Meet the chiseled, sizzling man on covers of 476 romance novels
The covers of romance novels are often of a dreamy, steamy place where muscled, tanned, flowing-haired heroes clutch corset-wearing, cleavage-bearing damsels in distress.
And they’re not paintings. They’re photographs of real people and often, it’s a photo of Jason Aaron Baca — a professional model for the covers of romance novels.
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Baca has graced the cover of 476 romance novels since 2007.
“You name it and I’ve done it,” says Baca, over the phone from his northern California home. “I get a lot of the sexy highlander man. I get to be the Viking a lot of times. A lot of it is the female model and myself in this embrace and we’re just two lovers.”
But there’s also a little bit of acting involved.
“Usually, it’s the confident, bold, rustic type look they’re after. With me it’s more of an expressionless look, yet the guy is constantly looking off into the field or into the sky, daydreaming about his woman who he has a lust for.”
Baca says there are only about a dozen guys featured on all of the romance novels. So how did he get into the business?
“I was at a bookstore. I glanced over at some romance books and I thought, wow, this is something I could do. I did modeling in the past but it really wasn’t my style. My style was always something different, something unusual. So when I locked eyes on these romance covers, I thought, wow, this is a challenge. Something that I definitely want to do.”
He contacted some of the authors and eventually got his first job. But first, he had to get in shape. He only had a month to create chiseled, washboard abs and he’s managed to maintain that body with lots of gym time and a lot of chicken breasts.
“All you fantasize about is your favorite meal,” he said. “For me I’m always thinking about some tasty pasta with pesto sauce. Eating a big old hot fudge sundae. I used to love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.”
You might be fantasizing about Baca — but Baca is fantasizing about pasta. But he says it’s all worth it.
“I mean, not every guy can say he’s a romance cover model,” he said. “I realize that and there were some sacrifices I needed to make in order to get that.”
And you won’t see Jason in a sexy, shirtless pirate ensemble in Tinder. He was married before he started his career in romance novels.
“She sees me as good old fashioned Jason,” he says, about his wife. “She doesn’t see me as that hero guy that’s putting on this act for these book covers. So she cracks up a lot of time when she sees me acting like a big old hot stud. Because she knows it’s not me, she knows I’m a down to earth guy.”
But Baca isn’t a full-time hot stud bodice ripper. His 9-to-5 gig is at a county housing authority in the Bay Area.
“I like to have a double sided life,” he said. “I get one way where I get to be an office worker. I go in, I have a nice, stable, commendable job that my family can relate to me with. Then I have this other side where I get to be a hero, I get to walk into a studio and be some fantasy person. It’s kind of like you get to be Clark Kent and you get to be Superman.”