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Guest blogger: Justine Lewis

12 February 2017

justine-lewisAll romance readers and writers love a hero, but we don’t seem to talk as much about heroines. I’ve even heard a few people say they only read romances because of the heroes and that they don’t care at all about the heroines. For me, one of the main attractions of romances is that they are about women (with the obvious exception of male/male, but you know what I mean). In romance novels women are usually the main characters, the protagonists. And in a world where men still dominate almost all aspects of public life, this is a big reason to love romance.

So I want to talk about heroines for a change. In particular, why do the majority of romances feature younger heroines? We may have moved on from virginal twenty year olds to women in their late twenties … early thirties … but we haven’t moved much further than that.

I’ve read only handful of books featuring heroines over forty over the years, including Amy Andrews’ lovely Ruby-winning A Doctor, A Nurse, A Christmas Baby and Sandra Antonelli’s Driving in Neutral. But these are the only two that instantly spring to mind (though admittedly my memory is not as reliable as it once was). I haven’t sought books with older heroines out, but they haven’t overwhelmed my Kindle either.

And I want to know why.

Is it that there isn’t a readership? I doubt it. If anything, older heroines should be more interesting. Older women have more memories, both to comfort and haunt them. That should make for deeper, more complex conflicts. Maybe it’s because we have all been younger women and can all relate to someone who still has their entire life ahead of them and hasn’t made all those mistakes we’ve made? Romance is about escape after all.

Or maybe once the heroine is over a certain age a book tends to be classified as women’s fiction because past a certain point women are considered too old or too serious to be shagged senseless by a debaucherous Duke or a sexy billionaire or a ruggedly ripped farmer. I hope I’m never too old for any of those things.

I think the age from thirty-five onwards is particularly interesting. This is often a time of change, a time when so many women face their last chance to have a family (or add to the one they may have). Aren’t the stakes higher? The rewards so much sweeter? A woman in her later forties probably no longer has the endless beat of the ticking clock in her head, but she is likely to have a much more interesting backstory than the twenty-year-old virgin. And she probably still wants, consciously or not, love and great sex. Being past child-bearing age does change some things, but not everything. It is perfectly possible to have a full and happy life without children (some would say it’s the only way!) I have a theory that women make better choices about men when the possibility of having children is not on the cards anyway.

My latest release is a contemporary romance about a television anchor woman who is about to turn forty. She fears she’s reaching her use-by date and finds herself both threatened and attracted to a new gun foreign correspondent who becomes her offsider.

I’m interested in what you think? Do you like reading about older heroines? What is your favourite book with an older heroine?

You can find Justine here: Website | Facebook |Twitter | Amazon

the-reluctant-loverThe Reluctant Lover

Katherine Bright is one of Australia’s most acclaimed television journalists. She’s interviewed presidents and brought down corrupt governments but her ratings are plummeting and rumour has it her show is about to be axed. Katherine has given up a lot for her career, so when the network offers her a chance to keep the show running, she’ll take it – no matter what she has to do.

Foreign correspondent Liam Kennedy has recently returned to Australia and when Katherine meets him at an awards night, he seems a perfect distraction from her troubles. Liam is the whole cliché: tall, dark and totally kissable. Except for one thing. He’s younger than Katherine. Much younger. And when Katherine realises she needs Liam to save her show she finds herself in an impossible situation.

Can one of TV’s most successful women stay true to herself and her ambitions and defy convention to be with the man she loves?

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6 Comments
  1. Sandy permalink
    13 February 2017 6:46 pm

    I’m wondering if the age bias is more because publishers are wary of having older heroines (particularly those hovering around 50) than readers not preferring them. Although publishers loved my older heroines in my “Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause” book, they didn’t think there would be a big enough readership for it, but luckily a small press picked it up. So I’m wondering if availability is the problem. Justine, I love the sound of “The Reluctant Lover” and hope it reaches a multitude of readers who will appreciate that heroines over 40 can be just as sassy and interesting as younger ones.

  2. 13 February 2017 9:22 am

    I love older. Older is more layered and intricate and fascinating. We need more ROMANCE featuring leads who are BOTH 40+ because your need for love doesn’t end when you cross an invisible line. I can’t wait to read The Reluctant Lover! Bring it, Justine!

    PS I did my PhD on the lack of mature-aged heroines in romance, and all my books feature leads well over 40.

  3. 12 February 2017 5:33 pm

    Great point Justine, I love the idea of older heroines too. In a genre which is read and written by so many women it is surprising that the same age bias we see often in Hollywood seems to apply to the books we read too. Can’t wait to read The Reluctant Lover.

    • 13 February 2017 7:07 am

      Thanks very much Bec. I like your point about the Hollywood bias, how utterly depressing that it permeates our books too.

  4. 12 February 2017 5:24 pm

    I love older heroines, and so does Sandra Antonelli. I look forward to reading The Reluctant Lover.

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