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"That's the kind of writing that I'm drawn to, and I can't imagine I'm the only one." Sandy Smith, 61, who used to read nothing but romance novels, found "Relative Danger" on and read it cover-to-cover over a weekend.
"It's geared for the adventurous grandmother," she said.
"However, we have not pulled back from NEXT--instead, we are exploring ways to better get these very rewarding and wonderful stories to readers." Several authors said books like the ones in the NEXT line must be marketed properly to succeed.
"Younger readers are a harder sell because they kind of want to believe that [aging] will never happen to them," said Barbara Samuel, 47, who has written historical and contemporary romances for the past 20 years, and is now writing primarily women's fiction.
Shaw is one of a growing number of writers of romance novels that feature characters in their 40s, 50s, or even 60s.
As baby boomers age and their market power grows, more books for and about them are appearing.
She said that Harlequin does not disclose sales data for its products.Boomer women want to read romantic stories about older women who are finding love--and sex--later in life.And boomer authors seem willing to oblige by writing what they know.Suffice it to say that a pivotal scene takes place in a Jacuzzi.Cealie also happens to be a widowed grandmother about 60 years old."The one who would like life to be as exciting at 60 as it is at 30." Like their chick lit cousins, hen lit writers' heroines are on the hunt for love. "When I read a contemporary romance, I always think, 'Who's doing the laundry? "You've got friends and family and work and obligations.'" said Connie Brockway, who describes her novel "Skinny Dipping," which is published by Penguin imprint Onyx, as a coming-of-age story for a woman in her 40s. There are so many more things involved in life than just romance." The depiction of sex--long a requirement of many romance genres--can still be spicy, but tends to be subtler and more emotionally complex in hen lit.Foy said NEXT was not designed for a particular age group.It is described on Harlequin's Web site as stories "for every woman who has wondered 'What's next? And there's what comes next." Though NEXT was cancelled in January, Harlequin said it has not abandoned the audience."As writers age, what interests them changes," said Nicole Kennedy, public relations coordinator for Romance Writers of America, the national association of romance writers."That's why you're seeing books come to light now that you wouldn't have seen 20 years ago." RWA includes authors of women's fiction, an umbrella term that includes mainstream novels, romantic fiction, and chick lit, as well as authors of "hen lit," or chick lit with older heroines, in its membership of more than 9,500.