I titled my first manuscript Courtly Love. Each chapter referenced one of Capellanus' Rules of Courtly Love (also mentioned in The Courtier by Castiglione). It was, in my opinion, a smart title. Not only did each rule serve as a theme for the chapter, the overall message was that courtly love wasn't true love. In that book my hero and heroine learned that real love was gritty and uncomfortable, not all about show. Courtly Love was followed by Courtly Christmas, Courtly Marriage, and an intended (but never happened ) Courtly Consequences. All of them played on the reality versus the sophisticated ideal of their subject.
The big problem, aside from the apparently unpublishable nature of Tudor romps, was that none of these titles were in the least bit sexy. I took myself far too seriously. This advice was given by an author that I count as one of my favorites in the historical romance genre. She writes smart, strong, poignant stories all with a sense of humor and a decent deal of heat. I changed the titles to Courtly Pleasures, Courtly Scandals, and Courtly Abandon. Sexier? Yes. Published? No. Oh well.
I took the advice to heart for my next book, Possessing Karma. I didn't abandon my obsessive need for double meaning, but managed to make it have a sensual translation (my main character, Karma, gets possessed by ghosts, then in a more carnal way by Philippe. The ghosts are being punished by the force of karma, etc...).
Misleading title, maybe?
I'm having real trouble finding a title I like for my Ireland book, currently titled Touched by the Past. Gillian returns to Ireland, where she'd spent a troubled childhood, only to find the memories she'd written off as dreams were real. She has a connection to the forest, an ageless elemental spirit of earth. The problem is that the forest doesn't the limitations of her humanity and she doesn't want to accept what is happening to her. The forest barrages her with memories, some recent, some ancient, and she has trouble determining what's real. She also reconnects with a childhood sweetheart who helps her accept the supernatural element and is her support in fighting a very mundane enemy.
I've brainstormed, looking for themes that are both mystical and sensual. I've come up with to know/knowing, bared by/baring, exposed/exposure, open to, touched/touching/to touch, taken, etc... It's driving me crazy. I keep hoping the title will come to me in a moment of inspiration, but no luck on that front so far. With RWA 2013 conference rapidly approaching, I want a gripping title to have on my one sheet (even though I won't be finished, so won't really pitch it -- more just have it with me to show that I'm actively producing)
Titles matter. They make the first impression. What sort of titles appeal to you when buying a book? Have you ever bought on title alone?