Book recommendations for the mature woman
June 14, 2007 9:52 PM   Subscribe

I’d like to read some fiction books where the heroine is intelligent, 40+ years old, not incredibly gorgeous or incredibly wealthy or incredibly famous, but with responsibilities (like teenage kids or a career), who has explicit & hot sex. Chick lit all grown up, you might say.

Story and plot is vital. Science fiction is great. I'm pretty relaxed about genre if the other criteria are met. Movies suggestions like these also welcome but it’s easier for me to get to the library than to the video shop. I have browsed the AskMe tags of women and books. I would google it, but I’m not sure how to narrow my search so that I don’t end up with Barbara Taylor Bradford- yech.
posted by b33j to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: Hmm. The Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon? The female lead is at least in her mid-30s in the first book, male lead is the same age and they age several years over the course of the series. She's a very strong female character.

There's some good graphic goings-on, too.
posted by padraigin at 10:06 PM on June 14, 2007

Hrrm, you might like:

Fool's War by Sarah Zettel
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Strong women protagonists, but not much hot sex... Sorry...
posted by Argyle at 10:09 PM on June 14, 2007

The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss
posted by Methylviolet at 10:31 PM on June 14, 2007

The Men's Room (Ann Oakley) might be worth a try. Heroine is a 40ish academic with four kids, and there's plenty of sex.
posted by teleskiving at 12:33 AM on June 15, 2007

Since you're open to movie suggestions, what immediately leaped into my mind is the movie Laurel Canyon, written & directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

40+, very intelligent heroine (very sexual being, and VERY SEXY... and has as much sex onscreen as you can have in an R-rated movie). Movie is very story- and plot-driven; it's mostly about her relationships with her son and her young lover.

(You'll find a very similar heroine in Cholodenko's previous movie, High Art -- the sex in High Art is all lesbian if it matters.)
posted by allterrainbrain at 12:35 AM on June 15, 2007

Second the Outlander books; in fact, if I remember right, the heroine is about a decade older than her hero, and by the end of the set, she's in her 50s at least.

They're absolutely great. Very, very funny. And the heroine's teenage kid and career as a doctor play a big role.
posted by bluebird at 2:35 AM on June 15, 2007

The "Hammered" trilogy by Elizabeth Bear is fantastic science fiction about a 50-year-old female combat veteran, not rich or beautiful--no kids, but lots of responsibilities... and the sex is occasional, but really hot.
posted by Jeanne at 5:04 AM on June 15, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I now have a stack of Sarah Zettel and Diana Gabaldoon to read through and I'll mark best answers as I get through each author.
posted by b33j at 5:36 AM on June 15, 2007

In sci -fi, Marrow by Richard Reed has strong, immortal female characters whose great age gives thm great experience and wisdom, and at least one of whom has very hot sex. It's a long time since I read it.

There are also some strong, sexy 40+ female characters in the Iain M Banks Culture novels.
posted by WPW at 5:50 AM on June 15, 2007

Atwood's, The Handmaid's Tale? It's a little on the dark, SF side but I consider it a classic. It was also a great movie.
posted by JJ86 at 6:06 AM on June 15, 2007

I feel like I may get beaten about the head and face for this, but there's always Atlas Shrugged.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:15 AM on June 15, 2007

Benford's Cosm stars a woman who is not gorgeous, wealthy, or famous. She is a scientist, though. And she might be in her 30s, not 40s.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:03 AM on June 15, 2007

Maybe the first few of Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books? The ones before Miles is born, and while he's a wee tot? She ends up being famous, though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I feel like I may get beaten about the head and face for this, but there's always Atlas Shrugged.

Dagny is in her mid 30s at the oldest, is always described as incredibly gorgeous, she's wealthy, and the sex scenes are creepy, not hot.

Okay, the fourth one is opinion but the other three are objectivistly true.

That said, Atlas Shrugged is a ripping good yarn, but it doesn't really fit the question.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:00 AM on June 15, 2007

Third the Gabaldon recommendation. As soon as I saw this question I popped in here specifically to recommend it, but was beaten to the punch. Funny and beautiful story there -- you really get attached to these characters.

You might also like series about a female detective that Nora Roberts writes under the name J.D. Robb. Set in the future. I'm not *positive* that the heroine is in her 40s, but it reads that way to me.
posted by Go, now. Go! at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: I may be missing the mark, but I'll offer a few suggestions.

I suggest Barbara Samuel, especially No Place Like Home. The heroine is 40 and has responsibilities and is very sensual and has a steamy love affair. It qualifies as Women's Fiction [what we had before there was chick lit] but it is really good. Because it is women's fiction, the sex is not as explicit as you would find in straight-up romance or romantica. But because the book is very sensual, I think it still qualifies as hot.

Susan Grant does wonderful SciFi romance and she has one book where the heroine is older. I think it is the Star King.

Deborah Smith and Kathryn Shay both write a lot about older women with teenage or older kids, etc. Again, because the heroine is older, the books will be plot-focused and emotion-focused, more women's fiction. The characters won't really have sex the way those crazy young'ns do in a Harlequin Blaze.

All About Romance maintains a "special title" listing of books featuring older characters [to them this just means not in their 20's] here. And you may want to ask your question on the message boards there. Romance readers read a ton, and they can probably give you a big long list that meets your specific requirements. If you end up liking the Outlander series, tell them that and they will fall over themselves to help you. They may even have a line on smaller publisher stuff like Ellora's Cave that would elude even me and I read a ton.
posted by Mozzie at 10:53 AM on June 15, 2007

Not sci fi or anything, but Wild Designs by Katie Fforde fits this. I love all of her books, and a few of them are about older (well, not twenty-something) women.

That said, the sex scenes aren't that racy, so take with a grain of salt...
posted by pyjammy at 11:21 AM on June 15, 2007

Jennifer Crusie. Chick Lit that doesn't insult your intelligence. Steamy sex.
Amanda Quick is the pseudonym of an NYU prof. Mysteries.
Elizabeth George - not precisely what you're asking for, but I really enjoy her novels. Best read in sequence. She's American; the novels are very British.
Also highly recommended: Margaret Drabble & Mary Wesley
posted by theora55 at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2007

Ack! Not the Handmaid's Tale!
It is a great (really great) book but if I remember correctly all the sex is rape.
posted by Methylviolet at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2007

Response by poster: Right, well, I stayed up to 4.30am reading the Outlander, and napped till 10am and went back to reading it and was thereby caught by my teenage daughter's friends still wearing my ghastly pink pyjamas with cats all over at midday because I hadn't stopped to dress (it's okay, it's Saturday here) and just finished it at 1.30pm. Unfortunately this is the ONLY Gabladon book my library stocks (and weirdly, it's signed by the author (?)) and I'm really looking forward to reading more. The heroine admits to being 28 with the hero at 23, but she's a sensible woman, no swooning, and she has skills and opinions and is not afraid to use them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.
posted by b33j at 8:31 PM on June 15, 2007

Maura's Game (extract) (This is the sequel to Dangerous Lady, where the heroine is young/growing up, but it can be read separately.) Maura, however, is beautiful, but she is/was also the queen of the criminal underworld and that's pretty impressive.)

Broken (extract) (This is the sequel to The Ladykiller, where the heroine is younger, but it can also be read separately.)

The Jump (extract)

All crime novels/thrillers by Martina Cole with an older heroine. There is some sex, moderately explicit, I think, but it's not the main focus of these books.

I must admit, themes/subjects/circumstances are quite repetitive throughout all her books, but they're a very addictive read.
posted by lioness at 9:53 PM on June 15, 2007

Glad you enjoy OUtlander! And in the future books she's much older so she'll definitely fit your bill. They are very entertaining.
posted by purenitrous at 11:13 PM on June 16, 2007

I know I'm a bit late with this but I wanted to recommend Transita novels - they publish specifically for the older woman although as a slightly younger than their market woman, I enjoy them too.
posted by LyzzyBee at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2007

Response by poster: I've just finished a Deborah Smith and a Barbara Samuel and I recommend both. I tried a number of Sarah Zettel's but she's just not to my taste, her style seems all over the place.

Samuel's book: The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, I would not have picked up, purely because of the name. I would have assumed some kind of Desperate Housewives theme. However, the main character is over 40, has teenagers, likes sex and is wrestling with the "rest of life" questions that are so pertinent to this age. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and got a lot out of it. Smith's book (the stone flower garden) was a light and pleasant read, with some good sex scenes.
posted by b33j at 3:05 PM on July 4, 2007

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