For some reason, I thought Bookstagram was dead when I registered for Instagram last year. Boy, was I wrong! (And I'm so glad I was). I've been really fortunate to be able to connect with so many passionate book lovers. As you might imagine, there have been several inspirational posts that triggered me to take a leap into the writing world. One vital one has been #stepbacksaturday. Started by @pinkcowlandreads, this trend has influenced enthusiastic readers to showcase their recent finds that often (not all) fall under "vintage romances" that have the special stepback.
For context, stepbacks are additional illustrations after the front cover that often emphasizes the love interests. They can come in a variety of poses and may include one or two models representing the love interests. In some cases, they may also expand on, or add to, the same scenery that was used on the front or back of the book. Over a period of time, the value and time put into the stepbacks has changed, making some collector items for readers.
Admittedly, these romances can also fall under what some may call "bodice rippers." While most of us don't use that term anymore, it can refer to romances with alpha males, potentially dubious consent, and very, very dramatic covers. I would say that the majority of us appreciating these posts are older readers who understand what we are reading (both the good and the bad), and look at these romances as trailblazers in the industry. What makes these posts special is that we all can appreciate the beauty of the paintings and illustrations that make these books unique regardless of our backgrounds.
Additionally, #stepbacksaturday is one way for us to learn about the authors and the artists behind books published in previous decades like the 1980's. So while #stepbacks are predominantly featured, don't be too surprised if you find us ooh'ing and aah'ing over a unique cover as well. (@emmelnie is another Instagrammer who has a wealth of knowledge and freely shares us with the rest of us nerds in Romancelandia if you are wanting to learn more!)
As you can imagine, all of this made a lightbulb go off and me realize that romance books have a history just like literature does. Canadians don't know their bookish history as well as our American and British reading friends do, so this year I have been on a quest to find our hidden romance authors.
An example of a dramatic stepback for Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas.
Personal favourites of mine are the ones for Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, many for Virginia Henley's books, and my Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt.
Bookstagramers you should check out:
Next up: A Case Study on hidden romance stories and 19th century writing.