Rochelle Alers has been a mainstay of the romance genre for decades. But unlike many of her fellow authors, Alers’ books consistently feature characters that are older than your average 20-something hero and heroine. The youngest couple in her latest series is in their mid-30s, which is still on the older end of the spectrum when it comes to romance (yes, really). Alers’ new book, Room Service, follows interior designer Jasmine Washington and banker Cameron Singleton as they connect in New Orleans at a luxury inn owned by Jasmine’s friend. Both are in their 40s, both are successful in their careers and both are set in their ways. Here, Alers tells us why that’s a perfect formula for a romance.
I began reading romances more than four decades ago, and now that I am celebrating 30 years as a published author, I want to interact with characters that reflect who I am and my outlook on life. And there are also many readers who agree with me because whenever I am invited to speak at book clubs, the majority of the members are over 40 and complain as to the dearth of characters representing their ages.
Other than completing a manuscript, my utmost excitement comes from developing a mature heroine who will find love for the first time, or one that is divorced and although she is not looking to marry again, she is unable to resist the man offering her more than she could have ever imagined. And then there is the widow or empty-nester who is planning the next phase of her life and isn’t looking for love but is pleasantly surprised when that man she never would’ve expected comes along to change not only her but also her future.
Given their life experience, they are more mature, secure and not apt to play head games. They may have experienced sadness or disappointment—some are even unwilling to entertain the possibility of a commitment. This doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, but it attests to their experience. Been there, done that.
As a Baby Boomer and someone who has been given a second chance at love after more than 20 years of marriage, I know firsthand how important it is to celebrate mature characters of a certain age who are able to have their happily ever after. Love isn’t an emotion designated to a particular age group, but to anyone open to accepting it. I don’t believe there is an ideal age in which to fall in love, and because of this belief, I use this theme in the Innkeepers series. In The Inheritance the couple is in their late-50s, 50s in Breakfast in Bed, 40s in Room Service and mid-30s in the upcoming The Bridal Suite. The heroines in this series are also independent, financially solvent and after undergoing some or many unforeseen occurrences they not only survive but also thrive.
Today’s modern woman is afforded more choices and opportunities than from those in past generations, and readers want to read about older heroines whose lives closely resemble theirs. Perhaps it is because I am a mature woman and writer that it is easier for me to depict them in my novels than instead of writing about 20 and 30-somethings. Although I do write about younger heroines in my category romances, I plan to continue to feature older heroines in my women’s fiction for the duration of my writing career.