Spring!! The time of renewal, rebirth, youth! Youth and spring go together like salt and pepper. So do youth and romance novels. In the 35+ years I have been reading romance I have read countless stories of 20-somethings finding each other. Sometimes we get a book with a 30-something, and rarely do we ever see women over 40 finding romance. That is changing, thankfully. See the list at the end.
There is something fascinating about one’s 20s. Most of us reading romance have been there, or aspire to be there. When I was a teen reading about young women in elegant ball gowns fluttering fans and trading bon mots with Earls and Dukes, I was eager to be old enough to trade bon mots with my own love interests. My 20s turned out to be a blur of child-raising. I know others for whom the 20s was a blur of working or partying or name-your-activity.
Many of us did find someone then, amid the blur, with varying degrees of success, and, sadly, no fluttering fans. Thankfully in my case there were, and are, bon mots. Many of us didn’t find someone then, or found two or three someones. Regardless, demographically, the 20s is a shared decade- whether we are mired in it or admiring it from afar, whether for the energy, the reliable body parts, or just the idea of having more life in front of you than behind.
It makes sense that books featuring 20-somethings sell well and readers and writers gravitate toward them. However, there is often so much more depth, freedom, and abundance to characters who have been through a few more seasons. Characters who have known triumph and loss, love and heartbreak. Characters whose bodies don’t always work exactly right, or who get interrupted frequently by children or aging parents, or who have the issues that go with widowhood or other kind of end to a long-term relationship.
While I enjoy a youthful romance as much as the next person, I was delighted recently to pick up a couple of romances with women who have some baggage in life. They come with a lot of life behind them and a lot of love and happiness ahead of them.
Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews features two middle-aged women with meddling children and a grandmotherly hobby, crochet. Being a long-time crocheter (since I was 9), I especially enjoyed the scenes in Ollie’s shop as she teaches Anna the different stitches. The book also features a delightful array of secondary characters.
Twice in a Lifetime by Jodie Griffin features Eve and Talia, discovering and exploring a passion that sparked fifteen years previously. Both of these characters are well-rounded with full lives. Neither is really looking and I love romance that comes out of nowhere to surprise both women.
I asked The Lesbian Review Book Club and some other friends for books that have come out in the past year or so that feature at least one woman over the age of 40. Here are a bunch of them:
The Music and the Mirror and Major Surgery by Lola Keeley
Write Your Own Script by A.L. Brooks
Chain Reactions by Lynn Ames
Lee Winter’s books- almost all of them.
Beowulf for Cretins by Ann McMan (get this one in audio – I’ve already listened to it 4 times)
The Goodmans by Clare Ashton
Jen Silver’s books feature many women over 40
Dingo’s Recovery by Genevieve Fortine
A Wish Upon A Star by Jeanne Levig and most of her other books
Choices by Lyn Gardner
Harper Bliss Pink Bean series
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Tracey Richardson
The True Heart series by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
Scout and Lavender Girl by Kelly Littleton
Healing Springs by Rhavensfyre
Mulligan by KG MacGregor
Such Happiness as This by Laina Villeneuve