Monday, April 9, 2012


by Maureen Osborne

When my need to escape is awakened, I prefer erotic fiction. Erotica fuels my imagination and challenges the boundaries I erect against modern society. Literary, mainstream or ebooks, they have all satisfied this voyeur. And though erotic fiction is visually provocative, publishers do not always offer book covers that are as provoking as the narrative.

The primitive look of some ebook covers barely warrant a second look by the reader; let alone surrender. Artwork is often cobbled together from different sources and then layered on the page creating a distorted image. The title is created in a font that seems childish against the content of the story. Models seem to be chosen based on their level of undress with little to no thought given to sexuality or attraction.

Even more visually challenging are covers that resemble comic art. Though creative and subliminal, they do not immediately evoke eroticism nor simulate what the characters may look like.

A well crafted cover is an invitation to an exclusive private party. Two men and a woman, a woman alone or straddling another, the back of a man with his hands tied are all provocative requests to indulge.

Though it did not stop my re-reading the STORY OF O, the very banal cover photo of a seated woman in a black lace teddy and pale stockings did little to ignite my imagination. Considering the complicated story within, the weary looking model shielding her eyes, belied the resolute force O tapped into throughout the tale.

The Jana Rene Crucker photo on my copy of BELLE DE JOUR is a salute to Séverine and every woman who desired to be both wife and mistress. The model wears a bra and half slip seated on the floor of a shabby room in front of a mirror, an exploration of self, marriage or sex? Only the bottom half of her face and painted lips are shown looking back over one shoulder. The photo hides much of what we long to know.

Then of course, there is THE LORDS OF SATYR series written by Elizabeth Amber. DANE, her current novel is dominated by the photo of a nude male. There is no maybe, only the demand for surrender.

Whether subtle (SINFUL, Charlotte Featherstone), inviting (BAD AS SHE WANTS TO BE, Thea Devine) or blatant (HER PRIVATE JOHN, Betty Womack), erotic fiction demands cover art that invites the reader inside and to fuel the imagination before the narrative begins. ♥

Maureen Osborne is an aspiring author and member of RWANYC.  Her current project is an historical mystery that takes place in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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