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    Sapphic Age-Gap Romance Books

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: In Western countries, 15% of female-female relationships and 25% of male-male unions are age-gap romances. Age-gap romances took the spotlight in the book world more than usual last year and are still riding high in 2023. In author Felice Cohen’s candid coming-of-age memoir—as compelling as a novel—Cohen chronicles the happiness and heartbreak of an age-gap love affair while struggling to figure out the direction of her future. Ultimately, this is a story about navigating life’s unpredictable path while following one’s heart, and finding acceptance. In a recent conversation with me, she spoke about how much readers love age-gap romances and why. I thought it would be perfect to share her thoughts as a Valentine’s gift for you.

    Felice Cohen: I’m a sucker for a juicy, sapphic, age-gap romance book. You know the ones. The professor and her student, the CEO and her employee. If you crave them too, you’re not alone. Age-gap romances are one of the most popular forbidden love tropes in Sapphic Land. Just how much do we love these books? Let me count the ways:

    1. Exploring this societal “forbidden love” between two women with a significant age difference is a tantalizing and compelling theme.

    2. Age-gap books add an element of power dynamics or mentorship with one character being more experienced and mature and the other being more naïve and vulnerable. 

    3. Mainstream media rarely features older female characters. These books allow for a wider, more diverse range of experiences and viewpoints in love and relationships.

    4. Age-gap relationships are often stigmatized. These books challenge those societal expectations, showing that love knows no bounds.

    5. Offering a different perspective on love can be refreshing and thought-provoking.

    6. Reading about characters who share similar identities or experiences can affirm and empower readers.

    7. They’re just plain romantic.

    Before sapphic, age-gap romance books were all the rage, I was knee deep in a real-life age-gap relationship. At 23, shortly after graduating college, I fell in love with my boss, Sarah, a 57-year-old woman. This was the early 90s. Before “love is love” it was, “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a motto we took to heart. The only book reflecting anything close to our situation was The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, the first of its kind to give two women a happy ending. However, their age difference was a fraction of our 34 years.

    Not seeing our story reflected in the media instilled in me that what we were doing was wrong and made me feel ashamed, a weight I carried for three decades. In my quest to get over the shame, I wrote the age-gap book I wish I had had then. Half In: A Coming-of-Age Memoir of Forbidden Love details our love story and reads like a novel. Despite the love we felt for each other, it was our fear of what others would think that drove us apart. 

    Today there appear to be more real-life, lesbian, age-gap couples, but I think they’ve always been there. My guess is they were hiding (like we were) in the shadows because we considered them forbidden.Is it our evolution as a culture that makes these couples feel safer to be out? Or could it be the glut of books reflecting age-gap couples that make them feel less alone and less ashamed? Hard to tell. All I know is that, if I’d had these books back then, it might not have taken me thirty years to tell my story. 

    For more information on Felice Cohen:

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 34 years of successful marketing campaigns. For more information:

    Published on February 9, 2023