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Compare with trends in Harlequin Historical cover designs.

Trends in Mills & Boon Historical Cover Designs
September 1977 to December 1983January 1984 to March 1986
The earliest Masquerade Historicals. Subtle differences in branding between these three examples (left: the 8 books from 1977; middle: 1978 to November 1980; right: December 1980 to December 1983). The Rose represents Mills & Boon. The font for the title and author is consistent from book to book. The frame colours are random but never two books the same in the same month. The spines take the same colours as the frames. Almost no montage covers. First fully-framed cover image. Rose logo redesigned. The words "Historical Romance" feature prominently. Again there's consistency from book to book with the typeface used for the author and title, which is plain and legible. The frames continue to be any colour, with matching spines. Just a couple of montage cover images.
April 1986 to June 1990July 1990 to December 1991
No fixed layout. The Masquerade/Masquerade Historical logo switches back and forth between these three designs, the third (without the word "historical") only appearing near the end of this design. About one cover in five contains a montage. The spines may be any colour with any typeface. A new Masquerade logo is introduced minus the Mills & Boon rose for the first time. Still no fixed cover design. The spines continue to be any colour and any font, and don't even have an "MB" or rose for branding. Montages account for around a quarter of the cover images.
January 1992 to September 1993October 1993 to June 1996
Same understated logo. Design not precisely fixed but I think of this as the "box or stripe" era. Only a few montages. The spines continue to be various colours etc. Branding changes to Mills & Boon Legacy of Love and a new rose design. Returns to a fully framed cover image with random colours and matching spines. The words "Legacy of Love" are so prominent that you will occasionally find second-hand copies being sold with this listed as the book title! A third or more of the cover images are montages, which is influenced by the very heavy use of them on the US Harelequin Historicals (the same art is often used in both countries). Covers from this era onwards are frequently reused for other M&B historical releases.
July 1996 to November 1998December 1998 to June 2000
Continues the same frame but rebranded to Mills & Boon Historical Romance. Along the way the M&B Rose and Historical Romance logos pick up a registered trademark symbol. As with the Legacy of Love design, the author and title are in consistent and clear white lettering. In March 1997 you begin to see Recency-era novels specifically flagged as such on the cover for the first time. The dark blue box isn't all that eye catching on some backgrounds, however. Shape of the frame changes. The oval frame changes to best suit the cover image used. M&B Historical line is assigned purple from now on as its signature colour.
July 2000 to June 2004July to December 2004
The "purple swoosh" is born. Author and title may be in either gold or white. The "purple swoosh" shrinks a little and now holds the Historical Romance branding rather than the author and title.
January 2005 to May 2007June 2007 to August 2010
The "swoosh" is tweaked again and it also contains images to evoke the setting of easily categorised books. The Historical Romance logo changes. The Mills & Boon Rose disappears and the Historical logo is tweaked again. Purple branding now at top and bottom. From August 2009 (the same month most other M&B lines get a thorough re-branding) the Historicals appear to loose their numbering. [The series number had previously graced the spine of every release from M1 to H1167.]
September 2010 to February 2012March 2012 to present
Mills & Boon redesign their whole range for the second time in quick succession (most of the other lines were also revamped 13 months ago). The new Ampersand/Rose logo is consistent across all their publications, although only the Historical line includes the foliage framework. Historicals shed their signature purple colour which they had used for over a decade. The authors' names are prominent; the font clear, rather than cursive or italic. The artwork is framed by a curve of variable orientation. The same six colours are used for each month's books (turquoise, purple, blue, red, green, grey). The covers now have the least branding since the early 1990s, with just a ribbon and ampersand/rose seal in the top corner. The gold bar either says Regency, or Historical (for everything else). The spines compensate for this lack of branding by having identical black/white design which is clear and relatively minimalist. Most of the covers contain a couple. The title and author tend to be in white or pale fonts, but the typeface varies widely. Some covers indicate that the book is part of a series by that author. The books are a few milimetres taller than the previous designs, like the ones from the seventies which also stick out on my shelves.