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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Older You Get The Older The Hero Gets

As I slowly work my way through editing and updating Grace's story, a few things struck me about this particular manuscript.

1) The heroine is my youngest ever.
This being Grace--you know, Jed's daughter--she's a little different from most young ladies. She's around 22. Her story starts around five years after Big Bad Wolf. To give perspective, it's also roughly a bit after that period of time His Jedness gets entangled with a certain Hell ;-).

Anyway, the way Grace behaves and thinks is a challenge because she has that "I'm young and immortal" psyche crossed with "I'm uber spy's daughter and I've seen stuff" attitude. There are moments when she acts overly-confident thus driving her lover up the wall because he has trouble seeing her beyond that 22 year-old facade.

2) This is also the biggest age difference between h/h. The hero is around 31, nine years older than Grace. To the old girl in me, he's really just sliding into real manhood ;-) but while writing Grace, I have to see him through her eyes. When I was around 20, anyone 30 or older is out of my league and vice-versa. The nine-year age gap is bigger during that time than between a 26 and a 35 year-old.

So Grace (and I) has a lot of fun out-witting this poor OLD dude of 31 who doesn't know that he's messing around with Number Nine's daughter. Needless to say, the youth thing keeps tripping him up.

As you know, I wrote this book many years ago. I have to update the lingo and technology as I rewrite. It also made me think whether I could write another story with such a youthful couple. They are quite different compared to later couples I created who are a few years older. Grace doesn't have that sophisticated layer that her GEM friends have nor does she have any baggage. In fact, she's pretty well-balanced in spite of her strange upbringing. If you've read her in BBW, you'll find that she hasn't changed much since then.

My curiosity then is this--how old do you like your couples? Especially the hero?

When I started reading romances in my teens, the heroines were forever around 18 or 20, with the heros at the disgusting ages of 36-39. This vast difference in age was quite normal back then, and yeah, even though I loved those stories, I was always quite horrified at the thought of my hero being that OLD. When I returned to romances a decade later, a lot have changed, including the age difference. The heroines are now older too, usually between mid- to late- twenties. The heros are also younger, thank God. Reflection of the times and all that.

However, I'm now past the disgusting ages of 36-39 and suddenly, early forties heros are quite reasonably acceptable in my mind again ;-). Hey, early forties can be the new sexy, you know. Isn't that funny how that works?

So now I'm curious because I have both Grace-age readers and readers who are in that "disgusting" age group ;-). What do you younger readers think of the older heros? Conversely, what do you more, ahem, experienced ladies think of the younger heros? Admittedly, 31 here is quite acceptable, but I'm not sure whether I'd get into a romance with, let's say, a 25 year-old hero.

For example, the youngest hero I've ever read was in a Susan Johnson historical and he was a very, very, very, very, very, VERY experienced 18. I couldn't get into that story at all because well...18 is a BOY, no matter how sexy. I kept seeing my neighbor's son while reading it. Ugh.

I'm looking forward to reading about your take on hero's and heroine's ages/age difference, so please chime in.

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm 22 so I like it when I read and the heroine's young and of course and a reasonably young hero. I like it when I read and the hero is 25-30. I have a few friends in their later 20s so I can sorta see the 6-8 year gap. For me though, when I see a larger age gap I get uncomfortable because the age group 35+ reminds me of my uncles =_=. But then again I think my uncles are really 40-50 heh. I think since I'm still young, the number 30 just scares me lol.

Sandy said...

I, being at the ripe old age of 43, could not imagine a 25 year old hero. That's not to say I couldn't have down and dirty sex with one. My kid has a friend whose mom is my age and her husband just turned 30. He had never been married before now and no children at all and they seem very happy. I have no problem reading about age differences though.

Mo said...

Well, I'm sort of in between. I don't mind the younger hero or heroine, provided I can connect emotionally with them. It's ALL about the emotional connection. As for age or age difference, my parents were 20 years apart and hubby and I are 11 years apart. For me personally, I wanted a more mature man, someone who could meet me on an level emotional playing field.

In books, it's the same. I have no problem with age differences, though I have seen some books where the age difference was used as the big issue (she was too immature and ran off, kind of plot).

Actually, one of the best pairs I have ever read that embody the traits you mention are Vanyel and Stef (Mercedes Lackey, fantasy) but they are a gay fantasy couple. Stef is the same age as Van's nephew (roughly 20 years difference) and the love between them is so beautiful. But, Stef is actually more experienced than Van.

Ultimately, the ages don't matter. That the couples are emotionally tied to each other and that they fit is the most important thing.

Joyce said...

25 is definitely a bit young for a hero unless for some reason he is more mature than most for his age.

Gennita said...

Anonymous,

Yes, I remember it difficult to get into a book when I was reading romances in my teens and the hero was over 30. There have always been a lack of heroes under 30 unless it's a historical. Anyway, 30, I think is a good age for one ;-).

************

Sadista,
You cougar you ;-). I can totally see an erotica between an older heroine and a much younger hero. I also think a young tough war-bitten 26-28 year old hero can have a good romance with a thirty-something heroine. But it IS tough if the age difference is huge and the hero so young one questions his maturedness.

************

Mo,
Yes, of course. A romance is a romance, especially when it's written well and the emotional payoff is balanced and satisfying. I recall some great secondary-plot romances between younger protagonists in some books.

However, in many romances, the power imbalance is darn unfair, especially between the older hero and much younger heroine. So, conversely, if we have a much younger hero, would we the reader feel an imbalance too? Because, let's face it, at 35-45, we come with a big platter of prejudices of what we know our 25 year old selfs (male or female) haven't lived through yet.

Let's think of it this way. A vampire story, but instead of a 1000 year old hero and a 25 year old heroine, let's reverse that. It'd be an interesting read, but how long are we going to want to hear about the 25 year old hero's "Dude, this is so cool. Let's fuck again"? LOL. You know that's what he's going to say right after he finds out about the wonders of mind-sex. LOL.

Kidding, my male readers, just kidding.... :-)

Gennita said...

Joyce,

Do you think we're just wired to like our heros older than us? Because we are the more matured gender, of course. ;-)

Sadista said...

I am a cougar!! GRRRR!!! ;-)

Vanessa said...

I'm 25 and i think a hero should be between 28 and 40. I think a 40 year old hero that is fit/rough and tough is sexy as hell. I think a hero younger the 28 is good but i dont think of them as experienced. i want a man that really knows how to work his women.
As for age difference, i believe as long as both are of legal age whats the problem.

LadyZannah said...

I was married to someone 9 years my senior, and Italian hottie was 10 years my senior. They can be fun but I think next time around I'll go for a closer gap. Never younger than me tho.

Gennita said...

Vanessa,

Would you read a romance with a woman 20 years older than the hero? Say, she's 46 and he's 26. Not judging. I'm always curious in how readers views evolve or stay the same through the years.

*************

Lady Zannah,

Younger man can be fun too. Just ask Sadista the Cougar ;-).

Sandy said...

I said I would do him. Not have a relationship with him. Unless the sex was really good!! But he would have to hit the road every night. No staying the night. You allow that to happen and the next thing you know, his shit is in your closet and dresser. Forget that!

Ferah said...

Let me announce right up front that I am kissing 40 and am the same age as my hubby, so take what you will as what colors my opinions. I would not enjoy any romance where the heroine is still in her teens and the hero is in his late 20's or older, especially if they are contemporary romance. In fact, I'm not interested in reading about teenage romances at all. That's for the "young adult" section of the bookstore. And, no, I'm not planning on reading "Twilight". I like my protangonists with some life experience (credibility) under their belts (no pun intended). A 10-20 year gap is not at all romantic to me. I keep thinking of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Ick.

OK, off to read some Kresley Cole where the age gaps run in the millenia. Ironic, eh? Sigh. Happy holidays, y'all!

Gennita said...

Ferah,

Funny, isn't it, that we can read about a hero 1000 years older than the heroine and that's okay because he's a vampire? ;-) Actually, sometimes I'm a bit squicked by that, especially if the heroine acts really snarky young. How about you?

I don't mind reading younger heros, but he has to be reasonably matured. As I've stated in this post, the older one gets, the older our hero gets...but I also have an age limit, LOL. Mine runs from mid thirties to late forties right now. What about y'all?

Mo said...

My age limit right now (no including paranormals or fantasy) is in the mid to upper 50s.

Lisa W. said...

I personally do not have a problem with the age difference and think 31 is a good age for a hero. Being that I'm on the "cusp" of 40 and presently 39 I do find that I'm gravitating toward the older, more experianced gentleman in my books. Like Mo said, if the romance flows in the book, it's all good. I think that men really aren't ready to mature until they're older anyway.

Vanessa said...

I think its fine. Like i said as long as both are of legal age and are into each other i don't really see anything wrong with it. That being said i will admit that it would take some getting used to since i haven't read a book like that yet. But i would read it all the same.

Gennita said...

Lisa W. and Vanessa,

It's been fun, actually, reading/writing a younger hero because I could give allowance for his decidedly arrogance in thinking someone as young as Grace's 22 years couldn't POSSIBLY be that good at covert work ;-). If Lance were a few years older, what Grace did in this book wouldn't have flown by him that easily, LOL. And I wouldn't want him any older because then he'd be closer to Jed's age and that's creepy territory for me!

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