Posted in Musings
September 2, 2015

How I Drool Over Your Tattoo

By Elizabeth Shore

Remember those 80s romance novel covers? Of COURSE you do. Bare chested, long-haired, totally hot, ripped guys, arms wrapped possessively around the doe-eyed adoring heroine. To wit:

Enchanted Paradise Master of Desire cover



Then in the 90s there was some drastic backpeddling, with dully innocuous covers which were neitherParadise tantalizing nor told much about the content within becoming common fare. Check out Judith McNaught’s Paradise, for example. Pearls and petals don’t tell you much, but readers also didn’t feel the burn of shame by reading these books in public as some had with the bare-chested Fabio covers screaming ROMANCE NOVEL! SEXY STUFF WITHIN!

So now we’re in the … two-thousand teens? Is that what how we’re referring to the present time? In any case, jumping to present day, we’ve got ereaders, people. Yea! Now we can really really disguise whatever we’re reading. And with this newfound freedom, I see the covers reverting back to those of yesteryear – meaning the 80s – but with a significant difference. For one thing, we’re not always getting a woman on the cover standing aside our requisite stud. No siree. We’re keeping him all to ourselves. There are lots and lots and lots of covers with just a smokin’ hot guy posing solo without any pesky woman draped all over him. And there’s something else that stands out on many of today’s covers:  the male cover models are frequently tattooed. Oooh my. Is it hot in here?

I’ll say straight up – I’m a huge fan of tattoos. There’s something so sexy about them. Despite the fact that even cool grannies are sporting ink these days, there remains a bad boy element to a guy with tats. Like maybe he’s done some time. Or belongs to a motorcycle gang. I also like the permanence to them. It’s a commitment to get a tattoo, because unless you want to sit through painful electrolysis to get it removed, that tat’s staying put. It’s also not for the faint hearted. Having a couple of them myself, I can say with authority that getting a tattoo hurts, at least some of the time and in certain places on the bod. But yet … but yet. When I see a guy sporting tattoos, my interest meter definitely amps.

There’s a whole thing with tattoos in Kit Rocha’s dystopian erotic romance Beyond series. Our own Kiersten Hallie Krum, Madeline Iva, and I are all fans of the series (check out Kiersten’s blog on it here, and Madeline’s here), and tattooing is featured in it. Once someone is finally allowed into the main clan of the series and becomes a part of it, they “take ink,” and get tattooed to show their permanent allegiance. I like that. I also like that tattoos tell a story about the wearer. Not to say there aren’t people who just walk into a tattoo shop and decide to get a butterfly slapped on their ankle with no real affinity for butterflies other than they’re pretty. But more often than not the tattoo is chosen carefully and has meaning behind it. Those with tattoos frequently come up with the idea on their own and the artist’s design stems from that idea. So learning about why someone has a particular tattoo, why something is so meaningful to them that they made the decision to immortalize it on their bodies, is interesting, fascinating, and definitely downright sexy.

So, sexies, I leave you with tattooed heros to get you through your day. You’re welcome. 🙂

Shadowing Me Rock With Me Denying the Bad Boy Ink Lust Fighting Destiny


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  • Post authorTara

    Tattoos are hot indeedy! But I have to say, something I’ve always thought I was missing after switching to an ereader, were the covers of the books. Back in the paperback day, you’d put the book down and the cover would stare up at you. And who doesn’t like looking at a half nekked Regency Lord – tattoed or not – holding a beautiful lady about to be seduced? LOL. Now, you “put down” your book only to stare at the blank screen of your ereader, and when you fire it up to resume, your right back to the text you left. Other than when first buy the book (and I do believe a good, hot cover helps there!), first open it to read, or the thumb nails in your library, you don’t get to see the covers as frequently. Though I am guilty of referring back to them once or twice. 🙂

    Reply to Tara
    • Post authorElizabeth Shore

      I know what you mean, Tara. And those covers used to have a lot of effort behind them. The models, the clothes, the shoots. It used to all be put together for one unique cover. Now we often see the same photo on different books cause publishers are using stock photography. Oh well. At least the guys are still hot hot hot.

      Reply to Elizabeth Shore
      • Post authorKemberlee

        As a publisher, we try avoiding using the same stock images on covers. Unfortunately, there are those who come after us we can’t control. But we use really great designers who recognize this problem. One is famous for decapitating bodies and putting new heads on. On my own cover above, three people make up just the male character. 😉

        The thing with tattoos that has to be addressed is that tribal tats are out of fashion now in the real world, but they are consistently used on book covers because they’re easy. And most guys who did get them, wouldn’t have them that massive on their bodies. This was part of the challenge when finding tats for my guy. They had to be Celtic or Norse. Not easy to find good ones.

        I have to give proper credit to good cover artists though. There’s a lot of work going into a great cover.

        Reply to Kemberlee
  • Post authormadeline iva

    Someone was talking about tattoos and romance just the other day. I love a great cover — and miss that with ebooks for sure. I set my kindle so I can see the covers and I find I’m reading a lot more from it as a result.

    Reply to madeline iva

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