The Art of Romance, published by Prestel, takes you on a journey through the cheesy history of Mills & Boons and Harlequin book covers. The epitome of essential gender stereotyping, it’s a soppy soap opera that spans a century in a series of colourfully stylised illustrations bound in a single book. Promising excitement and smut couched in the security of naivety and sentiment, one wonders at the female readership who had to temper their guilt within these acceptable limits of naughtiness. The covers capture and reflect changes in fashion trends and shifts in cultural attitudes, norms and boundaries, from the tame early Harlequin days to sometimes risqué depictions later on. Appealing to the psyche of women in search of tingling excitement, dramatic emotions and the warm fuzzy feeling of true love, these covers are an insight into the stereotypes and dreams of times gone by.