GS vs STA: Romance Over 40

Good Shit vs. Shit to AvoidToday's Friday Video is all about sexually active senior citizens, but I had an email about it about a half hour ago that led to an interesting conversation. Meike wrote: 

The desire for more mature characters in erotic romance fiction is becoming more important to me as I become one of them. It gets a little tiring to always read about these beautiful young bodies having this amazing sex. I would love to hear about the amazing sex us softer oldies are having. Sure, I read to escape, but I also like to feel a part of a story, feel like I can fully relate to the character. Hopefully authors will realize the babyboomers are ready for mature erotica.

I wrote back and asked, “Here's a question: do you like mature erotica that features older protagonists, or do you also have some interest in older heroines and younger men? Ellora's Cave did a series recently that was termed “cougar” lit – all about older women and younger men. Would that interest you, or do you want older protagonists together?”

Meike responded:

Wow, I love the questions, thank you.  I like both characters to be mature, but I also do enjoy “cougar” stories. However, I prefer those stories to be within a realistic age range, preferably less than 10 years and definitely less than 15 years. Looking back now, my 40's were a great time of awakening for me as a woman, but now into my 50's I'm having to adjust and accept different life limitations. I would love to read stories of people (couples) dealing with those issues of life. I recently read Joey Hill's “Afterlife”( A | BN | K | S ) and loved how the couple dealt with their 13 year age difference. However, I was quite surprised when it stated that she was 43 & he 30. It was hard for me to imagine a 30 yr old man having that type of maturity. It would have been more interesting to me and more real if the characters had been older. Yes, I would definitely love to read erotica about people in their 40's, 50's and 60's – life (and sex) doesn't end at 30.

So, time for Good Shit vs. Shit to Avoid! Several readers in the video comments mentioned Major Pettigrew's Last Stand ( A | BN | K | S ) by Helen Simonson, and while it is a secondary and not primary romance, I loved the story of Harry and Victoria in Jennifer Crusie's Trust Me On This ( A | BN | K | S ). 

The thing with GS vs STA columns is that merely knowing the book is out there isn't enough – most readers want to have some recommendation for or against a book, so if you know a book is good, or not so good, and features protagonists over 40, please share! Note: I don't necessarily define “senior citizen” as “over 40″ but the most-often-seen age range for heroes and heroines is 20s-30s, with a few in their 40s showing up here and there. But what about romances where both are older? As Meike said so aptly, life and sex don't end at 30. (I should hope not – I left 30 awhile ago!) 

 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ruthie Knox says:

    Isabel Sharpe has a nice romantic subplot stretching over her most recent three-book series for Harlequin Blaze (called “Checking e-Males”). The heroine is in her 50s, I think, and divorced; hero is also older and divorced. They have a friends-to-lovers relationship that gets stuck several times due to heroine’s body image and post-divorce-desirability issues. I thought the subplot ultimately became a lot more interesting than the books, and I’d love to read more stories like that.

  2. 2

    I love the mom and the Duke in Sherry Thomas’s “Private Arrangements.”

  3. 3
    Susaneddiecohen says:

    Nora Roberts third book in her In the Garden series is about the mother of the twenty somethings after they find love ( http://www.amazon.com/Black-Ro….  They talk about age, being sexy at that age and have lots of sweaty sex too!

  4. 4
    Jennifer Estep says:

    Bitter Sweet by Lavyrle Spenser has high school sweethearts reconnecting after years apart. I remember that as being one of my favorite books by Spenser, although I haven’t read it in years now. However, the hero/heroine do have an affair since he is married to someone else when they reconnect, so just be aware of that.

  5. 5
    DelDryden says:

    It’s possible that there’s a multi-author series of erotic/ero rom novellas already being planned with a theme that goes right along with this – the heroines are actual moms. 30 to 40-somethings, in all their babysitter-hiring, t-ball-practice-chauffering, stretchmark-bemoaning glory. 40 to 50-somethings, whose kids are finally out of the house, remembering they don’t have to keep the noise down anymore. Just…moms. Because moms have sex, too. I mean, it IS a prerequisite for the job. And HEA goes on for a long time, why should the sexytimes not continue also?

    But you didn’t hear about this alleged future series from me *shifty eyes*.

  6. 6
    Lynnd says:

    Lorraine Heath’s London’s Greatest Lovers series has a subpot involving the heroes’ mother finding love with a younger man.  Some romance readers might not like her character because she was unfaithful to her husband, but I loved that part of the storyline which ran through all three books.

  7. 7
    Maya says:

    What about Jennifer Crusie’s “Anyone But You”?  The heroine just turned 40, true, but other than the weird anti-alcohol subplot that comes in at the end, I think it’s a pretty great older woman-younger man pairing that doesn’t feel cougar-like. 

  8. 8
    Alice0651 says:

    Sarah, you are such a cool gal!!  I love the fact that you engage in such great discussions.  I’m sixty and would love to read some books written for us older gals and with lots of the steamy stuff, too!  Nora Roberts, who is my age, does incorporate some older gals/guys in her books: (The Villa’s Pilar & David; Black Rose’s Roz & Mitch; Chasing Fire’s Lucas and Ella) and are wonderfully written, funny, sexy and sassy, but they are not always the primary character.  Hey, even at 60, the equipment still works pretty much the same (maybe even better) as it did when we were younger, and with our kids out on their own, there’s nothing to cramp our style, so we can rev it up anytime we want.  So, any good reading ideas in this genre would be great. 

  9. 9
    Nadia says:

    Susan Elizabeth Philips has often has subplots featuring the main characters’ parent(s) to nice effect.  In “Nobody’s Baby But Mine,” the hero’s parents are having a marriage breakdown and a bunch of unresolved issues come bursting forth.  In “Heaven, Texas,” the hero’s widowed mother is discovering herself without her husband, with the help an old high school classmate (and ooh, she gets the sexytimes!).  “This Heart of Mine” has another hero’s mother story.

  10. 10
    Verity Silvers says:

    I have to agree with Susaneddiecohen above – Black Rose by Nora Roberts in her In the Garden Trilogy does it very well in my opinion.  I read the first book in the trilogy and again I’ll admit that I was a little leery of the upcoming romance with a past-40 heroine.  I was in my early twenties and was still working on coming to terms that yes, I was actually a grown-up; how was I going to relate to a heroine who was not only grown-up herself, but had grown-up children?  I worried it would be too much of a stretch.

    Then I read the book, and wow did I love it.  Not only is Roz, the main character, compelling and amazing, but the guy she gets paired with is equally interesting.  And it’s not “despite their age”, either – it’s BECAUSE of their age.  Both are at stages in their careers and personalities that they couldn’t have been if they were twenty-somethings or even thirty-somethings.  I related to Roz in a way that surprised me: I looked at her and said, “I want to be like her when I grow up”, which is kind of the way the other, mostly twenty-something heroines of the trilogy look at her.

    I really liked the honest appraisal of age.  Here is what I can’t do or do differently now, and here is what I can do or know that I didn’t before.  It felt, in a way, more true to life than an idealized romantic heroine: the character had struggled and earned her HEA.  It felt realistic, too: the guy’s got a PhD and it felt plausible, not an “oh look, another twenty-year-old genius”; Roz runs a business and it feels hard-earned and part of her life, not “and why is a mid-twenties woman running this on her own?”  It felt believable and was a lot of fun.

    Plus, Nora Roberts writes families really, really well, and it was insanely fun to read Roz as a mom looking at her adult children.  I look at Roz and really do kind of want to be her when I grow up: active and striving and enjoying her life, thank you, because age is just a number.

  11. 11
    LG says:

    Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie – Heroine who’s 40, younger hero who’s a doctor. I remember liking this one, but getting peeved with the hero for not figuring out what the heroine really wanted/needed more quickly.

    The Admiral’s Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly – The hero is 46, I don’t think the heroine’s age is ever stated, but I’m pretty sure she’s younger than the hero. The heroine had a child and a husband, but both died prior to the beginning of the book. I liked the hero and heroine but the romance didn’t really click with me.

    If she doesn’t mind dark fantasy, Anne Bishop has several books with romance between older characters (the grandmother in The Invisible Ring; Saetan in the Black Jewels books, although I don’t think his romance has a HEA). However, I think it’s always sidecharacters, never main.

    The Trouble With Harry by Katie MacAlister – I know I read this, but I honestly can’t remember much about it. That means I probably thought it was a C read – neither good nor bad. The hero is 45. I think the heroine is also over 40, but she might be in her 30s.

    Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books – The heroine and hero are both younger in the first book, but they age as the series progresses. However, I heard that their romance doesn’t stay the focus of the series in later books. I enjoyed the first book, was more meh about the next two, and quit after that.

    Most of the other stuff I can think of features a hero who’s in his 40s or older, while the heroine is younger, which I’m not sure is what she’s looking for.

  12. 12
    Lazie1 says:

    Susan Brockmann’s ‘Out of Control’ features a subplot with Maggie and the pilot.  It sounds like they are well into their forties. 

  13. 13

    How about Pam Rosenthal’s The Edge of Propriety which has a 40-something hero, the lovely Jasper, and a heroine who is a little younger; there’s also a fabulous secondary romance between an older couple—in their 50s, I think—in The Slightest Provocation.

  14. 14

    and, blushingly, my book Dedication which was reissued as an ebook this week, with a 43 y/o hero and 39 y/o heroine (they’re children, I tell you, children). Nothing makes me happier than old folk getting jiggy, particularly if I’m one of them.

  15. 15

    I recently wrote a baseball romance under my pen name. The hero and heroine were 42 and 38 respectively, and I was really surprise to get comments from readers like, “I’m so glad you used mature characters.” On goodreads, someone complimented me for making a 42 year old seem like “a hot piece of a—”. I’m totally baffled. I don’t think of 42 as being particularly old. I like older men, I wish more heroes were written as being in their forties. I fully plan on being a hot piece of a—when I’m 52, let alone 42.

  16. 16
    StarOpal says:

    Not a book, but I just saw a movie called Daisies in December about two people in their seventies (Joss Ackland, Jean Simmons) falling in love, emotionally and physically, at a resort near Christmas time. And I liked the ending which the movie told me would go one way and ended up being better.

  17. 17
    NomadiCat says:

    PC Cast’s Goddess of Spring is one of my top 10 favorite romance novels ever. It’s a retelling of the Persephone/ Hades myth, where a 43 year old modern day baker named Lina makes a deal to switch places with the goddess Persephone. Persephone agrees to make Lina’s business successful, and Lina essentially whips Hades and the Underworld into shape.

    I’m a little on the fence about recommending Goddess of Spring in this thread because Lina *does* spend some time in Persephone’s younger body, but her head and heart are all experienced, mature woman, and it really is a fantastic book with a charming main couple.

  18. 18
    Tabs says:

    Jennifer Crusie’s been mentioned lots already but nobody’s mentioned one of my favorites by her, Fast Women, which has a divorcee heroine pushing fifty and a private-eye hero who’s already pushed it. There’s even a little cougar action before they get together.

  19. 19
    AnnC says:

    Robin Schone often features older-than-conventional heroines in her writing. I particularly liked the interconnected “Scandalous Lovers,” “Cry for Passion,” and “Men’s and Women’s Club.” They (and most of her other work) seek to pin down the nature of love and desire using age and experience differences among the characters. Scandalous Lovers features a widow who had been married to a much older man in her teens who gets involved with a younger man in a quest to explore what she’s been missing in the face of societal and familial disapproval. All three books can be read separately but taken together they explore the topic from multiple points of view. As the characters are revealed more layers of the story become clear to the reader. I loved how my understanding shifted as that happened and couldn’t put the books down.

  20. 20
    Beachlover20855 says:

    This was a topic at a recent Romance Slam Jam panel session.
    I have read books by two authors who write stories for the “marvelously mature” reader.
    Evelyn Palfrey – Going Home, Three Perfect Men, The Price of Passion, Everything In Its Place and Dangerous Dilemmas.
    Laura Parker Castoro – A New Lu and Icing on the Cake.

    Their stories are not only entertaining and delightful reads, but I so appreciate that they deal with the realities and fantasies of women over 40.

  21. 21
    Mom on the Run says:

    In my ever shrinking pile of “keep” books is one called Familiar Stranger by Sharon Sala—it is a Silhouette Intimate Moments from 2001 and the last book in the A Year of Living Dangerously series.  The characters are both in their 50’s, he “returns from the dead” and by page 20 they’ve done it in the foyer. She’s a widow with grown children and grandchildren, he’s the father of her oldest child but she thought he was killed (but really he was black ops) and they are the main characters. I have two daughters in their mid 20’s, so there are some things a mom just doesn’t need to be imagining…so I’d love to see more older characters.

  22. 22
    Bnbsrose says:

    I remember thinking “why is this book not about the relationship between the older retired Marine who was about 50 and the ex-nun who was something past 40?” while reading Linda Howard’s “Cover of Night”. The couple of brief passages that included them showed so much promise and went no where, like the rest of the book.

    Unlike LG I liked “The Trouble with Harry” especially the scene where she’s astride and thinking how nice it is that Harry has some love handle action going on as he’d otherwise be too perfect.

    Which reminds me: speaking of hot pieces of over 40 a—.: Jason Issacs was nekkid in “Awake” last night!

  23. 23
    SB Sarah says:

    I think it does fit here. Lina does spend a lot of time in Persephone’s body, but she’s also aware of how it’s different from her own mortal 43 year old body, and how her body has changed. One of my favorite parts of that book is how Lina realizes how much control she has over her own body, even at age 43.

  24. 24
    SB Sarah says:

    Jennifer – what’s the name of the book? Can you say?

  25. 25
    Nora says:

    For those who enjoyed Daisies in December, you may like the upcoming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which is being released in the US on May 4th. Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton (Isabel Crawley from Downton), and Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire. The book is good, too, although a little all-over-the-place.

  26. 26
    Sally says:

    The first book that comes to mind is Merrick’s Eleventh Hour by Wendy Rosnau. The heroine is in her mid 40’s and I believe the hero is in his 50’s. They were happily married twenty years ago when the heroine was kidnapped and the hero thought she was dead. I think it is interesting how the hero was never able to move on to other relationships (he was celibate all this time) while the heroine married the villain to save her unborn child (surprise secret baby story!). There was one thing I didn’t like in the book, and it was how the heroine’s body still look perky and beautiful at her age.

  27. 27
    cleo says:

    Barbara Bretton has a couple that I’ve enjoyed.

    Just Desserts – She’s a 38 yo single mom running a bakery and he’s the lawyer (in his 40s maybe?) of an aging rock star who’s looking for his long lost daughter – irrc, the romance was sweet, even though the set up was a little silly.  And I think I read this when I was 38 or 39, so it was interesting to me to read about a character my age.  I think she cared more about being 38 than I did (actually many people seem to care more about getting older than I do – the only thing that bothers me is that I expected to have my shit more together by 42 than I actually do)

    Just Like Heaven – she’s a single mom with an almost grown daughter, he’s a minister and a widower, I think they’re both in their 40s ish.  They meet when she has a heart attack in a parking lot and he saves her life.  I remember liking this one, but not loving it.

  28. 28
    Lozza says:

    I really like Walt and Muriel in Robin Carr’s Virgin River series- they get introduced in book 5 and have a starring role in book 7. If I remember correctly she is 55 and he is a little over 60 and they’re both smart, confident, interesting sexy individuals who build a realistically gradual (and hot) and respectful relationship.

  29. 29
    Carrie Gwaltney says:

    Best Laid Plans by Sarah Mayberry is a favorite of mine. Hero 42, heroine 38.
    Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro science fiction with romance (excellent book!) with both hero and heroine over 40.

  30. 30
    Ghengis Mom says:

    I posted this on the other thread, but I think it bears repeating:

    Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Ro

    Oh how I love love love(!!!) this book. It’s so fun! “Julie Roseman has known since childhood that Rosemans are supposed to despise Cacciamanis. She’s never known exactly why…but she’s followed her family’s advice and avoided all Cacciamanis like the plague. Until she bumps into Romeo Cacciamani at a small-business conference—and realizes he’s sort of…sweet. Now, this unexpected relationship is blooming into something big. But wait until their families find out…”

    They are middle+ aged with grown children. And it is laugh out loud funny.

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