Sunday, November 25, 2007

It’s My Party And I’ll Read If I Want To

Yippee. *toots party favor weakly* It’s my birthday today, which naturally made me fantasize that I’m someone else’s age instead of my own—like the age of younger, perkier heroines, to be exact. *wistful sigh* But not too young…

Currently, I’m reading an historical romance with a publication date a decade ago. The story is set in the 12th century, and after I'd invested lots of time into the book, I learned the heroine is...17. I’ll admit, this made me squirm uncomfortably, especially when she witnesses the hero getting, um, how shall I say…orally pleasured by another woman.

But let me back up a century or so ago…

I began reading romances at the tender age of 13, and at the time, my drug of choice was historical romances only. If I recall correctly, back then (and keep in mind I’m old now, so the memory isn’t as sharp), it seemed heroines were always 17 or 18, which to this 13 yo, felt very old. LOL So at the time, I wouldn't have batted so much as an eye at the current book I'm reading. I suppose it’s because I’m older now that a seventeen-year-old heroine in an adult romance (even historical) seems so young to me. But I’m about halfway through the book now, and the author—a best-selling, highly prolific author, by the way—did a fabulous job of characterizing the heroine and demonstrating that this was the way of that time period, where females were expected to marry young and grow up fast. And thankfully, the characterization is such that it’s easy for me to pretend she’s much older. ;)

This made me examine my past reading patterns and what I’ve gravitated to over the years as far as heroines, their age, and the stage they’re at in their lives. I dug back in the thick cobwebs of my creaky mind and realized something that gave me pause. Up through my twenties, I mostly read books with heroines that were older than me, no matter the genre. Yet as I moved into my thirties, I started searching for heroines that were closer to my age, or even a bit younger. It seems that pattern has carried me through to my current age of *mumbles secret number* where I seem to look for heroines who are closer to me in age and life stage. Perhaps a few years older is fine, too—but not too much older, at least for now.

Therefore, I concluded for me as a reader, although I do have personal limits that I just can't get past, I guess in general, my comfort of a heroine's age in a steamy romance is dependent on three things: my age at the time I purchase/read the book, characterization, and the genre and acceptable behaviors of the time period. As a writer, it’s dictated by the character herself, her circumstances, and yes, again the genre...although I do have my own secret cut-off that I just don't feel comfortable going below. ;)

So what’s your ideal age for a heroine in both reading and writing romances? How young is too young for you, and how old is too old? Does it change with your own age, or is it dependent on the expectations of the time period and/or genre of the book? Also, do you look more to escape to another age (be it younger or older), or do you prefer to read about characters you can identify with, who are closer to your own age? Or does it matter at all?

Titania Ladley also writes as Roxana Blaze. Check out Roxana’s new release SHADES OF PASSION, now available at Ellora’s Cave! And coming soon by Roxana Blaze…

FIRES WITHIN ~ Red Sage Publishing ~ April 2008
BREATHLESS ~ Ellora’s Cave Exotika ~ TBA


Deb said...

OMG! Ti Loving the cover;)
Happy Birthday, sweets.
I can not wait to get this book.

Deb said...

Great topic Ti!

I love the mid 20's early 30's
18 or below is way young for me as for old I have never even tried a book with someone older than 44.
It depends with me, what I like to read at the time. I love a great story line, as long as I have that I am good. I love reading about characters that I can identify with. But for for the most part it does not matter for me.

Lynn LaFleur said...

Character age doesn't matter to me when I'm reading a book. In fact, I usually imagine them whatever age I want them to be, depending on how the author has described them.

I have noticed my own heroines seem to get older as I age. I never wrote about anyone older than 28 when I was in my 20s. Now I'm writing about heroines in their 40s. Of course, my heroes are all hunky, no matter their age.


orelukjp0 said...

I like reading about heroines in their 20's(Helps me to recall my youth). Too young is under 16. At 17 the character is old enough to make mature decisions. They are a legal adult in our day and age in all but the number. It all depends on the setting and story line.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I love that cover every time I see it.

Great topic btw. I think that for me time period is really the only influence that makes a heroines age matter to me. When a novel is set back in the 13th century for instance I expect the heroine to be younger.

Honestly though I dont pay too much attention to age. If the storyline is to die for, then I'm hooked!

littlelamblst said...

Happy Birthday!

I prefer to read about heroine's that I can identify with and though younger ages were common for many historical romances...well, the writer has to work that much harder so that I can be swept into the whirl of the romance. But this is just because I am older.

N.J.Walters said...

Happy Birthday! This is a very interesting topic.

I've written heroines from their early twenties, all the way to forty.

In my reading, I haven't really noticed too much of a change. Certainly, a female lead in their teens is too young for me. As long as she's in her twenties (or older) and the story is good, I'm fine.

kansassweet43 said...

I guess it would depend on how the book was written. I don't like to read about the very young. I think late 20's to 50ish is a good
age. The very young or very old could be a secondary character though. Don't you just love the old harridens of the regency era. LOL. I like them.