A Pink Cover Retrospective

No one seems to know quite what to do with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Over the course of its relatively short life span, it’s been packaged as chick lit, as historical fiction, as suspense, and as romance– sometimes by the same publishers.

With the advent of the new mass market cover, this seemed like a fun time to look back over some of the more dramatic cover shifts.

Here’s the original artwork for the Pink hardcover (circa 2004) and its last minute replacement (2005):

Then you can compare the trade paperback (2005) with the new mass market (2010):

My English publishers also had trouble picking a look. Here’s the hardcover artwork versus the paperback:

The German cover for Pink– or, as they call it, Verbotene Liebschaften– underwent a particularly dramatic shift:

Which, I suppose, just goes to show how hard it is to judge a book by its cover….


  1. Elissa on March 25, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I love the German Covers. I also love how they totally changed the title (not that it doesn’t suit the books perfectly).

    Have you ever thought about writing a prequel? The Exploits of the Purple Gentian. I’d love to see what Richard, Miles and Geoff were doing before Amy, Jane and Hen co-opted their spying.

  2. Leyla Kyria on March 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I still love the English artwork version. That was one of the reasons why I even bothered to pick up the book at the bookstore. It wasn’t like the other “typical” romance novels that I don’t care to read at all. Anything that has the main focus on how much to show off of the womans body parts or mans chest is one that I don’t even bother to pick up. And to be honest, the Carnation series is one that I LOVE becasue it isn’t all about sex. It is 75% adventure, excitement, spy fun and 5% new innocent love and 20% complete comic fun spread throughout. That kept me smiling the entire time. The part that I loved the most was the fact that you reminded how much I loved the sensation of butterflies following the innocent touch of the hands or the giddy feeling you get when your crush happens to lock eyes with you. That is what I love about your series. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many people that love the lusty romance novels jam packed with hot sexy love-making…I understand – but that isn’t me. And being an artist myself I can see the beauty of the body to which they base those other covers on, ones to lure you in. But Lauren, your series is SOOOOO much more than that, and the simple cover proving the timeframe of the story by the dress without being too exotic is all that I needed to want to pick it up. Now I understand that what I like is just a speck in the collosal collage of opions that you get…but I hope you understand and take it into consideration for your future masterpieces! When it’s good, it’s good and yours is perfect as it is. Keep it simple and don’t let fall behind all the other covers 🙂

  3. Laura B. on March 25, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I like the original cover (the woman with the bag). Having the book in her bag illustrates the story-within-a-story element of the novel. It’s a historical story within the frame of a contemporary story, just like the pink carnation book inside the modern woman’s bag.

  4. Lisa Maddox on March 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I like the original hardback cover. I picked the book up because I thought the cover convad a historical suspense (which is how I would classify the book) I think that there are some clues to the story with the costume setting a time period and love the pick flower. I do like the story with a story cover of the original cover, but it seems to give too much of a “chick lit” vibe.

  5. Christine on March 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I agree with everything Leyla said. I really love both sets of European covers. They’re just sensual enough without being a Fabio-type. They definitely would’ve gotten my attention.

  6. Stephanie Ball on March 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I really like the first one but it doesn’t fit the books. I always pictured Eloise with kinda a frizzy bun because she was to busy to care what her hair looked like but i do LOVE that cover. But i also love the original pink cover as well. the other seem a bit to foofy to me. I like the historical fiction look.. and again THANK YOU for no guy with a sock in his pants.

  7. TheHoyden on March 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    It’s interesting how the original artwork that was replaced focused on the modern part of the book. It would’ve been neat if they somehow both could’ve been released…I like the contrast between the modern and the past.

  8. Caroline on March 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I love all the covers each is apealing in its own way and would IMO draw a different croud which is fabulous b/c everyone should try these books!

    The only cover I do not like is The Masque of the Black Tulip…to me it just does not go with the others. But that so did not stop me from reading and loving it!

  9. Angie on March 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Um, the dresses in the foreign edition covers aren’t any shade of pink! And only one has any pink at all (in the title)! How ironic is that?!

  10. Tami on March 26, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Loooove the English covers!! I’d never seen them before. Definitely the most intriguing of all of the versions thus far, I’d say..

  11. Becky on March 26, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I really like the English covers but my favorite thing is that the title in German is actually “forbidden liason.”

  12. Jane on March 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    What style is that dress on the mass market pb of Pink Carnation supposed to be? Ack. It certainly isn’t period,not with that naked back, and it isn’t really pink, either.

    Oh well.Only one real howler in the lot is pretty good.


  13. Alicia on March 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I really like the original 2004 cover! Very cool. It’s true though how each of the covers makes you think something a little different as to what the book may be about or what it is- is it chick lit? a mystery? Thanks for sharing those!

  14. Jennifer on March 29, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I have to say – I never write in to stuff like this, but I was about to talk about the subject on my own blog – the covers seem kinda dumbed-down for american/mass market audiences, which is a shame. I first picked up, and read, the original Pink (hardcover) cover, but if I had seen the 2010 mass market, or even the English ones, I think I might have walked on by. Often, more cleavage on the outside equals less brains on the inside, and Eloise deserves better! I might just be being snobby here, but even the matte, vs. glossy, covers is a bit more appealing to someone who picked up the book looking for historical fiction, vs romance. But I would love to see a study where they put two diff covers in different aisles of bookstores (romance, historical fiction, mystery), with fake names/titles, but the same descriptions, and tracked how they sold!

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