Covers of the Week #23

By Mary Anne Landers

Who Loves Elaine Duillo? I Do!

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.

The Covers

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!

2) Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey, science fiction romance, Avon, 1990. Models: Cindy Guyer, Fabio (Fabio Lanzoni). I think this one speaks for itself!

3) I dunno the title of the book or the author, but I dig this tender scene. In a setting pretty rare in historical romance, ancient Greece. Or is it Rome? Whatever. I downloaded this unidentified pic from Goodreads. A friend of mine said the artist is Elaine Duillo. Then I noticed her signature under the man’s left sandal. This Duillo features one of her recurring themes, scads of flowers and greenery. And the drama! We can’t be sure what the girl is thinking, but it’s obvious what the guy is thinking. The contrasting light and dark sky accent the drama. Can you recognize the book? If so, please leave the title in the comments.

4) And last but not least: How do you like them apples? The stepback cover for The Present by Johanna Lindsey, historical romance, Avon, 1998. The two panels open like a pair of interior shutters to show this passionate scene. I haven’t read the book, but according to the Amazon synopsis, the guy is the heir of a wealthy land-owning family. The girl is one of the hired help. But clearly, she’s climbing the social ladder!

[EDIT 1.18.2022 – Image #4 is NOT from Johanna Lindsey’s The Present, but from Kristin Hannah’s 1993 Ballantine/Ivy romance If You Believe. Also, we have no confirmation that this is an Elaine Duillo cover, as no signature can be seen like in the other covers. It could an Elaine or the handiwork of her daughter Melissa Duillo-Gallo, although we can’t confirm that either. Still, it’s a lovely picture to look upon. Just to round things out, we’ll add another Elaine Duillo image beneath these.]

[EDIT 4.26.22 – We have confirmed Image #4 was not an Elaine Duillo cover. It has been erroneously posted on the web as being attributed to her design of Johanna Lindsey’s The Present but is actually a stepback for Kristin Hannah’s If You Believe, and possibly painted by James Griffin. We have deleted this and apologize for the error. That’s to Courtney McCaskill for the head’s up and information!]

Next time I’ll post four covers from another illustrator. Any requests?

An Extra Elaine Duillo Cover

Never Love a Cowboy, Jill Gregory, Dell, 1998, Elaine Duillo cover art

7 thoughts on “Covers of the Week #23

  1. courtneymccaskill

    It’s interesting because I believe #4 is also the stepback for If You Believe by Kristin Hannah. (I’ve seen it posted for stepbacksaturday before, but I can’t find it at the moment because there are a billion posts for Kristin Hannah!) I’ve always wondered if the places online that list it for Johanna Lindsey’s The Present might be a typo. Have you seen the same stepback be used for more than one book before?

    1. jacquelinediaz

      Hello Courtney,

      Thank you so much for the clarification! I have searched everywhere for an edition of the Present with this stepback. It always bugged me that it has been posted on the internet as the interior as I’ve seen both the gold and red editions of that book and have never seen that picture. It’s always had a sleigh in the snow. This image didn’t fit The Present either, as the hair color was wrong for the heroine, and the hero shouldn’t be wearing jeans. This is most definitely the stepback interior for If You Believe; the border matches that book exactly!

      I’ll add a note to this, as now I can’t confirm if it’s even an Elaine cover. It looks more like her daughter Melissa Duillo-Gallo’s handiwork. If You Believe was published in 1993 and I think that’s around when Melissa left the commercial art field. I appreciate the update and will fix this.

      Thanks so much!


      1. courtneymccaskill

        This stepback is at the very top of my wish list, so I’ve been looking for it for a while. I can’t say 100% there isn’t an edition of The Present that has it, but I’ve come across a half-dozen copies at used bookstores since I started searching, and I sure haven’t found one yet. So I was starting to wonder, especially as it has a totally different stepback with the sleigh! I even ordered the British edition (which has some tree branches on the front) thinking that had to be it! No luck there. So now I’m searching for an older copy of If You Believe… I’ll find it one of these days!

        Thanks so much for your amazing site! I love going through and reading your posts. I always find something I love! Thanks for everything you do!


        1. courtneymccaskill

          Hey Jacqueline! So I FINALLY tracked down a copy of If You Believe by Kristin Hannah (yay!!!), and there is a signature on the stepback! It’s cut off, but I’m 94% sure it’s James Griffin’s signature. I’ve got “…FIN ©93,” but the way my copy is glued, the glue went very deep right over the signature. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else has a copy where you can make out one more letter, maybe even two. I do feel like the signature looks similar to other James Griffin stepbacks I have. So my best guess on that one is James Griffin!


          1. jacquelinediaz


            Great find! I can’t think of any other authors whose name ends in FIN other than James Griffin, and the style certainly could be his. Thanks for this. Not knowing for sure bugged me.


  2. Mary Anne Landers

    Thanks, Jacqueline. All these pics are from the Internet. Stuff I got from Bing Images. Or Pinterest; I think I, uh, borrowed one pic from your Pinterest page. So as for your question concerning “The Present” and its stepback, I don’t know which edition it was. Or what the outer front cover looks like.

    Also, here are a few bits I could’ve included in this article, but of course I forgot. Another senior moment!

    The cover of “Warrior’s Woman” can easily make a viewer think this book is a historical romance. And takes place in the Middle Ages, or possibly ancient times.

    Well, guess again. It’s a futuristic romance. And it takes place on another planet!

    If we wait long enough, everything turns up on the Internet. So sooner or later we’ll find out which book the third picture illustrates. Assuming it illustrates any book. There’s always the possibility that Elaine Duillo created it for some other purpose. Or it was intended for a book that got different cover art. Or the book was never published.
    Being a language nerd, I must add this. How do you correctly pronounce Fabio’s last name, Lanzoni? It’s lan-tson-ee. With a short “a” and “o”, and the accent on the second syllable.

  3. jacquelinediaz

    What can I say about these covers other than they are stunning?

    1) Fireblossom is an utterly gorgeous step-back, with Duillo trademark outrageous hair. I know for her platinum-blonde heroines, she would paint on black paper to make the color pop. I wonder if she used that trick on this cover.

    2) Oh, Warrior’s Woman, the memories this brings up! It was the first Lindsey I ever read and purchased. I remember seeing this glorious cover at Woolworth’s’ back when I was 12 and picking this right up (the store was within walking distance from home) and it made me a Lindsey fan for life. Duillo changed Fabio’s nose and chin, but it’s still him.

    3) This cover has plagued me for years. I’ve been trying to find the book it was produced for, but the closest I can get is a foreign reprint of an older work that predates the original artwork by many years. I will find the book, one day, one way or another. (That means if I have to purchase more books, so help me…)

    4) Was a shock to me. I own the paperback edition of The Present, and all it is is a small winter scene with no people. But I’ve looked it up, and it seems like some lucky paperback owners of this book have a different edition with this inside step-back. I have a question for you Mary Anne, as a friend is interested in this one. Do you have the original cover that this artwork comes with? If not, do you know if this was an American release or a foreign cover? It’s so pretty and very appropriate for the new season!

    Anyway, this story is more like a story within a story as it tells of the ancestry of the Malory family, where a Marquess married a Gypsy (Roma) Princess. This story is told through a mysterious book that lands in the lap of the current Malory clan (early 19th century), and they read it, as the family patriarch realizes his true love for a long-time housekeeper, who is the mother of his heir. (You have to read the books to figure it all out!)

    Fabulous picks. Can’t wait what you choose next!


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