Romance is absolutely my favorite genre. The game of figuring out how these two dummies are going to work through their inner BS to finally let themselves be happy is the best. However, as someone approaching middle age (maybe already middle age?), sometimes I want to see myself reflected in the pages. I get tired of reading about how college aged folks are going to sort out their very college aged problems. Basically, I want a stack of older couple romance books.
Historically, romance skews very young with heroes and heroines from 18 to 25. More recently, that age has increased to reflect the reality of our society. More millennials are unmarried than any generation before us. As a result, the age in many contemporary romances has increased to late 20s. I love to see more diversity in any form infiltrate a genre, but still I’m looking for grown folks who have lived some life, characters I could learn something from because they’ve been on the earth longer than I have. Fictionally, of course.
For this list, I’m defining “older couple romance books” as those with 40+ main characters. Please hold your grievances until the end. I know that objectively in the year 2021 that 40 is NOT old, but we are talking romance years, people. Some 50-year-old romance leads could be grandparents by now with how fast the genre produces. *cries*
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure (Worth Saga) by Courtney Milan
Mrs. Bertrice Martin, a 73-year-old widow, is not interested in entertaining any fools of any kind, especially her knuckleheaded nephew. Miss Violetta Beauchamps, a spritely 69 years old, wants said nephew out of her rooming house because he won’t pay his debts. The two find each other and devise a plan to make terrible nephew suffer because he is terrible. This is not a subtle metaphor for misogyny and we love to see two queer, elderly ladies get their own happily ever after while also getting revenge on villains who deserve consequences.
Second Wind by Ceillie Simkiss
After the death of her husband, Martha Appleby is taking her first long-distance solo trip. Service dog trainer Pamela Thorton is taking a work trip to figure out what her next career move should be. The women are booked for the same seat on the plane and realize they were childhood best friends until Pam’s family moved when they were 12. The women reconnect instantly and realize their love for each other as children hasn’t wavered and now as they are in their 70s might grow into something more. This chance meeting might give their relationship a second wind. Friends to lovers has never been so sweet.
Royal Holiday (Wedding Date) by Jasmine Guillory
Vivian Forest, a single mom and social worker, isn’t known for putting herself first. When her daughter Maddie gets a chance to style royalty, she brings Vivian along for a much-needed trip abroad. It’s Christmas time and Christmas means family. Wintery England is much different than Oakland and Vivian is getting the royal treatment. She was ready for new people and new experiences, but she wasn’t ready for Malcolm Hudson, the queen’s personal secretary. He offered to give her a private tour out of politeness and ends up finding excuses to spend even more time with Vivian. It’s been a long time since she met a man she actually enjoys spending time with. They agree to a holiday affair and Vivian is sure that the distance (California to the UK) and their age (50s) means this fling won’t last past the New Year. Right? Can this road trip–style romance turn from fling to forever?
Midlife Crisis by Audra North
Cam McGee of Bitter, Texas, expects his life to finish the way it started: unremarkably. He played football, married his college sweetheart, had kids, then 35 years later buried his wife. When he meets Dave Montoya in a coffeeshop, he doesn’t know whether to trust his feelings or not. Dave is the cautious single type and isn’t sure if he wants to start a relationship with someone as closeted as Cam, but his heart doesn’t want to listen to this logic. Dave starts falling for Cam quickly, too. Embracing a completely different kind of life is harder for him than he imagined. Is risking 50+ years worth of work in his pre-Cam life going to be worth it? Can Cam open up fully to someone who isn’t even open to the world? With a little faith and a lot of love, these two can find their happily ever after.
Second Chance by Jay Northcote
In this friends-to-lovers romance, Nate and his teenage daughter move back to his hometown when they need a change. There are challenges to moving home because Nate is transgender and doesn’t like disclosing his past, so living in a place where people knew him before is difficult. When Nate reconnects with Jack, his school crush, his feelings are as strong as ever. Jack’s back home living with parents, which isn’t ideal for a man in his late 40s, after losing almost everything to addiction: his driver’s license, his job, and almost his life. Reconnecting with Nate is a balm during such a difficult time. Jack feels the chemistry between them, but isn’t sure that risking such an amazing friendship is worth confessing his feelings. Nate is afraid he’s risking a broken heart, especially with how reluctant Jack is about telling his parents about their relationship. But this might be the second chance they both need.
Teach Me (There’s Something About Marysburg Book 1) by Olivia Dade
Rose Owens knows how to run her classroom and run her life. When new-to-the-school Martin Krause gets some of her favorite classes, she doesn’t hold one administrator’s petty political moves against him, but doesn’t try to be friends with him either. Not only does he take her classes, but he takes her classroom for them as well. Cold, professional courtesy is the best course of action. Martin is annoyingly kind and competent at every turn and begins to melt Rose’s icy exterior. She begins to see that this thoughtful man doesn’t know his own worth and needs someone to teach him. Luckily, Rose is the best. He has some lessons for her as well about trust and vulnerability. They collaborate on more than just lesson plans. Both characters are in their mid-to-late 40s in this enemies-to-lovers tale.
Maybe you, like me, want book recommendations that are very specific. You want a romance, but you want both people to be over 40 and for one of them to be a shapeshifter, and when you go to google you get millions of results of older woman younger man or shapeshifter books with young ‘uns. It’s hard to find exactly what you want.
Sometimes a real human being with actual interest in the same kind of books I want is the best way to find my next great read. You should check out TBR if you want personalized recommendations, too! TBR is Tailored Book Recommendations where a real life human nerd takes a list of your reading habits and what you’re looking for, then tailors a reading list exactly for you.
You can get those books delivered straight to your door so you don’t have to leave your house during this ongoing (and ongoing and ongoing) pandemic.