Friday, December 01, 2006

Older Man/Younger Women – Older Women/Younger Man

I was excited the other day when I got a copy of Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie. The main selling point for me on this one to be honest, is it’s a younger man/older woman book. Those are one of my favourite kind! Some of my best keepers are this storyline. One Summer by Karen Robards is probably the top one. I just love this one. The age difference isn’t that much but still Rachel is a few years older than Johnny. Another one I give top marks to is Hard Lovin’ Man by Lorraine Heath. I give her grief for leaving Westerns behind, but this one appeases me greatly. I’d be even more appeased if she wrote more contemporaries. They are almost as good as her Westerns.
Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone is another most excellent younger man/older woman book. When the top 100 Romances from AAR meme was going around not long ago, I always recommended this one to anyone who hasn’t read it.
I even like this them in historicals too although you don’t see it as much. Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas and Sleeping Beauty by Judith Ivory are two that come to mind as historicals I really enjoyed.
Conversely, I don’t care very much at all for a vast difference in age with an older man/younger woman storyline. I have no desire for example to read The Admiral’s Bride by Suzanne Brockman. This is the only one of this series I haven’t read. I can’t think of that many contemporaries at the moment with a big age difference but a few historicals come to mind. The latest release by Eloise James for example, hold’s no interest whatsoever for me. These Old Shades, a favourite Georgette Heyer of many, didn’t work for me because he was so much older than she was. Again, using Lisa Kleypas, Because You’re Mine is one of my lesser favourites even though it’s well written and the hero is pretty good. But there is a bit of a disparity in age that bothers me. I can’t think of many examples to be honest because I tend to avoid them.
In thinking of why I feel the way I do, I’ve come up with a theory. It may be a bit whacked, but it works for me.
In order for a younger guy to be attracted to and fall in love with an older woman, I think he has to be willing to look past the surface, the outward appearance and be drawn more to the inner woman. Something about this just makes me melt. Sure, he’s also physically attracted to her too, that’s a given, but I think he cares more about what’s on the inside. I see older women (now that I am one myself) as more learned and less concerned with the outward appearance and more experienced and wiser. Ergo, if a younger guy is interested, he sees and wants the same thing. And the older woman appreciates a guy who appreciates her!
On the other hand, when I see an older man/younger woman storyline, I immediately think it’s just because she’s a pretty young thing and the main thing he’s thinking about is getting his rocks off. If that isn’t the case, why isn’t he interested in someone who matches him better in experience? No – he’s going for the youth because he’s more shallow. And the younger woman is looking for someone to take care of her rather than taking care of herself
I know I’m generalizing wildly here and of course this isn’t always the case. But it’s my gut reaction, wrong headed as it may be. And it certainly explains why I so much prefer one over the other .

‘til later


Lori said...

Kristie, I can totally see your point here, and I agree completely, too. I don't enjoy those older man/younger woman stories much either. But I have to say, usually in older woman/younger man books, the woman has such a complex about the age difference that it takes me out of the story and really bothers me.

I have a friend who constantly goes out with younger women. His relationships never work. Why? He has absolutely nothing in common with these girls (yes, they are girls, not women). What does a 44 year old guy have in common with a 20 year old girl? Ummm.... sex?

But I can also see the reverse. What if you look at it like an older woman is seeing a younger guy just to prove to herself she is still attractive? Playing devil's advocate here just to be a stinker :)

ReneeW said...

You have very eloquently described exactly why I love older woman/younger man stories and dislike older man/younger woman stories. In fact stories with older men looking for younger women gives me the creeps generally. I read The Admiral's Bride and didn't like that aspect of the book, but the rest of the story made up for it. But I usually avoid books with that story line.

I have to agree with Lori. Older men dating younger women just seem to be trying to prove their masculinity or virility. But I know that the reverse is not true. Women tend to be more insecure about dating younger men. IMHO.

Oh, yeah, another favorite older woman/younger man story of mine is LaVyrle Spencer's Family Blessings.

Tara Marie said...

I've always liked May/December romances older men/younger women and was about to say I prefer them, but then you listed several older women/younger men books that I love. So, I have to say I like both.

I liked the Admiral's Bride and one of my favorite romances of all times is Lavryle Spencer's Years. One of the things I like about them the hero fights the attraction.

Jennie said...

Kristie--I think this is the way most people feel about it. But it doesn't seem very fair. If you argue that it's good for a young man to be attracted to the wisdom of an older woman, you have to make the same allowance for a young woman who sees the value of an older man's experience.

Really, I'm playing devil's advocate here because I have trouble with any book where there's a big age difference. I loved Anyone But You, but I have to say that it doesn't seem very realistic. And I was squicked out by These Old Shades because the heroine is so very young in it.

Mailyn said...

To be completely honest [and you know I am always honest] I get grossed out by both. In books, movies or in real life. I think it's just yucky and dumb on both accounts. I think people should stick to people close to their age.

Demi and Askton [or whatever his name is] is just as gross to me as any of the old farts with the younger women. LOL.

Once in a blue I CAN see a couple that looks as if they fit together [like a friend I had who was 10 years younger than her hubby] but most of the time, not my cup of tea.

Oh and my friend was younger but he was in love for real. This guy wasn't into appearances and my friend was VERY mature and well-educated for her age.

I agree with Lori that, either way and 99% of the time I think they are doing to prove they "haven't lost it" whatever "it" is for them. I know a lot of guys that like older women NOT for the way they think but how they look [because they are hot for their age] and for the sex [because of their experience]

sybil said...

I love May/December romances older men/younger women and much prefer it over the other way around. But do love One Summer.

I think something people tend to over look (at least with historicals I think) 17 back in the old west isn't what 17 is today (nor is today what it was 15 years ago).

We live longer now. We grow, age and mature differently. I think we fall into a trap if we look at one time period expecting another. Or that is how we end up with 2006 Regency England *g*.

Then again... I personally like the guy to be older so maybe that just works for me *g*.

Kristie (J) said...

I think it's probably my age talking now, but ever since I hit my 40's I've thought should there ever be another guy in my life, I would like it to be someone younger than me. And maybe that's why I so enjoy the older woman/younger guy storyline myself. Not a huge difference - I think Demi and Ashton are too far apart too. I think part of it is a lot of older men tend to date younger women and that irritates me - maybe because they are leaving a long time wife.
When it comes to romance books, it bugs me with the older woman/younger man when the woman makes to much of the age difference. That's why although I really liked Family Blessings by Lavryle Spencer, the heroine kind of irritated me. Here she had this younger guy who was in love with HER - not just her looks - and she dumps him in large part of the age difference.
And I know I made very broad generalizations so anyone playing the devil's advocate is very fine *g*. And Years is a very good book with the younger woman/older man storyline. I didn't think of that one - probably because it was so well written and I loved it.
And I'm talking about older types too - like a woman in her 40's and guy in his 30's say - not like the female teachers who have a relationship with their much younger male students for example - that's just gross!!
Although - in Hard Lovin' Man she was his teacher. Same as One Summer. But they were quite young teachers and I think there was only a 3 or 4 age difference at most.

Devon said...

Kristie--I definitely agree with you. I love older woman/younger man stories, but usually don't like older man/younger woman stories. It's definitely a prejudice on my part. Then again, how many paranormals have I loved where the male vampire/shapeshifter whatever is, like, hundreds of years older than the heroine? So many double standards, so little time.

nath said...

Personally, I agree with Mailyn - I don't enjoy older men/younger women or older women/younger men story. I really don't care, cos there's always issues. I mean, it's already difficult for two persons to have a relationship and then, add more issues to it? I also have to agree with Lori that in older women/younger men, women already have a complex about the age difference so it takes out a lot of the story.

Mina Wolf said...

If you like stories like that, you'd probably enjoy the movie "Stella got her groove on". I saw it a very long time ago but it really hit me. Ever since I was about 19 or 20, I had a thing for younger guys. Not drastically younger, but by a year or two. Of course now at 30, I'm married to a 29 year old of course.