Because I've picked your question for this month's Ask A Wench, Maureen, you get a book from me. You can look over my booklist on my website and as long as I have a spare copy, it's yours. Fresh off the presses, I have the Chalice of Roses anthology, and The Stanforth Secrets, the second of my classic Regencies, that are now being reissued. This one will be out in February. E-mail me your choice, Maureen, and your mailing address.
I added to the question, What are your feelings about age difference, either way?
Cara/Andrea: "Age difference is an interesting question. When I first started writing, my editor at the Signet Regency line had a rule: a ten year difference at most. After that, she felt the relationship became unromantic as the hero became too much of a father figure. (She was, of course making the traditional assumption that we would make the hero be older than the heroine.) Like any rule, it begs to be broken! My feeling is that if a writer can make the story work, I'm willing to accept any age difference. I've read a couple of books where writers have reversed the traditional model and had the heroine be older-and loved them.
That said, I've tended to create heroes and heroines who are fairly close in age. And I tend to favor heroes who have had a little experience in life, as for me that makes them more interesting to work with. Actually, the same with a heroine. I had great fun in my upcoming book doing a secondary love story between a couple in their 60s-70s, which I had never tried before. I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a chemistry between them in which sexual tension was not the main ingredient."
Anne: "The ages of my hero and heroine are usually restricted somewhat by market considerations — most people want their heroes and heroines to be in their twenties — or so I've been told. So I pretty much stick to that. My youngest heroine has been 19, and most of my heroes have been in their late 20's. I don't like too large an age gap between them, especially if the heroine is quite young — 7 years is a rule of thumb. I don't have a problem with a young heroine, and I quite enjoy an innocent heroine occasionally. To quote Lindsey Davis's Falco, "Innocence causes all kinds of misunderstandings, and that's even before you get tangled up with your conscience." But really I like variety.
I often have a secondary romance in my books and they're usually where I have fun with couples that probably wouldn't 'take' as main heroes and heroines. I've paired maidservants and grooms, battle-scarred soldiers with uptight spinsters and wild gypsy girls, I've matched friends of the main couple, and middle-aged divorcees with mysterious older men and older women with younger men. I especially enjoy giving an older woman a second or third or fourth chance at love and several of my older women have revealed a bawdy side to them."
(Too young to wed, perhaps?)
Nicola: "I don't really have strong preferences about the age range of hero and heroine. For me it's all down to the individual characters and whether I can believe in them. That said, I prefer heroines not to be too young and I also prefer heroes to be in their later twenties or older because a bit of life experience forms character. So I've just contradicted myself there. Hmm. well, perhaps I should say, then, that I wouldn't automatically rule out any book on the grounds of the age of hero and heroine.
In terms of age difference I came in for a lot of criticism when I wrote a book with a heroine of 19 and a hero of 32 but again I don't have strong preferences as long as the relationship seems equal and believable and isn't venturing into January (rather than May) to December territory. I've written a heroine who was eight years older than the hero in The Confessions of a Duchess and reall enjoyed exploring the issues that raised."
Mary Jo: "I like my characters to have some mileage on them. Innocence is so boring. <G> My heroes are usually in their early to mid-30's, and the heroines are as old as I can make them–mid-20's most often. I've never done one under 21 that I can remember.
I'm not wild about a wide age difference, especially if the man is a daddy-ish age. But–good writing will carry me along, and I'm willing to believe that there are true, powerful loves can grow between people of any ages."
Pat: "I like to fit age to story. An ingenue of 17 won't have the same kind of story as a widow of 30, so my characters may range from adolescence to 40 and maybe more. As to age differences between the hero and heroine–I think greater differences are more easily written in historicals than contemporaries, simply because of the fantasy factor. But that requires another blog!"
As for me, well, I like 'em young. As you see, some writers think youth boring, but I find the high energy and idealism of youth interesting to write about, and sort of slide away from anything too world-weary. That's the great thing about fiction, though. Something for everyone!
Nearly all my characters are in their twenties, with no huge age differences, but I have done two stories where the heroine is older than the hero — Christmas Angel and the novella, The Demon's Mistress. In both cases, the heroine is a widow. I wonder if that's usually the case with older heroines.
I have done young heroines. Imogen in my medieval Dark Champion is sixteen. I did think it unfair that one revi
ewer criticized her for acting young! I suspect it was a criticism of me for writing one so young. FitzRoger is only 24, however, so the age difference isn't huge.
In a novella, Forbidden Affections, the heroine is 16 and the hero 30. That's raised some comments, but it just seemed right for the story, and she's certainly not your typical 16. And in the medieval The Shattered Rose, I have a flashback to the arranged marriage of the hero and heroine when they were both 16. That was fun to write.
So, what are your tastes and opinions. Does the age of the characters influence your book buying, or your enjoyment of romances?