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Art Show: Bodice Ripper

Prospectus and Entry Instructions

Exhibit Entries accepted from 2/1/2006 to 2/28/2006.

Banner for Bodice Ripper art show


Tempestuous and star-crossed - it was a passionate love that crossed continents. Revolutions could not keep them apart. Oceans could not extinguish the fire that burned between them.

Ah - the bodice ripper. Beautiful, fiery heroines and ruggedly handsome heroes with a steely gaze. Not only are they found in the pages of this perennial of romance literature, but they are oh-so evocatively captured on each and every cover. Often, the cover is more captivating than the story inside.

That is the challenge for this show - to create a cover for a romance novel. Heaving breasts and bulging biceps. Bare chests and flowing tresses. Knee boots, corsets, swords... whatever you think of when you think of romance novel cover art.

And don't forget the back cover of your bodice ripper. Create a brief synopsis of the epic tale of passion that your "front cover" tantalizingly illustrates and include it in your artist's statement.

Points to Note:

Entries do not have to be in book form. All entries must be original. A recreated cover of, or a cover created for a previously published work are not eligible for entry. All entries should be in line with cover art that could actually be published. If they wouldn't have it at the library, then it is not suitable. That means no nudity, no bits uncovered. Barely covered and provocative, yes... uncovered and explicit, no.

In addition to a story synopsis, a statement detailing the materials and process that went into creating your entry is required. It increases understanding of your work and significantly enhances the experience for the viewer. As texture or other small elements may be pivotal to the piece, detail shots are encouraged. All points of the prospectus should be met. If you have any questions regarding the prospectus and its requirements, please send them to

Entry fee:

$7 per piece (limit 3 pieces per artist). Please PayPal your fee to with "Bodice" in the subject heading. In the event that your piece(s) is ineligible for the show, your fee will be refunded in full.

This is a Juried Show

Juror: Caro Louaillier

Juror's Statement

First, I think all of the entries did an excellent job fulfilling the show's prospectus. I might not agree with all of them, but they expressed their viewpoint quite clearly both visually in verbally. Narrowing it down to three was difficult, and most of the entries were, in my opinion, superior to some of what I see on the market now.

Juror's Choice:

Duncan's Cove by Tami Oyler -- Aside from the classic cover composition, I found the cover both appealing and eye-catching. The soft colors give the scene a decidedly romantic feel and costume for the "hero" is attractive, yet avoids exposure of the dreaded man-titty so often seen on covers in this genre. The detail of the woman painting in the background is a nice touch and balances the title text. As for the story behind the cover, the back cover blurb and excerpt were well done and the story was one I would consider picking up if I saw it on the shelf. This one is a total package.

The Jack of Heart by John Christopher Borrero -- Though somewhat darker than the normal run of covers, I found something decidedly compelling in this photo collage. The way the woman turns partially away from the window teases the potential reader with the hint of an unspoken secret. The author and title text is well-paced and while readable, does not interfere with the composition of the picture. Nice analogy with the tulips in the excerpt, and good setup for a story of a relationship that is about to change. Extra points for the inclusion of the advance praise quotes, a vital part of marketing. I especially enjoyed the one from the Florida Flowergrowers; nice humorous touch.

Purity Denied by Darlene S. Russell -- One of the current trends in romance is toward more erotic stories with covers that push beyond what has been previously acceptable (unless you're trying to sell to WalMart). Censored or uncensored, this work reflects that trend in a way, but also rises above simple shock or titillation. In my opinion, the bright red "censored" labels reflect the story that is being told, the journey of discovery Sister Beatrice is on while rendering the cover acceptable for public display in the local Barnes & Noble. The use of both white and red fonts in the title ties in nicely.

Honorable Mentions:

Rape is NOT Romance by Cynthia Gaub -- I will confess to initially being annoyed by this piece. As a romance writer, I've often been confronted by those who dismiss my work as mere "bodice rippers," not worthy of consideration. At first glance, it would be easy to class this as one of those statements. The cover appears to follow the erotic romance trend, but the text offers something else upon closer examination. In her statement, the artist notes that "They may be viewed as a form of escapist fiction, with the historical background providing a way of allowing the reader to indulge in a rape fantasy without guilt. This taps into a darker side of romances that most romance readers don't want to admit exist even though the "Alpha Hero" found in the classic bodice ripper of the 70s and 80s is making a come back.

Theirs Was a Love Like No Other by Linda Falge -- Aside from making me laugh hysterically, the artist has hit the often overblown nature of the back cover blurb on the head. (Blurbs are usually written by Marketing, whom author Anne Stuart once pointed out was the enemy, not editors). If one read the blurb and did not see the cover, it would be easy to picture it attached to a classic clinch over with the woman's bosom over-flowing her dress as her back is bent at an impossible angle before the onslaught of the naked man-titty and carefully coifed mullet of the hero. With this inter-species depiction -- most likely to be banned at WalMart! -- the parody is spot on.

About the Juror

Caro can’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing something or the other and finished her first “novel” at the age of eight (five pages which her mother still has and threatens to sell to the National Enquirer when she makes the NYT bestseller list). Born in Texas, she currently hails from Los Angeles, the land of film noir and demon karaoke bars, which suits her love of old movies just fine, and provides a constant source of inspiration. November 2005 saw publication of her paranormal romance story "Here's Looking At You" in Linden Bay Romance's holiday anthology Romance Unwrapped. In addition to completing several historical romances, she has presented "Dressing the Part" at several national conferences, a hands-on workshop which gives attendees the chance to see how historical undergarments effect the wearer -- and just how difficult a well-made bodice is to rip. Like many writers, she's working to find a balance between the 9 to 5, family and craft.

Caro's blog can be found at The Mess in Progress

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