Back in the “old days” of 80’s romance, when the label “romance” sent female readers (and probably some male readers) swooning, the primary plot of our stories usually involved a young virgin who was ignorant of the power and influence of the tall, dark, handsome, experienced (and sometimes dangerous) hero. She fainted at the very thought of being at his mercy and her heart and body being overtaken by the alpha male who always knew how to handle a woman. The “innocent virgin” in these stories conjured up all kinds of scenarios, and led to steamy, usually forbidden sex throughout or near the end of the story.

     Of course, as time marched on, society demanded we write much stronger heroines who could stand up to the skilled, magnificent heroes, but for the most part, those heroines continued to be young and not always experienced in the ways of love and the consummation of that love. She remained wide-eyed and a bit frightened of allowing the hero to “make a woman” of her. This basic theme kept evolving and changing over the years as sexual behavior and what was allowed in our books also changed - and writers became bolder in describing the act of having sex. The young heroine was no longer always the inexperienced beauty who fainted at a man’s touch. We grew into tv programs like “Sex and The City,” and our heroines weren’t always even virgins any more. But there was still that “big, bold hero meets beautiful, young heroine” theme.

     Through all of this one thing remained the same for writing “romance.” 90% - 100% of the time, the heroine was young, somewhere between 16 and 22. She was always slim and pretty and usually “feisty” and independent. And she makes sure the hero knows she can “live without a man.” The hero is usually older, but almost never beyond 30. He must be “buff,” with distinct pecks and abs and glutes and hard biceps. He must have a square jaw, a couple-day old beard growth, a straight nose and high cheekbones and dark, penetrating eyes. And he, too, has to be young – mostly 20 to 30 years old, and of course, he can “live without a woman.”

     Today, romance is finally beginning to move away from the constant “young and beautiful and perfect” characters, and publishers are beginning to recognize there is a market in writing the older couple. Some publishers are beginning to actively seek stories involving the older hero and heroine. I have always believed there is a market for the older couple, even in romance. There is nothing more beautiful (to me) than sex between two people, married or not, who know what it’s all about – know what they want and how to do it right – who are solid in their confidence (whether having sex with someone new, or if they have been together for years and know each other’s bodies intimately) – a man and woman who know what “turns on” their partner – and who (as in most of my books) are so familiar with each other that one can hardly breathe without the other and each usually knows what the other is thinking.
      I often write older couples, and the love scenes they share are absolutely the most satisfying for me to write.  It isn’t just about lust and sexual satisfaction. They aren’t just out to “get laid” and having sex and naming body parts they want their partner to toy with. They are having sex with their emotions, their memories, their hearts. There is nothing sexier than a man “wanting” to be inside a woman because it’s one way of showing her how much he adores her and wants to please her – and he once again claims her for himself and reminds her she belongs only to him. At the same time, the woman takes her man out of real love, not just because she wants to “feel good.” She wants HIM to feel good, too, and he does because he knows she wants him with every fiber of her being and because they have been having sex for years with only each other. They are still finding new ways to please each other.

     Couples who are totally familiar with each other and know all the little things each enjoys – know where and how each other wants to be touched – and who have such a history together that memories become as much a part of sex as does the act of sex itself can be incredibly sexy. Those memories and idiosyncrasies about each other’s thoughts and needs can also lead to some wonderful banter, even during the act of sex. I used a lot of banter in the love scenes between Jake and Miranda Harkner in my Outlaw Hearts series. That banter, and being able to laugh with and at each other, only makes the sex even “sexier.” Believe me, as you get older, there are plenty of things to laugh about. If you can’t joke about the changes that occur with ageing, where is the fun in still being together and still “getting it on?”

     Teasing and laughter can be just as fulfilling and tantalizing as sex between two younger people with perfect bodies. Recognizing things have changed and all that perfectness has changed with it – and being comfortable with that – only shows a love that runs far deeper and is much more beautiful than wild sex between two young and perfect people just out of lust and a desire to have a climax. It runs far deeper than how long a man lasts or how perky the woman’s breasts are. When those things don’t matter anymore, that’s real love. And truly realizing that if and when one or the other dies – or if part of the danger in the story is that one or the other might be killed - and if that loss would mean far more than losing a sex partner, then your story truly becomes a LOVE STORY. When losing your partner means losing part of your heart and soul – and literally losing a part of your very being, your very spirit – that’s the kind of love story that becomes a memorable tear-jerker.

      The days of the young, fainting heroine are long gone. Women today want strong heroines who, in some instances, seem even stronger than the hero, even when they ARE virgins. But I believe it’s important that in certain ways the hero remains in control and can always match the heroine in skill and passion. Of course, to keep the “sexiness” alive in advanced years, we still tend to keep our hero and heroine in good shape. It’s kind of a “must” for romance. But we still need to be realistic about certain changes. The fact that (in my Outlaw books) Jake understands that things have “changed down there” for his wife and enjoying sex takes “special handling” because of those changes, only makes the reader think, “Awwww, look how much he loves her and cares that she still enjoys having sex with the man she loves.” They love Jake even more for how much he cares about his wife’s pleasure. And when she is pleased, that turns him on and only helps him enjoy it more himself. After all, men change, too, and they need to find ways to keep their own sexual stimulation as virile and satisfying as possible.

     I suppose some of this stems from being older myself.  I understand things that younger writers haven't even experienced yet and have no idea  (or simply don’t believe) their sex lives will change, whether they like it or not. They don’t see how much more beautiful a love story between an ageing hero and heroine can be, just because of what they have been through together and how hard they try to keep their sex life vibrant and alive.

    I’ve written many books that involved older couples. In WILDEST DREAMS, the hero and heroine meet at a young age and they go through many trials and tribulations that only strengthen their love until in old age it remains beautiful and fulfilling and memorable. In my SAVAGE DESTINY series and my OUTLAW HEARTS series, the same thing takes place, and I go into the lives of the hero and heroine’s children and even grandchildren – yet the primary hero and heroine remain vital and active and the main highlight in every single book of the series. By the end of the series the readers are totally, completely attached to the hero and heroine, who remain memorable to them for years after finishing the series.

     I just finished the first book of my new “Men of the Outlaw Trail” series, and I went out on a limb. Right from the start I made my characters 32 (heroine) and 35 (hero) years old. That might not sound that old today, but it is still middle-aged. Back in 1869, the time period of my story, being in their thirties was considered beyond middle-aged and an age when women were less likely to be able to give a man children, let alone their physical bodies not being what they were at sixteen. The age factor in RIDE THE HIGH LONESOME is important in my story. The heroine falls in love with the hero, but she hides her feelings because she thinks that if and when he falls in love and marries, he will want someone much younger and who can definitely give him babies. Still, these two know all about love and sex from things that happened to both of them in their pasts – and when circumstances lead inevitably to sex, it is HOT!!! These aren’t two young people inexperienced at life and danger and survival – and the heroine is far from a “fainting virgin.” The hero damn well knows what a woman wants – and what HE wants. Put that all together, and it becomes great sex!

     I loved writing this book, and when I thought back on some of the series I’ve written, wherein the hero and heroine age together, I realized some of the best sex can be between an older man and woman who have rid themselves of the fear of commitment, and of inhibitions and unsureness that often comes with younger couples who haven’t really “lived” yet. 

     In my book LOGAN'S LADY, coming March 2019, I admit the hero is in his late twenties and is handsome and “buff,” and the heroine is only 19 and a virgin, but for that particular story, I NEEDED a young and trusting heroine in order to make what happens to her in the beginning of the book more believable. Her age and innocence were part of the plot. But my favorite writing is still series stories wherein the hero and heroine grow old together.

     There is nothing as lasting and memorable as reading about a couple you can follow from youth to old age, and nothing as beautiful as that couple still enjoying each other, not just sexually, but spiritually – the kind of love wherein one knows exactly what the other is thinking and what he or she will say next. They are totally “in sync” in desire, thought and spirit. How often have you noticed the very happy look in the eyes of a couple whose picture is in the newspaper for celebrating their 50th, 60th or even 70th anniversary? And how often have you noticed that when one of them dies, the other dies not long after? That’s because they are so connected spiritually that when one dies, a big part of the other dies with them. They are like one person in heart, soul and spirit, and when one is gone, the other has trouble going on with life. That’s beautiful love.

     I encourage writers to not always write just about the young and the beautiful. Older couples are far less selfish, far more forgiving and more devoted, and a love story between two older people can be far more memorable. And that’s what you want – a memorable story that will cause readers to look for other books you have written!


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