… does a woman improve with age?
The hero being slightly older than the heroine has long been the norm in romance novels—but as that convention has waned in society, it’s become more popular to switch the scenario around. For years I thought about incorporating a relationship between an older woman and a younger man in one of my novels. Finally I found the right fit with Wine & Roses.
We live in a society where youth and beauty are highly prized, particularly for women. The messages we see on television and in magazines make it difficult to value ourselves as we age. Even as women have achieved independence and a measure of equality, the double standard persists. Women who pursue younger men are known as “cougars”, while there’s no equivalent nickname for men who date younger women.
I enjoyed exploring this theme with my characters, Abby and Jason. Although I’m happily married, as I get older I can relate to the anxiety felt by Abby, a widow after twenty years of marriage, as she considers dating again in her forties—and the man she’s attracted to is nine years her junior. Abby worries not only about her appearance, but also about her fertility—will a young man stay with her for long if she can’t give him a family?
I think we need to give men a little more credit; despite what the advertisers tell us, I believe men are able to recognize the allure of warmth, wit and self-assurance, in a woman of any age. In Wine & Roses, Jason appreciates these qualities in Abby, and her age matters little to him as he falls head over heels in love with her. Of course, at the core is a love story between two people that transcends their age difference, as they face the challenges common to any couple forging a new relationship.
What do you think—does an age difference make a difference?