Writer's moments

Let’s Hear It for Love after 50

I’m bugged. It seems that romance novels are the bailiwick of characters who are younger than 50. If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then how come romance after 50 isn’t sexy anymore? Well, folks, I’ve got big news–sexy is timeless.  Excuse me, but two words, Pierce Brosnan. Sean Connery? Jeff Bridges? Denzel Washington, anyone? Richard Gere? And as far as sexy women are concerned–want to talk about Susan Sarandon? Sophia Loren? Goldie Hawn? Helen Mirren? Tina Turner? Me? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Hollywood is beginning to get it. I thoroughly enjoyed the film Something”s Gotta Give—a love story between two people well over age 50. Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson totally rocked that delightful movie. It’s Complicated showed us Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin as grown-ups in a love story that was fun and sexy. Streep and Stanley Tucci recreated the romance between Julia and Paul Child—an older couple madly in love—in Julie and Julia.

So what’s up with the world of romance novels? Why is it that if you’re a woman of a certain age, then nobody wants to read about your love life? All of us “oldsters” are still falling in love, rediscovering love, renewing love, and by God, we’re still having sex and probably doing it with way more panache. So why are most romance novels about girls in their twenties and thirties?

A few years ago, Harlequin nailed it with their NEXT imprint, but it didn’t make it, and I’m not sure why. Maybe we weren’t ready then, but I believe we’re ready now.  I’m ready for romance with a dash of maturity, two people involved in a relationship without all the nonsense of youth. I want conversations between grown-ups who are over the drama of coming-of-age and meet on the level playing field of self-knowledge.  I’m looking for sensual sexy love scenes written with that irresistible combination of  humor, passion, and life experience.

Baby Boomers, as writers and readers,  let’s put the romance world on notice—we’re here, we’re in love, we’re making love, and our stories are worth telling. Who’s in?



  • BarbN

    I’m a week late, but chiming in anyway– great post. It always amazes me how different the heroes and heroines are from the real people who read them–almost like they’re photoshopped. I like my fantasies as much as anybody else, but a real romance about real people would be so much better.

  • Nan

    London–thanks for sharing! I’d like to hear your story about the 60s professor! When I was at Purdue, I had a huge crush on my art history prof, who was probably in his 50s at the time. He’d been in Paris just after WW II helping to rehang and restore art at the Louvre. He just seemed so romantic to my 18-year-old mind. 😉

  • londonmabel

    I’m probably going to pull out some older short stories to e-book-in-ate and remembered (randomly, laying in bed one night this week when I couldn’t sleep) that I wrote one, a romance, about a couple in their… 60s? He was a professor near retirement, so it must have been 60s.

    I felt I should return here and let you know. 😉

  • Nan

    London, I think you’re right on both counts–authors and publishers both fear trying something new and different if what they have sells books…but we need to protest and let the world know we want good stories about women our age.

    Diva, happy to have you onboard–one order of Harrison Ford coming up!

  • londonmabel

    I loved all three of those movies.

    My one problem with the romance genre is I do find a lot of same-i-ness. Too many brooding heroes, too many clever heroines. Usually white. And as you say, usually young.

    I assume it’s publishers who feel that anything out of this is too much chance-taking? Or maybe writers assume their chances of being published will lessen if they stray too far from the usual? I don’t know…

  • Mary Stella

    I’d love to read more romances where the over-50 couple is the main relationship. In the meantime, I enjoy the books where an over-50 couple is a secondary relationship. Nora just did that in Chasing Fire. Susan Elizabeth Phillips did it in Nobody’s Baby But Mine as well as Natural Born Charmer.

  • robena grant

    My buddy, Lynne Marshall wrote a fab book about an older heroine finding love again. One For the Road, published by The Wild Rose Press. It’s smart, funny, sensitive, and everything you’d expect of baby boomer love. I think we’ll find more women ready to read these stories over the next couple of years.
    So, yeah, count me in. : )

    • Nan

      @Traci–thanks for coming by and yes, George Clooney…yum! Glad you’re with us!

      @Fokker–my upcoming novel, RULE NUMBER ONE, has a side-dish romance that is really fun. Welcome to the club

  • Traci Douglass

    Great post Nan! You’re absolutely right. As so many other things are, many of today’s romances seem geared toward a younger crowd. I think there’s a huge untapped market out there just waiting to be recognized. And sexy after 50? George Clooney! Fugeddiboutit! 😀