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.