Romantic fiction is booming, with readers devouring Colleen Hoover’s love stories (the three bestselling books of 2022 were all hers), as well as those of other hugely popular authors like Emily Henry, Lucy Score and Tessa Bailey. But while the genre draws readers of all ages (the average age is 35 to 39, according to Romance Writers of America [RWA]), it’s not easy to find a good romantic novel focused on love at middle age and beyond.
Enter Jane Porter, whose last book Flirting With the Beast was about 59-year-old widow Andi McDermott, who’s snowed in at her mountain vacation cabin with the heat knocked out but stays warm thanks to enigmatic, ruggedly handsome neighbor Wolf (yes, Wolf!).
“I absolutely love writing characters who are my age,” the author, 59, tells AARP, noting that she’s done so since she wrote 2006’s Flirting With Forty, which reached 45 on Barnes & Noble’s bestseller list and was made into a 2008 Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear. Earlier last year she came out with Flirting With Fifty, a romance focused on a 50-year-old divorced college professor.
Now Porter has a new novel, Flirting With Fire (July 25), about 49-year-old Margot Hughes, a longtime fixture in the theater world, who’s trying to leave it behind after a tough breakup with her playwright fiancé. She’s drawn back in to manage — then costar in — a troubled summer production of Barefoot in the Park with a former soap opera star. Sparks fly.
A former English teacher with an MA in writing, Porter has also written dozens of other romances featuring younger women, including the 2014 novella Take Me, Cowboy, winner of a RITA award from RWA. Take Me Please, Cowboy, comes out Sept. 5.