If You Like Mature Romances
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!
Can I add author Lynne Marshall to this discussion? She’s a Harlequin author (M&B medical/Hqn Special Edition) who has branched out with single title romances with characters from the over 40 set with One for the Road and Too Close for Comfort published by TWRP.
Not a romance but still a great read is Becky Masterman’s Rage Against the Dying. A 59 year old ex-FBI agent who’s recently married and get’s involved in a serial killer investigation.
Linda Gillard regularly uses older protagonists. Emotional Geology’s heroine is in her 40s and is paired up with a younger hero. Untying the Knot has a couple in their mid-to-late 40s. Both tackle very real issues.
My first thought was Fast Women. My second (helped by CD’s comments following AJH’s recent Brockmann review) was Molly and Jones, who appear as the secondary romance in a couple of Brockmann’s books, the first being Out of Control.
Once you move past the first two of Gabaldon’s Outlander books, Claire and Jamie should definitely count as a mature couple.
Looking at secondary romances, SEP often has older characters, and Gigi’s mother has a fantastic one in Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements.
Ellora’s Cave has a whole series, Cougar Challenge, devoted to the older woman. I did write two of the entries, so I do have a vested interest! It is an enormously popular series and has some of EC’s top authors there, including Desiree Holt, Samantha Kane, Mari Freeman and Jane Rylon.
Definitely erotic, definitely romance.
Charlotte Lamb’s HOT BLOOD. The hero and heroine are in their fifties.
I hate to be always banging the HMB Medical line (for which Lynne Marshall writes as Sylvie noted -loved One For The Road) drum but if you’re looking for books with *consistently* older hero/heroines, this line has them in spades.
I think out of 30 medicals I’ve written only a few feature heroines in their 20’s – I think the youngest was 24 (because she was my one and only virgin!) All the rest are in their 30’s and some in their 40’s. My Ruby winner has a 40 yo heroine for example. And hell if you look at the Aussie cover for How To Mend A Broken Heart you’d be forgiven in thinking my hero was in his 60’s!!!
Given that the line features medial professionals usually at their top of their fields, its not often possible to have protagonists in their 20’s so its a natural fit for “older” couples which does lend the line something a little different, I feel.
Anyway…something else to throw into the pot. Drum banging over.
LaVyrle Spencer has done several … BitterSweet, Bygones and Family Blessings (which is older woman/younger man).
Small Town Girl and possibly That Camden Summer may also apply although I am not 100% sure they are over 40. Might be late mid-to-late 30s.
Jeanne Ray’s “Julie and Romeo” – I loved this one years ago when I read it. “Step, Ball, Change” is good too.
Great post – I’ve read and liked the Crusies and Roberts mentioned, as well as Julie and Romeo, but not the others.
I recommend A Soldier’s Heart by Kathleen Korbel (Eileen Dreyer). It was published in the 90s and is oop, but it holds up well and is easy to find used. I love this book – both h/h are in their 40s and both are Vietnam Vets – he was a Marine and she’s the nurse who saved his life. The book starts when he looks her up some 20 years later. It’s a beautiful book about adults falling in love while dealing with their baggage. It’s the first romance I read where both h/h have PTSD, and it’s probably why I keep seeking out romances where one or both MCs have PTSD (despite many disappointments).
And because another recent thread here reminded me of this post from tor.com, here’s a list of mature women in SFF books – http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/sleeps-with-monsters-where-are-the-older-women
Gingerly stepping in to put my book MAGDALENE on the list. Heroine is 46. Hero is 44. I have other over-40 heroines, but they aren’t 40 yet at the beginning of the book.
Thanks for all of these great books! My wishlist is groaning right now. First of all, a big thumbs up to Sandra’s book, which was everything I look for in a romance. I’d also like to recommend Cheryl Reavis’s book An Older Woman which is a Silhouette Special Edition. It features a heroine who is a nurse in her early 40’s, I believe, who helps out a gruff, tough, injured paratrooper. Aside from the ages of the characters, I also loved that the hero was an enlisted man, not an officer.
Tyra was 35 in Motorcycle Man. Tack was 41. Motorcycle Man is my favorite book by Kristen Ashely. Though I enjoyed Sweet Dreams as well it took me a bit to get past the hero’s words about the heroine’s weight.
I have an old Silhouette Intimate Moments by Sharon Sala in my “keeper” pile where the heroine is in her 50’s and is reunited with her long lost love she thought was dead–Familiar Stranger, the last in “A Year of Living Dangerously” series from 2001. It’s available electronically via Amazon. I have maybe 5 or 6 series romance keepers and this is one of them.
Another book that has an older heroine is No More Wasted Time by Beverly Preston.
Tyra wasnt 42 in Motorcycle man. She was around her early thirtys; and atack was i think 44?
I, too, have been wanting more romances with mature characters and it looks like there are some gems in the recommendations. Thank you so much for this list.
Actually, quite a few of KA’s books feature over 40 characters, which I’ve always thought is really nice. Tabitha is correct about Tack & Tyra’s ages, but in Wild Man, both Brock and Tess are over 40.
Sweet Dreams is the 2nd in the Colorado Mountain series – hero is Tate and he’s 44, Laurie is 42.
I’m going to mention Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold and Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells, even though they are fantasy with a nice thread of romance rather than straight romance. Still, both have amazing older heroines, two of my favorite heroines, period, in fact. In Paladin of Souls, the love interest is also older. In Wheel of the Infinite, while we don’t ever have specific ages, my impression was of a man in his twenties while the heroine is somewhere over forty.
So glad to see this list and this article! My contemporary books all have heroines over 40. I think they’re more honest, complex and tortured. Would love to see the baby boomers take over!
Thanks for this list. I’m definitely putting some of these books in my TBR pile.
Since we have a couple of mentions of other/different genres (thanks for the Bujold reference!), I’m going to add the Marley Clark mysteries by Linda Lovely – they’re mystery and romance coupled together, with the protagonist, Marley, in her 40’s, widowed yet coming back into the world. The first book, “Dear Killer” was released by Harlequin last year as a mass market and both books are available on Kindle as well as in hardcopy (“Dear Killer” and “No Wake Zone”).
@Fara: Thanks so much for mentioning the Marley Clark Mysteries, Fara. You’re right they’re mystery/suspense first but have strong romantic elements. The heroine, Marley, is actually 52, but still smart, fit and sexy.
Yes, thanks for this list! And the books listed in the comments. Oh my list just got bigger…!
Merline Lovelace’s Duty & Dishonor features an older couple (heroine is 46, hero is 42).
@Becky Lower: I heartily agree with you comment about older heroines being “more honest, complex and tortured.” And thanks to everyone who made other suggestions. You are helping me add to the list of novels that feature older romance heroines I have included in my PhD research. Please keep the recommendations coming!
Since Lois Bujold’s name was mentioned, let’s not forget Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan from Cordelia’s Honor — both in their 40’s and even though this is science fiction, there is a wonderful romance also.
Another mystery/suspense series with strong romantic elements is the Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer Fleming. Clare is 35 in the first book; and I believe Russ is close to 50. Excellent series!!!!
@Lynn Pauley: Oh, yes, how could I forget! Cordelia’s Honor is a beautiful romance, and both Cordelia and Aral are incomparable characters. They are so perfect for each other.
Since we’re on an LMB roll…
Simon and Alys are an awesome secondary couple in a number of books (starting with Memory and definitely very present in Captain Vorpatril’s alliance).
Ooh, the Marley Clark books are only $2.99 for Kindle. I’m definitely going to try the first one! Thanks for this thread, Jane, and thanks everyone for the recommendations.
I don’t know how I missed this yesterday but I’m so happy to see this post, especially since I asked for romances featuring older couples when A Basic Renovation was first recommended. Loved that book and am delighted to try and find more like it!
I will add Lynn Michael’s Mother of the Bride which I picked up thanks to a DA Daily Deal. The older heroine isn’t my favorite (kind of the family doormat) but I did enjoy the grumpy older hero. A much better one for me was Jane Graves’ Hot Wheels and High Heels with a 40 yr old heroine who finally grows up (you get to witness the growth and her new found independence) and a hot 42 yr old hero. Great summer read for anyone looking for one.
My pocketbook is soon to be bemused by its sudden lightness!
@Lada: Oh, I read Hot Wheels and High Heels and I remember really liking it. I’d completely forgotten the ages of the h/h though.
One of my publishers is a small independent, WingsEPress.com. They have a line of romances called “Encore L’Amore”, in which all of the heroines are older. Two of my books were published under that imprimatur, and in both the heroine turns 40 during the book. But there are romances involving women in their 50s, 60s and even 70s listed there. FYI.
I just found this – thanks for championing older heroines. I’ve co-written a women’s fiction, The Don Quixote Girls, about four women in the 40-50 age range. There’s a mystery, suspense, humor and romance for 3 of the women! Keep spreading the word. Baby boomers need books to read that they can relate to!
The heroine of Delicious is “only” in her mid-thirties :)
But the book is great anyway, one of my all time favourites.