“Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”: Menopausal Characters in Romance Novels

“Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” or menopausal characters in romance novels
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Recently, I’ve felt a change coming on.

No, really. I’ve felt “the change” coming on. 

That’s right. I am a perimenopausal woman.

I think I first noticed it when my mood began to inexplicably swing from happy and carefree to, well, murderous.

Perhaps that’s too harsh a word for what I’ve been experiencing. I don’t actually want to hurt anyone, at least not at this moment. Check in with me in about half an hour, because it’s changing rapidly. As far as what my next mood swing with bring, your guess is as good as mine.  

Most of the time, I get annoyed. It’s not that anyone has done anything to offend me. The outrage just sort of appears out of nowhere, and I won’t lie, it has taken me by surprise. In my case, the mood swings typically occur a couple of days before my period begins. At that point, it’s a veritable tsunami of emotion. Suddenly, I become ticked off at everything. The way my pants fit, climate change, random politicians, the bank teller, my barista, the kid who delivers our newspaper. You get the idea. Heck, there was one day when I was incensed at the lack of snack choices in our pantry. I may have yelled at my kitchen cabinets that day. I still haven’t forgiven them for being empty.

It’s been an adjustment, and I know I’m just getting started with the symptoms. Apparently, there is much more joy to be had. I’m looking forward to my first hot flash. It should be happening any time now.

Of course, I know this is all normal. Mood swings can be an issue for many women entering menopause. Other symptoms can include vaginal dryness, night sweats and insomnia. 

I don’t want to paint a bleak picture. I hear it does get better with time. The Internet assures me I’ll enjoy not having periods anymore, that I can say goodbye to PMS, and that I may even feel a sense of empowerment. 

Awesome. I’m waiting, Internet.

As I wait, I’ve been searching for some reading material. For all the facts, I talk to my doctor and I stay glued to Dr. Jennifer Gunter’s Twitter feed.

Being a writer of romance, I began to wonder about how menopause is treated in romance novels. I don’t know how you feel, but sometimes I like to read about people whose experiences are similar to my own. So I started looking for romances featuring menopausal protagonists. Did they exist at all, or were they like the mythical unicorn? I know there is a lot of romance out there featuring mature characters, but how many of them are going through menopause “on the page?”

I’m sure there are some out there who might think, “That’s not romantic. I want to read about young people with perky breasts and body temperatures that don’t fluctuate violently.” But here’s the thing. Romance doesn’t end at a certain age, and it certainly shouldn’t end because a woman stops menstruating. After all, when I look at my menopausal friends, I see women who are vibrant, outspoken and powerful. They know what they want and they aren’t afraid to articulate it. As for me, despite the odd intrusion of unwelcome emotion, I really feel as if I’ve come into my own lately. I feel wiser and more assertive, and I sure as hell still feel sexy.

I want to read about romance characters who feel the same way, ones who are enjoying the same highs and battling the same lows. I would like to see them navigating the waters of menopause with the help of a compassionate partner. As much as I appreciate books filled with fantasy, I also want to read books that show characters in the midst of real-life experiences. 

I’d like to thank my fellow romance lovers for sending some recommendations my way. Full disclosure: I haven’t been able to read any of these yet (curse you, oh, lengthy to-be-read list!) However, it’s my hope that it in sharing these today, we will all find some great new reads to enjoy.  

In Maggie Wells’ book A Bolt from the Blue, the heroine returns home after twenty-five years to settle the family estate. I love “coming home” romances…and it never hurts when one comes home to a hunky electrician. Cue the hot flashes.

Twitter pal @Azteclady was kind enough to let me know about Susan Andersen’s All Shook Up. Although the heroine isn’t entering menopause in this story, her aunt is. I’m told it’s a great depiction of menopausal symptoms and experiences.

I was really excited when author K.J. Charles tweeted to tell me about Catherine Lundoff’s Silver Moon. Not only is the heroine dealing with menopause, she must also contend with becoming a werewolf. Honestly, I think this one just jumped to the top of my list. Thanks, K.J!

I hope you enjoy these romances, and if you know of any others that deal with the stages of menopause, tweet me at @LeoRosanna. Quickly…before I turn into a werewolf.

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DISCUSSION

2 thoughts on ““Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”: Menopausal Characters in Romance Novels”

  1. Michele Smith

    What an awesome idea! I did perimenopause relatively young and full menopause before I hit 55. I’m not sure about romance literature, but I certainly appreciated Diana Gabaldon’s mention of Claire’s physical changes as she ages, including hot flashes, yet she is seen as attractive to others, including, of course, Jamie. In pop films, you have to credit Mama Mia 1 & 2 for showing women aging with flair, sexuality and hot flashes .
    I am definitely going to look for Silver Moon!

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Michele! Perimenopause has definitely been an eye opener for me! I’m glad you found some interesting books to read. Enjoy!

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