Yesterday I found a book called The Art of Romance, featuring hilarious artwork from old Harlequin and Mills & Boon covers. While searching this morning for the various wonderful covers featured within, I ran across Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a website devoted to reviewing romance books (and more than occasionally poking fun at the covers). I am an amateur, they are professionals. Check out their wit and snark.
Over at The Independent, you can enjoy a little slideshow of old Mills & Boon covers, featuring such gems as Romance Goes Tenting by Phyllis Matthewman. (No double entendre intended, I'm sure.) And what the hell does the clown in the background have to do with this book? I really hope he's just randomly on the cover, otherwise we've got a romantic remake of It on our hands. (Click that link with caution - it's funny, but there's still a clown.)
Another wonderful, awful title is Grace Before Meat by Sara Seale. Not sure I even want to speculate about the implications there, but it apparently has something to do with a riding crop.
On the other hand, The Art of Romance does feature some beautiful covers, from way back in the 1920s. I love them because I love the styles of that era. Don't ask me what Crump Folk Going Home is supposed to mean, but Constance Holme certainly had some wonderful cover art.
I wish the cover of Fortune Hunters by C.N. and A.M. Williamson existed on the Internet - it's a beautiful cover, featuring simply a girl's head, dressed up in a flapper hairstyle and headband. The coloring is beautiful.
So no, not all romance art is awful, but covers like Man - and Waif by Jan Tempest make me question that. (Is he supposed to be going up stairs, coming down them, or falling into the ocean? I just don't know.)