I love it when I get a romance cover that makes me smile when I open the box. One with a hero who looks old enough, worldly enough, dangerous enough to live up to the role I’ve given him.
Unlike many authors, I rarely work from a photograph, never use a actor as role model for instance, but as soon as I saw this man in a photographic magazine, I knew I had found my “sheikh” so, when my editor, needing advance stuff for the cover of The Sheikh’s Guarded Heart, asked for my “vision” of my hero, my setting, I sent her this photograph, along with a lot of other stuff (including a postcard of T E Lawrence, which I bought at the National Portrait Gallery).
As you can imagine, I had high hopes. Sheikh Hanif was strong, powerful, a superb horseman, a poet.
Naturally, his first encounter with Lucy Forrester was not promising: --
‘Hold still, I’ve got you.’
She heard the words, but they didn’t penetrate the thinking part of her brain as she fought to break free.
It wasn’t the harsh order that shocked her into motionless silence, or the fierce, hawk-like features of the man who gave it. It was the gleaming knife blade, so close to her face that she could almost taste the metal at the back of her throat.
Make a note of that. “... fierce, hawk-like features...”
Later, I wrote this:
‘I remember you,’ she said.
Even without the keffiyeh wound about his face she knew the dark fierce eyes, chiselled cheekbones, the hawkish, autocratic nose that had figured so vividly in her dreams.
Now she could see that his hair was long, thick, tied back at the nape with a dark cord, that only his voice was soft...’
Okay. Underline “hawkish”, add in the chiselled cheekbones, the nose, add in the long, thick hair, tied at the nape.
Got all that?
So how come I’ve got this stranger on my cover? You see him? Short hair (some mousy brown colour), soft face, love handles, nerd shirt?