Searching for Shemar

For the last week or so, I’ve been working alongside my fellow Amalfi Nights authors to design the covers for the series. The fabulous team at Tule Publishing consistently produces gorgeous covers, so I wasn’t worried about the final result. The process has proved to be quite interesting. Lots goes into an appealing cover design: typefaces, positioning, size, arrangement, color scheme, mood, and, of course, image. You’d think finding the perfect cover image would be easy–but then you’d be wrong.

When you’re making up characters, it’s easy to visualize your people if you have a touchstone image to fall back on. The inspiration for my hero, Shel Myerson, was Criminal Minds’ Shemar Moore. Not just because that “baby girl” talk he shares with Kirsten Vangsness’s Penelope Garcia is knee-melting, but, well, look at him:

Seriously. It’s not even fair for him to be this good looking. The internet is full of pictures of Shemar Moore just getting it done, man-wise. Shemar in a tux. Shemar on the beach. Shemar and his abs. Shemar grinning. Shemar doing his knee-melting best to remind you why the male animal is such a lovely gift to the world. (And I like to think he’s just as nice as he is gorgeous, so if you know anything to the contrary, please keep it to yourself).

But when it came time to find “my Shemar” for the book cover, things weren’t so easy. Apparently, there are no sexy biracial men in the world of stock photography. I spent hours–literally, hours–searching images and trying all kinds of keywords to find an anonymous hot guy in a tux we could use for the cover, and…nothing. Seriously, nothing! I could find biracial men, but they were alone. I could find couples, but the guy was white. I found mixed couples that would enrage you over their stereotypical portrayal of the two partners and their relationship. If I put the keyword “sexy” in the search box, I found images that would never work (note to the SEO monkeys: “sexy” does not mean “close up of a girl’s butt in a thong” or “naked woman wrapped around a fully dressed man”). If I’m having this much trouble finding one simple image, I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for writers known for their diverse characters. It was weird at first, then annoying, then downright insulting. Nearly every elegant couple was white. Every. Single. One.

The world is getting more and more interesting in terms of who people fall in love with. The rigid divides between groups are more fluid; mixed couples are becoming the norm in some places. I didn’t think I was doing anything groundbreaking when my hot biracial billionaire arrived on the Amalfi coast, but apparently I was mistaken. At least, that’s what the stock photos tell me. That is so, so wrong.

In the end, we did find a great image to use for the book. I’m thrilled with my cover–with the whole series of covers, as it happens–but of course I think mine’s the best. (Proud book mama moment. Indulge me.) And yet…and yet. In my heart of hearts, I know my guy looks dark because of lighting, not because of him.


The Billionaire’s Deception will be released August 24 from Tule Publishing’s Holiday Books imprint. Find out more here, and be sure to check out the other books in the Amalfi Night Billionaires series!
August 17 – The Billionaire’s Temptation by Katherine Garbera
August 31 – The Billionaire’s Betrayal by Nancy Robards Thompson
September 14 – The Billionaire’s Secret by Kathleen O’Brien
September 21 – The Billionaire’s Charade by Eve Gaddy

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