If you’ve ever read a romance novel, chances are you’ve seen Jason Aaron Baca on the cover – the 41-year-old has modeled for 403 covers and counting!
So what exactly is it like to be the subject of women’s literary fantasies? The Saratoga, California resident tells PEOPLE everything you want to know!
How did you first get into modeling for romance novels?
I was walking through a bookstore eight years ago, and I glanced over at a novel that caught my eye. It had a cover of a guy that was in shape, tough-looking, and someone I thought I’d like to mirror. I was a victim of desire from that point on! I wanted nothing more than to be a cover model.
I had no clue how to go about it. Up to that point, I’d only modeled for fitness and clothing commercial ads. So I started contacting a few of the novel authors. One got back to me after a few months, and said she would shoot an image of me for the publisher’s graphic artist for her next book. It ended up being my very first romance cover.
How does it differ from regular modeling?
With regular modeling, they may have you doing crazy faces or awkward poses. For romance covers, it’s different. They give you information beforehand so you know the type of character or hero you are going to be. Will I be the handsome, rugged highlander or the gentle ex-lover wanting to get back into her heart?
Has an image ever been so altered it no longer looked like you?
It’s happened. Most of the time when I see something like that, it’s where my entire head is cropped. I’m not a fan of that! I feel like, “Hey wait a minute – you like my body but not my face? What’s wrong? This age-defying moisturizing cream isn’t cutting it?”
Do you read romance novels yourself?
I actually enjoy them! They are quite enchanting. It’s always fun to get a copy [of a book I modeled for] mailed to me, and then I open up the book and say to myself, “Let’s see what I’m up to this time!”
How do you stay in such incredible shape?
I maintain a balanced diet and perform a complete, 1-hour circuit with weights six days a week. I work out hard because I know that muscles equal better looks, and better looks equal more covers!
We often associate romance novel models with long, flowing hair. Do you ever grow yours out?
With the way editing is nowadays, they can put some extensions in my hair. But I tend to wear my hair longer.
Do women ever recognize you?
People from all walks of life do – men and women. [They don’t usually] come up to me, though; they’re more likely to look confused. I can see them trying to sort out where they may have seen me before!