Sandra Antonelli’s “A Basic Renovation” ( A | BN | K | S | G ) was recommended by Dear Author readers. Upon further investigation, I learned that Sandra’s book was a mature romance meaning the protagonists were over forty. I asked her if she was interested in doing an “If You Like” post for mature romances and she agreed. You can read more about Sandra’s book here.
I have a short list to recommend and they are romances, not Women’s Fiction. These best thing about these novels is that the older characters are the stars, not supporting players or a subplot. The fact the protagonists are ‘of a certain age’ is not what drives these stories. No one is fearful of getting old or of being older. No one moans, “oh, I’m middle aged” or “I’m so old,” or rages against the ravages of time with botox and surgery. Also, there is mature-aged sex; our leads get it on. In other words, in these books, age is not a character that keeps popping up to poke you in the eye. In reading these novels you forget about the age of the leads and focus on their romance, completely. Well, I did anyway.
Jenny Crusie’s Trust Me On This: ( A | BN | K | S | G ) At the behest of his college professor Aunt Victoria, Alec and his boss, Harry, attend a literary conference—with ulterior motives. They’re undercover agents looking for a con artist. Alec persuades his sixty-something Aunt Victoria to participate in a sting to bring down Dennie, who’s actually a reporter looking for her big break, not the partner to the con artist he and Harry are looking for. It’s a fast-paced, mistaken identity screwball comedy as Alec falls for Dennie and Harry has the hots for Victoria, her creamy flesh and black lace…
Crusie’s Fast Women: ( A | BN | K | S | G ) Gabe McKenna hires forty-something Nell as the secretary at his in-need-of-a-make-over detective agency. As depressed as she over her divorce, Nell thinks it should be be easy to manage the office and her boss. Meanwhile, Gabel thinks Nell will be a docile and obedient employee. Fat chance. Tossed into this sassy power struggle is murder, a dognapping, sex, blackmail and snappy dialogue.
Nora Robert’s Black Rose ( A | BN | K | S | G ) (Book number 2 in the ‘In The Garden’ series): Nearly fifty, widowed and divorced (lots of fun real-life baggage there), Roz hires historian and genealogist Mitch to investigate Amelia, the ghost who haunts the Harper family mansion. The paranormal element does not spoil the romance in any way. It feels drawn from real life and is totally believable, even with a ghost.
Sherry Thomas’ Delicious ( A | BN | K | S | G ): I don’t read a lot of Historicals, but this makes my list. Maybe it was the food—I’d describe this as food and housekeeping porn meets friggin’ sexy Cinderella-ish romance. Older than most romance heroines (she’s in her early forties, I think), Verity is a chef with secrets: a secret past and a secret she shares with Stuart, her current employer. Trouble is, Stuart doesn’t remember who she is—or was—but then Stuart develops a massive appetite for Verity’s cooking… or is that a taste for Verity? It’s a lovely fairy tale with grown ups.
Jeanne Ray’s Julie and Romeo ( A | BN | K | S | G ). A contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet with the youngsters cast as sixty-something grandparents. Instead of the Montagues hating the Capulets, the Rosemans hate the Cacciamanis. The story pushes the boundaries of social and familiar prejudice. It’s sweet, romantic, emotional, sexy and real.
Brenda Novak’s The Perfect Murder ( A | BN | K | S | G ): (# 6 in the Last Stand series). Jane was once married to a serial killer. Now she’s an investigator looking for two missing girls. Sebastian’s trying to hunt down the man who murdered his son and ex-wife. It’s not long before the pair realize they’re looking for the same man. Both leads are middle-aged and drag around lots of emotional baggage. Seeing the relationship develop between these two damaged souls is far more intriguing than the mystery.
Add on from Jane:
Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series and the ‘Burg series both feature characters that are over forty. I think Tyra is 42 in Motorcycle Man. Age is no big thing in Kristen Ashley’s series. In Sweet Dreams ( A | BN | K | S | G ), the first the Colorado Mountain series, Lauren suffers the ignominious infidelity of her husband. She leave him and ends up in a small Colorado town where she hires on to be a bartender. One of the owners, a smoking hot male of an indeterminate age, takes an instant disliking toward Lauren and crudely refers to her as overweight and unattractive. Lauren changes a lot in this book and not because of Ty’s words but in spite of them. As Sandra so aptly points out above, their ages don’t matter at all. It’s an emotional story between great characters.
Sandra Antonelli’s A Basic Renovation is cited as one of the best straight contemporaries recently read by some of our readers. Virginia writes, “Funny that someone already beat me to recommending Sandra Antonelli’s A Basic Renovation on the day where’s there’s a DA post about “older women who still have it.” The 40+ vivid hate-turns-to-love leads in this contemporary “still have it” and so do the secondary characters — like the grandfather. This is romance not women’s fiction and I enjoyed it.”
Let’s hear the recommendations folks!