kiss is actually a pretty cover until you realize this isn’t a paranormal romance, and the hero isn’t a centaur. We know he has to have legs to ride a horse, but where are they? Is he just a torso with arms and a head?... Read more “Covers of the Week #26”
Some romance cover artists work for only a brief time period in the field yet leave a lasting impact. Japanese-born-American artist Ken Otsuka painted sweet book covers in the 1990s for publishing houses such as Kensington’s Zebra and Bantam’s Fanfare lines. For over 40 years Otsuka has worked in commercial and then fine arts. His seascapes are so realistic, you can swear you hear the ocean while gazing upon them.
Whether he created romantic moonscapes, fantasy-romance clinch covers, or whimsical stepbacks featuring a swan-lake or snowy background, his artwork appeals to the romantic senses.
For the week of Monday, September 27, 2021, to Sunday, October 3, let’s take delight in the beauty of Ken Otsuka’s romance covers!
Hot air ballooning is said to be a delightful experience. The winds guiding you high above the earth as you drift through the fluffy, white clouds… It seems like an exhilarating time. Unfortunately, a paralyzing fear of heights makes me feel otherwise. My husband once surprised me with plans for a romantic ride and I refused to go. He ended up taking our daughter!
People were baffled at my reticence. Although I aim for courage, there are things I cannot face.
Need someone to kill a poisonous bug? I’m there with my wide-heeled shoe. Could I face a horde of bio-engineered, flesh-eating Zombies? Not a problem, I can shoot and wield a machete. How about cleaning litter boxes for 5 kitties? Bring it on, I’m a crazy cat lady. But fly thousands of feet into the atmosphere in a rickety basket with only ropes to cling to and giant flames above me jetting into a huge balloon? Never.
Still, they’re beautiful things to behold. From afar, what a magical sight to witness those colorful inverted teardrops float through the air! From a safe distance on land, sipping a glass of Pinot Noir, of course.
For the week of September 20 to Monday, September 26, 2021, let’s appreciate these clinch poses on romance covers featuring hot air balloons!... Read more “Covers of the Week #24”
Our blog mistress Jacqueline Diaz invited me to submit an article with my four favorite covers from vintage romances. Well, I don’t have just four favorites. Of ANYTHING! But she’s letting me post four favorites by the leading illustrators of our genre and period. Each in one blog post.
For my first such post, I want to honor the late, great Elaine Duillo (1928 to 2021). She left us on July 30 of this year and had been retired for some time. But her wonderful illustrations live on.
I picked four covers of hers that haven’t already been posted elsewhere on this blog. With a bit of background and my comments. If you can fill in any info I missed, please add it in the comments. And I welcome your own reactions.
1) Stepback cover for Fireblossom by Cynthia Wright, Ballantine, 1992. An old-fashioned quilt. A log cabin. The prairies of the Midwest. The hardscrabble life on the American frontier in the nineteenth century. These are images and concepts I don’t usually associate with sex. But Elaine Duillo made everything hot!
At Sweet Savage Flame, we’ve been overlooking category romance covers in favor of flashier historical romance artwork, and it’s time to remedy that. Series cover art is just as lovely. However, sometimes the artwork is not as prominent as it is for historicals. In addition, the big-name cover artists usually produced illustrations for historical romance or full-length contemporary books. Sometimes they did step their toes into the waters of series or category romance and we’re happy that they did!
For the week of Monday, September 6, 2021, to Sunday, September 12, we’re looking at gorgeous category romance covers painted by some of the greatest artists of romance novels. Below are a few category romances illustrated by the legendary ElaineDuillo, Robert Maguire, Elaine Gignilliat, and Pino. Enjoy!
This week Sweet Savage Flame is highlighting male cover models! We all know Fabio, John DeSalvo, and Steve Sandalis. But what about other men who modeled during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s? Looking at these attractive men, we can see how the image of the romance cover hero has evolved throughout the years.
The four men whose artful forms we’re appreciating are pictured on the covers below, left to right:
Chad Deal – Deal posed for hundreds of romance covers in the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Perhaps one of the first cover model icons, Deal had a long and successful career. He posed for twice as many covers with Elaine Duillo as Fabio did ( 40+ vs. 19).
Guy Bishop – This internationally famous model lent his face to countless magazines and book covers. Bishop appeared in glitzy advertisements and walked the runways of Paris and New York, showing off designer clothes.
Mike Dale – Dale has worked for Bantam Loveswept, Silhouette/ Harlequin, Zebra, and many other publishers. His face was ubiquitous in 1990s romance covers, his down-to-earth appeal making him a natural for category romance. A true example of a silver fox, Dale now runs a life management business, teaches yoga, and models for catalogs and fashion magazines.
In 1971 singer/songwriter Carole King wrote the lovely song: “You’ve Got a Friend,” which detailed the lasting strength of love. James Taylor recorded it to great acclaim. Other artists like Dusty Springfield and Michael Jackson would put their own twists on the tune. These simple lyrics always stick with me:
Winter, spring, summer, fall All you have to do is call…
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND
The power of love is as old as the Earth and as constant as the four seasons. To live is to love! At Sweet Savage Flame, romance is in the air all year long. So to celebrate, from Monday, August 23, 2021, to Sunday, August 29, our 20th edition of Covers of the Week highlights four beautiful romance covers set during Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
Elaine Duillo was the “Queen of Historical Romance Covers.” She was a giant in the competitive field of pulp fiction artwork, where women were few and far between. Duillo painted hundreds of book covers. She was an inductee of the prestigious Illustrators Hall of fame. And Duillo was the matriarch of a talented artistic family.
Sadly, she passed away on July 30, 2021, at the age of 93.
This amazing artist influenced generations of illustrators and revolutionized romance cover art. She helped give rise to the pop culture phenom Fabio. One of the covers I chose, Defy Not the Heart, features Fabio and was a favorite of Elaine’s. It is also my all-time favorite cover.
Although she created many gorgeous stepbacks, or “tip-ins,” as those in the industry called them, Duillo was not a fan. She believed the eye-catching covers she designed were meant to be seen, not hidden away. Yes, to that, I say. Display those gorgeous illustrations displayed proudly!
Sweet Savage Flame Remembers Elaine
Sweet Savage Flame laments her passing. Our thoughts and sympathy are with her family. We celebrate Elaine Duillo’s life as she brought much joy and beauty to countless tens of millions of readers worldwide.... Read more “Covers of the Week #19”
One of my favorite romance cover artists from the 1980s, 1990s, and well into the 2000s is Gregg Gulbronson. For the week of Monday, August 9 to Sunday, August 15, 2021, we highlight his gorgeous covers.
While Gulbronson remains a mysterious figure (as far as I’ve researched, there is little to no information available about him on the internet), his artwork merits attention and awe. I adore his style, especially his older covers, for which he used an airbrushing technique to add a dreamy effect to the clinches. By the turn of the millennium, he had progressed to digital imaging, like almost all other book cover illustrators. You can find more artwork and information about this talented artist on our Gregg Gulbronson page.
I enjoy playing the game of “I Spy” with my vintage book romance covers. Can you guess this week’s theme? Spot the common thread in the covers, and the first one to mention the correct answer in the comments wins the satisfaction that they were right! 🙂
For the week of Aug 2 to Aug 6, here are some contemporary and historical covers for you to look over and play “I Spy.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to get away to an island paradise? I thought we all could enjoy a tropical theme for these dog days of summer. To those folks experiencing mid-winter in the southern latitudes, imagine relaxing on the beach like these lovers posing for this week’s romance book covers! For the week of Monday, July 26 to Sunday, August 1, 2021, here are some sexy embraces on sultry beaches. Enjoy! clinch
The Duillo family was filled with artistic talent. There was John Duillo, the great pulp cover artist. Of course, his wife Elaine was a pioneer for women in the field. She not only painted pulp covers but went on to become the “Queen of Romance Covers.” However, did you know their daughter, Melissa Duillo Gallo, was a talented artist as well?
In the 1980s – 1990s, Melissa, who used the surname Gallo after her marriage, was a prolific historical romance cover artist, creating works for publishers such as Avon, Dell, Warner, Zebra, and more. While she and her mother no longer illustrate romance covers, Melissa is still creating art as a talented painter. Melissa Gallo Paints is where you can get access to her current work. I also have a dedicated Pinterest page to her romance covers here.
For a long time, I used to get Elaine and Melissa’s artwork confused, unintentionally mislabelling one of the books below as Elaine’s! Now I can spot the differences between mom’s and her daughter’s work. For one thing, Melissa preferred her models to wear more clothes, and also, she was more conservative with the use of eyeshadow, especially for the heroes! Both ladies, Duillo, collaborated with supermodel Fabio many times.... Read more “Covers of the Week #15”
For the week of July 5 to July 11, here are a few Walter Popp romance covers to appreciate. Walter Popp was a fantastic artist, part of the original pantheon of pulp genre masters who would later go on to create covers for Gothic, Regency, Historical romances, including bodice rippers and epics. He was especially prolific for Zebra and Warner Books. In the latter part of his career, he would collaborate with his wife Marie to create beautiful romantic covers that inspire joy and passion.