Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Seasoned Heroes and Heroines What's Not to Love?

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 2 comments
Take a look in the heroes and heroines in the pictures.
 Everyone of them is 49 or older.

 We love and accept older heroes and heroines in movies, but in romance books? Not so much.

The average heroine in a romance is under thirty. (Older heroes are acceptable. Some are in their early forties.)

According to a 2015 Neilson study, forty-one percent of romance readers are ages forty-five-plus. I am one of those older readers. And I love to read about heroines and heroes who are closer to my age.

One of my favorite non-fiction books is Love Again. The Wisdom of Unexpected Romance by Eve Pell. It’s about late-in-life love: It’s growing, it’s everywhere, and it’s transformative. Falling in love and living happily ever after is an ageless state.

There are wonderful older heroines in the romance world. Just not enough.

One of my best-loved seasoned heroines is Bernadine Brown in Beverly Jenkin’s Blessings series which begins with Bring on the Blessings.

On Bernadine Brown's fifty-second birthday she received an unexpected gift—she caught her husband, Leo, cheating with his secretary. She was hurt—angry, too—but she didn't cry woe is me. Nope, she hired herself a top-notch lawyer and ended up with a cool $275 million. Having been raised in the church, she knew that when much is given much is expected, so she asked God to send her a purpose. 

 I tore through the first five books in a week. I had to wait for the others to come out. The eighth book, Chasing Down A Dream, came out July 4th. I have almost finished it. I adore this series. 

Then there’s Elizabeth Peters and the intrepid Egyptologist Amelia Peabody whose career spans a thirty-nine year old period— 1884 through 1923. Amelia was an older spinster to begin with in Crocodile on The Sandbank. She and her beloved Radcliffe are a romance for the ages. The last book in the series, The Painted Queen, completed posthumously by Peters’ good friend, the brilliant Joan Hess, comes out in July. I can’t wait.

Nora Robert’s Black Rose has a forty seven year old heroine. I adore Nora Roberts and was pleased with the gift. I just finished re-reading it.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a wonderful B Story about an older couple in Natural Born Charmer and another in This Heart of Mine. I don't want to admit how many times I read these two books. I will say They whetted my appetite for more books with older heroines.

Toni Morrison said “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

I took her advice to heart. I wanted to see older heroines, but I wanted the best of both worlds. 

In Time and Forever, two women in their sixties time travel to 1969. For a great deal of the book they are in their twenties even though they are actually in their sixties. But their happy ever after takes place in the present.

In my next book I decided to follow a secondary character in Time and Forever, Jeremy’s sister, Jennifer. I knew from the epilogue who Jen was in the present. I thought it might be fun to figure out how she got there.

Now I am one of those writers who starts with a glimmer of an idea and assumes the story will flow from that point. I knew Jennifer had three husbands because she remarks in the epilogue of Time and Forever, “Third time lucky.”

That sounded good to me.

I know that in real life happily- ever-after doesn’t have to start in your twenties. And it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. I love second chances. 

Maybe This Time starts with Jen’s forty-ninth birthday, a turning point for many women. I hope you will click the link and see if the beginning interests you.
I drew on my own acting experience for the theatre scenes. I was a stage actress long before I ever got a television role. I worked with Bette Midler in Hawaii, before she set out to conquer New York.
 In New York I worked with Raoul Julia and Ernie Sabella in the showcase production of the musical The Robber Bridegroom. Then with Barry Bostwick, Ernie Sabella and Larry Moss in the Broadway production of that same musical. I also got to work with Kevin Kline, Kathy  Bates and Barry Corbin, among others. Everyone but Raoul is still working and only getting better with age. Me too!

I’ve mentioned a few seasoned heroines who captured my heart. I know there are lots more. 
Do you have a favorite? Please share in a comment.
I am sure you recognize most of the actors in the collages. Here’s the key with their names and ages,

Left to right
Holly Hunter 59, Sandra Bullock 52, Viola Davis 51
Michelle Yeoh 50, Nicole Kidman 49 Salma Hayek 50
Jacklyn Smith 70, Demi Moore 54, Michelle Pfeiffer 59

Left to right
Sam Elliot 72, Colin Firth 56, Hugh Grant 56
Denzell Washington 52, Pierce Brosnan 64, Harrison Ford 71
Hugh Laurie 58, George Clooney 56, Robert Downey Jr. 52


  1. And I would love to know what turned my text blue. I am having an "I HATE BLOGGER day. Hope you day is full of wonderful moments, big and small.

  2. I really enjoyed Time & Forever, Susan. Looking forward to digging into the new one. Best of Luck.


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