Book Cover Trends: Headless Romantics

Oh yes. We´re revisiting the headless party again. Imagine a life without headless people on book covers… It´s close to impossible.

When I talk to my friends about headless bodies on book covers most of them wave off the topic before it even has a chance to develop into a conversation.

“Meeh. I don´t read those types of books.” Some of them have said/will say.

A clear case of judging a book by its cover, if you ask me.

And that´s perfectly fine. I judge a book if it has a dragon on it, too. Hell, I´m about to judge the headless fools on romance book covers myself. So, I fully understand where people are coming from when they voice their dislikes for a book cover.

It´s not the image itself that´s raising awareness. I couldn´t give a hoot if I saw a headless character image on a book cover or not. It´s the repetition of an image. The fact that you can´t walk in any direction without seeing a handful of naked, well buffed headless bodies. Why not include the head? I can tell you why.

Many readers ( including myself ) don´t appreciate character images on book covers. They like to make up their own faces without the aid of an image.

While flowers or other objects on book covers are neutral, headless bodies ( clothed or not ) aren´t neutral. They´re genre specific. Made to attract the romance loving crowd.


Headless body = romance


In this time and age, sex sells. And there are many willing readers waiting to get their hands on some proper literary sex. So there is no need for heads. Do I approve? Continue to find out.



#1  Fit Without Heads


Headless Romance Sports


Would I think these are romances based on the cover image?

Definitely. The image focus is on the buff bodies. The bodies are, therefore, an important tool to lure in romance readers. Heads don´t sell as well as the promise of sex with a sex God.


Would these covers stop me in a bookstore? 

Nope. Can´t say they would. I´d eye them on my way to the less revealing covers.


My personal thoughts:

Uhm, I´m really not a fan of hairless chests. Not a fan of extremely built bodies, either. So, these images aren´t appealing to me in any way. But (!!!) some of the stories behind these covers aren´t too shabby. No kidding. I often think some of these books would be better off with different cover images. As for the stories matching the cover images- A reader gets what they see. If you see a hockey player on the cover ( with or without head ) then there will be a hockey player in the book. The cover images are story theme revealing.





#2  A Headless Fantasy



Headless Romance Fantasy


Would you think these are fantasy romance novels based on the cover images?

I would. It´s no secret that many romantic fantasy novels are just plain ol´ contemporary romances with a sprinkle of magic included. I´m not surprised I´m seeing almost the exact same images as above.. They just have different colors and titles.


Would these covers stop me in a bookstore?

Nope. Not unless I´ve seen one of these books being praised online.


My personal thoughts:

Nothing´s changed for me. I´m still not a fan of headless, hairless, buffed bodies. No demon horns or angel wings could change my opinion.




#3   Mr. Headless Suit



Headless Romance Suits


Would I think these are romance novels based on the cover images?

Of course! A man in a suit is like a sexual magnet for some women. A properly tailored suit can say that a man is successful. And we all know how attractive success is. How does the saying go? `Success is sexy`? Sexy so happens to work as a lawyer, is a billionaire, a politician or is some drug lord running multiple businesses in romance novels. And besides- the focus here is on the suit. A dead giveaway that someone has money and power or some sort of authority.

The cliché with suit wearers: They´re cold, stand-off-ish, own a shit ton of buildings, properties or islands. They have black hair and piercing eyes. And when they´re dealing with emotional turmoil they have a three-day scruff. Or, they´re not rich but like to spank wallflowers who batted their eyelashes the wrong way.


Would these covers stop me in a bookstore?

No. Although I´m fond of a well-fitted suit I can´t say I find them or the characters wearing them attractive enough. Especially without the heads.


My personal thoughts:

So SO outdated. The thought that designers/authors are still using these cover images baffles me. Either give them a head or put them in beige slacks.



If you think we´re done then think again. We´ve only scratched the surface so far. The romance world is filled with headless cover images. Headless men, headless women, and even headless couples.  There´s enough image decapitation to last us all two lifetimes.


#4  Mrs. Headless


Headless women




#5  Headless Romance


Headless couples


See? There´s more. * sigh *


Unfortunately, I don´t think this trend is going anywhere. Romance sells. Sex sells. Always has. Always will.


Have you noticed naked bodies on cover images before? What is your take on the images? Yay or Nay? Do you think this trend needs to pass or would you like to see more? Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat. ❤


Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoyed.

Much bookish love,


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9 thoughts on “Book Cover Trends: Headless Romantics

  1. It’s interesting that you are pointing out a headless trend. Many traditional romance publishers have moved away from them recently. Illustrated covers have taken over. I’m not a big fan of the new trend. I actually prefer real people on covers — headless or not. I like that I know a shirtless guy with abs for days equals a sports romance. Or that a guy in a business suit is either going to be an office or billionaire romance. I am definitely creating my own picture of the characters in my head, so I don’t mind if they don’t have a head at all. I also think it helps out authors and publishers because so many stock photos are used. To try and match features and hair colors for so many different books would be tough.
    These covers would stop me in a bookstore because I am looking specifically for a romance novel. I think other romance readers would agree. I know everyone has their own preferences, so I understand why you don’t like them. I would warn you to be careful when you equate a romance novel to literary sex, though. Romance DOES NOT equal erotica. As a romance reader, I am not picking up romance novels to read sex scenes. I’m picking them up because I like to read about people falling in love. Sometimes romance novels include sex, sometimes they don’t. In fact, one of the books you have on here is a YA book I know has no sex. The whole idea that reading romance is about reading about sex is a common misconception.
    I have one last comment about fantasy romances. I understand why you’re saying they’re contemporaries with fantasy sprinkled in, but in all fairness the thing to remember about them is that they’re part of the romance genre. Fantasy is the sub genre, so they’re going to be heavy on the romance and lighter on the fantasy. If you were picking up a fantasy novel that happened to have a romance, it would be opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree with romance not being equal to erotica. But you have to agree that there has been a trend when simple romances carried the erotica theme.
      Heavens forbid, I´m with you. I don´t pick romances for the sex scenes. If I want a novel with sex I´d buy an erotica. It´s just that the lines are often blurred, you know? You can pick up a YA that has lots of sex in it- Can that still be considered a YA novel or should it be put in the NA category.
      Romance novels with these covers SHOULD stop you if it´s what you´re looking for. I meant that they´ve obvious that way: If you see a cover that looks remotely romantic ( and that often involves images of abs for days ) then you know you´re not about to grab a cook book. For me, the naked bods have a purpose and a promise: The purpose of being attractive. “Hey, hot guy inside this one.” And his body language will promise you other things.
      True, when fantasy is the sub genre then the romance will dominate ( and the other way around ). My only issue with this is that when I go book shopping in an actual store I a see romance w. sub genre fantasy in the fantasy genre corner. And more often than not I´ll see the same categorization on the internet. If that was intentional by the publsher/author/bookseller…then I´m not going to argue with that.
      You know, you actually belong to the majority when saying you´re not a fan of the new romance cover trend. I only know a handful of people who share my opinion.
      I see your point- Heads would make it more difficult for publishers & authors. You would have to match the characters, which is close to impossible. lol.
      I envy you something terrible for being able to create your own character image with having seen a body on a cover. I´ve tried so many times to get a cover image out of my head ( even if it´s headless ) while reading- without success. I don´t know why, but I can´t separate the two. One always collides with the other.
      Thank you for commenting. I fully appreciated it. ❤


      1. I’m not trying to argue with you, but it seems like you’re putting all sex in books into the erotica category. It’s not all the same. Sex in erotica is different than sex in a contemporary romance novel. Erotica is based on the sexual journey of a character. It’s not really about a romantic relationship and doesn’t usually have a HEA. It’s more graphic with finer details. There would be no story without the sex. Erotic romances will mix the two together. There’s a happy ending among with that finer detail, but still no story without the sex. Contemporary romances don’t have quite the level of description and the story would be fine with or without the sex. The relationship can support itself. Some are sexier than others for sure, but they don’t reach the level of an erotica or erotic romance. Each of these is a different kind of read. They can’t be lumped all together.
        Sex in YA would probably aline more with contemporary romance, but you have a different topic with that. I think mature YA romances are okay to have sex in them when it’s done responsibly. Teenagers have sex. We may not want them to, but they do so they should be able to read books about it that don’t make them feel ashamed and that they can relate to. (Totally my opinion.) as for YA vs NA. Those are subgenres. YA is typically up to 18 years old. 18-29 is considered NA. Sex has nothing to do with that. You generally see more sex in NA books because people in that age group are more sexually active.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh good God no! No no no no. I´m sorry if I gave you the impression that I want to argue. The troubles with text comments- They don´t deliver the right emotions. I swear, my comment ( even if it seemed insincere ) was sincere. You can´t imagine how happy I am to be able to discuss this with you. I always find it interesting to see things from a different POV. This is the moment where I wish we´d have a face to face convo. * sigh * I´d invite you for a coffee. 🙂
          Uuhm, I don´t think all sex in books belong in the erotica category. Not at all. In fact- there are huge differences. As you´ve said- Erotica novels are more about the sexual journey and romances are more about the relationships. There are a few gems that have combined the two wonderfully, sadly though, not many authors can pull that off and their books slip into a category. I´ve read eroticas that had a wonderful story and sensual sex. I´ve read eroticas that have less story and more lust to satisfy 4 couples for a while. Both are still erotica, though, as they both fit the erotica bill. It would be almost impossible to put the sensual one and the smut one in different categories because they´re still carry the same theme. ( does this make sense? )
          You´re right- a contemp. romance will do fine without sex as the focus is on the relationship. Although- I´d prefer to have the sex included as it makes everything more realistic for me, you know? As an adult who´s in a relationship who likes to be able to relate to a character/a situation.

          I think contemp. romances with lots of sex scenes aren´t eroticas, but they sometimes feel like they are. I consider these books just simple romances with steamy scenes.

          I´m with you on the YA books being read by teenagers. I think it´s okay to let them read YA books with sex scenes in them. I do question some YA books that go a little far with the sex, you know? It´s weird when you know a book is categorized as YA and are confronted with things experienced ( older ) people would do ( fee free to tell me I´m not making any sense ).
          I thought YA was it´s own genre? NA, * sigh * I had an interesting disussion the other day with a fellow blogger about the NA genre.

          We need a skype session to discuss this. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You know, that’s kind of an interesting subject. I’ve read a couple of different things on how YA and NA are categorized. Technically, they could probably both be seen as book genres, but then I think about what their sub-genres would be: fantasy, romance, sci-fi, thriller, etc. To me, those are the actual genres. YA and NA are just age groups, so they would be more appropriately the sub-genres. I know it’s hard to see them that way because if you walk into a bookstore or search online, YA books would be in their own section. To clarify more, NA originated in the Romance genre with indie authors like Colleen Hoover, but has spread beyond it.
            I get what you’re saying about sex in YA. I have actually seen several YA authors reference their books as “Mature YA Romance” intended for those older, more mature readers. These are books like Ginger Scott’s Drummer Girl and Bred. YA is a pretty wide age and maturity level range.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh? I´ve never seen authors reference their books as “Mature YA Romance”. That´s interesting. I´m going to have to check that out.
              Sub genres can be endless. I tend to just stick with a genre and 1 sub genre because it´s easier ( YA – romance, Fantasy -romance ). I don´t go beyond that because I feel like one can reveal a little from the story through sub genre mentions.
              YA and NA.. hmm… I´ve always seen them as main genres. You do have a point, though, with YA and NA being only age groups, and therefore better suited as sub genres. I´ll have to keep that in mind ( thank you for that 🙂 ).
              NA happened way before CoHo. She just popularized the term ( or her books did ). Although- These days I´m not sure her books can still be categorized in the same genres anymore. I remember seeing CoHo books on the romance shelves in bookstores and now I´m seeing them in the YA section. My daughter ( who´s 12 ) held Slammed in her hand the other day and asked if she could buy it. Are the books misplaced or did the book slip into a new category? It´s hard to tell. I told my daughter to wait a few years as I´m not sure her 12 yr old mind wouldn´t be able to process Slammed or to fully comprehend the story.
              YA truly has a wide age and maturity level range.


              1. CoHo’s books are a good example of what I was saying about genre versus sub-genre. Most of her books are romances. Most of them are New Adult. Slammed and Hopeless are books that could cross over Young Adult and New Adult boundaries because of age (18) and the high school setting. Still, the themes are more NA than YA. (I wouldn’t let my almost twelve year old read them. There’s a lot of YA books I wouldn’t let her read, though. Many are too mature at this point.) Without Merit is YA fiction. All Your Perfects is adult romance/fiction. Verity is a thriller. She’s not confined to one box, which is cool. My local bookstore actually has all of CoHo’s books in their fiction section. I’ve never seen one anywhere else. Not even the romance section.

                Liked by 1 person

          2. One last comment…
            “Both are still erotica, though, as they both fit the erotica bill. It would be almost impossible to put the sensual one and the smut one in different categories because they´re still carry the same theme. ( does this make sense? )” — Actually, they can be categorized differently. One is Erotica and the other is Erotic Romance. I know it can sound and seem like the same thing, but they have one distinguishing feature. If it the book is relationship based with a HEA along with the sensual aspects, then it is Erotic Romance. An example would be 50 Shades. If it’s all about the sexual discovery of a person without a focus on relationship and HEA, then it’s Erotica. Like Delta of Venus by Anais Nin. Those two books are very different in content and emotion.

            Liked by 1 person

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