Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Is it a double standard?

I mentioned in the last blog how much I like older heroine/younger hero stories. Some of my all time favourites include the recently mentioned Fallen from Grace, One Summer, and Hard Lovin’ Man. A couple of historicals I particularly like are Suddenly You and Sleeping Beauty. I didn’t care though for Leaving Normal and Family Blessings. In both of these the heroines freaked at the age difference and broke up with the hero because of it. Of course romance being romance, they eventually got over it and reconciled with the hero but by that time it was too late for me for both these books.
I personally don’t see the problem with an older heroine/younger hero. Practically, it even makes more sense. Think about it. Although I think this gap has started closing, women tend to live longer than men. So if the heroine is a few years older than the hero and since this is romance land and they will live happily ever after, they will be together those extra few years. Another factor in favour of the younger hero is that I’ve read that women hit their peak sexually so to speak, much later than men do. According to what I’ve read and I don’t know how true it really is – men’s peak years are between 17 and 20 and women’s are between 31 and 34. Why such a gap, I don’t know – it doesn’t seem quite fair – but that’s what I read. So wouldn’t they be more on the same wave length if the hero was say 5 years younger rather than five years older than the heroine?
Then we have the issue of maturity. Women mature quicker than men – for the most part. But in romance land, the hero has usually suffered from a tragic or tortured background, thus speeding up the maturity level. Johnny Harris from One Summer spent 10 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. That was bound to make him grow up faster. Jack from Hard Lovin’ Man was left to fend for himself at a very early age and then spent years in the army. In Suddenly You, Jack had gone through a horrid childhood spent in a nightmare of a boarding school and gained the maturity to establish a very successful publishing business.
Another issue that can seem to be a problem is children. In most books I’ve read, the heroine is still able to have children so this really isn’t an issue that wouldn’t be any greater than if the hero is the same age or older. In Family Blessings, Lee is too old for children but Chris; the hero makes it very clear he has no interest in having any. And in Leaving Normal, the main issue seems to be more with the fact that Natalie doesn’t think she is able to have any – not that she doesn’t want them. So the children issue really isn’t age related.
So taking all those into consideration, why do some readers find the older woman/younger man a bit of a hot button that keeps them from fully enjoying a book. Why is it such a bugaboo? It seems there may be a bit of a double standard going on. If a hero is 5 years older than the hero, why chances are it’s not even mentioned, yet if the reverse is true, it can become a serious issue. Putting myself in the place of a romance heroine for just a very brief moment, if I had some younger gorgeous (because they are always gorgeous in romance land) guy falling in love with me, I would briefly have second thoughts I’ll admit, but I would get over it pretty darn quick. I don’t think it would take me long to figure out that if some young wonderful hero thought I was the bees knees who would I be to argue with him? I certainly wouldn’t break up the relationship and put us both through agony because I had an issue with being older.
Mind you, I’m not talking about a real young hero. The Mary Lou Latourneaux case icked me out as much as anyone – he was a boy! I’m referring to a hero that has reached a certain level of maturity and KNOWS who he wants.

Anyway, that’s my thoughts on this kind of storyline. I think there’s something very sexy about a younger man who is secure enough to choose an older woman – Ashton Kutcher aside – that I find very compelling.

And if anyone has any they want to recommend, I would to read them.

‘til later


Tara Marie said...

You've listed some of my favorite older woman/younger man books. I think these work for 2 reasons--1. You're right, the heros are incredibly mature due to particular circumstances, 2. The author doesn't make a huge deal over it.

Just about anything goes in "Romance land." Family Blessings doesn't work for me because I never quite understood the attraction, he's mature, but why, of course, there may have been an explanation, but it's been so many years since I've read it I don't remember one.

My husband works with a man who is married to an older woman 39/58. But, she's an ex-playboy bunny, enough said.

Gabrielle said...

2 words: Ashton Kutcher. Yeah, you don't sound too thrilled about him, but I'd definitely go there.

Funny thing--men my age don't really thrill me. Older guys, sure; younger guys, sure. Maybe because the older guys have lived through times that interest me and the yonger guys have got some LIFE about them, and don't take themselves too seriously.

Thanks for the book tips. I can see my Amazon order increasing as we speak :P

Wendy said...

I love this theme!

Since I have yet to have my morning caffeine, only two books are immediately jumping to my mind though. THE OLDER WOMAN by Cheryl Reavis, which is an SSE from several years ago. Also, I believe COURTING MISS HATTIE by Pamela Morsi had this theme? My memory is fuzzy though. But you should read it anyway, because that's a darn good book :)

Tara Marie said...

Love, Courting Miss Hattie, and it's definitely an older woman book. It's one of my favorite Morsi's.

Kristie J said...

Tara:I did pick the creme de la creme there didn't I :)

Gabrielle: I hear what you say about older me too although now that I'm getting up there, older men would be close to the retirement home

Wendy: 2 most excellent suggestions and I've read them both. I said I love this theme and I read all I can find. Any more?

ReneeW said...

You raise some excellent points about older woman/younger man stories. This is one of my favorite plot devices and I have read all but one of the books you and others mention here. I recently read Brockmann's Into the Night and hated how Joan had such a BIG hangup about this same issue in her relationship with Mike.

My attitude is that the age gap should not make a difference either way, except when the gap gets to be 20 - 25 years. Just creeps me out. Also the Latourneaux case was really icky (I live in Washington and it was a HUGE story here).

Marg said...

I just read Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie and it featured this kind of romance..and wasn't a bad read!

Rosario said...

Ohh, I love this theme! I second Marg's rec, Anyone But You is wonderful! And another Pamela Morsi: Wild Oats. Oh, and The Man Who Loved Christmas, by Kathryn Shay.

Kristie J said...

oohhh a new Jennifer Crusie. I will watch for it when it comes out. I've read Wild Oats too and I'll look for the Katherine Shay book.