Covers That Could Have Been

The first book in my new Hanger’s Horsemen series released last Tuesday, and I’m so excited to have a cover that features a rugged cowboy hero. I’ve had a few heroes make appearances on other covers, but they were always the supporting cast to the heroine.

I have three covers where the heroes get an arm and a leg in the picture. (Although you gotta admit that arm on Levi is pretty nice.)

My first hero only got his leg in the picture.

I did get nearly an entire hero on three of my covers, but the heroine remains the focal point.

So having my cowboy hero front and center this time was an exciting change. And I love the model they chose as well as the addition of the horse as the supporting actor.

However, when I asked my publisher if they had any cover mock-ups that failed to make the final cut, I was surprised to find an entirely different cowboy on the cover. One with a shy smile, rugged physique, and a lot more facial hair.

Here are a few of the first version mock-ups. Notice the different poses, the different backgrounds, even different hat colors.

If I had to pick one of these iterations, I think I would take the bottom middle. I like the hat tip, the smile, and the sunset in the background. Although, I strongly prefer the font and series designation of the one at the top left, which is most similar to the final copy.

All in all, I think they made the right call. I really like the final cover.


Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Barnes & Noble


  • If you were to select one of the runner-up covers for this book, which would you pick?
  • What do you think of having a hero-centric cover? Is it less romantic without the heroine?




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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at:

66 thoughts on “Covers That Could Have Been”

  1. Karen- Good morning. The cover they chose is beautiful. All the covers are beautiful, I like the top right if I had to choose, that photo I think is the most rugged looking one.
    I like the covers to sometimes have the characters on them, but my only problem is that I read the book and the cover doesn’t fit the hero and heroine in my mind.
    So I truly prefer a cover with a scenery so I’m not persuaded by the stock photo. Publishers usually pick the writers photos and I wished they would let you all pick them with the type of main characters YOU ALL have written about. I sure hope that makes sense?
    Congrats on another great book.

    • That absolutely makes sense, Tonya. One thing I appreciate about my publisher is that they hire models for cover shoots in order to get as close as possible to the physical description the authors ask for. I give them photos I use for inspiration, but of course no model is going to be a perfect fit, especially for a story set in a different century. I do like covers without characters on them as well, though those are more common for non-romance titles. And while they didn’t match my vision of Matt perfectly, they came up with a pretty handsome cowboy to stand in for him, so I’m a happy camper. 🙂

  2. Good morning, Karen. Beautiful cover! I love hero-centric covers. And I agree with Tonya – top right would be my choice. Congratulations on the release.

  3. Hi Karen! Actually, I love the one with the horse and heroine. Second pick would be top right. Beautiful covers. Congrats on a new series. My kind of reading material … just sayin. Thank you for the heads up on a new series.

  4. It’s interesting they went with a more clean-shaven hero. And I think when there is a hero on the cover it almost makes me feel like I’m the heroin. LOL great covers. Love them all!

    • I’m with you, Heather. it’s easier to imagine myself as the heroine when she’s not on the cover. Ha! Oh, and in regards to the facial hair, my hero really doesn’t have a beard at all. He wears a horseshoe mustache that reaches down nearly to his chin, but no beard. They couldn’t find that exact fit, so they opted for the scruff. It works for me. 🙂

  5. I like the first one on the bottom. I love cowboys and I think they are romantic on covers. I like a variety with one or both.

  6. That’s a tough question. I do like having a couple on the cover. But I really like the final result. Of the cowboy runner up covers, I agree with you about the bottom center cover being the best of them.

  7. Hi Karen, congratulations on your new release. I love all your covers, but when I first saw the hero one, I went wow! I want that book! I’ve had to fight to get the hero on my own covers. I don’t know why. Readers are supposed to fall in love with him, right? So why not put him on the cover?

  8. Ooh, I like the final cover! I also love having the hero on covers. I know it is rare, but it looks really cool. Can’t wait to read this!

  9. I like the one on the top left of the “rejects.” I prefer to have the hero on the cover, if people have to be on it. I really prefer landscapes on the front, to be honest, but I know most want people on the covers.

  10. Hello Karen! I’m glad that I don’t have the make the tough choice of choosing a cover! I agree with you that the cover with the sunset is amazing.

    I believe covers should correlate with the story just enough to draw attention and spark interest to read more.

    • It’s definitely an art form. So much to consider. Not only how well it matches the story, but the marketing aspects of getting a new reader to pick it up and look inside. I’m glad it’s not up to me, either. 🙂 Though it would be fun to sit in on the meetings.

  11. I think the winner was perfect!!! Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t even fathom the other options. ? And while I do love ALL of your covers, I love this one just as much! Heroine or hero… ?

  12. I think the winner was perfect!!! Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t even fathom the other options. ? And while I do love ALL of your covers, I love this one just as much! Heroine or hero… ?

  13. Hi Karen, All of your covers are so appealing. From the ones for At Love’s Command, I like the top right cover. But, I love your cover for this book, it’s fun to see the hero front and center. Can’t wait to see your next book’s cover, and read it : ) Blessings!

  14. Since one I read romance novels is for my book boyfriends (don’t tell my husband ?), I love having the hero on the cover. I like the bottom middle as the runner-up. I like the hat tip and how it looks like his elbow is propped on the title sign. It makes me think of him casually leaning, elbow on the fence post, tipping his hat to a lady in his line of sight.

  15. I like the final best, but my runner up choice would be bottom left. Mostly because I like the hill country background. Being from the San Antonio area, I love the hills and clear streams and rivers. It was fun reading about that setting. Side question- were all the towns referenced in the book real? Some I recognized, some I did not.

  16. It’s always so much fun to get a “behind the scenes “ look at the possible cover options in the running for new books! Definitely think Bethany House made the right call for the cover they ultimately choose. However, if I had to pick one I’d say top row far right appeals to me! Really enjoyed “At Love’s Command” & am dying to read the other books in the Hanger’s Horsemen series. ?

  17. I like your choice, the lower middle one and the font that made it. If you judt glance at these covers, the model looks like Hugh Jackman!

  18. I Love the cover that was chosen the Best,that was a good call,I love that they have the horse on the cover also.For a runner up I like the top right hand side one , he looks gentle but at the same time tough enough. I like it that the hero gets to be shown more, and no, I don’t think not having the lady on the cover makes it less romantic.

  19. I’m in agreement with the top right because the others look too, peaceful? happy? Not “haunted by the horrors of war” at all. But, truth be told, I like the one that wound up on the actual cover the best. Also, while I love the book with the heroines on the covers (I love the clothes), I love this male-centric one also. Congratulations on the new release!

    • Thanks, Colleen. I love the big dresses on most covers, too. I think that’s part of why I love historicals so much – the clothes make me think of fairy tales. But I do like the change of pace having the hero front and center has given me.

  20. I like the font your name is in on the top row-middle cover. I like the cowboy on the top right. I am AMAZED at the photoshop skills of cover creators! They change hair, fabric, and other things so well.

  21. This guy is pretty fine too in all the poses but I’m rather smitten with the final cover man. I enjoy having the hero on the cover.

  22. I would pick the same one as you or the one next to it on the bottom left. But the final cover is my favorite and fantastic! I don’t think it’s less romantic at all! In fact, it gives the opportunity for the reader to easier put themselves with the hero and live vicariously through the heroine!

  23. I like the lower left cover. I like mountains, so the background appeals. I like the casual pose with just the hint of a smile. I like the font, which is a bit more “masculine” than the others. I do like the selected cover the best.

    The covers for your books have all been wonderful. TO WIN HER HEART and A TAYLOR MADE BRIDE have always been my favorites. Partial people let you finish the picture yourself from the story. Having only the hero on the cover gives you a start and lets you (the reader) imagine the heroine as you see her from the description in the story. There have been too many covers over the years where the covers do not reflect the description of the characters and some that do not have anything to do with the story.

    • I love mountains, too, Patricia. Too bad there aren’t many in Texas. We do have some nice hills, though. 😉 And I agree that it is disappointing when the models on the cover don’t match what is described in the book. But then, every person’s imagination probably paints a slightly different picture, anyway, so it would be impossible to match exactly. But basics like hair and eye color have no excuse for not matching in my opinion.

  24. Hi, Karen! I like the middle bottom hat tip. That is a pretty cover! Looking forward to starting this series.

  25. I like the way in the final cover the hero seems to have a lot on his mind. My fave by far. Fun to see them all, and it just came in on my e-library hold!! Excited!

  26. I think the one you choose was the best, but for 1st runner up I like the top right! I haven’t read the book yet, since I’m a binge reader, and wait for all of them to come out first! But this series, I might just have to go ahead and start!

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