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rob ashton

Romance Cover Model: Rob Ashton

rob ashton

Rob Ashton, A Cover Model Gone Too Soon

Fabio officially retired from modeling for romance covers–except for the books he “wrote”–in 1993. Afterward, there was a void that needed to be filled, and many hunky men lined up to fill it.

(Should I rewrite that? Nah, it sounds fine.)

In the 1990s and the 2000s, Rob Ashton was one of those cover models.

rob ashton blue shirt

Life and Career

Ashton was a stunning figure of a man at 6′ tall and 200 lbs with long black hair and hazel-green eyes. He was of Cherokee Indian, English, and Irish descent, a beautiful combination.

Rob Ashton attended 2 years of college and KSU Computer School. He worked many jobs before hitting it big as a model. He was a waiter, and bartender, and worked in retail sales.

Ashton was discovered on the Florida beaches at 19, his stunning physique and face standing out of the beaches of Florida.

rob ashton model

He would have a foray as a dancer with Chippendales before settling in as a model. As a dancer, he traveled worldwide in his early 20s. The many places Ashton lived included Orlando, Atlanta, New York City, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, and Japan.

His first romance cover was still a year away when he modelled for Typewriter In the Sky by L. Ron Hubbard.

This brought him attention from other parts of the publishing industry–namely the romance genre.

Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard, 1995 Edition rob ashton
Typewriter in the Sky, L. Ron Hubbard, 1995 Edition

Rob Ashton the New King of Romance Covers

In 1995 Rob Ashton gained massive popularity after being voted Romantic Times Magazine‘s “Mr. Romance.”

rob pic

The title got him a job to pose on the cover of Janice Reams Hudson’s 1996 Zebra romance Apache Flame alongside Linda Ryan, which the artist Pino painted.

The novel is about Pace Colton, a handsome half-white half-Apache, who goes by the name Fire Seeker, and his romance with the red-haired Johanna,

Sharon Spiak, an artist who worked closely under Pino, was responsible for dressing Ashton for the photo shoot. Michel LeGirou was the photographer and a seasoned romance veteran.

Pino, in typical style, used the photos from the session to paint the cover art in his studio in New Jersey.

Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art Rob Ashton
Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art

“Pino really captured us perfectly! I love it!” Rob said of his first cover.

Many more were to follow. Artists adored using Rob as their muse. Ashton was so prolific that he got the title of “New King of Romance Novels.”

captive legacy
captive legacy assel

Pino Daeni on Rob Ashton

“It’s not easy to find good male models. When certain famous models started, I was almost laughing. The way they moved their bodies at the start did not coordinate with passion.

“The models have to be believable. I can only give so much direction. You can’t be just pretty.

Sultry looks like Rob’s are the best to paint.”


Trivia About Rob

  • Favorite Foods: Seared Steak, Spaghetti, Fajitas, Burgers, Beef or Chicken Lo Mein, Sushi, Cali Rolls, Shrimp, All Kinds of Seafood Including Lobster, Crab Legs, and Stuffed Crab, Seafood Platters!
  • Favorite Wine: White Zinfandel
  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Author / Book: God / The Bible
  • Favorite Movies: Face/Off, True Lies, What Women Want, The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Favorite Actors: Pierce Brosnan, John Lithgow, David Spade
  • Favorite Actresses: Helen Hunt, Kelly Ripa
  • Pets: 2 Chihuahuas, a female named Bella and a male called Peanut.
You Belong to My Heart, Nan Ryan, Harper Monogram, 1996 Rob Ashton
you belong to my heART

Rob’s Testimony

“I believe that destiny and free will actually coexist at the same time and that everything we do is part of our destiny. We are all here for a reason, and we repeat behaviors to learn from them and grow.

I believe there’s a lot more to this life than just what’s seen, and as I grow, I find that my priorities have changed and that there are some truths that are as real as gravity, although unseen; there are laws of the universe that apply to us all.

For example, what you put out comes back to you even more, so. On my site we’re giving to several worthwhile causes-not because it’s the thing to do, but because it’s about real people caring, sharing, giving, and helping those who need it, and it returns in much greater amounts…that’s what life is really about!”

Rob Ashton, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH ROB ASHTON, 2001 Romantic Times

Rob Ashton’s Jobs and Hobbies

Besides modeling, Rob Ashton was a website developer and created his own official website. He loved talking to his fans and would chat with them in Q& A sessions.

He was a personal physical fitness trainer and created The European Nutritionist online training via Live Cam.

Ashton performed valuable work with various charities.

At the Romantic Times conventions, he collected teddy bears, alongside his long-time friend, Kelli Salkin.

An avid motorcyclist, Ashton enjoyed riding with his father.

A Beautiful Life Cut Short

By all accounts, Rob Ashton was a friendly, down-to-earth, modest man. He had a big heart that overflowed with love and kindness.


Sadly, Rob’s Ashton career and life ended too soon.

Ashton had been suffering from an extended illness. On Monday, August 26, 2007, he passed away due to complications from heart surgery.

He left behind an extended family, including his loving father and mother. Many romance fans mourned his death and came together to celebrate Ashton on forums and websites.

Rob Ashton Interview Romantic Times, 2001

Playgirl Spread, 1996

Rob Ashton Romance Covers

Partial List of Covers

  1. Across a Moonlit Sea, Marsha Canham, Dell, 1996, Steve Assel cover art
  2. Angel Baby, Leandra Logan, Harlequin Temptation #564, 1995
  3. Apache Flame, Janis Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1996, Pino cover art
  4. Beyond A Highland Mist, Karen Marie Moning, Dell, 1999, John Ennis cover art
  5. Captive Legacy, Theresa Scott, Dorchester, 1996
  6. Captivated, Colleen Corbett, Avon, 1996
  7. Daughter of Fire: Merlin’s Legacy, Quinn Taylor Evans, Zebra, 1999
  8. Hawks Woman, Janice Reams Hudson, Zebra, 1998, Pino cover art
  9. Lakota Dawn, Janelle Taylor, Zebra, 1999
  10. Love’s Legacy, Anthology, Dorchester, 1996
  11. The Pirate, Kate Hoffman, Harlequin, 1996
  12. Surrender, Metsy Hingle, Silhouette Desire #978, 1996
  13. Stardust of Yesterday, Lynn Kurland, 1996
  14. White Wind, Susan Edwards, Dorchester, 1996
  15. You Belong to My Heart, Nan Ryan, Harper Monogram, 1996, Doreen Minuto cover art