I was reading The Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector’s Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction Paperbacks by Gary Lovisi. Well, I couldn’t manage the whole thing. But I read the introduction and the chapter on “romance” and learned a few things.

I didn’t jot down the names but this is what I understood:

In the 1940s and 1950s, the art department for publishers of inexpensive fiction sent detailed instructions to artists who drew sleazy covers. The books were aimed at heterosexual men and were pretty smutty if the titles and blurbs were to be believed.

Many of them featured a disrobing or disrobed girl, sometimes at the mercy of a fully clothed man.  One cover amused me with its cover: a topless girl whose chest is delicately hidden by a tree branch.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  According to Lovisi’s research, many of the these same artists started working on the clinch covers for romance novels.  To my mind, it’s no wonder a lot of romance novels in the 1970s and later had partially undressed women and men in sleazy poses.  There’s no point in an old dog learning a new trick.

This may be old hat to romance fans but I feel that I’ve discovered why some romance novels used to have those appalling covers.

On the positive side, I did like many of these romance covers.  Link.  “Silent in the Sanctuary” and “Firefly Lane” were my favorites.

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