First Off - What Is This Genre, Anyway?
In the broadest terms, a Midlife Romance is a romance where the main character is between the ages of 40 and 60.
For M/F romances, this almost always means the heroine (also known as the FMC or Female Main Character). Her hero or love interest could also be in midlife, or this could be a romance where our middle aged heroine gets it on with a handsome younger man.
I personally don’t think the term “Midlife Romance” is all that sexy. I like other terms, like “Seasoned Romance” or “Mature Romance,” where the emphasis isn’t on the character’s age, but on the life experience and wisdom she’s attained as a result of being on this planet for a while. Other lists use the phrases “Older Couple Romance” or “Later in Life Romance.”
But I’ve found that “Midlife Romance” is the most commonly used descriptor, probably because no one consulted me when genre terms were being settled on.
Elements Of A Midlife Romance
The only thing that is really required for a book to qualify as a midlife romance is for one or both main characters to be older than 40. But because of this core focus, this unique niche tends to also include things like:
Parenting & Children - Characters may have children, or even grandchildren, from previous relationships. This allows for all sorts of fun meet-cutes (Dance recital? Pediatric ER?) and a great way for characters to bond as they care for kids together.
Whether the hero is awkward around the heroine’s children at first and slowly learns to co-parent with his love interest, or whether he’s a sweet, skilled single father, the presence of kids often adds extra depth and excitement to an unfolding love story.
Second Chance Romance - Not all mature romance books feature characters who knew each other long ago, or have known each other for a long time. But when characters are older, authors have more options for fleshing out their history together.
Midlife romance books often feature “second chance” tropes, from childhood sweethearts forced apart by circumstances to characters who fear that love is beyond their reaches, only to be proved wrong over the course of the story!
Interesting Backgrounds - When you’ve been around longer, you’ve had more time to learn things, do things, and have things happen to you. This means characters in a midlife romance novel have knowledge, expertise, and experience that can enrich the story on a level beyond what early career 20-somethings can bring to the table.
Want a hero who can circumnavigate the globe on a sailing boat, or a heroine with thirty years of experience in foster care? Check out a midlife romance!
Reasonable, Rational Choices - The stereotype of women in romance novels might be that they’re helpless or flighty, but the days of damsels in distress having their bodices ripped open are long gone. Today, romance books featuring characters of any age range often include heroines who are independent, sassy, and badass in their own rights. And that goes triple for midlife romances!
If you aren’t interested in a romance full of dramatic highs and lows and misunderstandings, a midlife romance might be just the thing. Older characters in romances tend to be more, well, mature. They’re more likely to behave in an “us vs. the problem” rather than a “me vs. you” way, and bring their experience to the table when making decisions and communicating.
Why Midlife Romance?
People often ask me why I write romances featuring characters in their forties, fifties, and sixties. My first response to that question is: why not?
I challenge the assumption that people in their twenties and thirties are the “default” and that any other ages are some kind of special interest group.
In fact, according to WordsRated, the average romance reader is 42 years old. And 43% of romance readers are over the age of 45! That means there are plenty of romance fans out there who deserve to see people just like them represented in romance novels.
Not only is the midlife romance niche backed up by the statistics, it’s also backed by science. While we often think of adolescence and the 20s as being the apex of a person’s sexual desire, for women, studies show that sexual fantasies and drive actually peak in a woman’s thirties and forties. So as romance readers approach and enter midlife, they may actually be more interested in steamy romance!
Later in midlife, things tend to move in the opposite direction. Libido may decrease in the late forties and into the fifties. But that might actually make romance novels more appealing! As things start to slow down, a spicy scene in a sexy book can be just the thing to help kick start a waning libido and get the juices flowing again.
Where To Find Great Midlife Romance
Fortunately for those of us who love this niche, there are plenty of places to find excellent romance novels with older characters. I personally focus on paranormal romance and shifter romance, so my recommendations will skew toward those genres - so if you know of any other midlife romances in other genres, please send them my way!
- Zoe Chant - Silver Shifters series
- Meg Ripley - Fated over Forty series
- Shannon Mayer - Forty Proof series
- Vera Rivers - Midlife Magic + Mates series
- Midlife Fiction by Lynne M. Spreen
- Later In Life romance novels featured on Amazon
- Seasoned Romance recommendations at Buzzfeed
- Older Couple Romance list at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
- If You Like Mature Romance at Dear Author
- Later In Life Romance website
Connect With Lacey
Do you also share a passion for midlife romance? Do you love a romance story where mature characters bring decades of life experience to the table? Connect with me at the following links: