So often romantic stories feature characters in their 20s or even younger — Romeo’s Juliet was only 13, for goodness’ sake! But there also are some wonderful books featuring older lovers, people in their 40s and beyond who may be craving more of a soul-to-soul connection than heart-pumping bedroom action (though sure is nice to get both). We asked top romantic fiction writers for their favorite grownup love stories. Here are their picks.
Author of the blockbuster best seller, The Nightingale (2015), and last year’s The Great Alone
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (2015)
“A beautifully written, deeply emotional story of two people, shaped by grief and loss, who find hope and a second chance at happiness when they least expect it. It is a complex, intimate portrait of life and loneliness, family expectations, and love.”
Katherine by Anya Seton (1954)
“One of my all-time favorite novels. It a grand, sweeping, tragic, and ultimately redemptive true love story. Set in 14th-century England among the royals, it is a gorgeous portrait of two people who must fight incredible odds to be together and don’t find their ‘happy-ever-after’ until the twilight years of their lives.”
Author of best-selling romantic fiction, including last year’s The Perfect Couple
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (2015)
“Redcliffe Whitshank meets his wife-to-be, Abby, when they’re still in their teens. They move into Red’s family’s storied home (sumptuously described by Tyler) in Baltimore, and raise four children, one of them not their own. It’s an exquisitely rendered love story that manages the impossible feat of providing both breadth — the story spans three generations — and depth, as we dive into both Red and Abby’s psyches and explore the topography of two complicated hearts. Tyler is at her most masterful in this novel, and I recommend it without reservation.”
Mega best-selling author of The Best of Us (2019) and more than 50 other novels
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (1944)
“This epic romance was a controversial best seller when it was originally published in the 1940s and is one of my longtime favorites. Anyone who loves Gone with the Wind will find themselves taken with Amber St. Clare, a heroine who is equal parts compassionate and scheming, as she navigates the complex, often treacherous excesses and mores of 17th-century Restoration England. Don’t let the size of the novel scare you off — Winsor is such an eloquent writer that even on a second read I couldn’t stop turning the pages.”
Jayne Ann Krentz
Author of hugely popular romantic suspense novels, including her newest, Untouchable (2019)
Someone to Care by Mary Balogh (2018)
“Mary Balogh writes dazzling, deeply romantic stories of love and family. In this book, Viola is a widow in Regency England who, for the sake of her children, has been careful to live a proper, respectable life. Marcel is a widower with a notorious reputation. They met years earlier when a passionate affair was not an option, but fate has brought them together again and they are free to share a grand romantic adventure — to the displeasure of their adult children and grandchildren.”
The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson (2017)
Do not be misled by the title, this is a story for all seasons. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between Maddie McLendon, a widow who is helping her divorced son raise her grandson, and Sam Conacher, a widower who is mad at the world. Each is dealing with loss and grief and the memory of past mistakes, will do anything to protect their families, and has concluded that the other is a threat to the happiness of the people they hold most dear. Sparks fly. The story brims with emotion, warmth and hope.”
Best-selling author of novels such as last year’s Good Luck with That
Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray (2000)
“This is the utterly charming and down-to-earth story about rival Italian families, both in the florist business. The main characters are in their 60s, struggling with both aging parents and adult children, but still find the time to fall in love.”
Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski (2012)
“Smolinski’s story is about the lengths we’ll go to help our kids, even when they’ve come knocking at the door again and again. Lucy takes on a near-impossible job: clearing out the house of an octogenarian hoarder who was once an artist. Their relationship, a potential new love interest and the realities of motherhood make it a fast, big-hearted read.”
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