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March 1, 2016

Gush & Gripe: Seasoned Romances


What do you think of older leads in your romances?

First of all, I'd like to give Karen Booth a shout out for inspiring this discussion post. We were talking about bookish things and Karen shared that her books, Bring Me Back and Back Forever, got turned down by a few publishers because it features an older couple and the current romance market isn't keen on this trope. 

This came at such a surprise to me because of the irony and in some sense, the hypocrisy, of the response. Some of these publishing houses have published romance novels where the men are significantly older and more worldly than their mate. Not only that, a lot of them have advocated feminism and has published countless books about girl power and such.

Feminism [noun | \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\]: The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men.

So it's okay to romanticize and even glorify older men-younger women but not the reverse? Moreover, it's not "exciting" when the H/h are older, more matured, have loved and lost, and have actually LIVED their lives and are trying to take another shot at happiness, domestic bliss, true love?

I say BULLOCKS to that!

Sure, young love and even first loves are exciting in that everything is shiny and new. But I think that seasonal romances, reconciliations, second-chance romances, marriage-in-crisis themes, or even Autumn romances can be just as affecting and swoony as it's younger counterpart. More importantly, as a woman nearing the infamous "middle age" phase, I can confidently say that I'm still ALIVE, FUNCTIONING NORMALLY AND FEEL THE SAME THINGS THESE YOUNG 'UNS ARE FEELING WHEN I SEE A HOT GUY!

Let's take this a notch a little and make it elementary. If you follow celebrity pop culture doesn't it celebrate older women like JLo, and media outlets are always giving us constant updates about their LOVE LIVES! And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a "phenomenon" where women are looking or finding their HEA later in life intentionally because the modern working woman is career oriented and put-off romance and/or family life until much later? So why aren't my romance books reflecting this?

Speaking for myself, I don't necessarily seek it out, but when I do find myself reading a story where the heroine is closer to my age and somewhat mirrors my life experiences so far. I gravitate and relate to them more than their younger counterparts. Sadly I usually find older romances threaded in Women's Lit, Chick-Lit, or Literary Fiction as a side story than the main romance. So hopefully this little gripe of mine helps the discussion to move forward and hopefully we'll see this trope advance in the nearest future.



Join the Seasoned Romance Facebook Group for more riveting discussions. It's closed to keep spammers out, but everyone who wants to join will be invited it.








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43 comments:

  1. I say bullocks as well! It really shouldn't matter the ages of the couples as long as it isn't something wrong like 14 and 40. Honestly, I've read several books where the couples were in their 40's or 50's and I never even thought twice about it.

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    1. What rankled me is the implied idea that if you're older you're basically uninteresting. Like the idea of having a love life is unattractive.

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  2. I'm not particularly prejudiced when it comes to the ages of the characters when I read a romance novel. The only thing that I would absolutely not read are books that feature a romance that would be morally wrong (minors and adults). I've certainly had my fair share of older couple romances, and while most of them are not what you would call, "sizzles", I say you've picked the wrong books if that's what you're looking for. Lol.

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    1. That's my point, why are matured romances less sizzling? Do we get disgusting when we reach our 40's and up? I hope not...

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  3. I think if the story and characters are written well it doesn't matter what their age is!

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    1. Exactly! Publishers should discriminate against age. Love is love and sometimes it comes later in life but it doesn't make it less compared to its younger counterparts

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  4. I never thought about it before, but you're right. I rarely read middle aged females as romantic heroines, but I like those stories! They give me hope that I'll find romance later in life since I'm so unlucky at my age.

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    1. Apir! Or that if it didn't work out the first time, there's still a second time and more. Age doesn't dictate one finding/looking for love

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  5. I like all books :)
    Though personally I would rather have a man 10 years older than a 10 years younger. At least now

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  6. Do you know how many times I've sat and just reveled in a women's fiction book, swooning over an older couple? I like those side stories, but I'd like to read a general romance book centered around an older couple. What the hell is wrong with these publishing companies? I'm pushing middle age, so I can relate more to characters who've been there and done that, than some high school / college character.

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    1. Me too! If their logic is correct, it means that I'm bound to be alone for the rest of my life! Hahaha

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  7. Good points, thought I am one who mostly gravitates to YA still even though I am 31

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    1. And there's nothing wrong with that. But there are people on the opposite side of the spectrum that wants the opposite, something that relates to the struggles of dating with a different set of baggage that you won't find in younger romances

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  8. Hear, hear! And I second your BOLLOCKS! As you know, I'm a fan of the seasoned romance as well, Braine. I don't seek it out either, but I LOVE it when I find it. It does resonate more reading about characters experiencing the same stage of life I am - or at least closer to it. And Karen's seasoned romances ROCK!! Great post! :)

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    1. I don't discriminate against romance, love is love. I just hate that some people drew the line on age! It's basically saying if you hit middle age you can't have a fulfilling love life.

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  9. I'm just so tired of the status quo when it comes to looks/age - everything these days.

    I want more real life in books and TV/movies.

    Everyone says readers don't want something until they do. I wish they would take more chances and let these stories find their audience.

    And I'll have to check out that author. Penny Watson writes romance with older characters as well.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. I'll recommend the books to you via goodreads. It's a rockstar mature romance that's as swoony as its NA counterparts.

      And I agree, if they can make beating up a person black and blue as sexy, surely they can do the same thing for older couples. Make it sexy just to be clear hahaha

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  10. Wow. I can't believe they were turned down just for that reason alone. You'd think that romance came a lot way since then. Guess not. I don't particularly care what age my heroine is. If I want a younger couple, I turn to YA or NA. It's sad that we are still stuck in this place where the characters need to be a certain age and look a certain way.

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    1. I'm pro choice in most things including romance novels. Like you said, we know where to go if we want a younger couple, but what if we want someone older? Were usually left with a lot of research before we find a good one because its not as popular as YA or NA

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  11. Fab post, B! I think so much of this boils down to the ways the publishing world segment romance and women's fiction. Somebody, somewhere decided that women over 40 belong in women's fiction and that there should be very little romance in WF, and definitely no sex. Where do we get these ideas? I have no idea. That's where the disconnect is--publishers don't know where a book with a couple past their mid 30s should go in the book store. They've said that to me point-blank. And whereas it's apparently okay to make a subgenre about young adults and new adults, we haven't gotten there with the rest of the population yet (I refuse to say old). I think they're going to have to deal with it soon though because we're all living longer, aging better, and are feeling much more alive and vibrant than people did 50 years ago. So maybe that's it--publishing is stuck in the 1960s. It's thinking Mad Men.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Karen, and for inspiring this discussion.

      That's truly laughable because they created romance genres that cater to kink and the LGBT but feels lost with older romances? Is seasoned romances more taboo than BDSM? and you're right, we are getting better at aging so it makes no sense why it should be stilted in this sense. Heck even dating sites have seen the need.to cater to older single people, its time this genre follows suit!

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  12. I agree with you for sure! I find that when I read any book with a character that's 'older' (older being 30+ so not actually old by any means) I'm all over it. I like reading about characters my own age and for some reason have seen that it's harder to find them.

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  13. I'm 46 years old so I like seeing more mature heroines in romance books now. I like a heroine that has lived a little.

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  14. Great post! I'm writing my own romance series with older characters. There's no reason a romance with an older heroine has to be considered women's fiction. My books with be romances. Older characters can be just as vibrant, just as passionate, just as romantic as younger ones.

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  15. I agree, I am tired of the same old same old in romances. We need older, more established women falling in love and less of the NA angst.

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  16. That's awful publishers aren't taking on books with older MC's. That's not cool at all! I actually find it MORE realistic when the characters are older and falling in love, because they are a bit more seasoned and aware of what they want.

    -Lauren
    www.letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com

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  17. Yes, I read this whole thing where over 30 females weren't marketable in romances...what a load of crap.If you find them they are in small-town romances, secondary characters in series and chick-lit/women's fiction. I think they need to understand woman are marrying later.

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  18. I get ticked off that we don't see women over a certain age in romance. It just doesn't make sense to me. I connect with books that have the girls aged in their 20s, because I'm in my 20s. I'd assume that women in their 40s, 50s, etc would occasionally like to read about someone their own age. I'm going to stop now before I get ranty lmao <3

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  19. Well, I read anything that is good so I think publishers are just trying to play what will sell. Since ebooks are so big, why not try a genre like that (older couples, etc) and SEE if they will sell. Might make too much sense.

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  20. I definitely agree. Occasionally I will find a romance where the woman is older but you really have to look for them. Wish they were more common, because we find love at various stages in life.

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  21. Bullocks!!!!!! to the nth degree!!!
    I'm in my sixties when do you think the last time I saw a romance of someone of my age, quit trying to guess you'll give yourself a headache!!!

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  22. I come to this discussion in several ways. First, as an author who writes and champions older characters (Have 3 books published and a 4th contracted) in romance fiction.

    Next, I blog about the importance of representing older women--and by older I mean over 40-- in all forms of the media; TV, film, and in print. I devote a specific page of my blog to addressing the need for representing 'mature-aged' women in he media. It's called the Mature Content Stockpile (http://sandraantonelli.com/category/mature-content-stockpile-2/).

    Finally, my PhD examined the roles and representations of women and age in romance fiction--as well as the lack thereof.

    I am still very interested in combating the stereotyped way women over 40 are portrayed in the media, as well as presenting 'women of a certain age' in positive ways that counter the usually crappy stereotypes. This is the real crux of the issue. The usual images presented are negative and the positive images of older women are so few. It's my aim to challenge and change this with my writing and scholarship. The more people who speak out about ageism agains women, the better.

    I did not leave this comment as a means of selling my books, but If you're interested in reading contemporary romance fiction with vibrant, gown-up characters who aren't stereotypes of age, you can find my books here: http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Antonelli/e/B00BJBZ9E6

    It's discussions like the one here that romance fiction editors, and publishing houses, need to be aware of when they talk about the importance of inclusion and diversity in the genre.

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  23. I would lvoe to read some books with an older couple as well. Sometimes it's so weird how publishers react, although on the other hand I do understand it, it's a risk. They know yougner coupels sell, but not sure if older coupels sell so they don't take that risk. Which is why they only publish the same kind of books. I love that about indie publishing and how it brings us the kind of books a publisher might not pick up.

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  24. Yep! Sad that I get all squeally excited when I come across a middle aged couple let alone a true older couple maybe retired or silver-haired. There are some pretty lively, sensual and well-lived grandmas and grandpas that can be swoonworthy maybe more so than some of the New Adult immaturity and angst that sells.

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  25. My characters are older and have a lot of sex, LOL (though there's much more to their relationship than that). And I/they don't apologize for it. I want to read/write about people I can relate to, and that generally involves heroes and heroines closer to my age. :)

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  26. I love writing romances with older characters. In Hauntings of the Heart, the main characters are in their 70s and find each other after a 50 year separation. In Seeing You Again, the couple is in their early 50s and trying to salvage their marriage. I like discovering how they got where they are. When you have another decade (or more), you can add a lot more life experience and lessons learned.

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  27. I mostly read YA, so I can truly fully partake in this discussion, but when I read adult (very rarely), I don't want there to be a gap of more than 7 years between the man and the woman :P

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  28. I'm all about a good story. I don't care about the characters age. Yes, I avoid YA, but I do read it sometimes and I have rated it high when it is a good story with well developed and interesting characters. I have read a story about an older couple. It was a BDSM story on top of that. This is Who I Am by Cherise Sinclair features an "older" couple. I can't remember if it ever actually mentions an age or not. I read through a few reviews, and didn't see a mention of age, but they are listed as older. It is one of the best books in the series.

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  29. Oh I had a good ol rant on this topic a while back after reading a guest post where an author was told she needed to make her 31 year old heroine in her 20s because people didn't like older heroine. Whew I was livid. Every time I've mentioned older heroines on FB or wherever everyone always jumps in on how they love em. I do too! Being 34 and not having found my HEA yet I hate the idea that I'm "too old" according to them. Grrowls!

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    1. Oh and I'm done comment bombing you now. lol I'm trying to catch up after the last few weeks. Whew!

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  30. I never got this logic when a majority of older women read/purchase romances....

    I myself am starting to search out books that feature older heroines, I hope we get more of them. Hopefully with more discussions like this, pubs will start to release more of them.

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