One of the most fun parts of writing a romance novel is waiting to get the cover art back. For me, seeing the cover art of Le Chevalier for the first time was like opening a much-anticipated Christmas present. The analogy is probably fairly fitting considering the cover art could just as easily have been not quite what I wanted.
When I create characters I have a very specific image in my head, and the hope is that the cover artist comes at least somewhat close to what I see. As the author, many publishers give you some leeway to send the art back if the artist totally misses the mark, but it's a privledge you don't want to abuse. I've been told by other authors they've had to decide once or twice to just live with what you got.
For LeChevalier, I gave the publisher some ideas of other cover art I like. (I prefer covers that don't make me feel like I need to hide the book within another book if I'm reading in public.) I also gave a description of the hero and heroine since I wanted them on the cover. Bingo! The cover artist got it pretty much spot on.
Alexandra (Alex) is precisely what I was looking for. In the book, I described her as having dark brown hair and the hero, leChevalier de Mont Trignon, seeing her as sort of plain when he glimpses her across crowded ballroom. Yikes, that sounds cliche when I describe it! It's not as he is impersonating a woman when they first meet, which I'm not sure I've ever seen done in a traditional historical romance. (Yes, theirs is a traditional M/F relationship.)
Mont Trignon is a little blonder on the cover than I imagined and perhaps a little softer looking around the eyes. When I suggested this to one of the other authors in my critique group, she said, "Well he was able to pass himself off as a woman!" True. And, he is a French aristocrat, so I guess I can't blame the artist for making him look a little soft. Nevertheless, he's grown on me and I couldn't be happier with the cover.
I'd love to hear from you. Do you choose books based on cover art? Or do you not give it second thought?