I grew up reading romance novels with 20 year old heroines, virgins, whose mother and father were conveniently vacationing in Europe or dead. While I loved embarking on an adventure of first love (and first-time sex) with these all-alone-in-the-world, pure-as-the-driven-snow waifs, my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older.
I find a complex, mature heroine with a caring (okay – meddlesome) family, who has experienced love and been disappointed (okay – burned), who finds it in herself to take a chance on love again, to be more appealing. To me, when a person with baggage and a less than ideal background finds true love — finally — it makes for a truly rewarding reading experience.
How do you feel? If you are older than 40, do you like the reality turned fantasy of reading about what other women (and men) your age are going through, or do you prefer to relive simpler, less complicated times in your life, to dream about what it would be like to be young again, to start all over?
If you’re young, would you even pick up a book with an older heroine? Or is reading about close-to-forty year-olds involved in a steamy relationship akin to thinking about your parents having sex? Does a good love story, and wonderful characters, render age irrelevant?
In Night and Day, my heroine, Jensen, is 38 years old. She is not a virgin – in fact, she’s involved in one relationship when the book begins, and becomes involved in another (via the Internet) soon after. Her family is alive and well and very opinionated. I’ve heard from a lot of readers that they like the complexity of my characters. Some hope she’ll end up with Ed – some with Anders. I think that means I’ve done my job well. Nothing in life is simple and clear-cut.
I’ve heard from some younger readers and they say they like the book. Maybe age doesn’t matter.
If you’re a writer, and knew that books with a heroine of any age would sell as well as the next, would you rather write about someone your own age, or do you prefer to write young, first love, first career stories?
I’m curious to hear which you think is more appealing in a story line – age and experience, or youthful exuberance?