I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what about May/December romances appeals to me so much. I’m tempted to blame it on reading Jane Eyre when I was thirteen, but to be honest I was more interested in the woman in the attic at that point. It’s probably for the best. Mr Rochester is to May/December romances what Romeo and Juliet could be to YA lit: a neon sign spelling out Danger, Will Robinson in ten-foot high letters.
So I’m sparing Charlotte Brontë the dubious honour of hooking me into the subgenre, but the fact remains that I’m both wary and a fan of age-gap relationships. My reservations have everything and nothing at all to do with power imbalances, or financial security; mostly I’m a sucker for happily ever afters. In the case of May/December romances that hope is always slightly bittersweet. Believe me, I’m aware that it’s nothing more than a baseless assumption—it’s not as though a young couple driving off into the sunset together can’t meet an untimely end or split up. And they often do, especially in a market with such a huge appetite for sequels.
Even Bridget Jones’ romantic landscape changed radically over the course of the sequels, and that’s the last novel I expected to throw its readers such a massive curveball!

Age-gap romances certainly open the door to some interesting conversations within the story itself. The obstacles of different interests, life experiences, friends and aspirations can’t be denied. And through that intricate web of more or less surmountable challenges there is often the question of conflicting expectations. It’s difficult enough for partners of the same age to want the same things, but when there are ten, twenty years of difference at play, the balancing act becomes more difficult.
None of this, however, means that I had to be strong-armed into writing “The Arrangement.” If anything, I jumped at the opportunity to write for the Young Love, Old Hearts anthology and I was thrilled when my story was accepted.

My occasional uneasiness with the May/December romance subgenre goes hand in hand with my fascination. As a reader, I want to see characters push through adversity and deal with preconceived notions about themselves, or romance, or each other’s prospects. And yes, because I’m a sucker for happy endings, I also want to see them ride off into the sunset together, whether it’s for a year, a month, or forever. As a writer, I want to explore what makes me uneasy about these plots. “The Arrangement” is a first foray. I’m sure there will be others.

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Twitter: @HelenaMaeve