Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tacky Tuesday

While going through my bookshelves last weekend, I found another bunch of vintage historical novels whose covers (and blurbs) are the epitome of tackiness.

I don't think anything can quite match the tackiness of the first batch, though. Has anyone actually read any of these?

"To restore the honor of Rome and of his own family, Severus Varus left the decadent life of Rome... his only hope was to join the barbarians."

From the back cover: "Violence, desire, and royal intrigue! With the clash of swords and the thrust of spears, The Purple Quest builds to an exciting climax in the city of Tyre and aboard the ships that for five hundred years had carried the Phoenicians to the farthest corners of the ancient world..."

"Godiva... beautiful but unhappy. Tom was a cautious man -- he never meant to spy..."

"Jezebel, whose bewitching beauty was a deadly weapon, would stop at nothing to further her greed for power. One man among many who came under her spell was Prince Michael of Judah."

"The tumult of battle and the decadent luxuries of harem life are all vividly recreated in this lusty novel of 16th century Turkey."

"Barbaric Greeks storm the walls of the great city, hungry for the wealth of the rich and highly cultured Trojan civilization."

"A magnificent, ringing novel of the days when lusty Northmen raped and plundered the civilized world."

"Unholy love! Amid the soft, scented corruption of the royal court, the mighty Cardinal Richelieu had held himself aloof... but when this steel-nerved man beheld the young Queen Anne, his body betrayed him, and for the first time his brilliant mind became a servant to his lust."

37 comments:

  1. Those are hysterical!

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  2. Oooh, some of these really ARE tacky! Is it just me, or do romance novels have the worst covers EVER?

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  3. Was there a law only to show ugly men?

    I don't think the eagles were lost.I think he's wearing them.

    The Cardinal Queer? I'd say it WAS unholy!

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  4. That does look like an R in the title of the Anthony, doesn't it? It's the only one I've read, and I don't remember it being especially racy.

    Aside from the last one, the novels were aimed primarily at male readers. Heterosexual male readers, that is. Thus we have women draped in sheets (or long hair), plenty of cleavage, and ugly men.

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  5. These are great!

    So Master Tom "never meant to spy..?" Yeah, we believe you, Master Tom.

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  6. Oh, these are just wonderful! I particularly love the extremely authentic women's hairstyles.

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  7. Blimey!
    I will never complain about my book covers again - ever!

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  8. These are just, um....awful! (but wonderful examples of tackiness). And I don't see anyone fessing up to reading any of them.

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  9. Well, I'll confess. I was actually quite fond of Frank G. Slaughter in my youth many years ago. I don't remember much about any of his books now, nor am I sure I've read the two you have pictured. But the Jezebel one rings a bell, so to speak.

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  10. Despite the artwork and double entendre-laden blurb, The Purple Quest seems to be pretty standard historical adventure fiction. I wonder what the author thought about his paperback covers... but I bet they sold books!

    Lady Godiva and Master Tom, however, is VERY trashy.

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  11. Sandra3:20 PM

    I've got a copy of Alfred Duggan's superb novel 'Conscience of the King' but with a very tacky cover, just like all these :-) I shall have to scan it one day ... Definitely never judge a book by its cover!

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  12. How funny are they now? I remember these kind of covers in my Mother's bookshop in the early eighties!

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  13. I still have some books with covers like these. LOL

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  14. Okay, I confess: I've read The Cardinal and the Queer - I mean, Queen :) I recall it being fun but I was a teenager and it's hard to judge now especially with hf having undergone so much transformation. What was considered cutting-edge then would no doubt make us guffaw now.

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  15. Oh and my favorite cover is definitely Lady Godiva - as envisioned by LooneyTunes!

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  16. I recall reading quite a few of Frank Slaughter's books during my late teens, and I'm sure I read this one about Jezebel, and I read the Cardinal and the Queen, too. I don't remember much about either of them, but they are the types of hf I cut my teeth on quite honestly. It's what there was way back then. : )

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  17. Is it wrong that some of these actually make me feel a bit quivery?
    Maybe that's why I write erotic romance LOL

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  18. Some of them are not just tacky, but disturbing. Especially The Viking one with its back cover description of the "magnificent" days of rape...

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  19. Paula4:33 PM

    I love the scandalous exclamation (question) on the cover of Lady Godiva and Master Tom:

    Could nothing stop this woman?

    Not that I have read it, so I don't know how the story turns out in this book, but instead of feeling scandalous, it makes me want to cheer her on. Darn right nothing could stop her!

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  20. Goblin4:50 PM

    With the ... thrust of spears, The Purple Quest builds to an exciting climax

    Oh, yeah, baby. They know what the book's selling feature is.

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  21. "Is it just me, or do romance novels have the worst covers EVER?"

    What an interesting reaction. I didn't think any of these books could be considered romance. They seem to be geared towards male readers.

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  22. Eva Lynn6:22 PM

    ...is it wrong that I actually kind of want to read "The Cardinal and the Queer", if only it existed?

    (And I do think a few of those have blurbs that could fit either a romance or... whatever you call the genre 'The Trojan' and 'Viking' sound like they fit in, I can't find the word right now. I'm pretty sure "misogynistic power fantasy" isn't a genre name. Personally I think Lady Godiva, Curse of Jezebel, Tisa, and of course The Cardinal and the Queen, could be seen as romances from what's posted here, even if they actually aren't.)

    I think Sarah's right about the reason for the ugly men. It's like in (straight) porn -- gods forbid a guy watching might see a man who's actually good-looking and accidentally get turned on! Still, that doesn't explain all the ugly men on the covers of actual romance novels...

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  23. Samantha7:23 PM

    I love the Lady Godiva cover:

    "COULD NOTHING STOP THIS WOMAN?"

    Hilarious!

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  24. Freyathorn9:58 PM

    'The Viking' was made into an action movie with Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas -- rapes and mutilations and death by crabs, oh my!

    The Vikings

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  25. God, aren't they just fab!

    I am sure my mother had some with covers just like this!!

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  26. My first copy of "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand, now considered a classic, had a scantily clad woman lying supine, thrusting her ladyparts into the air, and a man in a suit, hand to chin in classic Sean Connery as James Bond pose looking at her. I wish I still had that cover! I think it was a Pan paperback, and I might not be remembering it entirely because I lost it years ago. But the woman is seared on to my eyeballs!

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  27. Oh no, not death by crabs!

    I'd known The Viking was a popular novel at the time of its first publication, but hadn't realized it was made into a movie. The dialogue quoted on the IMDB page - um, wow.

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  28. They all look quite retro and deliciously thrilling to me lol - if I saw them in a bookshop now I would buy!

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  29. I know I read the book about Jezebel. I read a LOT of Frank Slaughter in my younger days. That's what was in the library. I also read a lot of Frank Yerby. One of those Franks had a lot of medical books... But yeah, I remember those covers. And we're not talking 80s, people. We're talking late 60s, early 70s, because I read Jezebel in high school, and I graduated in 1972. (Dating myself here.)

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  30. Great stuff - love The Purple Quest!

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  31. What astoundingly tacky covers. Thank goodness covers for historical fiction have gotten much better now. I'm the author of the forthcoming "Mistress of Rome," and I held my breath while my cover was being designed. Fortunately, it's lovely - but I gave myself nightmares imagining a bodice ripper cover in which historically inaccurate buildings were on fire while bosomy women cling to a Fabio gladiator.

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  32. Hi Kate - I think the cover of Mistress of Rome is gorgeous! It was included in one of my occasional "visual preview" posts for spring 2010, here. And yes, cover art has greatly improved. I'd have been embarrassed to be caught reading many of these.

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  33. Yes, I caught your spring preview - it thrilled me to be mentioned here, since I've been a longtime reader of your blog. My English cover is just as good; I posted it on my website, www.katequinnauthor.com. It's very HBO Rome-cover-box!

    I think I remember dipping into the Cardinal and the Queen in high school; it was just as lurid as the cover suggests. I wanted to cover it with brown paper before reading it on the bus, as people used to do with copies of Lady Chatterly's Lover.

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  34. I'm glad to hear you've been reading the blog! You're right, the UK cover is very much like Rome. It's great. Gotta love the red accents on both!

    I've read Cardinal and the Queen and must have put the trashiness out of my mind because I remember very little about the plotline... aside from a questionable implication about Louis XIV's parentage.

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  35. And they got the Cardinal wrong - Queen Anne had an affair with a cardinal, but with Mazarin not Richelieu . . .

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