Former Riskies,  Reading

An Oldie But a Goodie – Loving Julia by Karen Robards

One of my favorite Romances is Loving Julia, by Karen Robards, which came out in 1986. I probably read that book a bazillion times. The hero, Sebastian, was :::gasp::: blond! Here’s the cover:

Cover of Loving Julia by Karen Robards
Cover of Loving Julia

Yes, it’s a little beat up, but I read this book a lot. On page 36, Sebastian is described like this:

This man was blond, lean, and blindingly beautiful with the flawlessly molded face of one of the Lord’s archangels.

On that cover, people, the hero is BLOND.

Blond heroines abound in Romance, but sometime in the mid-1990’s I think, the blond hero became anathema on the cover and almost as rare between the pages. Word was, blond heroes don’t sell. I checked on Amazon, by the way, and the available paperbacks of this book have a yellow cover with flowers, not a shirtless blond dude about to ravish a brunette beauty. Readers complain about covers that don’t match the story, but this one comes pretty darn close.

Why I loved this book

I loved the icy, remote, Sebastian, and I loved how he learned to unbend. It’s a Pygmalion story and I had the same issues with the trope here as I do with My Fair Lady; the quickness with which women are trained up to be worthy of a man. But Sebastian is no asshat ‘Enry Higgins, thank goodness. I think it’s the blond hair. Like Eliza Dolittle, Jewel, the heroine, is not stupid. She really, really, wants to take advantage of this chance to change her life.

Sebastian gets drunk and has intercourse with her, and for Jewel it’s emotionally transformative and for him–so he says later, it’s a blank.

Robards writes a good grovel and you know it’s coming.

And that’s why I LOVE this book.


As I thumbed through my copy of this book, I could not help noticing that the pages are yellow, getting brittle, and though the pages are still glued in, if I read it again, I’d have to be careful.

Which makes me wonder about people who talk about the permanence of paper books.

Not really, right? They only mean certain books. Not all books.

Alas, alas, alas, Loving Julia is NOT available as an eBook, and that makes me sad.

What’s one of your favorite romances?

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9 years ago

Thriftbooks has sixteen copies available (soon to be fifteen). I thought I was done buying books for the week. So much for good intentions, setting goals, and all that other stuff.

One of my favorites is Meredith Duran’s Duke of Shadows. It struck a big ol’ nerve concerning the numbness of depression. Another, lighter fave is Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible. And then there’s…

Carolyn Jewel
Carolyn Jewel
9 years ago
Reply to  Karenmc

Never ends, does it?


[…] hair, that is. Carolyn Jewel wrote about an old favorite romance, Karen Robards’ Julia, and how rare its blond hero is in romance novels today. Her post […]

N.J. Walters
9 years ago

Love this book. It’s funny you mentioned it on your blog. It was only last week I was searching for it in ebook. I moved years ago and had to get rid of my copy. *sigh* Would so buy it on ebook. Was looking for Loving Julia by Karen Robards and A Fire in the Heart by Katherine Sutcliffe. Neither of them are available in ebook.

Just reread Tiger’s Eye by Karen Robards. Absolutely love this one.

J. Sapa
J. Sapa
9 years ago

My favorite oldie is Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey. I totally remember reading it so much my paper copy was falling apart. I really think it was the very first romance book I read when I was a teen. I was so happy when I came across the e-book version a couple of months ago. The cover isn’t as good as the print book but the book was just as good as I remember.

Gail Eastwood
9 years ago

Carolyn, that’s an interesting observation about the blond heroes disappearing after the mid-90’s. My Signet Regency, AN UNLIKELY HERO, was pubbed in 1996 and had my ultra-blond hero on the cover with the heroine, who was more of a golden-blond. Allan Kass was the artist. The book sold well. But even at that point, part of what made Gilbey “an unlikely hero” was that he didn’t fit the stereotypical dark Alpha romance hero pattern, so I totally agree with you! I’ll have to read LOVING JULIA –it sounds terrific.

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