Tag: seasoned romance

To Love and to Cherish

Why do we read romance novels? For most, it is the desire to experience again that rush of first love — the euphoria, the hope, and the passion. Writers who can tap into that moment meet the expectations of the genre and attract readers by the hundreds of thousands. 

And why not? Can anything be better than falling in love? 

I’ll betray my age, when I say yes, there is something better. There is living and loving throughout life, sharing all the ups and downs, the heartaches and the joys, with a beloved partner. Living the “for better, for worse” part brings a deep contentment that may not be thought of in the excitement of a wedding.

How many twenty-somethings really imagine living together in old age when they blithely promise “in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, so long as we both shall live?” Youth is blessed with a sense of immortality. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the young believe that “it won’t happen to us.” We’ll never need a cane, we’ll never lose our figure, our skin will never wrinkle, our strength will never wane. In this case, denial is a good thing. It makes us take risks, it makes us hope, it keeps the human race trying to make a better world. It keeps the human race alive. 

There is a subset in the romance genre called “seasoned romance,” that features older characters as the love interest. Some of these books consider thirty to be “seasoned” but I think they miss the mark. It takes a lot of living to be well and truly seasoned. But what a joy when one reaches that stage of life when the bloom of youth is gone, some dreams have been set aside, some ambitions unrealized,  to find that even then, you are cherished by a loving spouse. Someone still sees you as beautiful, someone still thinks an hour in your company better than a week at the carnival, someone will still kiss your hurts and make them better.

I love that word – cherish. It means so much more than love. To cherish to to act, to decide, to care for and to support. Love, as an emotion, is fickle, fleeting and unreliable. Cherish is steadfast.

There is a song, “I”ll Walk Beside You,”  that sums up this idea. I can’t listen to it without a tear in my eye. I’ve provided a link to a recording by Kenneth McKeller. Bet you can’t listen to the end without a clutch of your heartstrings.

I’ll Walk Beside You

I’ll walk beside you through the world today
While dreams and songs and flowers bless your way
I’ll look into your eyes and hold your hand
I’ll walk beside you through the golden land

I’ll walk beside you through the world tonight
Beneath the starry skies ablaze with light
Within your soul love’s tender words I’ll hide
I’ll walk beside you through the eventide

I’ll walk beside you through the passing years
Through days of cloud and sunshine, joys and tears
And when the great call comes, the sunset gleams
I’ll walk beside you to the land of dreams.

— Edward Lockton and Alan Murray

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How Old is Too Old?

Since my last post here, I have been the soloist at a wedding. What a treat! So many happy smiles. So many good wishes. So much love in the room. So many grandchildren in the wedding party.

Yes, I said grandchildren. The bride and groom at this wedding were both over 75.

In the romance world the shorthand for couples over thirty is “seasoned,” although I’m not sure a 30 year old has enough life experience to be considered “seasoned.”  I think the couples in these stories should be at least 50+ to qualify for the term. Then again, the older I get, the cut-off age for elderly gets younger!

I did a little research with authors who write older couples and found that editors used to get squirmy when the characters, especially the romantic heroine, was over 30. So all those, “second chance” books would be hard sells. Come to think of it, a major publisher used to put out a romance line called “second chance.” It folded. Perhaps the protagonists were considered too old by readers?

In my “Prospect” series, all of the heroines have had major life events before the story begins. Lottie, in The Man for Her, has loved and lost, and borne a child out of wedlock. Emma, in Her One and Only, has suffered a broken engagement, a scandal and her father’s death, before coming to Prospect, looking for a second chance. Louisa, in Her One True Love, has spent years caring for a tyrannical father before escaping to Prospect and a chance for a new life.  

So all of my heroines are mature women even though I did not consider that I was writing “seasoned” romance. Still,  I consider the events before the books begin essential to the love stories that follow. Having been “seasoned” by life, these women have a deep appreciation of the gift of true love — perhaps a better appreciation than their more naive counterparts.

Many romance readers yearn for that first passionate love of a girl on the precipice of womanhood. That is a magical moment, and one worth celebrating. No wonder readers devour those stories. But, could love be “sweeter, the second time around?”

Years ago I sang at another wedding and couldn’t hold back the tears as I looked at the  youthful faces of the bride and groom. I knew the years ahead would have some hard days, and I feared their love would be tested.

But as I looked at the love beaming from the grandmother’s face at last month’s wedding, I couldn’t keep the smile off my own face.

Love, at any age, priceless.

What do you think, dear reader? Do you want romances about first love or are you willing to read about the second time around? What is the ideal age for your romantic heroine?

Voice your preference in the comment section below.

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