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10 Romance Covers With Zero Abs

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Trisha Brown

Contributing Editor

Trisha Brown grew up in Washington State and moved to Washington, DC, to work on programs that support vulnerable families. She decided to take a break in 2019, so now she’s traveling around the United States learning about different places and communities. She plans to return to her life in DC eventually, but for now she can be found chatting with people in bars and parks, catching up on sleep, and trying to keep herself from buying more books than her car and budget can handle. Find her on Instagram (@trishahaleybrown) or Twitter (@trishahaleybrwn).

For one reason or another, I’ve recently noticed an unusually high number of people in my social media and in-person worlds complaining about the prevalence of “abs” on romance covers. You know the sort of boring, self-congratulatory comments. It’s stuff like, “Ugh, I can’t take these books seriously because of all the abs!” and “Oh, abs are nice, but wouldn’t a real story be even nicer?” or “Well, I’ve already hit my ‘real’ book quotient, so I might as well have abs to admire since I’m only going to be reading trash anyway!”

Setting aside the fact that there’s an actual cliché about not judging books by their covers, the idea that an exceptionally well-sculpted human body on the outside of a book would disallow an exceptionally well-crafted human story on the inside is bizarre and at least a little lazy.

But romance is multi-faceted, and if people need romance covers that are ab-free (maybe they have a religious thing or a medical condition or whatever), then so be it. Here are some creative, unique—and ab-free!—covers that also happen to adorn some great romance stories.

Cover of Between a Rock and a Hot MessBetween a Rock and a Hot Mess by Phyllis Bourne

If all of the abs on all of the covers are going to be replaced by charming cake pops, I can actually get on board, tbh.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

I guess the woman on this cover technically has abs, but I think it’s fair to say they’re overshadowed by all of the badass featured here.

A Study in Scarlet Women a Charlotte Holmes NovelA Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

See An Extraordinary Union above and just go ahead and apply the same principle.


the-wedding-date-coverThe Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The only body parts this cover has on it are heads. And I genuinely love this cover, but you might need to think about who you are as a person if you’re cool with disembodied heads but not people with midsections.

Roomies by Christina Lauren CoverRoomies by Christina Lauren

Full disclosure, this book is being made into a movie, and Jenna Dewan has amazing abs, so be careful how far down the road of this story you go if you are opposed to impressive abs.

Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker

No abs here, but I also feel I should tell you that this excellent book is not about feathers. At all.

Alisha-Rai-Be-My-Fantasy-CoverBe My Fantasy by Alisha Rai

Well, it’s not abs and that’s the criteria, so it counts and you’re welcome.

Cover of Beard in Mind by Penny Reidbeard in mind by Penny Reid

Just out of general curiosity, I wouldn’t mind seeing the versions of Reid’s Winston Brothers series cross-stitch covers that include abs, but they’re also awfully great as they are, and it seems a little unfair to ask her to do more.

Cover of Thaw by Elyse SpringerThaw by Elyse Springer

I love this book, and the fact that the lack of abs means I get to include it in this post delights me. So just go read it.


Fifty Shades of Grey coverFifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I leave you with this note of caution, everyone: this is what can happen if you have no abs. Put less dramatically, a lack of abs is not a in anyway an indicator that a book is of high quality. At all. So maybe don’t judge a book by the abs on its cover.