Happy Valentine’s Day, sweethearts! There are, in my humble opinion, two ways to approach Valentine’s Day — you can either hate it and view it as a commercial scam (whether you’re single or not) OR you can embrace the commercialism, the romance, the saccharine and have some dang fun! And what better way to wear your hot ‘n steamy heart on your sleeve than by revisiting some real barn-burners of the romance cover genre.

AnOther’s tribute to “one of Britain’s most famous amourists” got me thinking about ROMANCE and the genre that, as one writer one described, their role as “field guides for resolving the real-life difficulties women face.” Dame Barbara Cartland, the romance novelist who wrote 723 titles — 723!!!! — also claimed to receive 49 proposals in her lifetime.

The queens of romance are my favorite kind of extra — just check out Danielle Steele’s desk! Romance novels still massively outsell any other genre, with Romance Writers of America estimating that sales of romantic novels were $1.08 billion in 2013 and made up 13% of adult fiction consumed year, more so than science-fiction, mystery and literary novels.

Romance has also garnered renewed interest from young women. There’s The Ripped Bodice, America’s only all-romance bookstore, and as a recent Dallas Morning News contributor wrote, the protagonists in romance novels are increasingly strong, take-no-shit heroines. “Some detractors like to call such romance novels ‘fantasies,’ but I don’t see it that way,” Ron Hogan wrote. “I see stories about women who know what they want from both their personal and professional lives and refuse to settle for less, who above all else believe, or come to accept, that they deserve happiness … and that while they won’t get that from a man, they might just be able to find it with him.”

In an ode to the romance novel, here are some of the most fun/beautiful/over-the-top covers:

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